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Maritime Diplomacy in the ASEAN Maritime Security Strategic Partnership

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The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium in regional diplomacy refers to efforts to create a dynamic balance between the forces involved, where no power dominates absolutely.

Jakarta, IO – The Concept of Dynamic Equilibrium in Regional Diplomacy 

The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium in regional diplomacy refers to efforts to create a dynamic balance between the forces involved, where no power dominates absolutely (Fan et al., 2022). In the context of Indonesia’s defense diplomacy, this concept describes efforts to maintain the stability of the ASEAN region through a balance of power, cooperation, and interdependence among countries. It also involves inviting major powers to participate in a cooperative framework to build an inclusive region. Thus, the Dynamic Equilibrium concept in regional diplomacy emphasizes the importance of balance, cooperation, and active participation of all parties to achieve stability and security in the region. 

The Dynamic Equilibrium concept is a concept developed by former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to create a dynamic balance between countries in the Asia Pacific region, without a single dominant power. The concept aims to promote cooperation, dialog, and trust among countries in the region, and prevent conflict and tension. The concept also reflects Indonesia’s vision as a free and active country in its foreign policy (Ramsi et al., 2023). This concept is based on several principles, including no dominant country in a region, promoting neutrality or impartiality, acting as a balance finder or mediator in resolving conflicts, binding major global powers to contribute to stability and development in a region, prioritizing peaceful diplomacy and dialogue approaches to resolve a problem or conflict, creating a solid regional area by referring to a meaningful dynamic balance throughout the region, fostering mutual trust between conflicting countries, increasing cooperation between countries, finding win-win solutions for parties involved in conflicts, realizing the Code of Conduct (resolving conflicts with a code of ethics) (Santoso, 2018). 

Indonesia has applied the Dynamic Equilibrium concept in several regional diplomacy issues, such as the resolution of the South China Sea conflict, ASEAN maritime security cooperation, and Indonesia’s involvement in regional and international forums, such as the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, and Indian Ocean Rim Association. This concept has also received recognition and support from other countries, both within and outside the region, as one of Indonesia’s contributions to regional peace and stability. 

ASEAN Strategic Partnership on Maritime Security 

The ASEAN Strategic Partnership is a higher and more comprehensive form of cooperation among ASEAN member states, as well as with partner countries outside the region, in various fields, including political, security, economic, social, cultural, and environmental. The ASEAN Strategic Partnership aims to enhance ASEAN integration, solidarity and identity, and to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world. The role of the ASEAN Strategic Partnership in maritime security is to develop and strengthen cooperation mechanisms and instruments that can address various maritime security threats and challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, such as territorial disputes, piracy, terrorism, illegal trade, marine pollution, and natural disasters. 

Some examples of ASEAN maritime security cooperation mechanisms and instruments are the ASEAN Maritime Forum, Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum, ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security, ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus Experts’ Working Group on Maritime Security, and ASEAN Coast Guard Forum (Kusumaningrum et al., 2023). The ASEAN Strategic Partnership on maritime security also involves partner countries outside the region, such as the United States, China, Japan, India, Australia and the European Union, which have interests and influence in the Southeast Asian maritime region. Cooperation with these partner countries can assist ASEAN in increasing capacity and readiness in facing and mitigating maritime security threats, as well as in creating a peaceful and prosperous maritime order. The Jakarta Geopolitical Forum VII/2023 which discussed the ASEAN maritime security strategic partnership presented several speakers who provided views and suggestions on how ASEAN can develop and strengthen maritime security cooperation in the region, given the various threats and challenges, both traditional and non-traditional. The forum also highlighted the importance of Indonesia as an archipelago with vast and strategic sea territory to play an active and constructive role in creating a dynamic equilibrium between countries in the region, without a single dominant power. 

