Strengthening Regional Integration and the Implementation of a Rules-Based International Order in ASEAN

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, fisheries management, human rights at sea, as well as territorial and law-of-the-sea-related disputes within the South China Sea. Many of such issues arise from disagreements regarding the interpretation and application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and subsequent Implementing Agreements. 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, regional resilience, as well as social and economic cooperation.

This ASEAN-Max Planck Foundation Cooperation Project follows the successful implementation in 2022 of the previous project entitled ‘Promoting Maritime Peace and Security in Southeast Asia’. The main objective of the current project is to advance regional dialogue, coordination, and the capacity of ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste to implement the law of the sea and other interacting regimes of public international law, as well as to promote the rule of law. More specifically, the project is designed to deepen and further promote cooperation with respect to maritime peace and security, good governance, and the protection of human rights at sea. Finally, the project aims to enhance the capacity of ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste in legislative drafting standards and techniques and to provide technical assistance in support of implementing international law standards, especially when cross-cutting issues are concerned and overlaps with the law of the sea arise.

The Foundation will implement this project to promote regional integration and the implementation of a rules-based international order through the provision of technical and legal assistance to officials from relevant Ministries, departments and directorates of invited ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste. Implementation activities include a series of workshops, consultations, and publications to strengthen regional cooperation and support the development, among ASEAN Member States, of a common understanding and uniform implementation of the provisions of UNCLOS and interacting international law, including human rights and labour standards at sea.

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

[2] ASEAN: All Southeast Asian States, with the exception of Timor-Leste, are Member States of ASEAN. An ASEAN Leaders’ decision of 2022 provides that ASEAN will, in-principle, admit Timor-Leste as its 11th Member State, which remains pending.


German Foreign Office


25 October 2023 – 31 December 2025

Call for Papers

Law of the Sea in the ASEAN Maritime Domain

News Items