Together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Indonesian Navy inaugurated the third Asia Pacific Workshop on the Law of Armed Conflict at Sea in Surabaya on September 19. The five-day event aimed to facilitate operational dialogue on maritime security issues, especially on the laws of naval warfare in the region.
The workshop gathered 37 senior naval officers from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United States of America and Vietnam.
The sessions were facilitated by military experts from Indonesia, England and Australia, as well as ICRC armed forces delegates and law of the sea specialists.
“Maritime and territorial disputes feature prominently in the Asia-Pacific Region,” said Christoph Sutter, who head ICRC’s Regional Delegation for Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
“If tensions continue to rise, there could be an increasing risk of clashes at sea in a region which has the world’s busiest maritime trade route,” he added.
Sutter further explained that naval forces in the region are already routinely involved in a range of maritime operations, and through such events, the ICRC is seeking to share with the participating countries its expertise on law of naval warfare and stimulate exchanges on its applicability in the region.
The workshop also covered other maritime security operations, which are below the threshold of armed conflict, such as anti-piracy, rescue and movement of people at sea.
“This is a rare opportunity to exchange our ideas so that we acquire a better knowledge and understanding of those particular issues,” said Admiral Ade Supandi, Chief of the Indonesian Navy.
“It will also allow us to identify the challenges and opportunities of cooperation in our region, especially in what relates to the application of the laws of armed conflict,” the admiral added.