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6th EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation Held

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The 6th East Asia Summit Conference on Maritime Security for fostering Peace, Stability, and Economic Prosperity held in Mumbai

The 6th East Asia Summit (EAS) Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation was hosted in Mumbai on July 4-5, 2024. Organized by India’s Ministry of External Affairs in collaboration with the governments of Australia and Indonesia, the conference aimed to strengthen maritime security and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) at Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) served as knowledge partners for the event.

Focus on Maritime Security Cooperation

The EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation is a signature event organized by India to support the ASEAN-led EAS mechanism and implement the EAS Plan of Action 2024-2028. Secretary (East) of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Jaideep Mazumdar, delivered the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and cooperation for promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific through maritime security cooperation.

More than 60 participants, including government officials, experts from think tanks, and academia from EAS participating countries, attended the conference. The discussions covered a wide range of issues related to securing the maritime environment, including:

– Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)
– Regional Maritime Domain Awareness
– Combating illicit maritime activity, anti-piracy, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing
– Maritime Connectivity
– Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)
– Search and Rescue (SAR)

Keynote Address Highlights

In his keynote address, Jaideep Mazumdar highlighted Mumbai’s significance as a maritime city and thanked Australia and Indonesia for co-chairing the conference with India. He also acknowledged the contributions of the ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) at RIS and the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) in organizing the event.

Marking a decade of India’s Act East Policy, Mazumdar emphasized ASEAN’s centrality to India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. He reiterated India’s commitment to ASEAN Unity and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), stressing the importance of the EAS mechanism as a platform for cooperation and confidence-building in the region.

Mazumdar also outlined India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative, articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, which focuses on cooperative measures for the sustainable use of oceans and a framework for a safe, secure, and stable maritime domain.

Strengthening Maritime Security

Mazumdar detailed several recent activities and initiatives by India to enhance maritime security cooperation within the EAS framework, including:

– The first ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise conducted in 2023
– Co-chairing the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (EWG on HADR) with Indonesia
– Adoption of the ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Maritime Cooperation in 2023
– Workshops on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Marine Plastic Pollution
– Sharing the Draft EAS Guidelines on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Draft EAS Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Search and Rescue (SAR) following the 4th EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation in 2020

India’s Commitment to Maritime Security

India has taken numerous internal measures to strengthen maritime security, including capacity augmentation of maritime security agencies, enhanced technical surveillance, and improved inter-agency coordination. Indian Naval ships and aircraft are regularly deployed on mission-based deployments to enhance maritime security.

Mazumdar also highlighted the role of the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in developing maritime domain awareness and sharing information with partner countries.

In concluding his address, Mazumdar emphasized the importance of maintaining the seas and oceans as free, open, and inclusive spaces, and ensuring secure sea lines of communication based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). He reiterated India’s commitment to contributing to regional mechanisms for maritime cooperation and the importance of collective responsibility in ensuring the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

The 6th EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation underscored the critical role of maritime security in fostering peace, stability, and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, reflecting the shared vision and collaborative efforts of the participating countries.

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