The 11th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security wrapped up in central Da Nang city on March 15.
The two-day event was co-chaired by Vietnam, Australia and the European Union. Over 80 officials and experts on maritime security and cooperation from 27 ARF members and relevant international organizations looked into the current maritime situation, activities of cooperation mechanisms, countries’ policies and measures, maritime safety, maritime environment, and sustainable development.
Discussing the regional maritime security situation, participants emphasized the importance of ensuring security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation, along with adherence to and enforcement of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on seas in the region.
|Participants in the 11th ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security pose for a photo__Photo: VNA|
They voiced concerns about the continued complicated developments at sea, including unresolved disputes; the increase of trans-national crimes like piracy, drug trafficking, and human trafficking; overexploitation of natural resources; and environmental pollution.
Given that fact, participants shared the view that countries in the region need to continue enhancing cooperation to deal with challenges in an effective manner.
Many of them also expressed concerns about the recent developments in the East Sea, including unilateral actions and militarization, which have seriously affected peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the region, hindering a favorable environment for cooperation to address common challenges.
They highlighted the principles of respecting law; adhering to and seriously implementing international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS; exercising self-restraint and not taking actions that can complicate the situation; not militarizing; settling disputes by peaceful means; fully and effectively carrying out the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea; and building a substantive and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters that is in conformity with international law.
The meeting recognized efforts by regional mechanisms and many countries to strengthen cooperation in ensuring maritime security, including setting up direct communication channels among defense officials, conducting joint patrols, building and expanding information sharing mechanisms, building and improving capacity, and ASEAN-China negotiations on an efficient and effective COC.
The meeting was the third activity on maritime security held by Vietnam within the ARF’s framework since the beginning of 2019. Participants spoke highly of the Vietnamese delegation’s role and contributions to the event.
Its outcomes will be reported to the ARF Senior Officials’ Meeting slated for late May in Thailand.
Founded in 1994, the ARF aims to promote countries’ dialogue and cooperation in political-security issues, thus contributing to peace, stability and trust building in the region. It comprises 27 members, including the 10 ASEAN member states and 10 ASEAN dialogue partners.
Among the ARF’s working groups, Vietnam, Australia and the EU are co-chairing the one on maritime security for the 2018-2020 period.-(VNA/VLLF)