Hanoi (VNA) – 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
organisations 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 emphasised 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.
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
militarisation, which have seriously affected peace, stability, security,
safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the region, hindering a
favourable 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 militarising; 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 recognised efforts by regional
mechanisms and many countries to strengthen cooperation in ensuring maritime
security, including setting up direct communication channels among defence
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
Among the ARF’s working groups, Vietnam,
Australia and the EU are co-chairing the one on maritime security for the