5th International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC 2017)
While the future of NATO and Europe have been questioned this past year by US President Donald Trump and a number of European presidential candidates, the fifth edition of the International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC 2017), held at IMDEX Asia in Singapore, shows that the Asia Pacific region is instead working hard to strengthen cooperation amongst regional partners.
Organised around the central theme “Safe and Secure Seas: A Vision for a Maritime Region,” the conference focused on the development of a cooperative security approach to create critical capabilities to enhance the safety of the region’s complex maritime landscape. Three main themes emerged from the panellists’ speeches.
A number of panellists emphasised the importance of reinforcing the rules and regulations governing the Asia Pacific maritime environment. For instance, with the number of submarines present in regional waters due to increase to 300 in the coming years, significant importance is being placed on the development and adoption of a protocol for submarines modelled after the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
Cooperation also emerged as a central tenet in a vision for a safe and secure maritime region. Panellists highlighted a number of cooperation efforts and agreements currently involving a variety of regional navies, including the Fire Power Defence Agreement (FPDA), the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP). While praising such initiatives, they also stressed the need to strengthen them.
Last but not least, panellists also insisted on the importance of improving capabilities across the region. Programmes such as the Pacific Maritime Surveillance Programme, through which Australia provides patrol boats to twelve Pacific Island Countries (PICs), should be encouraged with the objective of reinforcing security throughout the region.