Maritime Order in the Indian Ocean

Application of UNCLOS and other legal norms in the context of emerging challenges and opportunities.

30 April – 1 May 2018
Deakin Downtown

Join Deakin Law School's Centre on the Legal Profession as it hosts a conference and workshop examining Maritime Order in the Indian Ocean.

Event details

The Indian Ocean region is home to over two billion people and embraces some of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic economies. The Indian Ocean is traversed by some of the busiest sea trade and passenger routes in the world, it is a popular source of tourism and contains abundant natural resources. From time to time, the maritime order that ensures a continued harmonious existence between the many different uses of the Indian Ocean needs to be examined to ensure current and emerging uses are adequately accounted for. In this conference, the Centre on the Legal Profession will gather leading academics and stakeholders in industry and government from countries around the world to examine topics that are key to ensuring that those who wish to live by the Indian Ocean, want to trade across it or access its natural resources can continue to do so now and into the future.

The Centre on the Legal Profession (CoLP) will host a Conference and Workshop to examine these challenges.

CoLP invites expressions of interest from academics, government officials, industry representatives and other interested parties to contribute to the examination, analysis and discussion of key themes including:

  • Outlook and Potential Benefits from Economic Cooperation;
  • International Conventions related to Ocean Governance based on UNCLOS;
  • Security including Surface Maritime Picture; and
  • Sustainable utilisation and exploitation of ocean resources.


Three main activities will be undertaken in preparing the Code.

First, a review of background materials relevant to the project and conversations with individuals knowledgeable about the current state of the Ocean.

Second, a Conference involving all relevant domestic and foreign stakeholders.

Third, research on comparative legal frameworks, further consultations with stakeholders and experts, and the drafting of the Code.

The goals of drafting the Code include creating a system that is:

a. comprehensive in that it covers all users and stakeholders and leaves no unintended “gaps”;

b. accessible in that the obligations, responsibilities and consequences can be easily understood by all stakeholders, including industry, government, workers, inspectors, mediators, arbitrators, and judges, which will help to prevent unnecessary disputes resulting from ambiguous rules;

c. appropriate and responsible in light of present environmental, political, economic, social, historical and other conditions;

d. assessable and responsive with ongoing monitoring, reporting, data collection and sharing and review, and 

e. consistent with its international commitments and international standards generally.


Outlook and potential benefits from economic cooperation

Covering a vast area (70.6 million square km), the twenty-five diverse littoral economies that rim the Indian Ocean are emerging powerful economies, playing vital roles in the recovery of the global economy. The region’s growing purchasing power and increased per capita GDP is being fuelled by the revival of historic maritime links driven by global trade centred on East Asia, increased investment in port infrastructure, intra-regional trade, the increased size and efficiency of shipping, favourable conditions for transport, energy and communications, the removal of barriers to trade and investment, the expansion of the middle class, and technological innovation. An important reason to examine maritime order in the region is to support and foster continued harmonious, sustainable growth.

The Conference invites papers on the following topics.

  1. Will the positive economic outlook for the Indian Ocean Region continue in the short term and as far as 2025?
  2. What are the political and economic risks and disruptions most likely to have a negative impact on that growth? Is convergence in economic performance possible between diverse economies – small economies, large economies and island states – in the Indian Ocean Region?
  3. What is the role of major economies that use the Indian Ocean (such as China, Japan, Russia, the US and the EU) and their trade and investment links with Indian Ocean economies.
  4. Identification of what policies at global, regional and national level will facilitate economic convergence and prosperity in the Indian Ocean region?

International conventions related to the ocean governance including UNCLOS

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the fundamental document of ocean governance. The conference seeks to determine ways to reinforce UNCLOS and also identify and address issues that have arisen post-UNCLOS and so currently fall outside its framework, particularly where they have the potential to impact Freedom of Navigation.

The Conference invites papers on the following topics.

  1. Identify areas in which Indian Ocean states can adopt practical cooperation measures to address issues that have the potential to impact the Freedom of Navigation in the post-UNCLOS scenario.
  2. Finding solutions through UNCLOS and other international conventions and norms, to impediments to connectivity in the Indian Ocean and threats to the safety and security of Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCS).
  3. Contemporary and emerging issues related to practical cooperation among maritime users of the Indian Ocean.
  4. Using norm setting and practical cooperation to reinforce the objectives of UNCLOS.

