OPRF Statement at the Malacca-Singapore Straits Symposium, March 13, 2007
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, I am Masahiro Akiyama, Chairman of Ocean Policy Research Foundation. It is my honor to make remarks on the enhancement of safety of navigation and the environmental protection of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore today, representing OPRF. Firstly, I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to those who worked hard to set up this important Symposium.
The Straits of Malacca and Singapore are among the world's busiest international shipping routes. These straits are part of the "lifeline" of the growing Asian economy and the safe and smooth navigation through the Straits is important for the world's economy. Most of the straits lie in the territorial waters of the littoral states that have primary responsibility for the safety of the Straits. However, ensuring the safety of navigation and protecting the environment in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are challenges beyond the capacity of individual states, and no particular state should bear an excessive burden.
The Nippon Foundation has made a huge contribution to the safety and environmental protection of the Straits over the years and has proposed a mechanism through which users, both states and industries, can provide funds for safety measures in the straits in proportion to the degree of benefits they receive from the measures. As its relevant organization, OPRF has recently concluded a three-year research project on burden sharing among littoral states, user states, and user industries, publishing the results last year as a Blueprint for a New Cooperative Framework on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. It calls for a consultative body, to be established on a fair and equitable basis, for proper coordination among littoral states and users. Our proposal is based upon some principles including: 1) any mechanism to be developed should be in conformity with UNCLOS in general and with the provisions of Article 43 in particular, and 2) such a mechanism should maximize benefits for both littoral states and users, respecting the sovereignty and jurisdictions of the littoral states while ensuring the safety of global shipping. This Blueprint will be available at the website of the Nippon Foundation Library soon. It is my sincere hope that the discussions in the Blueprint can contribute to this symposium.
In addition, the growing world economy requires safe and smooth navigation through the straits, so it is important that any mechanism and measures to be developed should reflect the requirements of the actual users of the straits, namely the user industries. Active participation by users in the formulation of a mechanism for safe and smooth navigation in the straits should therefore be encouraged. In this context, if the user industries are willing to consider the way how they could make voluntary contributions to such a mechanism as stakeholders, that should be most welcome. This would be also in accordance with the rising notion of CSR.
In conclusion, we need a fair and equitable mechanism for burden sharing among all the stakeholders. This symposium is a very important one, for allowing non-state actors to discuss such a voluntary mechanism for financial contributions, and, I might add, is itself a significant contribution to the establishment of regional ocean governance.