RSIS Roundtable with Commodore Dr Lee Cordner, Fellow, Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre (IPGRC), University of Adelaide
The Indian Ocean: A risk-based Approach to Maritime Security
The importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as a geopolitical focal area is increasingly being recognized. The strategic interests of multiple actors involved in the IOR overlap and converge at sea to a significant extent. The major maritime trade routes of the Indian Ocean are central to extra and intraregional trade that is vital to the global economy. The primary coalescing factor for the IOR is the interconnected, systemic nature of the regional and global maritime context. Requirements to husband the Indian Ocean environment, protect freedom of navigation, maintain maritime territorial sovereignty, and impose law and order at sea across the entire maritime expanse should support a strong case for regionalism. Comprehensive, collective and cooperative maritime security is a paramount requirement for the future of the IOR.
The interests of IOR actors, mainly regional and external nation-states along with other international and non-government participants come together to a significant extent at sea. Common risks and shared vulnerabilities to the achievement of mutual objectives in the Indian Ocean maritime domain are substantial and will continue to mount. In the complex and dynamic IOR context with its diverse geography and lack of effective regionalism, known for divisions and dissonance rather than unity and coherence, formulating realistic, workable approaches to providing effective maritime security presents significant challenges.
There are clear requirements for security-focused cooperative dialogue entities in the IOR driven by the scale of emerging maritime security challenges. An initial objective for enhancing maritime security in the IOR should be to commission a sophisticated and appropriately resourced strategic risk analysis. Credible risk assessments can provide the bases for developing cooperative and collective regional strategies to treat risks and reduce vulnerabilities. Risk-based approaches can underpin the development of policy options that can help persuade key decision-makers to take collective and cooperative security actions in a complex international context.
About the Speaker:
Commodore Dr Lee Cordner is a strategic analyst who has worked as a policy adviser, consultant, practitioner and educator. His research interests include maritime security and strategy, international policy analysis and development, strategic risk management, and organizational behaviour. Lee is a Fellow with the Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre (IPGRC), University of Adelaide, Australia. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Naval War College, USA and was a Visiting Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore and was a resident Visiting International Fellow at the Institute for Defence and Strategic Analyses (IDSA), India in 2014. He is a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) and co-chaired a Study Group on offshore oil and gas safety and security in the Asia-Pacific. He is a member of the Indian Ocean Research Group (IORG). He is widely published on Indo-Pacific maritime security and strategy matters.
Lee was formerly a Principal Research Fellow (Associate Professor) at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, Australia; and founding CEO of Future Directions International Pty Ltd (FDI), an independent strategic think-tank based in Perth, Australia. He served full-time in the Royal Australian Navy for 33 years and commanded several warships including HMAS Sydney during the 1991 Gulf War and HMAS Adelaide as senior Captain in the Fleet. He continues Reserve service in the rank of Commodore as an Operational Member of the Defence Seaworthiness Board; he recently completed 48 years naval service. He has a Doctor of Philosophy in Politics and International Studies (University of Adelaide) and masters’ degrees in International Relations (Naval War College & Salve Regina University, USA) and Public Administration (University of Canberra). He lives in beautiful Kiama, Australia.