I.O. 2.0: Indian Ocean Security and the Law of the Sea

61 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2013

See all articles by James Kraska

James Kraska

Stockton Center for International Law, U.S. Naval War College; Harvard University - Harvard Law School; University of California Berkeley School of Law; Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Date Written: February 17, 2012


In his recent book Monsoon, inveterate traveler and political observer Robert D. Kaplan recounts a tour of contemporary Indian Ocean geopolitics. Kaplan journeys from Oman to Pakistan to Burma and Indonesia, highlighting the historical, cultural and geographic features of the region. Piracy, ethnic conflicts, and hostile control of choke points like the Strait of Malacca, are some of the prominent threats. The rivalry between India and Pakistan dominates an arc of instability that stretches from Iran to Burma. As the British liberal inheritance quickly fades in Islamabad, the government in New Delhi vacillates between stagnant socialism and dynamic entrepreneurship. Thus, while nuclear weapons are the backbone of Indian and Pakistani security policy, strategic deterrence and therefore regional stability on the subcontinent is elusive. The story in Monsoon is one of a precarious region on the edge of a precipice, between religious turmoil coming from the Middle East and a tantalizing model of super-charged economic development from East Asia.

This article provides a political and legal roadmap of Kaplan’s majestic work, analyzing the most pressing issues affecting Indian Ocean security against the backdrop of international law. The Indian Ocean provides a look at regional politics from the maritime perspective, which is a fundamentally different lens than that obtained by focusing on the land terrain. At the intersection of geographic — and therefore geopolitical — dimensions of the Indian Ocean and the international laws — regimes and rules that serve as a backdrop against which geopolitics unfolds — this article serves as a complement to Monsoon by providing a vision of how the international law of the sea will help to shape strategy.

Keywords: Indian Ocean, piracy, maritime law, oceans law, law of the sea, China, naval, conflict

Suggested Citation

Kraska, James, I.O. 2.0: Indian Ocean Security and the Law of the Sea (February 17, 2012). Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 43, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2224281

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