by Alberto A. Encomienda
Introduction : Changed circumstances in international relations; “de facto”
As the world anticipates a New Era in a China Rising, some gratuitous suggestions are herein offered on how China can more effectively share the benefits and spread the burdens of a “shared future for mankind” that is Socialism with Chinese Characteristics; the Xi Jinping Doctrine. A starting point for this outward expansion of an otherwise motherhood political/ideological proposition, would be China’s maritime front yard that is the Central Indo-Pacific. The suggestions relates to the conduct of international relations in contemporary times that have become in all aspects of relations among nations – socio-economic/geo-economic and political/geopolitical, the most complex in history. The present economic and political environment in relations among nations entails essential adjustments in the existing world economic and political order, with new multiplier tools in the conduct of diplomacy and inter-state relations suited to the times. In the Central Indo-Pacific region, time is now of the essence and necessary adjustments is compelled and appropriate at this very moment in time. The current trials and tribulations in the world today muddling through a broken post-World War II system, is akin to the “scourge of war” that the last half-century have tried to fix through the Charter of the United Nations. Thus necessitating a “mid-course adjustment”. The suggestions arises from a perspective of a Central Indo-Pacific regional country and ASEAN member State.
As regard to the broken existing world order, a case in point relates to the international political/geopolitical picture. Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations on collective security and the peaceful settlement of disputes between States, and Chapter VIII on Regional Organizations for keeping the peace appropriate for regional action, have not unfolded as originally conceptualized. To some extent lucky, there was just enough space in post-war peace to establish what were perceived as ideal political and economic world order and institutions for a peace for all time to serve perceived ideals that includes peace-building and peace-making processes, but which never saw a full and desirable maturing. The world political/security order under post-war construction was almost instantly accelerated to the Cold War, rendering the post-World Wars I and II ideals of peace and development institutions almost unrecognizable except in name. For one, the “use of force” and adaptations of gunboat diplomacy that now includes the B-1B strategic bomber diplomacy, continues on nonchalant. For another, the new international economic order that arose from the foundations of the Bretton Woods Institutions have become supplemental instruments of conflict and coercion i.e. economic sanctions, rather than dedicated tools for peace and development. Finally, the other obverse side of the post-World War II coin of peace and development i.e. across the board disarmament as a very prominent agenda item in the General Assembly of the United Nations, is stuck at disarming North Korea of nuclear weapons.
[On the use of force, the latest and strongest revelation that major Western Powers still adhere to the medieval doctrine of “might is right”, categorically eschewed in the Charter of the United Nations and the very rationale for its creation, are two events that are seemingly related :
An opportunity to refashion international economic and political interaction between States may yet be in an Indo-Pacific regional cradle with a rising star in the north in the lead. China’s message and statement to the world is about pursuing peace through shared development and prosperity. Two years ago the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative was announced to the world, which is about expanding trade and development reconstructing the overland and maritime silk roads backstopped with infrastructure and finance facilities. On the finance aspect, OBOR modifies and sanitizes the present political/security complexion of the Bretton Woods Institutions. From all indications, the OBOR and support institutions have seen a largely favorable reception and participation among Central Indo-Pacific countries.
A “revolutionary” evolution in the conduct of world economic relations
In the above two aspects in the present-day life among nations – economic and political, necessary changes or adjustments to existing arrangements for guaranteeing world security and instruments of development and prosperity, cannot anymore happen as originally conceived and provided for in the relevant international instruments involved. For example, the amendatory provisions in the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are well past-due in their compulsory review provisions. A second possible ammendatory mode built-in into the abovementioned international agreements, the most important that the world has ever witnessed since unprecedented in the complexity of its formulation, and that is directly relevant to the current situation in the Central Indo-Pacific and possibly elsewhere in the world, is accepted and demonstrated as unworkable. Any amendments or changes in the above aspects in international relations, otherwise rules-based under international agreements, can henceforth happen only through customary State Practise or progressive development of international law through State Practise.
As suggested, in earlier times, political and economic spheres of influence was established through the use of force. An area of significant modern developments is in regard to the international economic order in a new phase relating to market expansion. Historically, the initial first phase in the early push towards expansion of the domestic market economy can be said to be the colonial era that began with the Age of Discovery in Europe. This was a one-way thrust towards acquisition of new territories to secure commodities needed for the colonial masters. This early manifestation of outward expansion of domestic economic activity was accomplished through the use of force (to adapt a terminology of modern times) or at least the coercive manifestations and display thereof, as abovesaid. A whole new world was subjugated towards this purpose, including the United States of America.
Just as soon as the United States of America was able to break free of its British colonizers, proclaiming political slogans that still echoes up to the present times, it imposed its new-found political clout and military strength by force in its Caribbean front yard aimed at cleansing the regional sea of unwanted foreign influences; and shortly thereafter marching inexorably towards the Pacific Ocean. This can be said to mark a second phase in the “use of force” for market expansion, led by the United States of America, when it forcibly opened markets across the Pacific in East Asia that included Japan, Philippines and China.
The early shape and beginnings of a new era in international economic
and political order – ENTER THE DRAGON ?
There are clear indications that the world at this point in time is entering a third phase of world economic and political order that can quickly reshape that constructed in the wake of the First and Second World Wars. After a hundred years of humiliation, China has largely successfully reconstituted (except for Taiwan, an unfinished revolution), reconsolidated and reasserted itself under the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The recently concluded 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has proclaimed that China Rising is entering a new era of greater engagement in the world, spreading “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. In this new era in China Rising, the overt manifestations in implementing the Xi Jinping doctrine are the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), oriented towards trade and development.
The regional thrust in the foregoing trade and economic initiatives is obvious; and the geopolitical and geo-economic regional fulcrum for China, as it has been since time immemorial, is the Central Indo-Pacific; and so it seems destined to be in the Asian Century. It is a peace and development thrust through trade and not aid, and sans geo-political/political hidden agenda; a flashback to the Middle Kingdom. And in this outward bound expansion of national influence through the Xi Jinping doctrine, China must consider adding new avenues to promote the doctrine and its accompanying principles abroad. One area is in regard to regional ocean governance that would promote maritime security and connectivity which defines the maritime aspect of the expansion of trade and economic cooperation/integration complementary to the OBOR.
As above suggested, adjustments to world economic and political order is the call of times. And as above demonstrated, the OBOR and associated financial facilities can be a melding of economic and political elements; the new shape of things to come in the international arena. In the context of the Central Indo-Pacific as a virtual archipelagic continent, a social aspect would be the care of the marine environment and resources that has direct impacts on health and livelihood of coastal communities, and the regional blue economy as a whole. OBOR must therefore institute ocean governance as a region-scale associated protective measures, to borrow from an accepted IMO (International Maritime Organization) protective mechanism for sensitive sea areas.
