The United Nations Security Council debate on 9th August 2021 was chaired by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the virtual meet, Prime Minister Modi spoke about ways aimed to “Enhance Maritime Security- A Case for International Cooperation”. This was the first time when the maritime security was discussed holistically at such a high level platform. Russian President Vladimir Putin was also present at the virtual meet and both the leaders shared their views about the future of maritime security.
Prime Minister Modi shared his vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) at the portal. In his suggestions for a safer atmosphere, Prime Minister Modi shared five basic principles. They include:
- Removal of barriers from maritime trade that act as bottlenecks for the global economy.
- Settlement of maritime disputes by peaceful means keeping in line with the International law.
- Taking steps together to create a mechanism to check natural disasters as well as maritime threats.
- Preservation of maritime environment and resources by checking possible causes of pollution like plastics and oil spills.
- Encouraging responsible maritime connectivity as well as creation of an infrastructure to increase maritime trade.
This was the first instance of an Indian leader chairing a session at the United Nations Security Council. Prime Minister Modi stressed on how the maritime routes were being used for piracy and terrorism and that needed to be rectified. He also emphasised on how the oceans were a shared heritage and we needed to protect those lifelines from unnecessary damage, use them for our trade and guard them against illegal activities.
The Russian President Putin also spoke after the Prime Minister Modi and addressed the same concerns. He agreed with the idea of a united effort comprising of regional structures as well as international organisations to achieve success in terms of maritime security. President Putin upheld the adherence to international norms and principles of law enshrined in the UN Charter like sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, resolution of disputes through dialogues. He mentioned that Russia was involved in many initiatives and on several platforms to strengthen the international legal order in the field of maritime security.
He also supported the idea of the creation of a super structure to directly deal with challenges being posed by maritime security. He stated that the Russia had extensive experience in anti-terrorist operations, crime-prevention, detection and neutralisation of bandit formations including maritime areas.
Maritime Security has emerged as a very important tenet in global dynamics. In the times that are best characterised by exploring new avenues, maritime has opened up new routes as well as created obstacles. As the press statement released by the Indian government stated, a “comprehensive approach to Maritime Security should protect and support legitimate maritime activities, while countering traditional and non-traditional threats in the maritime domain.
Clear definition of maritime boundaries are required to avoid unwanted disputes between countries. The overarching International Law supersedes all and should be followed by countries irrespective of their geographical placement, political system and other such factors. Both India and Russia stressed upon the need to contribute to a structure that promotes universal rules.