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Role of Law Enforcing Agencies in Maintaining Good Governance at Sea

Admiral RK Dhowan, PVSM, AVSM, YSM (retd)
National Defence Academy, the Defence Services Staff College and the Naval War College, New- port, Rhode Island, USA.

Keywords: Globalisation., vulnerability, Indian, Ocean, SAGAR, Oceans, Governance, IONS.,


The Indian Ocean Region has emerged as the world’s centre of economic and strategic gravity in the maritime domain. However, the seas are no longer a benign medium and globalisation has led to vulnerability of the oceans. The United Nations Convention on Law of the Seas (UNCLOS 1982), deemed as the ‘Constitution of the Oceans’provides a comprehen- sive legal regime for use of the oceans and their resources but continues to be ambiguous vis-à-vis the rights of utilisation of resources in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. There is not a single internationally legally binding treaty for governance of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction and consequently, the high seas, which cover over 50 % of the earth’s surface, continue to be one of the least protected areas on the planet. The responsi- bility of ensuring safety, security and stability on the high seas fall squarely on the shoulders of men in white uniform. India believes the need to evolve a common rule based orders for the region, which should apply equally to individual nations as well as the global commons, a fact emphasised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his key note address at the Shangri La Dialogue in June this year.The foremost imperative in the regard is an effective information sharing arrangement to enhance the Maritime Domain Awareness across the Indian Ocean and to undertake networking between navies and law enforcement agencies. The existing maritime struc- tures in the Indian Ocean have a three layer architecture; SAGAR (which means the ‘Ocean’ and the acronym stands for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’) at the conceptual level, Indian Ocean Rim Association at the political level, and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, a unique initiative taken by the Indian Navy in 2008, at the execution level of the navies. As a roadmap and as actionable points, the following merit attention - The oceans are common heritags of mankind and there is a need to respect international law and ensure freedom of navigation in the Global Com- mons. Therefore, the current international efforts towards strengthening oceans governance and regulating Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction need to be actively supported. The countries of the region also need to work together to evolve a rules based international order for the Region. In order to fully implement the Honb’le Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR, we need to draw up a detailed roadmap for maritime security cooperation among countries of the region. This should clearly outline the role of navies and law enforcement agencies for maintaining good governance and shaping a positive and favourable maritime environment across the IOR. As an important imperative to promote good governance and assist the navies and law enforcement agencies, there is a need to have an effective information sharing arrangement to enhance the maritime domain awareness across the Indian Ocean Region. In addition, India needs to establish an open and inclusive Regional Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean has emerged as a contiguous maritime space and there is a need to unleash the full potential of IONS as an effective maritime construct for promoting maritime cooperation among the navies and the law enforcement agencies of the region. In addition, there needs to be great- er synergy between IORA at the political level and IONS at the level of the navies as functional enablers to address the entire spectrum of issues for collaborative management and governance of the Indian Ocean. The seas around us are gaining new found importance and there is no doubt that the 21st century is the century of the seas.


Role of Law Enforcing Agencies in Maintaining Good Governance at Sea