United Nations: Stressing on enhancing maritime security, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for peaceful settlement of disputes as per international law and for jointly combating maritime threats posed by non-state actors as he chaired a high-level UN Security Council open debate.
Addressing the debate on "Enhancing Maritime Security - A Case for International Cooperation" via video conferencing, Modi proposed five principles for inclusive maritime security strategy, and mentioned India's vision ‘SAGAR' for sustainable use of the oceans.
He also emphasised that the oceans are the world's common heritage and sea routes are the lifeline of international trade. He also highlighted that maritime routes were being misused for terrorism and piracy.
"We need a framework for mutual cooperation in order to conserve and utilise our shared maritime heritage. Such a framework cannot be created by any country alone. It requires joint efforts by all of us,” he said.
Underlining that the countries' shared maritime heritage is facing many challenges, the Prime Minister said, "we should remove barriers for legitimate maritime trade. Global prosperity for all our nations depends on the active flow of maritime trade. Any hindrance in maritime trade can threaten the global economy."
Noting that free maritime trade has always been part of the civilisational ethos of India, Modi said that New Delhi has put forward the vision of Sagar - security and growth for all in the region – and it wanted to create an inclusive framework for maritime security in the region.
"The vision aims for a safe, secure and stable maritime domain. For free maritime trade, it is also necessary that we fully respect the rights of the seafarers of other countries,” he said.
The second principle, he said, was that the settlement of maritime disputes should be peaceful and on the basis of international law.
His remarks assume significance amidst China's maritime territorial dispute with countries in the Indo-Pacific region on the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
"This is very important for mutual trust and confidence. This is the only way we can ensure global peace and stability," he asserted.
Modi said it was with this understanding and maturity that India resolved its maritime boundary issues with its neighbour Bangladesh.
He said the third key principle was that the global community should jointly fight maritime threats posed by natural disasters and non-state actors, and added that India has taken several steps to enhance regional cooperation to address these issues.
India has taken several steps to enhance regional cooperation on this subject, he added.
"We have provided support for hydrographic surveying and training of maritime security personnel to several countries. India's role in the Indian Ocean has been that of a net security provider,” he added.
Preserving the maritime environment and maritime resources, and encouraging responsible maritime connectivity were the fourth and fifth principles enunciated by the prime minister.
"Our Oceans directly impact our climate and hence, it is very important that we keep our maritime environment free of pollutants like plastic waste and oil spills,” he said.
"I'm confident that we can develop a global roadmap for maritime security cooperation based on these five principles," he added.
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to preside over a UN Security Council Open Debate, according to the Prime Minister's Office.
The meeting was attended by several heads of state and government of member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and high-level briefers from the UN system and key regional organisations.
The open debate was focussed on ways to effectively counter maritime crime and insecurity, and strengthen coordination in the maritime domain.
The UN Security Council has discussed and passed resolutions on different aspects of maritime security and maritime crime in the past.
However, this is the first time that maritime security was discussed in a holistic manner as an exclusive agenda item in such a high-level open debate.