The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium as one of Indonesia’s maritime diplomacy strategies in ASEAN maritime security cooperation so that this concept aims to create a dynamic balance between countries in the Asia Pacific region, without a single dominant power. This concept also reflects Indonesia’s vision as a free and active country in its foreign policy. Indonesia and ASEAN must be able to establish effective and mutually beneficial cooperation in addressing maritime security issues in the region. Indonesia and ASEAN must be able to utilize their potential and marine resources, as well as face various threats and challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, in an inclusive and mutually beneficial manner. Indonesia and ASEAN must also be able to play an active and constructive role in creating a dynamic balance between countries in the region, without a single dominant power, through diplomacy, dialogue and trust. 

The Concept of Maritime Diplomacy 

The concept of maritime diplomacy includes the use of diplomatic tools to maintain and expand the interests and policies of the state in the marine sector. Maritime diplomacy involves several aspects (Maulidina, 2021). In addition, maritime diplomacy involves the implementation of foreign policy related to various aspects of the ocean, such as dispute resolution, naval use, and cooperation. Through the aspect of aid delivery cooperation, maritime diplomacy involves aid delivery cooperation, which involves missions, port visits, joint exercises or maritime security operations, and humanitarian aid delivery cooperation. The use of traditional diplomatic instruments and technology, maritime diplomacy involves the use of traditional diplomatic instruments (through diplomats) and advanced technology to expand the country’s interests and policies in the marine field, such as the focus of diplomacy with China is on infrastructure development efforts. 

The concept of maritime diplomacy has become one of the pillars of the World Maritime Axis vision launched by President Joko Widodo. This vision aims to make Indonesia an advanced, independent, strong maritime nation that contributes positively to the world. Through maritime diplomacy, Indonesia seeks to safeguard its sovereignty and national interests at sea, while enhancing cooperation and trust with other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. Indonesia also seeks to address various maritime security challenges and threats, both traditional and non-traditional, in an inclusive and mutually beneficial manner (Nurjannah & Mokodompit, 2023). In the context of regional diplomacy, the Dynamic Equilibrium concept describes efforts to maintain the stability of the ASEAN region through a balance of power, cooperation and interdependence between countries. 

Case Study on Successful Maritime Diplomacy in ASEAN 

One example of the success of maritime diplomacy in Indonesia is in handling the crisis in the North Natuna Sea between Indonesia and China in 2016. Through maritime diplomacy carried out by the Indonesian government, the maritime security of Indonesia’s sovereign rights was maintained with no physical clashes between the two countries. Indonesia also successfully defended its sovereign rights over the North Natuna Sea region and emphasized its firm position against China’s claims in the region. In addition, Indonesia has also strengthened its maritime diplomacy in ASEAN to address strategic issues of crime at sea. 

The success of maritime diplomacy in Indonesia is the settlement of the maritime border dispute with the Philippines in 2014. Indonesia and the Philippines successfully signed the Maritime Boundary Agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of the Philippines, which established a 625.6km maritime boundary line in the Sulawesi Sea and Mindanao Sea. This agreement is the result of 20 years of negotiations, and is the first maritime boundary agreement signed by Indonesia with an ASEAN member state. This agreement is also a manifestation of the commitment of both countries to resolve border disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. 

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Conclusion 

The Dynamic Equilibrium concept has contributed positively to ASEAN maritime diplomacy. The cooperation initiated through this concept has enhanced regional maritime security and promoted peaceful dispute resolution. However, sustained efforts are needed to overcome challenges such as major state competition and internal coordination issues. 

Indonesia needs to strengthen its maritime diplomacy in ASEAN so that this concept can be implemented more effectively in dealing with various strategic issues at sea. Thus, regional maritime cooperation can continue to be enhanced to create a stable and prosperous Southeast Asian region. Indonesia needs to strengthen its maritime diplomacy at the multilateral and bilateral levels using the Dynamic Equilibrium concept approach. This diplomacy needs to focus on enhancing ASEAN maritime security operations cooperation. Encourage the improvement of ASEAN maritime security policy and regulatory frameworks to be more synchronized and eliminate overlaps between relevant ASEAN institutions. This is important to improve coordination at the regional level. Build strategic partnerships with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region such as Japan, South Korea, India and Australia to strengthen ASEAN’s joint maritime diplomacy efforts in the region.


Halifa Alena Kusuma is a Junior Research Assistant Lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Diponegoro University, Central Java.

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