Expert talk


Marine scientific research: Confidence building and Environment sustainability

The South China Sea (SCS) is home to high marine biodiversity that merits marine scientific research (MSR). For a long period, MSR has been advocated as an area of common interest to restore ocean sustainability and build confidence among coastal states. In addition, rapid changes in climate and human activity demands MSR to identify shared solutions to environmental challenges such as the diminishment of fish stocks and coral reef ecosystems, marine plastic pollution, or climate change. Given its significance, the 9th Ocean Dialogue would explore possibilities to enhance MSR in the SCS. Experts will dwell on three specific topics, including: (i) the applicability of legal framework under UNCLOS for MSR; (ii) good practices in regional and international scope to offer some new ideas of what could be applied in the SCS, (iii) challenges coastal states could face in promoting science diplomacy in disputed areas, and policy recommendations accordingly.


Ocean Dialogue 9
Ocean Dialogue 9

The Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), the British Embassy in Hanoi UK in Vietnam, and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Vietnam (KAS) Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Vietnam will co-organize the 9th Ocean Dialogue on Wednesday, 5th October 2022.

Under the theme “Marine scientific research: confidence building and environment sustainability”, the 9th Ocean Dialogue seeks to explore possibilities to enhance marine scientific research (MSR) in the South China Sea, including the applicability of legal framework under UNCLOS for MSR as well as regional and international practices in MSR.

The 9th Ocean Dialogue consists of 4 sessions:

      • Session 1: International practices in marine scientific research

      • Session 2: Regional practices in marine scientific research

      • Session 3: Legal framework for marine scientific research under UNCLOS

      • Session 4: Marine scientific research in disputed areas: Challenges and policy recommendations



08.00 – 08.15 Welcome remark

Dr. Nguyen Hung Son

Vice President of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

08.20 – 09.05 Session 1: Legal framework for marine scientific research under UNCLOS

Article 123 of UNCLOS calls for forging bilateral and multilateral agreements for marine science research. However, rapid changes in human activities and new technologies in the SCS have put pressure on UNCLOS that predates these circumstances and new developments. States are regularly deploying new marine technologies. In some cases, the potential dual function of these technologies contributes new challenges to the interpretation of the current applicable legal regime for MSR under UNCLOS. In this session, discussions between legal experts and marine scientists on three following pressing issues are needed:

(i) What is covered and uncovered by UNCLOS with respect to the regulation of MRS in the SCS?

(ii) Do newly-invented technologies and current practices of MRS challenge the adequacy and applicability of UNCLOS?

(iii) How UNCLOS obligations remain their relevance in ocean management governance?


Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Vietnam


- Prof. David M. Ong
Nottingham Trent University, the UK

- Prof. Dr. James Kraska
U.S. Naval War College, USA

- Assoc. Prof. Jay L. Batongbacal
University of the Philippines, the Philippines

- Ms. Gao Chenchen
Sun Yat-sen University, China


09.05 – 09.30 Q&A

Question and Answer

09.45 – 10.30 Session 2: International practices in marine scientific research

To address gaps in developing a global understanding of ocean ecosystem, the United Nations declared 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and focused on generating ocean science that enables a “bottom-up regionally driven approach.” In practice, innovative efforts to create platforms for shared knowledge such as the model of crosscountry collaboration is a powerful paradigm for bringing nations together. Given rapidly growing marine scientific knowledge, this session aims to offer potential suggestions for the SCS such as: (i) introducing a multinational scientific expedition so that regional states could contribute different equipment and specializations; (ii) develop a regional regime to consult, collaborate, and promote MSR; or (iii) establish a Spratly Islands Marine Peace Park.


Moderator: Prof. David M. Ong, Nottingham Trent University, the UK

- Prof. John McManus
University of Miami, USA

- Prof. Dr. Suzette Suarez
Hochschule Bremen, Germany

- Ms. Sindhura Polepalli
Maritime Legal Consultant (Directorate General of Shipping, Govt of India)

10.30 – 11.30 Q&A

Question and Answer

14.00 – 14.45 Session 3: Regional practices in marine scientific research

In the SCS, cooperation in the exchange of data and information, consensus on the value of marine protected areas, and joint research expeditions have been increasing. And Joint Oceanographic Marine Scientific Research Expedition (JOMSRE) between Vietnam and Philippines is a specific example. Against this background, the two questions will follow: (i) how JOMSRE practice could inspire other ASEAN countries to deepen cooperation in regional marine resources management?; and (ii) how formalized management mechanism for marine resources could spill-over to other fields to enact sustainable ocean development in the SCS?


Moderator: Dr. Nguyen Hung Son, Vice President of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

- Prof. Yen-Chiang Chang
Dalian Maritime University, China

- Assoc. Prof. Deo Florence L. Onda
University of the Philippines, Philippines

- Prof. Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi
Vietnam Fisheries Society, Vietnam

- Dr. Vu Hai Dang
National University of Singapore, Singapore

14.45 – 15.15 Q&A

Question and Answer

15.30 – 16.15 Session 4: Marine scientific research in disputed areas: Challenges and policy recommendations

In disputed areas as the SCS, distrust among littoral states caused by territorial disputes has hampered further collaboration in marine research activities. For instance, there exist different opinions among claimant states about the legality of MSR activities, which could lead to tense situations. In some cases, scientific surveys, aside from their symbolic goals, are generating concerns where monitoring may be able to serve military purposes involving naval reconnaissance, intelligence gathering on foreign military facilities and vessels. Meanwhile, in recent COC negotiations, regional countries have discussed their duty to cooperate on marine scientific research. On this foundation, this session will clarify the nature of MSR that may be conducted in disputed sea areas and its obligations under UNCLOS; as well as explore policy recommendations to reduce mistrust and enhance scientific collaboration in the region.


Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Deo Florence L. Onda, University of the Philippines, Philippines


- Prof. Dr. Nele Matz-Lück
Kiel University Law School, Germany

- Mr. Leon Oei
Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, Singapore

- Dr. Pham Huy Giao
Petro Vietnam University, Vietnam

- Mr. Aristyo Darmawan
Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia


16.15 – 16.45 Q&A

Question and Answer

16.45 – 16.55 Closing Remarks

Closing Remarks by Organizer
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9th Ocean Dialogue: Marine Scientific Research: Confidence Building and Environment Sustainability
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Vu Thi Thu Phuong

Vu Phuong

Project Manager +84 24 3 7186194 /17 +84 24 37186197