Regional ocean governance complementary to the OBOR trading and commerce infrastructure
The Central Indo-Pacific as a maritime region that is a virtual archipelagic continent, imposes a challenge in regard to constructing maritime infrastructure to promote connectivity and maritime security. In present-day context, this would be the perfect ocean governance component infrastructure to the OBOR. An aspect of maritime security is in regard to ocean governance characterized in these contemporary times as non-traditional maritime security concerns, and wherein a legal and scientific regional framework is already contained in the UNCLOS at Part IX thereof on enclosed/semi-enclosed seas; and therefore rules-based. Regional ocean governance is an essential complement to the OBOR maritime infrastructure which, backstopped with finance support through the AIIB and economic framework under the RCEP, would facilitate regional economic integration projecting “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. Thus, a parallel burden for China, is establishing the ocean governance infrastructure constructed jointly and cooperatively with regional stakeholders and other interested States alongside the OBOR. Regional cooperation for ocean governance in the Central Indo-Pacific under UNCLOS Part IX would also serve as a political mechanism to strengthen socio-political links that is not about hegemonism nor constructing a sphere of influence.
In light of contemporary developments advancing marine environmental protection and resources conservation in ever larger swathes of the ocean environment, even beyond national jurisdictions, it is appropriate in the Central Indo-Pacific to develop a regional ocean governance strategy – an Ocean Governance PLUS. Such an overall regional ocean governance blueprint would dovetail into regional events such as the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 (AEC2015) striving for maritime security and connectivity. As above indicated, ocean governance would be an essential complement to the OBOR initiative backstopped by the AIIB and the RCEP; building-blocks that heralds China’s new era and facilitate regional economic and political integration. Ocean governance would be a critical thrust in the short to medium term which must be defined for a clear path forward. Needless to say, it is also all the more complex and complicated in the context of the characteristic regional features of the Central Indo-Pacific maritime region, and threats to the marine environment and human activities such as shipping.
A strategic regional action plan for ocean governance in the Central Indo-Pacific
To help define the agenda for an ocean governance strategic action plan for the Central Indo-Pacific, an important factor is a keen awareness and consideration that the strategic objective is to construct a collective and cooperative ocean governance for the Central Indo-Pacific, non-traditional maritime security concerns in the regional scope, for the following reasons:
The above scheme of things can be initiated under a China-Philippines partnership, but ultimately under ASEAN-China. China will expectedly attribute to itself a greater interest and attention to geo-economic and geopolitical aspects, as underpinned at this initial stage by the RCEP and the AIIB in the context of the OBOR. The Philippines would be best suited for a central role in regional ocean governance and non-traditional maritime security as dictated by its geo-strategic, geo-political and geo-economic centrality situation. This is a rather ambitious proposition for both countries, and the target maritime region for that matter, but built on coherence and comprehensiveness which cannot in any case be otherwise in the context of the Central Indo-Pacific.
The Role of Non-governmental Organizations in Post-Cold War International Relations
The recent political/geo-political history of the world have demonstrated that traditional interstate interaction through diplomacy is now supplemented through modalities with lessened sovereign characteristics, less formal avenues. In the Charter of the United Nations, an added level of direct multilateral interaction between governments of nation-States is through Specialized Agencies, inter-governmental organizations, or international organizations. They are Track 1 agencies but focused mainly on addressing what are now characterized as “non-traditional security concerns”. In the aftermath of the Cold War, a new civilianized version have arisen, variously known as Track 1 ½ and Track 2, that are involved in all spectrum of international relations - i.e. geopolitical/political and even economic and social fields called Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). NGO’s now truly plays the role of a shadow government as extension of Track 1, and officials and personnel are called “unofficial diplomats”. This represents a second very significant change in the conduct of official relations between States. They are also used by States as vehicles for reaching out through people-to-people exchanges.
The link between the development of foreign policy and its implementation in regard to Track 1 ½ and Track 2 organizations is encapsulated by US Secretary State Rex Tillerson explaining the role of USAID. In an interview after his remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC on October 18, 2017, and in reply to a question from CSIS CEO John J. Hamre, “What do you see as the relationship between the State Department and USAID going forward?” Secretary Tillerson’s reply to this specific question is reproduced below in full, in order not to compromise in any way on the clarity and content of his statement. Succinctly, he said as follows:
“State Department develops foreign policy, it develops the strategies and the tactics, and an important element of our execution of foreign policy is development aid and assistance, whether it be in direct humanitarian assistance, food programs to address dire needs, disaster response, or whether it’s in developing democratic capacity and institutional capacity. So USAID is an important enablement tool of the foreign policy. They don’t make policy, but they are critical to our execution of foreign policy. And that’s really where we want that expertise to reside, and I view them as in many – using lingo of my prior life, they are a center of expertise when it comes to aid and development programs. Nobody does it better than they do; not just directly, but they have tremendous organizational and convening capacity to work through other multilateral organizations. Whether it’s UN organizations, NGOs, direct in-country capability, they are really the experts in the world for doing that. They have the relationships, they have the contacts, they have the process, they have the procedures and they’re vital to our execution of foreign policy. And therefore, they become integral to how we develop foreign policy, how we test its viability, and then how we lay out the plans, the strategy and the tactics for executing against that policy. X X X So that’s – that’s the relationship and one of the things we want to be sure is that everyone understands their roles and everyone understands what’s not their role. On the State Department side, our expertise is the analysis, the assessment, the development of foreign policy, the carrying of the diplomatic integration of all of that. USAID, though, they are really the experts and that we’re – the State Department doesn’t have that expertise. It really resides over there.”
As seen from the above Tillerson account, an arm of the Department of State is USAID as a focused enabler and “diplomacy multiplier”, in what otherwise is also known as “soft power” diplomacy. The USAID model would be a good model for addressing non-traditional maritime security concerns through ocean governance with an all-inclusivity among stakeholders, whether regional States bordering the Central Indo-Pacific enclosed/semi-enclosed seas, other interested States, and relevant international organizations/non-organizations, in an UNCLOS Part IX implementation. UNCLOS Part IX at Article 123 have identified and included “relevant international organizations” as among stakeholders in ocean governance. It is not such a long stretch to include non-governmental organizations especially in their effectiveness in mission specialization and people to people reach-out, as cited by Secretary Tillerson.
Conclusion : In international relations . . . a rules-based anarchy? A misrule of law?
As it has always been since the birth of nation-States and diplomatic interaction among them, relations among nations have always been anarchical, and each State looks subjectively after its own vital interests. Any resulting agreement among States arises from a commonality or mutuality of interests. Accommodations, whether mutual or seemingly unilateral, always results from subjective assessments of vital interests. This is but the very nature of relations among nation-States. Another facet in the conduct of relations among States in regard to a jealous protection or promotion of national interests would be enforcing a proper rules-based order. This is because there is no supranational authority to impose or enforce order despite binding agreements. This was how it was always then as it is now, even in light of eloquent preambles proclaiming and declaring the sanctity of treaties and international agreements, and their observance in good faith. The time-honored principle of PACTA SUNT SERVANDA has been honored more in the breach than in its observance, so to say. Moreover, it has an antidote that is REBUS SIC STANTIBUS or “changed circumstances” which a treaty partner can always invoke to unilaterally cancel a treaty. So is it with another international law principle of “jus cogens” or so-called preemptory norms. No treaty or peremptory principles of international law can beat human creativity in eluding agreed responsibilities and undertakings, especially on the part of the stronger State party.
