Promoting Maritime Peace and Security in Southeast Asia

The strategic position of Southeast Asia (SEA)[1], as well as its geopolitical, environmental and economic significance, make it one of the most important regions of the world. SEA is also a site of many contentious intra- and extra-regional issues, especially in the maritime domain including tensions regarding the freedom of navigation and military activities at sea and geopolitical issues surrounding the East Sea (South China Sea). Many such issues arise from disagreements regarding the interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)[2] has played – and continues to play – a key role in the region, both from the point of view of managing tensions, preventive diplomacy and regional resilience as well as social and economic cooperation.

The Foundation will implement this project to promote peace and security in the SEA region by strengthening intra-regional cooperation, and by supporting the development of a common understanding of the provisions of UNCLOS and other rules of international law. This will be achieved by providing technical and legal assistance to officials from relevant Ministries, departments and directorates of SEA countries and particularly, the technical and ministerial bodies of Vietnam and Indonesia. The project will combine different activities, including a ‘Southeast Asia Baseline Study’ – that is, a study to assess the implementation of UNCLOS in the domestic legislation of all SEA countries; a series of workshops on selected topics on the Law of the Sea including the protection and preservation of the marine environment, international fisheries and peaceful settlement of dispute and maritime boundary delimitation; and an intra-regional High-Level Roundtable Dialogue to discuss technical and legal issues related to the Law of the Sea.

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen preventive diplomacy and regional cooperation in SEA to improve maritime peace and security, to minimise the risk of disputes and conflict, and to benefit of the international community as a whole. In particular, it aims to equip representatives of SEA countries with the knowledge and capacity to achieve a uniform interpretation and implementation of UNCLOS within the region and to facilitate a tailored dialogue on maritime issues of regional importance.

[1] SEA: Southeast Asia consists of the following eleven countries – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

[2] ASEAN: all countries in Southeast Asia, with the exception of Timor-Leste, are member States of ASEAN. Timor-Leste’s membership to ASEAN is pending.