Jakarta. As ocean issues have been emerging in many countries of late, officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states began training in the Law of the Sea on Tuesday (12/12), to be able to address the challenges collectively.
"This training takes place at a critical juncture, as the world is paying more attention to emerging ocean issues, which range from disputes over maritime boundaries to overfishing, marine pollution and climate change," director general for Asean cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jose Tavares, said during his opening remarks.
The ministry, in collaboration with the United Nations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), hosted the first Asean-UN Training Workshop on the Law of the Sea in Jakarta.
The three-day workshop is co-sponsored by the Mission of Japan to Asean and the German Embassy in Jakarta.
Vice-chair at the CSIC board of trustees, Jusuf Wanandi, said the seminar will properly prepare Asean officials.
"[It's important to] learn more about Unclos [the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] and to know all the intricate developments and interpretations of the convention's articles, so [that] we are better equipped in the future," he said.
The convention provides a legal framework for all maritime activities.
According to Jose, the role of Unclos in ocean governance is "indispensable and increasingly important."
CoC on South China Sea
The workshop may prove essential for Asean, which is still negotiating with China the terms of the Code of Conduct (CoC) on the disputed South China Sea.
Jusuf said the seminar will provide grounds for the negotiations and future implementation of the code "so that we can ... deal with the Chinese in the right way."
He emphasized the need for the code to reflect a "rules-based mechanism."
"Peace and stability in the seas of Asia are a vital foundation for the well-being and prosperity not only of the region but also of the international community," said Hikariko Ono, the acting charge d'affaires at the Mission of Japan to Asean.
She emphasized that deeper understanding of the Law of the Sea is "a fundamental and important step towards promoting the rule of law at sea."
UN Office of Legal Affairs director for ocean affairs and the Law of the Sea, Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, said the workshop is focused on capacity building.
"Capacity building is essential to allow states to fully implement the Unclos [treaty]," she said, adding that the training will cover a wide range of issues, including maritime navigation and safety, conservation and management of living marine resources and settlement of disputes.