The recent real time pronouncement of the above state of international affairs is “America First” and foremost, in all aspects and subjects of international relations. To borrow from an old worn-out cliché, international law is the refuge of scoundrels. This is nothing new and no surprise, it is International Relations and History of Diplomacy 101 revisited but, necessary for a proper understanding and appreciation of action by States claiming interests in the South China Sea. Realpolitic trump (pun intended) everything else in international relations. National interest is always primordial and predominating as in . . . AMERICA FIRST. In international relations, to borrow from the title of a famous book, the virture is always . . . SELFISHNESS. And, it might be added, implemented through an independent foreign policy.
With all its broken rules, it is still nonetheless a wonderful world community of nations and human progress. As it is said, this is an imperfect world. So perhaps it has to be likewise in regard to international relations. But while nevertheless striving for perfection, it must not be lost sight of that, absent a supra-national authority, all that nations can strive for is perfecting generally acceptable codes of conduct which again, cannot even be enforceable short of the possibility of retaliation in kind, the application of economic sanctions or threat or use of force, which in domestic national jurisdiction is called the crime of “grave coercion”. This state of affairs is now best demonstrated in The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague PCA) ruling in the rules-based UNCLOS unilateral compulsory arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China, which have instead concretized the conflict “status quo”. Another recent example is the case brought by Nicaragua against the United States of America before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the former prevailed, but the United States would not honor the ruling until persuaded by world public opinion before the United Nations General Assembly.
It is said that the peace that the world has seen since World War II, for seventy (70) years, which has been nothing much but the absence of war, is attributable to the United Nations Organization. Although it has become but a “talk shop”, it is said better than a “shooting war”. If there is no alternative to the present world order, then better an uneasy truce, what President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address described as “a hard and bitter peace”, than a “hot war”. World security is now enforced, not through collective security arrangements as defined in the Charter of the United Nations, but through “ad hoc” coalition security of the willing calling themselves the “international community”. This is invariably led by a Superpower champion of democracy and the rule of law, ultimately resulting in collective insecurity. The complete distortion of collective security has been seen to occur when economic enticements or withholding of economic benefits is dangled before intended or target participants, and thus resulting in either a coalition of the unwilling or those of the more-than-willing.
As earlier suggested, there is a lot of talk presently going on in regard to a new world order but harking back to the Peace of Westphalia, ushering a new era of collective security for our time. One can only hope, that this time around, things can be better at least in the Central Indo-Pacific region with added modern-day general principles and essential elements. Taking into account the political/geopolitical, economic/geo-economic and socio-cultural characteristics of the Indo-Pacific region, these new added elements can derive from the UNCLOS in particular at Part IX thereof relating to ocean governance in enclosed/semi-enclosed seas, regional security arrangements extracted from Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, the Bandung Declaration, the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, the ASEAN Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, and the ASEAN Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone treaty. A constructive value-added enhancement to the traditional conduct of international relations and diplomacy would be the role of non-governmental organizations as the more effective instrument for people-to-people reach-out, addressing non-traditional maritime security concerns. China’s new era must give this thrust important consideration with special focus on the Central Indo-Pacific and the blue economy.
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13 November 2017
Philippines and China – rather than geo-political competition, a partnership in regional geo-economic cooperation?
The Spratly archipelago disputes currently faces two developments that are intended to help manage the conflict situation while at the same time allow economic activities to carry on. These two activities, now focused between Philippines and China, have their beginnings well before the disputes reached The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in a compulsory unilateral arbitration case under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, which in January 2013 the Philippines brought against China. On 12 July 2016, The Hague PCA rendered its ruling in favor of the Philippines in what was highly anticipated to be the harbinger of peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes under a rule of law.
Fourteen (14) months thereafter, the ruling has had no constructive influence on the conflict situation; it has instead hardened positions and heightened tensions. What is shaping up by this time is a reactivation of the two-pronged but unrelated approaches towards helping manage or resolve the conflict situation. The first and early approach is the development of a Code of Conduct Among Parties in the South China Sea, or Code of Conduct. This was initiated under the ASEAN in the latter part of the nineteen-nineties. In 2002, however, a Declaration of Conduct was signed between ASEAN and China which, aside from a prescribed conduct among the Parties to the Spratly archipelago conflict, also provided for the continued development of the Code of Conduct. Last August, ASEAN-China Senior Officials agreed on a “framework” around which shall be constructed an “enforceable” Code of Conduct which however shall take effect only after there has been a “full implementation” of the Declaration of Conduct. The ASEAN-China track on the development of a Declaration/Code of Conduct has now taken almost two decades with no conclusion in sight despite the recent agreement on a “framework”, and lingering doubts on enforceability. In the meantime, the disputes situation continues to percolate and escalate, with extra-regional interventions.
Although considered an ASEAN-China concern, the principal antagonists are the five (5) claimant countries bordering the South China Sea which are China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. In 2004, three countries among them, China, Philippines and Vietnam, entered into a joint cooperation/development arrangement for energy resources in the contested areas in the Spratly archipelago. This was the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with successful and completed results on the exploration aspect (i.e. seismic survey) and was on the verge of graduating towards the joint exploitation stage when it was suddenly suspended unilaterally by the Philippines. The reason for the suspension was the increasing local agitation against the joint project as being unconstitutional and, at the same time, a corruption scandal surfaced in the local media related to commercial dealings with oil companies involved in the exploitation aspect.
In the meantime, the government administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III came into power which altogether scrapped the JMSU while pursuing the unilateral compulsory arbitration case against China before The Hague PCA. The suspension of the JMSU by the Arroyo administration and its scrapping by the Benigno S. Aquino III administration have further hardened the local situation in the Philippines when The Hague PCA handed down its ruling on 12 July 2016 in which the Philippines won with an “overwhelming” and “clean sweep” victory. The ruling carries the implication that the Philippines has no need to resort to joint cooperation/development with China to exploit energy resources in the maritime areas whose jurisdiction the ruling has vested in the Philippines.
China and Philippines are now in discussions over joint exploration/development activities in the Reed Bank for energy resources. In this bilateral initiative, the main concern is on the Philippines side because domestic opposition groups claim that joint exploration or development in the Reed Bank would necessarily disadvantage the Philippines on two counts. Firstly, such arrangements would contravene the Constitution of the Philippines in regard to the exploitation of the country’s natural resources (including energy resources), as such activity is reserved exclusively for Filipino citizens. The argument posits that the Reed Bank is not a contested area as confirmed by The Hague PCA ruling, and hence it is not joint exploration/joint development that is under consideration but simply a partnership arrangement with foreign companies including Chinese companies. Secondly, a big issue for the Philippines presumes and anticipates that China, in a joint exploration development would never accept less than 50-50 share in the resulting commercial arrangement; whereas a Philippines-registered corporation as majority stakeholder in a partnership arrangement would require more than 50% shareholding.
