Safeguarding the Freedom of Navigation in the Indo-Pacific: What Role for European Navies?




09:30 a.m. (UTC)


11:00 a.m. (UTC)

Picture of Chinese soldiers patroling at Spratly Islands
© Reuters / Stringer

  • China’s large-scale land reclamations in the Spratly Islands in 2014 and 2015 threw long-standing contentions over the freedom of navigation through Southeast Asian waters into stark relief. The 2016 verdict of an arbitration tribunal against Chinese claims in the South China Sea further strengthened the view that a rising China was challenging both the international law of the sea and the US-led order.

    What position should European decision makers take on this development? How can they help to ensure that the rule of international law prevails over the rule of force? Should European navies follow the United States’ calls and assist in securing the freedom of navigation and deploy naval assets in the South China Sea? If so, should these deployments come in the form of so-called Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs)?

    The experts at the GIGA Talk discuss whether European naval forces should participate in intensified naval exercises in this area and how the dispute over freedom of navigation is affecting the potential peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    Speakers: Dr. Christian Wirth is Research Fellow at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University, Brisbane.

    Prof. Dr. Alexander Proelss is Chair in International Law of the Sea and International Environmental Law, Public International Law and Public Law at Universität Hamburg.

    Discussants: Dr. Eva Pejsova is Associate Researcher at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, Paris.

    Dr. Sebastian Bruns is Head of the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University.

    Moderator: Dr. Carolin Liss is Assistant Professor at the Vesalius College, Brussels, and Associate Fellow at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt.


    Online event, Berlin




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