For the first time ever, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired an UN Security Council debate on “Enhancing Maritime Security- A case for International cooperation” via video conferencing. Several heads of state or government were in attendance, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Premier of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh.
“Oceans are our shared heritage and our maritime routes are the lifelines of international trade. These oceans are very important for the future of our planet,” said PM Modi
“This shared heritage of ours is facing several types of challenges. Maritime routes are being misused for piracy and terrorism”, said PM Modi about the importance of countering maritime crime and insecurity, and to strengthen coordination in the international domain.
PM Modi outlined a five-point agenda for the debate. The first point being removing barriers to maritime trade. Keeping in mind the vision of a safe and secure maritime domain, the Indian PM emphasized “We want to make an inclusive framework on maritime security in our region based on the vision of SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region- 2015 Indian Framework for regional maritime security). He emphasized that rights of seafarers all around the world to be of utmost importance and necessity.
The second point being that of maritime disputes. Mr. Modi said, maritime disputes “should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law,” adding that this was “extremely important for promoting mutual trust and confidence and ensuring global peace and stability.” He reiterated this point by the India- Bangladesh maritime boundary dispute, which was handled with maturity and understanding.
The third point was fighting threats from natural disasters and non-state actors. “We are enhancing the common maritime domain awareness of the region through our White Shipping Information Fusion Centre. We have provided support for hydrographic surveying and training of maritime security personnel to several countries,” he added. Indiabeingfirst responder during cyclones, tsunamis and pollution-related maritime disasters in the region is a point he made sure to highlight.
The fourth point was the emphasis on maritime environment and marine resources to be conserved, bringing focus to pollution from plastic waste and oil spills. He urged for joint steps to be taken against marine poaching and overfishing. This clearly brought out the need for cooperation in ocean science research.
Promoting responsible maritime connectivity was the final point in the framework. He said,” a structure was required to boost maritime trade, with the development of global norms and standards”. He advocated for appropriate norms and standards for infrastructure projects to be carried out as per the fiscal sustainability and absorption capacity of the host countries.
He ended the note with the need to develop a global roadmap for maritime security, trade, and overall cooperation between countries to ensure a smooth functioning of the maritime world.
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