The disputes situation in the Spratlys archipelago therefore remains at a virtual stalemate, both on the ASEAN-China Code of Conduct, and on the aspect of joint cooperation/development even on the bilateral context between China and the Philippines. What might be urgently needed is to go around the deadlock and introduce an alternative narrative and approach that is in regard to regional ocean governance cooperation around which Joint Cooperation/Development of shared resources would be pursued. In other words, the ocean governance narrative which is about the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment, resources and biodiversity, and even transboundary marine pollution, would encompass the exploration and exploitation of marine and seabed resources such as fisheries and energy. This would be a rules-based proposition under the UNCLOS in regard to collective ocean governance cooperation among States bordering enclosed/semi-enclosed seas that transcends maritime jurisdictions and disputes situations.
This alternative ocean governance narrative is a strategy, initially between Philippines and China, to defuse the political tensions caused by the Spratly archipelago disputes. At the same time it will expectedly help shift the political tensions into a more benign atmosphere of collective regional geo-economic cooperation expanded to the Central Indo-Pacific, as dictated by characteristic regional features in this virtual archipelagic continent pursuant to the UNCLOS. This strategic shift could usher in a more permanent resolution of the disputes situation not only in the Spratly archipelago but addressing maritime related disputes endemic elsewhere in the Central Indo-Pacific region albeit in lesser degrees as mostly geo-economic concerns. There is nothing new in this alternative approach as it is already provided for in the UNCLOS at Part IX thereof, in its legal and scientific framework.
Geo-politics or geo-economics? The ASEAN is an economic grouping in maritime Asia and thus maritime geo-economics is a regional core interest. It can take a truly appropriate leadership role in this direction that would conduce towards a peaceful management and resolution of the Spratly archipelago disputes situation contributory in a significant way to a wider regional economic/political integration built upon AEC 2015. This initiative must be fully supported by China as an important component element to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) maritime infrastructure project, as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) led by China, which in both aspects about geo-economics.
For the Philippines, on whether to pursue a geo-political or geo-economic approach to the Spratly archipelago disputes situation with China, Senator Ralph Recto, the Senate President Pro-Tempore, urged the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter S. Cayetano in regard to the Reed Bank joint development with China, to find a “constitutionally-compliant win-win arrangement” to secure the country’s energy future. This is because the country’s Malampaya oil field that provides power to 45 per cent of Luzon’s electricity grid and within close proximity to the Recto Bank, is expected to run out of natural gas by 2024. This does not seem to be a very complicated formula, and with good faith and goodwill, a mutually favorable arrangement should be within easy grasp between Philippines and China.
And besides, the Philippines may really have no other workable/credible options other than the geo-economic route. Since birth, the Philippines has been a differently-abled State when it comes to national defense, completely deluded by a promised protective umbrella of an extra-regional super-Power treaty ally.
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“(T)he Central Indo-Pacific is one of the world’s principal marine biogeographic realms. It is made up of the eastern and western Pacific oceans, and the seas linking the two – the South China Sea, the seas and straits of Southeast Asia, the Coral Sea, the waters separating Australia from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and Australia’s northern continental shelf . . . it is the geographic and geopolitical heart …”.
-Joseph Christensen, Malcom Tull Editors (2014), Historical Perspectives of Fisheries Exploitation in the Indo-Pacific, MARE Publication Series 12, Springer).
Introduction – This is a proposition for a durable legal order to underpin a collective regional maritime security cooperation system for the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific. The seas of the Central Indo-Pacific are enclosed and semi-enclosed seas confronted with all possible threats from human activities and natural events which in no small way are aggravated by its geomorphological and geographical configuration in the setting of a virtual archipelagic continent where the sea dominates the land. This large maritime area is notable not only for the aforestated characteristic circumstances, but especially so for the almost total absence of appropriate ocean management and governance mechanisms. The proposition entails the prompt implementation of UNCLOS Part IX on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas as the legal and scientific framework for regional ocean governance, addressing non-traditional maritime security concerns in the Central Indo-Pacific.
Non-traditional maritime security concerns in the Central Indo-Pacific has direct implications on regional and world trade. The Central Indo-Pacific maritime region is shaping up to be the socio-economic and political fulcrum of the Asian Century that would benefit from greater connectivity in maritime infrastructure and port development, and the good order, safety and security of navigation being constructed/institutionalized under a maritime legal order and science-based ocean governance system under the UNCLOS.
Regional economic integrationist developments focused on the region such as the AEC2015, APEC, EU, ASEM, FTAAP, the TTP and RCEP, highlight the importance of the Central Indo-Pacific maritime region. These regional economic arrangements, obviously with varying trade and financial agenda but a congruence of economic goals in large part played out in the Central Indo-Pacific region, share a common concern in establishing a safe and secure maritime connectivity to support a wider economic/political integration.
Relatedly to the concern for unhampered maritime connectivity and safety/security of navigation as a a primordial concern in the Central Indo-Pacific, the aforementioned economic groupings have also long expressed concern over outstanding maritime jurisdictional disputes in the South China Sea, the Spratly archipelago in particular, that could hamstring development of maritime connectivity and adversely affect the overall regional economic/political integration process.
In light of the foregoing considerations, it is further proposed that ASEAN take a leadership and ownership role in this regional ocean governance undertaking inasmuch as the seas of ASEAN are the predominating sea area in the Central Indo-Pacific. It is the regional breadth of the Central Indo-Pacific where the impacts of any existing regional maritime legal order and ocean governance system, or the absence of any such, is most critical and directly affecting the aspirations of regional States especially the ASEAN countries, for a wider regional economic/political integration. It also has direct impacts on the three pillars of AEC 2015, especially in regard to food security and disaster mitigation in coastal areas.
Ocean governance concerns in the Central Indo-Pacific - The Central Indo-Pacific non-traditional maritime security concerns relates to an “anxious” regional maritime security situation which is also affected by the South China Sea disputes situation. More specifically, the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific, which are inadequately charted, is heavily traversed by international maritime traffic (a significant volume involves the transport of oil and noxious/toxic cargo), a burgeoning intra-regional trade, hundreds of unregulated fishing vessels from regional States, a developing cruise tourism and an unwarranted build-up of military naval activities that involves extra-regional Powers. The foregoing human activities altogether present clear danger and concomitant threats to the marine resources, environment, biodiversity, the coastal zone economy, and overall maritime security. Another pervasive threat situation includes natural events wherein cooperative regional ocean governance, including search and rescue and ocean modelling for example, would be a critical factor in disaster mitigation, relief and recovery.
In the Central Indo-Pacific region where the marine geology and geography presents natural safety and security of navigation hazards and challenges as non-traditional maritime security concerns, approximately one-half of the totality of the Central Indo-Pacific regional seas are archipelagic waters. Under UNCLOS Part IV on the regime of the archipelagic State, transit rights of foreign vessels through archipelagic waters as well as other rights and duties of archipelagic States stands to be reconciled “mutatis mutandis” (UNCLOS Article 54) with other transit passage regimes under the UNCLOS. Hence there is need to tidy-up and better define, reconcile, or harmonize the rights and duties of archipelagic States in regard to transit passage in archipelagic waters, with the equally important ocean governance regime under UNCLOS Part IX, especially in regard to freedom of navigation.
