Past Project: Confidence & Cooperation in South Asian Waters


Confidence and Cooperation in South Asian Waters was a regionally initiated project that focused on maritime issues affecting India and Pakistan. It was structured and coordinated as an applied research project of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies (CFPS) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


The initiative evolved out of an academic research project by Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst and former Director Naval Research for the Pakistan Navy, conducted at the Sandia National Laboratories’ Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) in the United States. In the course of her research she consulted with Mr David Griffiths at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies (CFPS) and the two concluded that an ideal opportunity existed to develop the conclusions of the study into practical action. Since 1997 Mr Griffiths and Dr Peter Jones, also a CFPS Research Fellow (now Associate Professor with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at University of Ottawa), had been working with the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) on facilitating a network of bilateral maritime security arrangements between Southeast Asian nations. Adding an Indian Ocean element engaging knowledgeable individuals from Pakistan and India was a natural extension of that process and a politically unthreatening opportunity to establish a forum for improved maritime cooperation and mutual understanding between the two countries. Such an initiative fell within the research mandate of an existing CFPS project on Regional Dimensions of Maritime Security, which had been co-created by Dr Jones and later coordinated by Mr Griffiths.


The following is a brief overview description of activities. More detailed information is available from the reports for each session and the references.

Lumut, Malaysia, 29 - 31 January 2001

The first symposium was co-hosted by CFPS and MIMA, co-funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and MIMA. The organizing team included Dr Jones, Mr Griffiths, Dr Siddiqa, and the head of MIMA’s Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy, Mr Mak Joon Num. Building on previous successful collaboration between CFPS and MIMA on maritime confidence building, this event brought together, for the first time, retired senior officers, including former heads of the Indian and Pakistan Navies, to discuss topics such as prevention of incidents at sea (INCSEA) and the disputed maritime boundary, including the large number of fishermen imprisoned by each side for straying too close to it. In addition to opening channels of dialogue, this first discussion led to the release of almost 600 detained fishermen.

1st CCSAW Symposium

Islamabad, Pakistan, 22 May 2001

At the invitation of participants in the Lumut workshop, Peter Jones and David Griffiths conducted a public seminar in Islamabad entitled Maritime Environment in South Asian Waters: Avoidance of Incidents at Sea. The event was sponsored by Canada’s Human Security Program and opened formally by Admiral T.K. Khan (a former head of the Pakistan Navy and one of the participants in the Malaysia workshop), Mr Ferry de Kerckhove (High Commissioner for Canada) and Lt. General (R) Moinuddin Haider (the Federal Interior Minister). The workshop focused on the principles and practice of various arrangements for prevention of incidents at sea (INCSEA) between navies, coast guards and other government maritime agencies worldwide. The two Canadians also accepted an opportunity to speak to postgraduate students and faculty at Quaid-i-Azam University.

Halifax, Canada, July 2001

As part of this initiative, serving naval officers from India and Pakistan were invited to an Indian Ocean workshop as part of the ongoing Regional Dimensions of Maritime Security project, with Dr. Siddiqa and Admiral T.K. Khan also attending to represent this initiative. In addition to frank and productive dialogue, a highlight of the event was Dr. Siddiqa reading a message that she had received from a former head of the Indian Navy announcing that India had decided to stop arresting fishermen in the area of the disputed maritime boundary.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 April - 3 May 2002

The second symposium was organized and hosted by the CFPS Regional Maritime Security Project in conjunction with the Dalhousie Law School, with financing from a research grant from the Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) and a contribution from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. In addition to continuing the work of the Lumut symposium, this session included a two-day workshop on maritime boundary issues conducted by Dalhousie Law School Professors Dawn Russell and Phillip Saunders.

2nd CCSAW Symposium

Delhi, India, 7 August 2003

At the invitation of the United Services Institution (USI) of India, the Dalhousie team extended its transit stop in Delhi en route to the third symposium in Colombo, in order to hold discussions with USI members on maritime topics. Canadian transport costs were sponsored by the Human Security Program of DFAIT. This one-day event was held at the USI’s facility in New Delhi and consisted of two half-day sessions, each beginning with a formal presentation followed by open discussion. In the morning, Dean Dawn Russell and Professor Phillip Saunders of the Dalhousie Law School presented a seminar on four aspects of maritime boundaries: jurisdictional zones and entitlements; maritime boundary delimitation; forms of dispute resolution; and trans-boundary cooperation, including measures that might be taken on an interim or permanent basis, with or without the conclusion of a formal boundary agreement. In the afternoon, Dr Jones and Mr Griffiths presented a seminar on the principles, history and international experience of mechanisms for the prevention of incidents at sea as they might relate to the India-Pakistan situation.

