chapter
Introduction JOSHUA H . H O
Pages 18

Concept of the edited volume Good order at sea ensures the safety and security of shipping, and permits countries to pursue their maritime interests and develop their marine resources in accordance with agreed principles of international law.1 Threats to good order at sea include piracy and armed robbery against ships, maritime terrorism, illicit trafficking in drugs and arms, people smuggling, pollution, illegal fishing, marine natural hazards and inter-state maritime conflict. Asia is a distinctively maritime region. The relative lack of land-based transport infrastructure, both within and between countries, as well as its geographical nature, means that shipping plays an extremely important role in the region. The region sits astride key “choke points” for shipping between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, which are economically and strategically important to the economies of North-East Asia, the United States and the emerging maritime powers of Asia. Many countries see themselves as stakeholders in good order at sea in Asia, but it ultimately depends on the actions of regional countries to ensure it. Most regional countries have extensive maritime interests. Most of these have trans-boundary and regional dimensions that should facilitate cooperation. Regional cooperation is essential to the maintenance of good order at sea, but at present this is underdeveloped in Asia. Particular problems that inhibit cooperation include inadequate resources, poor coordination between national agencies and the lack of maritime boundaries in parts of the region, as well as a concern that cooperation may involve some loss of sovereignty or independence. For similar reasons, key international conventions that help establish good order at sea, and a range of new international measures to enhance security at sea, such as the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system for ships and the Ship Security Alert System, are not effective in the region at present. The Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF ) have taken some initiatives to enhance regional maritime cooperation, but the process could be speeded up, including both “topdown” initiatives that might come out of the ARF and ASEAN and “bottom-up” steps using existing processes as “building blocks” to further the process of cooperation.