The seas of the Central Indo-Pacific, sharing “characteristic regional features” and with extraordinary marine biodiversity and bountiful marine resources would qualify this large marine ecoregion/ecosystem as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) or a Regional Marine Park, necessitating associated protective measures against shipping activities such as Marine Environment High Risk Areas (MEHRAs) for ports and other complementary maritime infrastructure. In regard to maritime security management system and infrastructure to serve shipping/port activity, dangerously lacking or deficient are Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS), Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) systems, designated sea lanes of communications (SLOCs), and an efficient maritime communications network, not to mention critical navigational aids.
A rules-based legal and scientific regional ocean governance framework - The broad legal and scientific framework for cooperation among States bordering enclosed/semi-enclosed seas is already established under the UNCLOS at Part IX thereof. UNCLOS Part IX is a compelled cooperative undertaking among States bordering such seas whether or not there are maritime disputes of whatever nature among concerned States. Most of the concerned Central Indo-Pacific participating States, all bordering interconnected enclosed/semi-enclosed seas, are Parties to the UNCLOS and thereby already bound to cooperate in a collective and cooperative ocean governance scheme. This means that the otherwise laborious process of organization is therefore rendered simplified for the principal participating States concerned, inasmuch as the cooperation framework and mechanism in its legal and scientific aspects are already prescribed under UNCLOS Part IX and merely awaiting implementation. Furthermore, the ocean governance system for the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific must be collectively and cooperatively managed through an “appropriate regional organization” (UNCLOS Article 123) adapting a centralized system as in the EU and the Arctic Council structural model.
In regard to joint ocean management of enclosed/semi-enclosed seas, which is an aspect of non-traditional maritime security concerns, UNCLOS Part IX lays down the principal collective obligation, a coordinating function among States bordering such seas; that such States should cooperate as follows:
Institution-building for regional maritime security cooperation in the Central Indo-Pacific – UNCLOS Article 123 presents two options in undertaking the collective and cooperative obligations contained therein, among States bordering enclosed/semi-enclosed seas, namely : (1) directly among States bordering enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, or (2) through an appropriate regional organization. In the context of the Central Indo-Pacific sea areas sharing characteristic regional features (UNCLOS Article 197) complicated by the South China Sea disputes situation, the aforestated second option, especially in considering complex administrative and policy coordination aspects of a collective and cooperative ocean governance and security, is the only effective way to guarantee a durable maritime security system. Coordination of both the conservation and exploitation of the living resources of the sea, and the implementation of the rights and duties of States in the special situation and context of the Central Indo-Pacific region is an infinitely complicated and sensitive balancing act with implications on regional/international peace and security.
Instituting and coordinating joint management of the marine environment and sharing of resources in the context of the regional seas of the Central Indo-Pacific as a network of interconnected enclosed/semi-enclosed seas, with interconnected archipelagic waters within, is not a one-off effort. It requires continuous and dynamic cooperative ocean governance management in order to forestall geo-economic issues from compromising the cooperation arrangement in all its aspects including joint cooperation/joint development arrangements. The seas of the Central Indo-Pacific, which is a natural magnet of geo-political/geo-economic and socio-cultural influences, in its collectivity must be treated and managed in the concept of a regional “common heritage of mankind” under a central governing authority, in some ways with adaptations from the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) and the Arctic Council. Adapting the concept of a regional “common heritage of mankind” for the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific would also make for democratizing the sharing of its resources with “geographically disadvantaged States” (an UNCLOS conference notion) within the region such as Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh with very limited access to the sea and its resources.
To complete the protective loop applicable to the marine environment, resources and biodiversity for the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific, there are two ongoing initiatives under the United Nations that address the seabed and the water column, namely :
Conclusion : a new maritime international order - regard to collective and cooperative regional ocean governance, awareness must already be inculcated among policy-makers and scientists in regard to anticipated expansion of the writ for the protection of the marine environment, resources and biodiversity under the aforementioned Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ) Agreement. This is but the latest manifestation of expansion of ocean protective mechanisms going further out to sea, and impervious to maritime dispute situations or maritime national jurisdictional limits. As noted earlier, the Central Indo-Pacific community can avail of the efforts of this BBNJ exercise and consider melding or adopting appropriate implementing mechanisms from this ongoing UN exercise, thereby to establish in the Central Indo-Pacific maritime region the tone and beginnings of a new international maritime order. These new parameters for ocean conservation and governance is not about a revision or amendment of the UNCLOS. This is about maximizing and optimizing the application of scientific tools in a legal framework under the UNCLOS, incorporating the latest scientific methods and approaches appropriately suited to the characteristic regional features of the Central Indo-Pacific sea area. This would dramatize the “pivot” from managing human activities to facilitate commercial shipping, to regulating shipping and other human activities, including circumscribing military naval operations such as freedom of navigation, towards protecting the ocean environment to sustainably manage and conserve marine resources and biodiversity. This would be a progressive development of international law encouraged under the Charter of the United Nations, and through a universal, collective and cooperative ocean governance . . . sans frontieres. Ocean governance must increase, maritime sovereignty issues must decrease.
Finally, it is further suggested that the foregoing regional ocean governance proposition for the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific can be anchored initially on a Philippines-China-ASEAN maritime security treaty alliance; an Alliance for Ocean Conservation appropriate to the seas of the Central Indo-Pacific.
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01 October 2017
Yes, I accepted the scientific reports of global warming resulting in melting of the Ross Sea glaciers, the open water over the North Pole several years before expected. Yes, I saw the increased erosion and higher tides, as well as the increase in storms and natural disasters. It is easily viewed and accepted on television along with all the other sensationalism we are inundated with in a daily basis …… but will it really affect us? No, oh no, that is something that happens to others …. over there, not to us. Yes, we understand; yes, we accept that the problem is serious and that we need to do something. It is not something we can totally stop, but we can mitigate the impacts – yes, we understand ….. BUT DO WE? Bitter reality then struck me with a vengeance.
This story relates to Region VIII – the islands of Leyte, Samar and Bilaran.
November 8, 2013, the worst typhoon in recorded history bore down on our home town, Tacloban City, Leyte Province, Philippines. After sweeping aside and totally damagingGuiuan, Samar in its first impact with land, it seemed to gather even more strength and speed as it headed across Leyte Gulf for eastern Leyte and Tacloban. The second major impact with land was between Tanauan and Palo with sustained winds at 315 kph and gusts to 380kph, the highest winds recorded in history tearing up these communities, and bearing down into the 11 barangaysmaking up the Parish of San Jose, one of the small villagethat make up the 111 barangays of Tacloban. These history making winds were followed by the double strike of a storm surge of 5.5-6m in San Jose – almost two stories high. This surge increased in magnitude as it hit the harbour mouth and sailed up the estuary to San Juanico Bridge that joined the province of Samar to Leyte. This narrowing of the harbour created ahigher and faster surge of about 7.5 m – a full two stories high. Tanauan and Palo saw three waves build the storm surge with the last reputed to be higher than the coconut trees by a few survivors. Three to four hours and it was over for Region VIII – our home. The storm then carried on with only slightly less wind power, but no storm surge into Region V and VI making a further 16 landfallsand leaving behind a swath of destruction from the very high winds.
