Premesha Saha, Natalie Sambhi, and Evan A. Laksmana, India-Australia-Indonesia Maritime Partnership: Shared Challenges, Compelling Opportunities, February 2022, Observer Research Foundation.
This report seeks to outline the common maritime security challenges facing India, Australia, and Indonesia, and proposes policy options for strengthening trilateral cooperation to address them. A 2020 study conducted by the authors of this report, titled Anchoring the Indo-Pacific: The Case for Deeper Australia-India-Indonesia Trilateral Cooperation, has argued that the core of their trilateral cooperation should be within the maritime domain, with the Indo-Pacific region as the primary theatre and the three states as anchors. Given the regional uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific, as well as the limitations of existing multilateral institutions and bilateral partnerships, stronger cooperation and alignment between the three nations can boost regional stability and provide strategic benefits for all. Therefore, these countries, and how they interact with one another, are key to the long-term strategic stability of the region.
This report argues that there are short-term operational and long-term strategic and security challenges that India, Australia, and Indonesia must deal with in the maritime domain. Amongst the short-term challenges, the report focuses on those facing the navies and maritime law-enforcement agencies of the three countries: Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, maritime piracy, and grey-zone activities. The long-term focus areas, meanwhile, include climate-induced maritime insecurities and maritime disputes. Taken together, all three countries have shared interests in these maritime security challenges and must collectively confront them.
The report proposes that India, Australia and Indonesia explore cooperation in three pillars: maritime diplomacy, maritime law enforcement, and maritime domain awareness. Each area has subsets within which the three countries have pre-existing modalities (bilaterally or multilaterally) to engage in trilateral cooperation in the future. Specific actionable recommendations under these areas are laid out in the form of short- and long-term goals. For a stable and rules-based order in an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region, the three nations must find new ways to deepen their practical conversations and strategic maritime cooperation.
The prospect of furthering cooperation between India, Australia and Indonesia within a trilateral framework is premised on their shared interest in establishing a stable and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific Region. In recent years, this has become increasingly crucial for the prosperity and security of the nations. To this end, the three countries must find a convergence of strategic interests, with their respective sizes and strategic resources complementing one another. Through trilateral trade and investment, the growth of one can serve as a tailwind for the others; at the same time, the security and economic conditions of one will also likely impact the others.
The 2020 study, Anchoring the Indo-Pacific: The Case for Deeper Australia-India-Indonesia Trilateral Cooperation, found that the regional uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific, coupled with the limitations of existing multilateral institutions and bilateral partnerships, necessitates stronger cooperation and alignment between India, Australia, and Indonesia. Such cooperation will not only provide strategic benefits for all three, but also boost regional stability.[i] Further, the findings of the 2020 study suggest the maritime domain as the ideal point of strategic convergence between the three countries. Building on this idea, the current report explores the options, opportunities, and challenges of maritime cooperation between India, Australia and Indonesia.
The rest of the report is structured as follows: The second section briefly explains why the three nations should explore a trilateral maritime partnership. The third analyses the shared maritime security challenges these countries must tackle, both short-term and long-term. The fourth section then examines three potential pillars of cooperation—maritime diplomacy, maritime law enforcement, and maritime domain awareness. The fifth section summarises the findings and proposes short- and long-term policy options for the countries to consider.
Read the entire report here.
[i] Premesha Saha, Ben Bland, and Evan A. Laksmana, Anchoring the Indo-Pacific: The Case for Deeper Australia-India-Indonesia Trilateral Cooperation New Delhi, Observer Research Foundation, 2020.
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Premesha Saha is a Fellow with ORF’s Strategic Studies Programme. Her research focuses on Southeast Asia, East Asia, Oceania and the emerging dynamics of the ...Read More +
Natalie Sambhi is Founder and Executive Director of Verve Research an independent research collective focused on the relationship between militaries and societies. Since 2020 she ...Read More +
Evan A. Laksmana is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapores Lee Kuan Yew School of ...Read More +