Toward a South and Southern African Integrated Oceans Governance Framework

Toward a South and Southern African Integrated Oceans Governance Framework

Maritime security and oceans governance are rapidly becoming important international challenges.1 The importance and relative urgency to address these challenges gave reason for this symposium to be held, which was co-hosted by the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), funded by the Open Society Foundation (OSF) of South Africa initiated under its former South African Foreign Policy Initiative (SAFPI), and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) South Africa Office. The symposium was held in Pretoria, between the 18th and 19th November, 2014.

According to the concept note drafted for the symposium, “within the context of conceptualizing a South African global South geo-strategy,” the symposium aimed “to build on discourses regarding South Africa’s evolving approach to national security and development focusing on the strategic significance of its maritime domain and that of the African continent.” Furthermore, utilizing South Africa’s positioning as a “geographically pivotal state” placed it as an important contributor to global oceans’ governance, “maritime security and functional cooperation along with the promise of a ‘blue economy’.”

Therefore, the points of reference for the symposium were as follows;

  • understanding the strategic dimensions pertaining to comparative South African, Indian, Brazilian and Australian perspectives on the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic
  • analysing naval and maritime security perspectives on challenges in securing the African sphere of the global oceans commons
  • analysing comparative African regional perspectives on these challenges
  • understanding the oceans’ economy as it pertains to South and Southern Africa in terms of maritime domain issues, sustainable development and trade and investment outlining future prospects for Global South cooperation, by elaborating on a framework for a sustained oceans and maritime security dialogue with the India-Brazil-South Africa trilateral linkage as a possible point of departure for arriving at such a cooperation framework.

From these points of reference, the symposium ultimately sought to produce policy recommendations. These proposed recommendations sought to “promote partnerships in trade, investment and multi-sectoral capacity-building in naval and maritime security sectors, including commercial shipping which would be informed by environmental imperatives for sustaining healthy oceans.” The outcome of this process would be the formulation of a ‘framework for multi-dimensional dialogue and cooperation’ that would outline the future use of the southern oceans, as well as understanding how “securing these commons would further the development of South and Southern Africa and the continent as a whole.”

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