25-26 October 2023, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
the 15th South China Sea International Conference
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  • 8.00 am -8.05 am (GMT+7)


- Dr. Pham Lan Dung, Acting President of the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam

  • 8.05 am - 8.20 am (GMT+7)


- H.E. Mr. Do Hung Viet, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vietnam


    • 8.20 am - 9.50 am (GMT+7)

    SESSION 1. The South China Sea: 15 Years on

    Fifteen years have passed since the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam held its first South China Sea Conference. The South China Sea disputes have not only remained unresolved but also grew into a major geo-strategic hotspot. While maritime cooperation improved in certain areas, differences and mistrust remain. How has the situation in the South China Sea evolved over the past 15 years? How have countries’ perceptions and policies in the South China Sea changed? Have new maritime challenges emerged on top of existing ones and why? What awaits the region in the future? This session will look at the developments of the South China Sea over the last 15 years, and identify positive trends and developments with the aim of drawing best practices and lessons.

    - H.E. Amb. Dang Dinh Quy, Former Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations

    - Prof. Carl Thayer, Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales and Director of Thayer Consultancy, Australia
    - Dr. Wu Shicun, China-Southeast Asia Research Center on the South China Sea, China
    - Prof. Robert Beckman, Center for International Law, the National University of Singapore, Singapore
    - Dr. Nguyen Hung Son, Vice President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

    • 10.15 am - 10.45 am (GMT+7)


    -The Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific

    • 10.45 am - 12.15 pm (GMT+7)

    SESSION 2. Great Powers and Great Responsibilities: Is Cooperation and Coexistence Possible amid Heightening Competition?

    The South China Sea finds itself nested within the “Indo-Pacific” region, which has become a key theatre in the deepening great power competition. Whereas it is natural and within the sovereign rights of the great powers to compete, they also bear the responsibility to conduct such competition within the framework of international rules and norms, and without negative impacts to regional countries. Great powers are also expected to manage their competition to minimize the risk of confrontation with devastating consequences. Against this backdrop, this session will discuss what would constitute responsible competition behaviors and how regional countries could contribute to encouraging the great powers to become more responsible in managing their competition, especially within the highly contested space of the South China Sea?

    - H.E. Mr. Denny Abdi, Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam

    - Prof. Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, Russia
    - Mr. Gregory B. Poling, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the United States
    - Senior Colonel (Ret) Zhou Bo, Center for International Security and Strategy, Tsinghua University, China
    - Dr. Sarah Kirchberger, Head of Center for AsiaPacific Strategy and Security, Institute for Security Policy, Kiel University, Germany

    • 01.00 pm - 01.30 pm (GMT+7)


    - Mr. Martin Thümmel, Commissioner for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

    • 2.00 pm - 3.30 pm (GMT+7)

    SESSION 3. A Multilateral Approach to the South China Sea: Is There an Emerging Trend?

    An increasing number of middle powers have expressed their opinions and visions on the South China Sea, especially through their respective Indo-Pacific guidelines or strategies. Interest in the South China Sea is not confined only to regional groupings such as ASEAN but also extra-regional groupings like the EU, and more “global” groupings like the G7, UN, or sub-regional minilaterals.
    This session shall discuss how multilateralism could contribute to the better management of the South China Sea disputes, promote cooperation, and contribute to the sustainable management of marine resources. How do different multilateral frameworks approach the South China Sea? Will multilateralism be a powerful force for cooperation in the South China Sea? What different roles should each framework play? Should and could ASEAN maintain its centrality in the South China Sea?

    - H.E.Julien Guerrier, Ambassador of the European Union to Vietnam

    - Dr. Eva Pejsova, Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy, Vrije Brussel University, Belgium
    - Prof. Kuik Cheng-Chwee, National University of Malaysia, Malaysia
    - Captain Dr. Hassachai Mangkang, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
    - Mr. Murray Hiebert, Head of Research, Bower Group Asia, the United States

    • 3.45 pm - 5.15 pm (GMT+7)

    SESSION 4. Must There be a Law on “Lawfare”?

    Recently, there has been an increase in the use of legal means to achieve national strategic interests by a variety of countries. On the one hand, the use of international law in good faith is enhanced to advance national interests. On the other hand, a number of practices emerged that deviate from or are inconsistent with established norms, such as “cherry picking” or unilaterally interpreting international law, overriding international law with municipal laws, exerting political and economic influence over litigation processes or international fora, etc. If laws become an instrument of warfare, as the term “lawfare” suggests, should there be clearer rules regulating the practice? Is pacta sunt servanda sufficient to serve as a useful tool for the common interpretation and implementation of international law? Are additional instruments of international law needed to promote good faith enforcement and secure the validity of international law?