The rains and winds abated momentarily to the aftermathleaving more than just plastic found high in the trees. The body count started with an initial estimate for TaclobanCity alone estimated at 10,000.The official body count by the national Government stopped at 6100 and official government reports were directed to use the phrase ‘over 6100 casualties’ without further reference to actual numbers. Now eleven weeks later what do we have – still an average of three new bodies being found daily in Tacloban and surrounding area.
Why did so many people die?Very few people understood what was meant by ‘storm surge’, even the educated. The national meteorological agency, PAGASA, fully aware and experienced with the many annual typhoons of the past, appeared to discount the CNN warnings of the potential power of the storm surge and power of the wind which was predicted to be the highest in recorded history. Eventually, on the evening of 7th November, approximately 12 hours before the storm hit,PAGASAmade an announcement through the President of the Republic that it was going to be a very dangerous storm. Evacuation centres had already been chosen, unfortunately many having been selected near, or next to the sea by officials neither aware of the power of the winds to come, nor the knowledge of the impact of a storm surge up to 7.5 m with the potential power and damage of a tsunami. Officially in the Philippines, this storm was never rated as a super storm or super typhoon although CNN and other international media had been calling it such for almost a week. A few weeks after the Typhoon Haiyan, the Government did finally officially allow recognition of it as a super typhoon and a national disaster. A question which immediately comes to mind – could PAGASAhave saved lives if the typhoon and meaning of storm surge was explained better, or it was explained that it was like a tsunami, or was the lackadaisical attitude of the people with respect to typhoon a cultural factor that could not have been changed?
What was the aftermath? Loss of lives, tremendous loss of basic infrastructure and services such as housing, water and electricity, and loss of the two basic staples of food security – fisheries and agriculture. The food production sector and food security were the most immediate concerns for four reasons:
1. Relief food would normally last for approximately one to two months and the president declared that food relief would not be required after end of December;
2. If the farmers missed the planting seasons for rice (December – January) and basic vegetable and corn crops (January) then these key staples would not be available locally until Juneor July at the earliest, and for the main staple food product - rain-fed rice, the next season was for September, thus threatening the onset of food shortages;
3. Without the fishermen back in their boats and fishing, and the fish farms operational with infrastructure support systems (ice plants, landing sites and basic local fish markets) operating, the potential to supply the second most important food product – fish was critical, thus further increasing the potential of critical food shortages;
4. Loss of housing, livelihoods and key food crops, plus the total loss of 265,000 ha of coconut trees exacerbated the impact on food shortages with the coconut impacting over 1 million coconut farmers who would not see a coconut harvest for the next 5-7 years while the coconuts reached maturity.
The threatening negative impact on future food security and the basic survival for farmers, especially coconut farmers, and those dependent upon farm and fish products was increasing incrementally with the receipt of the damage reports.
Farmers lost 63,234 ha. of rice crops, 265,000 ha of coconut farms including 33 million trees damaged with 15 million totally destroyed; 3,800ha of corn fields and infrastructure with a total estimated value of some Php18.85 billion of which Php16 billion was coconut losses negatively impacting future survival of over 1.1 million farmers. In fisheries the total loss of more than 9,500 small bancas; more than 9,300 motorized bancas, 54 commercial vessels, and 27,000 fishing gears coupled with several thousands of fish cages in the 9 mariculture parks and all hatcheries destroyed, the loss of 10 ice plants, 45 landing stations and local fish markets, combined with the infrastructure and impact on some 30,000 fisher families was valued at 1.68 billion Pp. And being the really wet season – the rains continued, and continued ………..
The international donor community rallied immediately to the national disaster, assisting with damage assessments and setting up emergency offices in the three regions hit by the disaster. The national government was still reeling from the extent of the damage and were slow to accept the fact that it was a calamity of such proportions that nothing could have prepared the area hit by the track of the typhoon, except perhaps a clearer realization of the potential disaster of such a super storm.The United Nations agencies set up the UN Command Centre in Tacloban and with the International Non-Government Organizations (INGOs), commenced the hard field work of damage assessment, collection of the perished and assisting the survivors. It became clear in the first week that the double whammy of the high winds and storm surge made eastern, southern and western Samar and eastern Leyte the hardest hit areas of the typhoon. The UN Cluster system for coordination of all activities and inputs of UN and INGOs was quickly set up to address – food security (co-chaired by World Food Programme and FAO of the UN); shelter; security; health; gender, etc., became active immediately. These were later matched by the Government clusters which were organized slightly differently and incorporated a mix of the UN clusters, but these were coordinated under the expert eye of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
There was an initial directive that all food relief operations would cease at the end of December and all organizations were to move towards rehabilitation as soon as possible. In early January, it was realized that food reliefoperations would need to continue to the most vulnerable families for the next few months. At the end of December, basic clean up on all major roads and streets in the affected area of Region VIII was well organized. Electricity was restored in the city centre and some areas in Palo, but in some city barangays it would not be available for months, one estimate being May. Stores are beginning to open and evacuees were beginning to return home to Tacloban and the region to rebuild.
Food Security remained a growing concern. World Food Programme (WFP) and the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD)of the Philippines worked tirelessly to provide relief food packages to the government and communities.FAOs focus was on the potential threat of severe food shortages if farmers could not meet their planting season in December/January for rice, and January for corn and vegetables. Without this planting season – basic rice, corn would not be available until May or even September with critical food shortages to be expected. Moreover, without fishermen back in their boats, the food security problem became more critical. Targets for rice replanting were set for Region VIII with 50% of farmers normally planting in December. This meant that almost 30,000 ha of damaged rice fields had to be reseeded by end of December. FAO started rice seed distribution on 10 December and by year end with the assistance of OXFAM, were able to be just under the 30,000 ha – some 27-28,000 ha were addressed. The pressure and efforts cannot weaken – the unceasing daily heavy rains are continuing to make building back very difficult, the infrastructure damage made offices and accommodation a challenge for donor agencies, and the lack of basic electricity and potable water in many areas was exacerbating the situation with people flocking to the centres where such services existed. These acts in themselves greatly increase the peace and security and food security issues.BUT, progress was being made, albeit slowly. Tindog (Stand Up) Region VIII – we will survive. It will take time.
Many lessons were learned, the harshest being that even in disasters, political influence, partisanship, ignorance, arrogance, enmities and corruption surface to muddy the waters. This resulted in an unforgiveable disrespect for those who perished and their families, many of these individuals labelled as debris to meet government political agenda. Such political partisanship and later internal government corruption in the re-routing of relief goods factor in to slow the rate of recovery. One such example is the ongoing investigation in the temporary shelters being built. The ICRC built an adequate temporary accommodation for a family of five at about 17 sq m for 30,000 PhP per unit while government built bunk house accommodation at 8.6 sq m per the same size family cost well over 150,000 per unit. It begs the question as to how can a responsible government allow such a thing to happen? And that is only part of the corruption story unfolding as we write.
