Hanoi (VNA) – The third ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) workshop on enhancing cooperation in maritime law enforcement was jointly held on March 16 and 17 by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the European Commission.The event, held in both in-person and online forms, was attended by officials, researchers, and experts on security and maritime law enforcement from ARF members and regional and international organisations.
At the opening session, Director of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s ASEAN Department Vu Ho, who co-chaired the workshop, emphasised that seas and oceans are important to all countries, which share common interests in ensuring peace, security, safety, and cleanness for all sea areas.
To this end, countries should continue cooperation, including among their maritime law enforcement forces, he noted.
Participants pointed out that apart from increased activities by maritime law enforcement forces, risks of collision and incidents have also been on the rise correspondingly.Although international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has certain articles allowing the use of force during the performance of duties, delegates stressed that this is just the last resort.
Besides, they added, the use of force must comply with common principles and processes and, particularly, avoid jeopardising lives and be only conducted in the waters within national jurisdiction.
Delegates discussed many cooperation models for maritime law enforcement forces, from sharing information, setting up hotlines, building mechanisms for joint monitoring and observation, and conducting joint patrols to developing a code of conduct.
However, to create a basis for cooperation, countries’ maritime law enforcement agencies need to actively take measures to build up mutual trust and understanding, they said.
The content discussed and recommendations made at this workshop will be summarised and reported to the 12th ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security, slated for April.
The third ARF workshop was part of activities to implement the ARF statement on enhancing cooperation among maritime law enforcement agencies, which was proposed by Vietnam and adopted in 2016.
This statement calls on maritime law enforcement agencies of the ARF members to strengthen practical cooperation via such activities as sharing experience and good practices, enhancing capacity, maintaining joint patrols, and organising exercises to combat piracy and guarantee freedom of navigation and overflight./.