RSIS and the Republic of Singapore Navy co-organised the 6th International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) in May 2019. It was held in conjunction with the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) Asia 2019. The theme of the Conference, “Safe and Secure Seas: Mutual Security in Our Maritime Commons”, underlined the importance of an open and inclusive regional security architecture, and the need to strengthen collaborative partnerships and maintain a rules-based maritime order.
Attended by over 400 participants from more than 40 countries, IMSC brought together navy chiefs, policy makers, academics and various stakeholders to exchange ideas and discuss ways to foster and enhance mutual security in the maritime commons.
The speakers noted that the main challenge to the maintenance of a free and open maritime order in the Indo-Pacific arose from the conflicting interpretations of international law. They agreed that there was a need for fora such as IMSC to identify areas of convergence among countries in the region rather than allowing differences to hamper progress. The conference saw a spirited debate about the key maritime priorities for the future. These include the need to maintain maritime domain awareness, with an emphasis on defending the sea lines of communication, the need for continued naval engagement to develop mutual trust and maintain peace at sea, the need for capacity building, and the need to enhance information-sharing.