These concerns and challenges to future development, mitigation of natural disasterscan only be resolved through good memories at future elections and the selection of candidates who have the country good at heart and not self-enrichment and self-aggrandisement. I can only wish my fellow Region VIII residents and colleagues long memories, patience and learning that work in recovery from natural disasters is no time for politics, they are national calamities where all are equally responsible to care for neighbours and each other regardless of faith, colour, gender or political persuasion. Unfortunately, this disaster brought out the worst of the political workings and attitudes in the Philippines. However, the people will rebuild – better we hope.
And YES, now I understand the impact of climate change, ……, it took such a disaster AT MY HOME, WITH ME ON THE GROUND AND IN THE FIELD, to wake up the dullness that comes from watching the continued televised damage and disaster sensationalism. I can now say – people it is real, it is not just a picture. We need to realize the fact that even if we are careful and respect our planet now – it is too late, we can only prepare ourselves to mitigate the impacts. And now, eleven weeks later as I write this blog, what do we see: below freezing cold in all North America; 42+C° for the tennis tournaments in Australia, massive flooding in Indoneisa, killer drought in Los Angeles, cyclone in Tonga- the world is rapidly spinning out of control – can we, or do we have time to adapt and mitigate these climate change impacts for our very survival?
Let us look at the next part of this blog. Its intent will be to investigate what we can do, especially as archipelagic States to mitigate the future negative impacts from natural disasters and climate change.
Resident, Barangay 83B
San Jose, Tacloban
It is encouraging that now the President is recognizing that this is a ‘national’ disaster of proportions not seen before, and he is asking relief organizations to continue the relief food until May due to possible food shortages and the inability of the local communities to once again provide for themselves.
Changing Civil Society Structures to Meet New and Future Challenges in Maritime Peace and Security and the Sustainable Management of Nature's Renewable Resources by Alberto A. Encomienda and Peter Flewwelling
Many civil societies initially formed due to dissatisfaction with the decisions, political partisanship, lack of transparency and lack of timely action by governments, these decisions often seen as being salted with the stain of corruption and self-seeking aggrandizement. In essence intelligent people were fed up with the arrogance and incompetence of government. The lethargy of the formal, Track I government mechanisms to meet demands for effective governance and the rise of civil societies were caused by several factors, including but not limited to:
Concerned, albeit less proactive citizens who were also dissatisfied with government action or lack thereof contributed through financial donations to keep their views in the forefront through social activism. These donations, however, served to pervert some civil societies as some changed their focus from taking the moral high ground to demand better government, to a new fiscal emphasis based on sensationalism and media prominence to seek ever more funding. The media profile for increased funding led in some cases to more fanatical actions and dangerous media stunts. The cycle grew as new NGOs/civil societies saw these tactics as a ‘road to fortune’ thus denigrating and further suppressing the initial good intent of many of the older civil societies. These actions threw a shroud over the responsible civil societies that maintained their link and focus on original goals – that of demanding better governance. The rise of popularity of forceful, aggressive, high profile activities seeking media recognition during this time closely mirrored the same growth in popularity, and later the eventual demise of the union movement in its initial days of demanding change through confrontation and very aggressive action as their operational strategy. BUT, these actions were successful in raising the global awareness of the issues of the day with respect to abuse of nature’s renewable resources.
The result of the initial efforts and the focus of civil societies tended towards a structure of local units to address local programmes with high media competition between units for fund raising and media profile – these local units were then supported by a central headquarters for more intensive lobbying pressure on central governments. The result became the championing of the local/national civil society leaders who were more aggressive, achieved highest media and public profile that generated more funding for their causes. An unfortunate result was that some of the more dogmatic, nationally focused civil societies became similar in nature to the same arrogant government leaders that they despised in earlier times. The structure of a central body with local champions’ profiles built on the varying levels of ability to raise funding for the ‘organization’, has its fund-raising benefits, but may prejudice overall organizational progress and opportunities from wider regional initiatives that are now emerging as governments bond together to exert more leverage to achieve their wishes, e.g., regional ocean governance.
Track 1 structures in most cases are hamstrung by stringent funding allocations, corruption, and lack of cooperation due to power struggles, both internal and external, which threaten open and transparent dialogue and progress thus resulting in under-performance and in critical deficiencies in the provision of required and appropriate services. Track I structures and approaches need a boost. They need a spark that can come from an outside mechanism, the Track 2, philanthropic, corporate social responsibility approach which brings many strengths to the table, including the welcome additional funding and flexible operating processes.
Civil Society Structures
Many civil society organizational structures and processes have not evolved in parallel with Track 1 structures that are now taking advantage of the benefits of regional cooperation and networking. It is natural that a civil society would continue with an organizational structure that has proven successful in the past and therefore be resistant to change, even if such a change could achieve wider geographic impacts. The evolving process of governments merging efforts has demonstrated that one size does not fit all, and differing regional coordination mechanisms are needed, so civil societies can benefit from such lessons. But, the recent successes in regional networking have demonstrated that this regional networking is the path to tread in the future for maritime peace and security as well as sustainable management of the nature’s renewable resources – for both government processes (Track 1) and the corporate social responsibility approaches through civil societies (Track 2).
Unfortunately, in many cases, development of regional organizational structures has not been embraced by civil societies in their internal organizational structures. Some civil societies have remained focused on the central structure and smaller more local units for their work. Others have largely remained trapped in the policy of one-upmanship instead of exploring the benefits of cooperation and networking between civil societies. This can reduce the potential strength, leverage and influence they could achieve by collectively addressing wider regional issues in support of regional government organizations.
The continuation of the national focus without regional coordination mechanisms hampers change, hinders the flexibility to meet the changing government challenges at the regional level. The challenge will be the insertion of a regional coordinating mechanism within the current national focus. There will be the perception of loss of national authority and control, or alternatively, the suppression of regional initiatives. The sensitivity will need to be addressed delicately and merged with the idea that wider regional coordination mechanisms will greatly enhance the role for civil societies and expand the opportunities for involvement of civil societies in the emerging environment of regional cooperation.
In the ocean sector for example, governments are forming regional organizations for peace and security of sea trade, for sustainable management of renewable ocean resources, and for environmental cooperation. This realization of the connectivity of regional seas and the parallel imperative of regional cooperation to enable States to meet the challenges arising therefrom has fostered intergovernmental cooperation for effective ocean and renewable resource management. There is a need for civil societies to move in a parallel path to create a regional focus, both internally in their organizations and within the network of civil societies themselves – an approach similar to that being adopted by national governments to create greater leverage and promote their collective interests.
