Foreign Ministry holds webinar
A webinar was organised by the Foreign Ministry on 20 November as part of its responsibilities as the lead country for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) on the theme ‘the nexus between Marine Scientific Research (MSR) and MSS.’
The panel focused on reviewing uses and gaps in existing ocean governance systems, mainly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with regard to conducting MSR with fast-changing technologies and the effects of climate change, as well as the impact of MSR on MSS and vice versa. The importance of MSR to explore further opportunities for the benefit of not only the littoral States of the Indian Ocean, but beyond as well, was emphasised.
As all States are increasingly looking towards the oceans for future economic development, for food security and raw materials for industries, the panel emphasised the importance of having an internationally acceptable governance system which upholds the rule of law, to facilitate the equitable extraction of resources in a sustainable manner.
It was further stated for MSR to be conducted, MSS is a prerequisite. On the other hand, intelligence on real-time ocean dynamics, based on MSR, and human activities do contribute to MSS. In addition, Sri Lanka’s willingness to share its experiences within the IORA Member States on the process of the formulation of regulations and guidelines to streamline MSR in its waters, once finalised and adopted, was revealed during the webinar.
During the summing up, it was articulated that with fast-developing technologies enabling the gathering of data through remote controlled devises, including satellites and drones, some of the existing ocean governance frameworks may perhaps soon become antiquated. Further, if in the future, a Hubble Telescope for the oceans is developed, the possibility of any MSR in the oceans themselves becoming redundant, and thereby creating new vistas in international law, such as the emergence of a hybrid law, merging the law of the sea and space law, was mentioned.
In conclusion, the panel agreed that as future generations depend on the common heritage that is shared by all, it is necessary to make timely choices while rising to the challenges of the present times. The panel further stated that it is vital that a fair, equitable and prosperous Indian Ocean that leaves no one behind is created, through the advancement of the intersection of MSR and MSS.