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 11-15 August 2003

The third symposium was again co-sponsored by CMC and DFAIT’s Human Security Program. An intensive week of discussion was devoted to building on the progress made at the earlier meetings. Work continued on maritime boundary issues, prevention of incidents at sea, maritime trade, the fisheries, and potential avenues for naval and maritime cooperation. Two Visiting Scholars at CMC, retired Rear Admirals Hasan Ansari from Pakistan and Ravi Vohra from India, shared ideas from their ongoing study on improving cooperation at sea between India and Pakistan. The meeting also adopted a detailed Joint Action Plan defining the issues upon which members of the group would focus in the coming year.

3rd CCSAW Symposium

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 18-22 July 2004

The Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University coordinated the fourth symposium, co-sponsored by CMC and DFAIT’s Human Security Program. An intensive week of discussion was devoted to building on the progress made at the earlier meetings. The objective was a focussed discussion, at the non-official level, of maritime safety, co-operation and related issues in South Asia.


Halifax, Canada, May 2005

At the 2004 symposium, participants had committed themselves to initiate the process for “workshops on the methodology for determination of the outer limits of the Continental Shelf and Maritime Boundary issues in New Delhi and Islamabad, at a time to be determined.” To prepare for that, and to plan for the 2005 symposium, a small working group convened in Halifax to create a detailed plan for conducting Continental Shelf workshops, as well as addressing plans for the 2005 symposium and other related regional issues.

New Delhi, India, 27 July; Karachi, Pakistan, 1 August; and Islamabad, Pakistan, 3 August 2005

As a follow-up to decisions made at the 2004 symposium, a series of four seminars on the Implications of Jurisdiction Over the Extended Continental Shelf was organized for India and Pakistan although one, scheduled for Mumbai, had to be cancelled because of catastrophic monsoon flooding and a deadly fire on a nearby offshore oil production platform. Each seminar was a one-day event for government officials and officers with responsibilities related to the extension of national jurisdiction over the Continental Shelf beyond 200 nautical miles under the provisions of Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Details of each seminar were adapted to fit the needs of the particular audience. The seminar in India was conducted by Professor Phillip Saunders, a Research Fellow at CFPS and then Dean of Law at Dalhousie. Seminars in Pakistan were conducted by Prof. Saunders and Dr Galo Carrera, an Elected Member of the Legal and Technical Commission of the International Seabed Authority. The host agency in New Delhi was India’s National Maritime Foundation, in Karachi Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff and in Islamabad the Ministry of Technology.

Halifax, Canada, 6-10 September 2005

The fifth annual Symposium, held in collaboration with the Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC), was conducted in Halifax in September 2005. As usual, the objective was a focused discussion at a non-official level, of maritime safety, cooperation and related issues in South Asia including prevention of incidents at sea, the maritime boundary, jurisdiction over the extended continental shelf, the plight of detained fishermen, maritime compliance and enforcement, marine emergency management (including marine environmental protection), facilitating maritime trade, and Search and Rescue. In addition, Mr William Fenrick one of the co-authors of the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea facilitated a discussion on mutual understanding of maritime aspects of the Law of Armed Conflict and rules of engagement.

5th CCSAW Symposium

Washington, United States, 13-14 September 2005

Following the Halifax symposium, a sub-group representing the entire team travelled to Washington, at the invitation of the US Department of Energy to conduct seminars on maritime confidence and cooperation issues in South Asian waters. These sessions were conducted at the Henry L. Stimson Centre on September 13th and the U.S. Department of State on September 14th. The purpose of each was to present “a discussion of South Asian maritime issues, conducted by a panel of regional and North American experts”.

