Workshop on the implementation of UNCLOS in Southeast Asia & legislative drafting successfully delivered

The Max Planck Foundation, in cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, held its flagship event in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, kicking off the new ASEAN-Max Planck Foundation Cooperation Project.

On 4–8 December 2023, the Foundation and its partners successfully convened participants from seven ASEAN Member States and the in-principle next ASEAN Member State, Timor-Leste, in Ha Noi (Viet Nam) for the event on the findings of the ‘Study on the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in ASEAN Member States’. The Study was prepared and presented by the Foundation. Hard copies of individual reports for all invited ASEAN Member States were provided to participants for their perusal. Findings of the Study were integrated within the sessions on the legislative drafting techniques in the law of the sea context, focusing on maritime zones and navigation. In addition, in preparation for the in-person flagship event a Workshop on ‘The Role of Policy Development in Law-Making’ was offered and delivered online to nominees from invited ASEAN Member States.

On the first day of the flagship event, opening remarks were provided by Associate Professor Dr Nguyen Thi Lan Anh (Director-General of the East sea Institute, Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam), Mr Simon Kreye (Deputy Head of the German Embassy in Hanoi), among others.

In extension of numerous sessions delivered by the Foundation across the five-day workshop, the programme included a roundtable and practical drafting exercises to deepen discussions and mutual sharing of priorities and experiences among participants.The workshop commenced with several sessions addressing the practices of ASEAN Member States concerning baselines and maritime zones, followed by a session on Rule of Law drafting and policy-making. A roundtable discussion looked at the definition of maritime piracy adopted in several ASEAN Member States and the limitations on their jurisdiction thereof. Day two continued with a session examining the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and continental shelves in ASEAN practice, followed by a drafting session on the importance of the design of legislation to achieve its objectives. The first opportunity for voluntary private bilateral consultations between Foundation Research Fellows and participants on law of the sea or legislative drafting queries was undertaken. At day three the workshop transitioned from maritime zones to the international law of navigation, as implemented in the domestic law of ASEAN Member States. Innocent passage and archipelagic sea lane passage were selected as priority topics for discussion. The legislative drafting session focused on the structure of clear and accessible legislation. The roundtable and further bilateral consultations continued. The freedom of navigation, particularly in the EEZ, was the focus of the first session of day four. Participants proactively contributed to the exchange on the drafting of simple provisions and tools to simplify legislation, before a group discussion on the contributions of the South China Sea Award was undertaken. Concurrent bilateral consultations continued with different ASEAN Member States.

Finally, day five began with Dr. Tran Ngoc Suong (University of Danang) providing an expert assessment of the implementation requirements for Viet Nam of the recently signed BBNJ Agreement. The final drafting session on analysing legislation was then delivered on review techniques. A final quiz tested participants absorption across the five-day workshop, before the certificates ceremony brought the workshop to a close. The Foundation shared several key law of the sea textbooks with the participants to take back to their respective ministries.

The Foundation looks forward to continuing the cooperation with ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Member States, and Timor-Leste on diverse rule of law issues that compose the current Project.

Both the online and flagship events were held within framework of the project ‘Strengthening Regional Integration and the Implementation of a Rules-Based International Order in ASEAN‘ and with the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office