Maritime Security Key to Indonesia’s Future, IOM-Backed Meeting Hears

Posted: 
04/24/15

Indonesia -  Indonesia’s future prosperity is at stake as it prepares to implement the new president’s vision to establish the country as a “global maritime axis,” an IOM-supported meeting of maritime security experts, academics, private sector and civil society actors heard yesterday.

“The president has said that the ocean is the future of Indonesia,” Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries Secretary General Sjariaf Widjaja told the launch of two days of focus group discussions on maritime security issues in Jakarta on Thursday. “This is about our sovereignty, security and prosperity for the future.”

At his October 2014 inauguration, President Joko Widodo vowed to reinvigorate maritime security in Indonesia as a part of a package of economic, social and security investments designed to establish Indonesia as a “global maritime axis.”

One of his first acts as president was to create a new Maritime Coordination Ministry with oversight duties that extended across multiple ministries, and to consolidate the authority to combat piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and human trafficking within a new Maritime Security Body.

Lead by the Ministry of Fisheries, the forum brings together representatives of the coast guard and navy, career diplomats, academics and civil society representatives to consider existing policies relevant to maritime and human security in Indonesia, identify priorities and support the planning for public information campaigns, capacity building activities, and stakeholder awareness raising sessions.

“We are pleased to be able to contribute to this critical discussion amongst the key players involved in implementing President Joko Widodo’s vision,” said IOM Indonesia Chief of Mission Mark Getchell.

“We have gone through a process of reconsidering everything we are doing relating to people smuggling and human trafficking within the illegal fisheries for example, reorienting ourselves as an organization so we are well placed to assist the government’s efforts within the broader context of maritime security.”

The University of Indonesia, the National Defence University and Coventry (UK) University’s Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations (CTPSR) which has an international reputation in the field of maritime security, are all contributing to the discussions.

Analysis:

The scale of the challenge facing the 5,200 km-long archipelagic nation is daunting. Made up of roughly 17,000 islands, Indonesia shares maritime borders with Australia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and its exclusive economic zone also abuts onto areas claimed by China.

Those vast sea borders and limited resources challenge Indonesia’s capacity to project power and manage complex issues relating to human trafficking and people smuggling, piracy and drug trafficking. The meetings are being held against the backdrop of the publication in late March of a year-long investigation by the Associated Press into trans-national human trafficking in the fisheries industry in Southeast Asia. IOM is working with the government of Indonesia and its partners in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to assist hundreds of foreign fishermen stranded in Indonesian waters to return home.

For further information please contact Mark Getchell at IOM Indonesia, Tel: +62 21 579 51275, Email: mgetchell@iom.int