On 28 July 2021, RSIS and the Republic of Singapore Navy co-hosted the 7th International Maritime Security Conference. The first large-scale maritime conference since the onset of the pandemic, this event brought together senior international navy leaders, captains of industry, and world-class scholars from 28 countries to explore the topic of “Safe and Secure Seas – Maritime Security in the New Normal”.
The new normal that underpinned the discussions was how multilateral cooperation can effectively respond to the security challenges in a maritime domain that have developed due to the unprecedented upheaval linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also directly impacted the execution of the conference. To ensure the event was completely safe for all, it was held in a hybrid format, with participants attending in-person and online. Senior flag officers, including the Chiefs of Navy from France, Germany, Japan, and the United States, travelled to Singapore to attend this event in person. Considering the inconveniences associated with international travel during the pandemic, these commitments clearly demonstrated the value that the International Maritime Security Conference has developed as a venue for advancing cooperation since its first iteration in 2009.
The conference featured four panels. The first discussed the importance of this region and its sea lanes and the role of navies in maintaining peace and stability that safeguards our maritime commons. The second panel considered the shared priorities and need for partnerships to ensure trade could continue to flow unimpeded and seaports could remain active in support of smooth global supply chain operations. The third panel exchanged views regarding perceptions of a rules-based order and underscored the importance of upholding the principles of law, rules and regulations including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The final panel, comprising of four Chiefs of Navy, was co-moderated by Singapore Chief of Navy. They identified practical cooperative measures and explored the way ahead for cooperation in maritime security for our region.