High on the agenda of Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE21) has been a series of virtual workshops on maritime security, a topic of shared importance to Australia and its regional neighbours.

The legal officer embarked in HMAS Canberra for IPE21, Squadron Leader Chris Hill, attended each of the workshops in Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

“The IPE21 maritime security engagements provided a forum to share ideas and better understand the issues that all nations in the Indo-Pacific region are facing in the maritime security domain,” Squadron Leader Hill said.

“Developing an understanding of the challenges our partner nations face and enhancing consensus on the applicable legal regimes is critical to maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

The Indo-Pacific Centre for Military Law (IPCML) in Sydney facilitated the workshops, attended by military legal officers and operational commanders in each country, with participants dialling in.

Members aboard Canberra also attended the sessions virtually as part of the program of contactless port visits. 

Squadron Leader Hill said he appreciated experiencing first-hand the important role IPCML played in developing a shared understanding of legal and operational issues between regional neighbours. 

Topics discussed included jurisdictional zones and navigational regimes established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, maritime law enforcement, and the militarisation of maritime features.

Commander Task Group 635.3 Captain David Tietzel, also on board Canberra, said the discussions were critical to the interest of enhancing regional security for Australia and its neighbours.

“Australia is committed to the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation and overflight,” Captain Tietzel said. 

“It’s important for us and all our regional partners to have a common understanding of our rights and responsibilities in maritime Southeast Asia, and these virtual dialogues were a good way to learn from each other.”

IPCML runs regular workshops and courses for military commanders and legal officers from Australia and from our partners throughout the Indo-Pacific.