An emerging operational structure one could propose for civil societies to take advantage of the opportunities from the emerging regionalization of the Track I formal government structures could be built on the existing civil society structures. The central, global structure sets ‘umbrella’ policies and these could then be coordinated in their implementation at the regional level to meet regional issues and nationally to ensure compatibility of effort at the national level. Civil societies would then be in a better position to consider the efficiencies, strengths and leverage that could be gained through the networking of the new civil society regional structures building on the strengths of each society. This civil society networking could result in an even higher profile and role of civil societies in the growing world requirements for Track1/Track 2 partnerships to address the complex regional and global issues. Such networking and positive results as a Track 2 support to Track 1 processes, a soft support and shepherding of positive regional initiatives, could become a model for future regional cooperation. The dual ring of networks - a formal Track 1 regional network, supported and buffered by a civil society network for informal communications, breaking of blocks in dialogue and conflict resolution could prove a very useful mechanism to reduce conflicts, reduce formal dialogue jams and provide a road to more timely progress in regional and global maritime peace and security and sustainable renewable resource management.
The potential of the Track 1/Track 2 cooperation and interaction to build the synergies with a conscious recognition of the benefits evolving from the merging of strengths of each, can create a symbiotic relationship resulting in a dynamic win-win model of complementary, supportive interaction to bring the benefits of regional cooperation to the forefront for maritime peace and security as well as sustainable renewable resource management.
This is the objective of this exercise, to propose a change in the organizational structure within some civil societies to enable them to create a parallel mechanism for Track 1 dialogue, strongly supported by a Track 2 network approach to create this win-win model for regional cooperation.
Happily, one has seen a major change in operational strategies in several responsible civil societies from that of confrontation to that of working alongside governments and regional organizations. Civil societies can use their unique communications, media and operational channels and informal approaches to ‘support’ and ‘encourage’ better governance from these formal Track I approaches by governments towards the use of regional organizations. This does not mean the change is globally accepted, but it is rapidly moving in that direction. It also does not mean that civil societies will no longer use aggressive tactics and strategies to move things forward, and the fact that they have proven their willingness to use this operational strategy makes governments and regional organizations more willing to listen, perhaps not fully accept, but at least listen more closely and consider alternative solutions proposed by these civil societies. The history of actions of civil societies has become the incentive for formal management organizations to listen and work with the ‘new’ civil societies and recognize the benefits of so doing.
The challenge however, for the new civil society strategy is to have the organizational structure to be able to embrace the opportunities evolving from the trend of governments to regional cooperation. This is not to say that national programmes will not continue, they are a base for civil societies, but the growth of the civil societies’ role in the changing world demands a wider regional coordination structure to take advantage of, and build on regional initiatives as well as national programmes.
The New Role for Civil Societies in Maritime Peace and Security and Sustainable Renewable Ocean Resources Management:
So what is this new role? What are the strengths and benefits to formal governing structures that can come from a closer association and working relationship with the ‘new’ changing civil societies? What are the changes these civil societies need to make to better adapt to this changing role?
The formal government structures have found that successful management of regional and global natural resources often requires cooperation amongst the States that host the environment of those resources (the Track I approach), for poor governance and poor management in one area can have significant negative impacts on another. In areas such as fisheries, environment, and the also the area of sea trade, governments have found the benefits of alliances and regional organizations to enable them to appropriately address issues of management, control, sustainability and safety. The formation of regional organizations has become the mechanism for this cooperation, and resulting development and implementation of mutually agreed management and control measures.
balikBalangay has found that in the ocean sector, where such Track I regional cooperation mechanisms for management of ocean resources do not exist or are faltering, it is often due to the disconnect in law/policy and science-based conservation measures and lack of agreement on common approaches to re-connect these components. This disconnect is especially evident in the case of ocean conservation characterized in the broader scenario on the scientific side with regard to overall ocean connectivity, but also recognizing special cases, e.g., coral triangle, fisheries, and enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.
Where there are no regional structures and the maritime peace and security and sustainable renewable resource management issues are left individual States according to the international principles established in UNCLOS and UNSFA, processes inevitably lead to tensions between States, political influence that usually results in over-exploitation of the resource base, conflict between stakeholders and the eventual destruction of our natural resource base through the ‘tragedy of the commons’. As noted earlier in this exposé – governments are better known for their inability to move quickly, and without cooperation amongst all stakeholders at a wider, regional level, resource bases collapse and peace and security is threatened in the ensuring tensions.
Establishment of internal regional structures and networking of civil societies (Track 2) is therefore the emerging opportunity for civil societies to respond rapidly and effectively to the challenges of these new regional government organizations. Not only is there a growing need for the networking of civil societies, this is a path and opportunity for the future.
Growth of Civil Society Opportunities
balikBalangay has found that where formal inter-government processes (Track I) do not work, collapse, or in some cases result in a stalemate or open conflict such as one can see at this time in the South China Sea, there is this new challenge, role and opportunity for civil societies. Formal government and inter/intra-governmental practices make it difficult to explore avenues for cooperation once the formal processes have locked down, usually resulting in heightened tensions. The new role for civil societies using the Track 2 networking approach – the shepherding of difficult processes suffering the disconnect noted earlier, or blocked by formal agenda and processes through the more flexible, informal communications networks to bridge the gaps in processes and continue the dialogue.
Instead of the ‘them and us’ strategies of the past, the new ‘support approach’ of civil societies gives them have a great advantage if they are regionally or globally networked whereby, aside from using a proactive stance to move issues forward, they can become recognized ‘facilitators’ using their more flexible and informal processes which they can mobilize in a timely manner. They can serve as the ‘unofficial’ communications linkage or bridge between parties. They can provide timely and professional advice on a wide variety of subjects where they have expertise in the sector. A network of credible civil societies that cooperates in this process can enhance their individual strengths, maximize their leverage and influence at a wider regional level. As noted above, civil societies have the informal communications and operations mechanisms that can assist as ‘regional arbitrators/facilitators’ in the process to find ways and means to break deadlocks between governments, reduce tensions and bring parties back to the table for more productive management discussions and decisions .
As Governments become more familiar and accepting of the changing civil society strategies from the older ‘confrontation/them and us’ approaches, to one of ‘support, facilitation, shepherding advice, capacity building and joint involvement in management’ processes, the role and demand for civil society linkages will increase.
As civil societies further mature and accept the potential role they have, or should have as advisors, conduits for information and ideas-sharing in support of inter-agency liaison both at the individual government and regional level, the partnership between formal government structures and civil societies will become stronger. Further, networking of civil societies at a regional or global level to utilize their individual strengths can serve to maximize their future leverage and influence, and enhance their role in inter-governmental affairs. Civil societies can become the ‘backstage’ developers and coordinators for sustainable regional management planning and implementation mechanisms. In the not too distant future, one can expect to see governments seeking more information, assistance and support from civil societies to provide data, research, and informal – ‘outside the box’ ideas for better internal and progressive regional governance.
balikBalangay is pursuing steps along the above lines towards building greater efficiency, comprehensive civil society involvement in wider ocean affairs, through the development of a unified database on ocean matters and renewable ocean resource management. These efforts also include fostering of regional cooperation and information sharing for monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) to overcome national jurisdictional issues that work against the desired ocean governance parameters of maritime peace and security and sustainable renewable resource management, especially in the law/policy components and creation of secure scientific foundations upon which to build this cooperation on a regional scale.