Publication Details

C. Rahman, ''The Geopolitical Context'' (Paper presented at the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security in the 21st Century: Proceedings of an International Conference, Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre on Garden Island, Sydney, 21-22 February 2011).

Link to publisher version (URL)

Lowy Institute for International Policy


The seas and oceans of the Indo-Pacific region present a number of maritime security challenges including piracy, terrorism, territorial claims, jurisdictional disputes, illegal fishing, criminal trafficking, and arguments over the Law of the Sea Convention. The differences among coastal and maritime user nations involving navigation and military operations represent some of the pressing issues affecting the region.

Some challenges are localized and others are widespread. For example, in the former case, a number of incidents of maritime terrorism have occurred in the Philippines over the last decade and a half. Yet most attacks against ferries and related infrastructure have been carried out by domestic insurgents and terrorists in support of their political objectives and limited to the southern Philippines. Nevertheless, the challenges become complicated when one considers the links between the Islamist terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah and Filipino terrorists, including training camps and safe havens in the southern Philippines and other contacts. Such networks are facilitated by weak policing along the tri-border area at the confluence of the Sulu and the Celebes (Sulawesi) Seas.