Workshop on ‘Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment and Regional Co-operation’ for ASEAN Member States delivered in Viet Nam

The Foundation, in cooperation with ASEAN and co-hosted by the Diplomatic Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Viet Nam, held its fourth law of the sea workshop for ASEAN member states

Continuing with the implementation of the ASEAN Cooperation Project on Promotion of and Cooperation for Maritime Peace and Security in Southeast Asia, the Max Planck Foundation held its fourth ASEAN workshop from 20 to 22 September 2022, entitled Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment and Regional Co-operation.

The Diplomatic Academy (DAV), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam co-hosted the workshop in Ha Noi. All ASEAN Member States nominated their representatives, with 26 engaged participants from all ten ASEAN Member States being able to participate.

Opening remarks were provided by Dr Nguyễn Nam Dương, the Deputy Director of the East Sea Institute, DAV and Mr Oliver Schwart, the First Secretary of Political Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ha Noi. Invited experts, Dr Aleke Stöfen-O’Brien, Assistant Professor at the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, World Maritime University, and em Prof Dr Dr h.c. Rüdiger Wolfrum, Honorary Director, Max Planck Foundation, joined the Foundation Staff in leading three days of in-depth discussions and practical activities covering the topic of the protection and preservation of the marine environment, focusing on issues of direct relevance for the ASEAN region.

This workshop is part of the ASEAN Cooperation Project, generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the purpose of which is to strengthen maritime peace and security in Southeast Asia and promote regional cooperation on the law of the sea and related matters.

The first day was devoted to introductory sessions on the approaches to the protection and preservation of the marine environment, international rules and standards in the area, as well as the role of soft law in environment protection.

Day two focused on a better understanding of the legal framework for the prevention of marine pollution from diverse sources, with a particular focus on pollution from land-based sources, vessels and dumping.

Presentations were followed by practical sessions, providing the participants with an opportunity to draft an action plan to address one of the environmental matters relevant for the region. The day concluded with hypothetical problem questions which allowed participants to share their expertise and apply the legal provisions previously discussed to concrete cases.

The third day was dedicated to the pertinent issues that are currently under consideration in the international community, namely the ongoing negotiations on the Mining Code at the International Seabed Authority and on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement). Mock negotiations on the draft BBNJ Agreement concentrating on a hypothetical region seeking to negotiate a common position on the draft treaty text closed the programme of the workshop.

This workshop provided an opportunity for participants from ASEAN Member States to gain a deeper understanding on the legal framework for the protection and preservation of the marine environment. The Foundation looks forward to the continued cooperation with ASEAN and the upcoming workshops.