Think Tank (2/2024)
Amb Ong Keng Yong (far right) with co-organisers and panellists of the conference Photo credit: safety4sea on X
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Anti-Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2024
16 Apr 2024

The Anti-Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2024 was held on the sidelines of the Singapore Maritime Week on 16 April 2024. The annual conference was jointly organised by ReCAAP ISC, the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA), INTERTANKO, and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). The event was attended by government officials, academicians, journalists, and stakeholders from the private maritime sector.

The event served to provide a critical assessment and analysis to the issue of piracy and armed robbery across the globe and provided a reminder for relevant authorities that safeguarding maritime interests demands a concerted effort from all stakeholders, be it the government, or the private sector.

The advent of conflict and wars, coupled with various geopolitical development have put an immense strain on the global maritime system. This event sought to uncover the fundamental question of how resilient the global maritime system is in the face of increasing geopolitical tension and maritime security threats. It also discussed ways on how littoral states in Southeast Asia sought to adapt to the changing nature of maritime threats and challenges.

The half-day event was divided into two panels, with academicians, and practitioners providing their key insights into the dynamics of piracy and sea robbery, and the global maritime system in general. In the first panel, panellists assessed the current condition of the global maritime system, highlighting the attacks on maritime shipping on the Red Sea by the Houthis, and the multilateral efforts put in place to ensure safe passage in the area. In sum,  maritime stakeholders were confident that the global maritime system remains resilient. Industry players continue to adapt to ensure that their daily operations remain undisrupted while keeping cost low. There were strong calls for collaboration among maritime security actors, and suggestion to reinvigorate past multilateral efforts to mitigate piracy and armed robberies in sensitive maritime domain.

The second panel discussed new ways on how regional actors in Southeast Asia could enact in its attempt to quell the threat of piracy and armed robberies in regional waters. Based on ReCAAP’s annual report, piracy and armed robbery incidents in 2023 has increased compared to 2022 numbers. This marked the second increase since 2021, with 100 incidents recorded in 2023, the majority of which occurred mainly within the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). Although the nature of these incidents were confined to petty thefts, nonetheless, they continue to disrupt the safety and security of regional waters, and cause financial losses to shippers. Panellists urged all stakeholders to review and refine safety and security strategies, enhance coordination mechanisms, and implement best practices to ensure a more robust and cohesive approach to maritime security.

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