The Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, presented the findings of the ‘Study on the Implementation of UNCLOS in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean Region’.
From 6 – 8 November 2023, the Max Planck Foundation and its partner, with the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office, successfully held a workshop for 55 officers from various State Authorities in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was the follow-up event of the virtual workshop, Sri Lanka: Indian Ocean Baseline Study on Maritime Zones, conducted in March 2022. The workshop was divided into two main components: (1) presentations by Foundation staff on the implementation of UNCLOS in Sri Lanka with regards to seven topics: maritime zones, navigation, fisheries, maritime security, marine environment, submarine cables and pipelines, and oil and gas, (2) private consultations with stakeholders from Sri Lanka.
The first day of the event started with the opening remarks from the Foundation and the introduction of the participants. In addition, hard copies of the Comparative Study on the implementation of UNCLOS in Sri Lanka and other countries in the Indian Ocean were provided to the participants for references. Presentations dealt with (1) maritime zones under sovereignty of the coastal State, and (2) maritime zones subject to sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the coastal states. The participants particularly paid great attention to the baseline established by Sri Lanka. Many questions were posed and related to the techniques of drawing the baselines and the implications of Port City built in Colombo to the baseline. Day two of the event focused on three important topics governed by UNCLOS: navigational rights of ships, fishing rights of coastal states, and the obligation to protect and preserve marine environment. The practice of Sri Lanka related to navigation of naval ships in its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone was extensively debated. Moreover, the issues of enforcing marine environmental regulations were raised by the Sri Lankan Air Force, Navy, and Coastal Guard. The third day turned to the right of laying submarine cables and pipelines, the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas, and the jurisdiction of coastal states over marine scientific research. The discussion was fruitful with contributions of Sri Lankan experts on the new laws and practices of Sri Lanka related to licensing the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas to foreign companies in its maritime zones. The final exercise of the workshop was a quiz on the law of the sea and Sri Lanka’s implementation of UNCLOS to assess the understandings of participants during the workshop.
The event was concluded with the closing remarks from the Foundation, and Mr Rifa Wadood (MoFA Sri Lanka) before giving certificates to workshop participants in recognition of their active engagement.
This workshop provided fruitful discussions and valuable feedback on the Study on the Implementation of UNCLOS in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean Region. The Foundation looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka in future projects.
The workshop was implemented within the frames of the project The Implementation of UNCLOS: Supporting Maritime Governance in the Indian Ocean (Part IV).