Wednesday, October 25, 2023

15th East Sea Conference “Luminate the Grey, Light Up the Green” opened in Ho Chi Minh City


On October 25, the 15th East Sea International Conference themed “Luminate the Grey, Light Up the Green” opened in Ho Chi Minh City in hybrid format, with more than 200 delegates attending in person while nearly 250 others participate via teleconferencing.

The event gathers nearly 50 speakers who are reputable experts from nearly 20 countries on different continents; nearly 70 delegates from foreign representative missions in Vietnam, including nearly 20 Ambassadors and Consuls General. Nearly 30 reporters from 21 domestic and foreign news and television agencies came to report on the Conference.

This year, the Conference marked many new points in terms of ideas and organization. For the first time, a discussion session was reserved for representatives from the Coast Guard forces of some coastal countries in the East Sea.

In addition, the Conference also upgraded a separate session of young leaders in the region to become a plenary session on the agenda. In previous years, the young leadership program in the region was designed as an activity on the sidelines of the East Sea Conference. This year, the elevating of the young leadership session to the main agenda aims to raise awareness for the next generation about the importance of peace, cooperation, respect for the rule of law and finding new angles, fresh look at a peaceful solution to the East Sea dispute.

Open, frank and comprehensive discussion

Elaborating on the theme of the conference, Acting President of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Dr. Pham Lan Dung said that the Organising Board hopes that participants will analyse the state of play of the East Sea (also known as South China Sea) and the region, clarify the governing rules, identify policies that enhance trust and cooperation, and highlight activities that upset the rules-based order and create tensions.

“By illuminating grey areas, we hope to make the maritime domain more transparent, more tranquil,” she said.

At the same time, the conference is expected to “Light Up the Green” to shed light on the potentials of the sea and the future by promoting best practices in key areas of the green transformation, such as offshore wind energy, transformative marine technologies, research, and investments, said Dr. Dung, expressing her hope that participants will discuss how maritime capacities, such as law enforcement agencies and regional mechanisms, can contribute in a constructive manner to the development of a bluer, or greener East Sea.

Dr. Pham Lan Dung noted that promoting dialogue to preserve peace and stability has become even more urgent when confrontations and conflicts have broken out in places with geostrategic disputes in the world. This requires all responsible and peace-loving nations to engage in open and frank discussions, regardless of size, political ideology and vision, state of development or even geographical location to ask seriously: Why do these conflicts happen? What lessons can be learned from best practices to increase understanding, find ways to promote peace and stability, and prevent costly lessons?

"Geographically, at the heart of the Indo-Pacific, the East Sea has been and continues to be a testament to our ability to promote dialogue and cooperation, uphold the rule of law, promote good practices and prevent bad precedents," Acting Director of the Diplomatic Academy Pham Lan Dung emphasized.

Respect and comply with UNCLOS

In his key speech at the opening session, Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet said that over the past 15 years, the East Sea Conference series has provided an open, candid, friendly environment for regional and international experts to come together to advance mutual understanding, and narrow differences.

The Deputy Foreign Minister said he hopes that in the next 15 years, the dialogue will further evolve into a key region-wide maritime security forum, one that is open, inclusive and innovative in nature, a meeting point and hub of interests spanning from the “Indo” to the “Pacific” and beyond.

Deputy Foreign Minister Viet held that the global center of gravity continues to shift toward the Indo-Pacific, which is becoming the “Epicentrum” of global growth and a key locomotive for global recovery and future prosperity.

But this future cannot be guaranteed without sustained peace and stability, including in the regional maritime domain, he stressed.

He quoted UN Secretary-General Guterres as saying that strategic rivalries are creating “great divides” and “a great fracture”. Conflicts are breaking out in many regions, from Europe to the Middle East, he noted, adding that the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the maritime domain, is certainly not immune from risks of confrontations and conflicts.

The Deputy Foreign Minister underlined the need to constantly screen the maritime domain of potential dangers, to review existing cooperation mechanisms to address emerging challenges, and to act together to preempt those threats.

He said that in the past 15 years, the East Sea situation has grown increasingly complicated. At the same time, this is a region of tremendous opportunities. The recent agreement on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, the BBNJ Agreement, of which Vietnam is among first signatories, has shown the common interests related to the seas far outweigh differences, said the Deputy Foreign Minister.

Therefore, the “Light up the Green” part in the conference’s theme this year will allow participants to explore those opportunities, and turn them into specific and concrete cooperation activities, said Deputy Foreign Minister Viet, stressing the critical need for respecting and upholding international law of the sea, as reflected in the 1928 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),

The Deputy Foreign Minister also highlighted the efforts by Vietnam and ASEAN countries in securing a stable and lawful regional order, including in the maritime domain.

“We are committed to the effective operationalisation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the recently launched ASEAN Maritime Outlook – a strategic guidance for ASEAN member states to expand their maritime cooperation regionally and internationally. We are open to new initiatives aimed at our common goals, through bilateral, multilateral or new frameworks,” he stated.

15th East Sea Conference “Luminate the Grey, Light Up the Green” opened in Ho Chi Minh City: An overview of a panel discussion of the 15th East Sea International Conference. (Photo: VNA)

Running through October 26, the conference comprises eight sessions covering diverse topics, such as: (i) East Sea: The past 15 years; (ii) Big Countries and Big Responsibilities: Cooperation and coexistence in the context of increasing competition?; (iii) Multilateral approach to the East Sea: A new trend?; (iv) A legal framework for legal battles? (v) The Coast Guard's role in enhancing cooperation in the East Sea; (vi) Decision time: Traditional energy or renewable energy; (vii) Essential infrastructure: New strategic implications of technology; (viii) Voice of the next generation.

.Besides, many senior officials, including MP, Minister of State at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for the Indo-Pacific region Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and European External Action Service (EEAS) Acting Managing Director for Asia and Pacific, deliver special speeches at the Conference.



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