Workshop on ‘Cooperation for Maritime Safety’ for IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners delivered remotely

The Max Planck Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka (MoFA) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Secretariat, held its second law of the sea workshop for IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners.

On 24-28 July 2023, the Foundation and its Partners successfully held the live elements of their online workshop, entitled ‘Cooperation for Maritime Safety’, to complement the on-demand pre-recorded videos and materials available via the Foundation’s LEARN platform. 68 registrants were nominated, representing 12 IORA Member States, four IORA Dialogue Partners, and the IORA Secretariat.

Opening remarks were provided by Mr M. R. Hassen (Director General, Ocean Affairs, Environment and Climate Change, MoFA Sri Lanka) and Ms Rina Setyawati (Interim Director Maritime Safety and Security, IORA Secretariat). In addition to numerous sessions delivered by the Foundation staff, the programme included presentations by invited experts and roundtable practical sessions to deepen discussions and mutual sharing of priorities and experiences among participants.

The workshop kicked off with introductory pre-recorded sessions on key legal principles in strengthening maritime safety, namely “generally accepted international rules and standards” and “no more favourable treatment”. The first live session, delivered by Dr Felicity G. Attard (Faculty of Laws, University of Malta), addressed ‘Maritime Search and Rescue’ with a focus on the Indian Ocean and the IORA Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Search and Rescue. A group experience-sharing exercise promoted networking and explored the maritime safety concerns of IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners present.

Day two continued with pre-recorded sessions focused on the role of flag states, coastal states, and port states in current and forthcoming international maritime safety instruments. Live sessions focused on the commitments and benefits under the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for the Indian Ocean Region, as well as Commander Gihan Dharmasiri (Sri Lanka Navy) addressing coastal state measures in maritime safety from a Sri Lankan perspective and practice.

Pre-recorded sessions for the final day focused on contemporary concerns affecting the region, including lessons learnt on the rights and obligations of port and flag states in circumstances of a public health emergency of international concern, as well as progress and gaps in addressing the safety of non-SOLAS vessels. The final live session moved attention to questions of maritime safety in the context of law enforcement, with a final group exercise seeking to apply the workshop curriculum to hypothetical cases.

Closing remarks were graciously provided by Mr Rajib Tripura (Director for Institutional Arrangements and Broadening Engagement, IORA Secretariat) and Mr Rifa Wadood (Director, Ocean Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Division, MoFA Sri Lanka).

The workshop, held with the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office within the frames of the project on The Implementation of UNCLOS: Supporting Maritime Governance in the Indian Ocean (Part IV), was the second in a series focused on the needs and interests of the IORA Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security (WGMSS).

The Foundation looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, other IORA Member States, and the IORA Secretariat on diverse issues of the law of the sea, including within the implementation of the next activity which will touch upon the domestic implementation of UNCLOS in IORA Member States.