Security including surface maritime picture

The recent shift of attention towards maritime and ocean based activities in global affairs and international relations highlights the importance of the underlying stabilities, and the threats to security and safety. Central to settling confusions, resolving issues, regulating activity, and fostering cooperation is the importance of developing a comprehensive understanding of the maritime domain. The Conference invites consideration of the peaceful use of the oceans.

The Conference invites papers on the following topics.

  1. What are the key (traditional and non-traditional) challenges and opportunities for countries in the maritime space of the Indian Ocean?
    Many countries that rim the Indian Ocean (which include some of the most populous in the world) are heavily dependent on sea-borne connectivity for trade and commerce and other activities. How can challenges be addressed and opportunities maximised for these countries?
  2. Achieving seamless Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); Options for the Indian Ocean.
    MDA is an effective tool for policing shipping, but is beyond the means for many countries. In this context, what options exist for smaller countries in the IO region?
  3. Developing a common legal framework for the Indian Ocean; potential points for consideration in UNCLOS
    For over 30 years, UNCLOS has been an effective framework for maritime order. However, it may be time to re-examine UNCLOS in a changing security environment, especially as maritime affairs are now of global interest.
  4. Turning Strategic Competition to Strategic Alliance through Maritime Weather Monitoring
    Could global warming provide the impetus to unite competitors in the maritime space? Global warming has resulted in traditional competitors reaching common ground through various alliances, protocols and agreements. With the discovery that global weather is dependent on the oceans, could Maritime Weather Monitoring be a further impetus for unity among countries rimming the Indian Ocean?
  5. What is the best process for continuing to support the UN in establishing and maintaining maritime order in the Indian Ocean going forward?

Sustainable utilisation and exploitation of ocean resources

The Indian Ocean maritime region has significant deposits of primary raw materials that are vital to the world's economy – such as bauxite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, natural gas, nickel, oil, phosphates, titanium, tungsten, uranium, and zinc. The region's fisheries are also a key part of food security and regional livelihoods.

The Conference invites papers on the following topics.

  1. Will resources-based conflicts emerge? And escalate? How can state and non-state actors in the Indian Ocean resolve resources based conflicts?
  2. How can Indian Ocean Region countries combat the negative impacts of external actors in resources extraction and exploitation of the Indian Ocean (including hoarding knowledge of exploratory research; pollution; unsustainable extraction; corruption; etc)?
  3. It has been suggested that “[t]hough resource rich, Indian Ocean Region countries have not benefited or sociologically-culturally (ie. a better life) from them.” How can Indian Ocean Region countries successfully ensure sustainable and profitable exploitation of resources in the Indian Ocean?
  4. 4. How can countries in the Indian Ocean Rim handle piracy in Asia-Africa waters and in international waters, given claims that “with increased shipping and resource-extraction in the Indian Ocean, there is a strong chance of increased presence of piracy”.
  5. The oceans as ‘Development Spaces’ subject to spatial planning; using spatial planning to integrate conservation, sustainable use, wealth extraction, bio-prospecting, sustainable energy production and marine transport; prioritizing the use of the seas to benefit people, alleviate poverty, generate employment, and promote equity.
  6. Approaches to valuation of the oceans; integrating those valuations into economic decision making.
  7. The nature and sufficiency, and the potential need to reformulate of countries legal rights to access and exploit resources (mining, fishing, floating islands) of the Indian Ocean and their territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.
  8. Private and corporate exploitation of ocean resources, including the extraction of minerals; the relationship between corporations and Indian Ocean states; the appropriate terms for exploration and exploitation; the payment of royalties; what are the gaps?, etc.
  9. Fisheries represent one of the most important assets of the Indian Ocean, with output accounting for around 15 percent of the world’s catch. What are the key fishing activities and fishing rights in the Indian Ocean; what are the fishing rights of outsider countries; what is the extent of the problem of over fishing and what are the gaps?
  10. What are the other risks to the fishing industry (such as habitat destruction and pollution, global warming and other ocean-based environmental threats). How are these currently addressed through environmental threats through alliances, protocols and agreements?
  11. Policies that favour low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive development (the Blue-Green Economy); decoupling socio-economic development from environmental degradation.
  12. Using and improving upon relevant international law and governance mechanisms to achieve sustainable economic targets.
  13. Opportunities for cooperation amongst Indian Ocean nations to ensure sustainable utilisation and exploitation/exploration of ocean resources.


This conference is free, however please secure your place at this event by registering here.

Travel and accommodation

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Date and location

Monday 30 April - Tuesday 1 May 2018

Deakin Downtown 
Level 12, Tower 2, Collins Square
727 Collins Street, Docklands
3008 VIC