Bridging troubled Waters – Rethinking Maritime Security Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region

The last three COE CSW - organised Maritime Security Roundtables at the Munich Security Conference underlined that the different views on the situation in the South China Sea (SCS) have the potential for global political turmoil.

This year’s topic for the roundtable, “Bridging troubled Waters - Rethinking Maritime Security Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region,” offered again the opportunity to discuss the importance of “maritime safety and security”, but did not only focus on the South China Sea.

With its great relevance for world trade, the Indo-Pacific Region underlines the worldwide dependencies on the safe and secure use of the sea lines of communication.

In this context, a key question is whether existing agreements in the Indo-Pacific Region are sufficient or new approaches are required. Agreements for this region have to cover aspects for conflict prevention as well as particular current challenges.

Challenges range from illegal fishery, piracy and armed robbery at sea to the organisation and support for human disaster reliefs.

After being suspended in its classic format last year, in February this year, the Munich Security conference returned to its venue Hotel Bayerischer Hof as usual. The event’s scope was reduced in general, the number of participants by 75 per cent, along with very restrictive health and safety measures. However, the People’s Republic of China representative took advantage of this year’s possibility of virtual participation to join our roundtable.

During this unique opportunity to exchange Asian, European, Australian and American perspectives and assessments, very fruitful and in-depth discussions ensued, with controversial positions vigorously defended at times. Once again, it became clear that the Indo-Pacific Region also holds the potential for escalation and conflict between states with different capacities to protect national interests.

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