    - H.E.Mr. Andrew Goledzinowski, Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam

    - Prof. Robert McLaughlin, Collegue of Law, Australia National University, Australia
    - Prof. Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, the UK
    - Prof. Yen Chiang Chang, Dalian Maritime University, China
    - Prof. Jay Batongbacal, Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, University of Philippines, Philippines


      • 9.00 am - 10.30 am (GMT+7)

      SESSION 5. The Coast Guard’s Role in Fostering Cooperation in the South China Sea

      The South China Sea has become busier, not only with commercial and naval activities but also with the increasing presence of the coast guards. Would the coast guards help stabilize the maritime domain, enhance good order at sea, or add to its instability? Would the white hull (law enforcement vessels) help illuminate or broaden the grayzones? How the coast guards could be made the force for cooperation and peace in the South China Sea?
      This session brings together representatives of Coast Guards in the region but also in the world to share the basis for coast guard activities, the advantages and challenges of the coast guards’ operation, and the future trajectory of coast guard deployment in the South China Sea, particularly their best practices and cooperation experiences in fighting against threats to maritime security.

      - H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, the Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam

      - Mr. Tatsuhiko Takashima, Vice Admiral Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (retired), Japan
      - Capt. Bakamla Hudiansyah Is Nursal, SH, MILIR, Deputy Director for International Law and Legislation, Bakamla RI, Indonesia
      - Dr. Jay Tristan Tarriela, Deputy Chief of Coast Guard Staff for Human Resource Management, the Philippines
      - Senior Colonel Nguyen Khac Vuot, Director of the Military Science Division, Vietnam Coast Guard, Vietnam

      • 10.45 am - 12.15 pm (GMT+7)

      SESSION 6. Energy at a Crossroads: Traditional or Renewable Energy?

      The green energy transition, the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, is critical to realizing the Net-Zero emissions goal. However, the process of sustainable energy transition was destabilized following the war in Ukraine and the global economic downturn. It remains unclear if this will speed up the clean energy transition or result in a resurgence of fossil fuels in the long run.
      Many States, including coastal States to the South China Sea have made commitments to reduce their carbon emission under the Paris Convention, through the increase in the production of clean or renewable energy. The South China Sea, with its scorching sun, strong monsoon, and big waves, offers important opportunities to develop, among others, solar, aeolian, and wave energy. However, so far, these potentials, both in economic and sustainable development, have not been well exploited by countries in the region.
      This session will analyze the potentials and perils of developing these different sources of energy from legal, political, and security perspectives. Good practices are also exchanged to apply knowledge and expertise from developed markets to the unique challenges and opportunities in the South China Sea.

      - H.E. Mr. Shawn Perry Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam

      - Mr. Björn Zindler, German Offshore-Wind Initiative, Germany
      - Prof. Nguyen Xuan Huy, Faculty of Geology & Petroleum Engineering, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam
      - Dr. Aswani RS, The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, India
      - Dr. Dawoon Jung, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong

      • 2.00 pm - 2.15 pm (GMT+7)


      - Mrs. Paola Pampaloni, Acting Managing Director for Asia and Pacific at EEAS

      • 2.15 pm - 3.45 pm (GMT+7)

      SESSION 7. Critical Infrastructure: A New Impetus from Technologies

      Maritime zones in the future will be defined not only by delimitation lines but also by critical infrastructure deployment, especially undersea cables, pipelines, and floating devices. Undersea cables, which carry the world’s data, are the symbol of the technological revolution but also entail potential security risks, such as disruptions due to sabotage. Floating devices offer new options for the development of energy and transmission. These infrastructures are critical for economic growth and have the potential to shape the geopolitical landscape in the region. However, international norms and standards regulating critical infrastructure have not been fully developed.
      In this session, our speakers will analyze the best “rules of the roads” on the construction and protection of critical infrastructures. The session will also examine the potential use of undersea cables as a facilitator of regional economic integration and promote connectivity. The session will also discuss the impacts of critical infrastructures on the great powers “decoupling” as well as vice versa, great powers’ competition on the construction and utilization of critical infrastructure.

      - Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, General Director of the South China Sea Institute, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam
      - Dr. Christian Bueger, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
      - Dr. Félix Blanc, Institute for Strategic Research, France
      - Dr. Euan Graham, Senior Analyst, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Australia
      - Prof. Sean O'Malley, Department of International Studies, Dongseo University, South Korea

      • 4.00 pm - 5.30 pm (GMT+7)

      SESSION 8. Voice of the Next Generation

      This is an opportunity for the next generation of leaders to share their research and discuss their views on regional security, development, and strategies, particularly ideas on sustainable management and promoting cooperation in the South China Sea. Outstanding representatives from the past year's Young Leaders program had already an opportunity to contribute their insights and feedback. This year, we will continue to listen to the voices of the new generation contributing their efforts to peaceful solutions in the South China Sea.

      • 5.30 pm - 5.45 pm (GMT+7)