5th CCSAW Symposium

Bangkok, Thailand, 19-23 March 2007

This sixth symposium was sponsored by Canada’s DFAIT. Discussions were wide ranging and continued to explore the key issues including agreement for the prevention of incidents at sea; the maritime boundary; Sir Creek; continental shelf issues; the plight of detained fishermen; the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement at sea; cooperative maritime compliance and enforcement; maritime emergency management; development of a joint search and rescue initiative; maritime environmental protection; and facilitating maritime trade. Looking to the future, the group felt that much of its effort before the next annual meeting should be in ensuring timely signature and implementation of several documents and agreements between the two sides, working to develop cooperative environmental management, and further promoting maritime related “people-to-people” and “service-to-service” contacts between the two countries.

6th CCSAW Symposium

Bangkok, Thailand, 13-15 April 2010

The seventh symposium held in Bangkok in April, 2010, sponsored by the Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies at the US National Defense University in Washington, DC. This was the first meeting after a three year hiatus because of lack of funding. The underlying themes were therefore to review and update the achievements of the process to date, and to consider how the work of the group might go forward in a sustainable manner. In addition to the ongoing focus areas, the group also turned attention to maritime environmental protection, safety and security of offshore oil activity in the Arabian Sea, and mutual interests in anti-piracy efforts.

7th CCSAW Symposium

Bangkok, Thailand, 10-12 June 2011

The eighth symposium was held in Bangkok, jointly hosted by Dr. Jones’ Ottawa Dialogue and Dalhousie University’s CFPS was again sponsored by the Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. In addition to addressing the ongoing issues, the group also turned its attention to the possibilities of environmental peace-building in the area of the disputed boundary, facilitated by Dr Saleem Ali, founding director of the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security at the University of Vermont and editor of Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution. Discussion also continued on the impact of marine piracy off Somalia on seafarers from both India and Pakistan. The result was a commitment to organize a results-based workshop on that topic, either in India or Pakistan.

8th CCSAW Symposium

Karachi, Pakistan, 29 February-2 March 2012

The piracy issue was addressed at a three-day international conference entitled The Human Face of Marine Piracy: Consequences and Policy Options held in Karachi early 2012. The event was organized and hosted by the Fazaldad Human Rights Institute (FHRI) in cooperation with Dalhousie University’s Marine Piracy Project (DMPP), sponsored by the NESA Center for Strategic Studies, and held at the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research on the Karachi campus of Bahria University. The conference focused on the welfare of seafarers and their families threatened or affected by marine piracy, resulting in the publication of Proceedings and initiation of a number of practical initiatives described in the report of the ninth symposium.

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 16-18 July 2012

The ninth symposium was held in Colombo between in July, 2012, hosted jointly by Dalhousie University and Ottawa Dialogue, and sponsored by the Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. This session was devoted primarily to taking stock of the program over the past decade and deciding on commitments to future action.

9th CCSAW Symposium

Bangkok, Thailand, January 2013

Several members of the group contributed to a workshop on the Sir Creek issue, conducted as part of Ottawa Dialogue’s Confidence Building Project, a process led by Dr Jones, engaging retired senior officials, military officers and academics from India and Pakistan.

Bangkok, Thailand, 19-21 August 2013

The tenth symposium was hosted by Ottawa Dialogue, in partnership with Dalhousie University and sponsored by Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. In addition to the ongoing topics of study the session focused on marine environmental issues of common interest to India and Pakistan, facilitated in part by Dr. Ken Lee, an internationally renowned expert on marine oil spill response and currently Director of the Wealth from the Oceans program at the Australian Resources Research Centre.

10th CCSAW Symposium

Bangkok, Thailand, 31 October-2 November 2014

The eleventh symposium was again hosted by Ottawa Dialogue in partnership with Dalhousie University and sponsored by Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. Discussions ranged widely but focused particularly on environmental security, the conditions of detained fishermen, Sir Creek, prevention of incidents at sea, capacity building in safety and risk reduction, and means of enhancing mutual communication and understanding.

Bangkok, Thailand, 28-30 October 2015

The twelfth symposium was again held in Bangkok, hosted by Ottawa Dialogue in partnership with the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, and sponsored by Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. In addition to ongoing topics of discussion, this year the group also added nuclear weapons at sea to the agenda at the request Ottawa Dialogue’s Nuclear Dialogue. Another point of note at this meeting was that India and Pakistan have now both submitted their non-competing claims to extended jurisdiction over the Continental Shelf. Consequently, that agenda item was closed, noting the contribution made by the group since 2004 and recognizing the work of the two experts who contributed so much to a successful conclusion.