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AIS Forum 2023 Summit: Building Cooperation Between Island Countries So They Can Face Global Challenges

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By: Muhamad Yunus Fadillah

AIS Forum (Archipelagic and Island State Forum) is a regional forum formed by a number of island countries around the world. This forum aims to promote cooperation and dialogue between island countries on various strategic issues related to their interests. This article will discuss the background, objectives, structure and impact of the 2023 AIS Forum Summit in the context of cooperation between island countries.

Island countries are countries that consist of a group of islands or archipelagos spread across various sea areas. They often have unique geographic and ecological characteristics, which influence their lives and policies. Island countries are often faced with unique challenges, such as the threat of climate change, sustainability of marine resources, and maritime border issues.

In order to address these challenges and promote regional cooperation, the AIS Forum was first initiated in 2012 by a group of island countries, including Indonesia, Fiji, Maldives and Timor-Leste. And it was officially founded in 2018 through the Manado declaration in Indonesia. The main objective of this forum is to facilitate dialogue between island countries and promote their common interests at regional and international levels. With this in mind, the AIS Forum member countries agreed to hold the 2023 AIS Forum Summit on 10-11 October 2023 for the first time in Indonesia, taking place in Bali, of course this will have a very positive impact on Indonesia.

UKI Professor of Social and Political Sciences Prof. Angel Damayanti, Ph.D said that hosting the 2023 AIS Forum Summit is proof that Indonesia is considered an archipelagic country and is capable of hosting international conferences. This means that Indonesia’s reputation is seen as very positive, because it is able to hold a high-level conference and Indonesia is also recognized as an archipelagic country. Apart from that, as host, Indonesia has the right to determine the theme and agenda that will be discussed at the conference. Indonesia has the privilege to promote what is considered important, such as advancing the blue economy, ensuring Indonesia’s maritime security from the threat of damage to the marine environment. As host, Indonesia also has more freedom to determine how to agree on an agenda and agree on a joint declaration.

The 2023 AIS Forum Summit  has several main objectives:

1. Increase  regional cooperation to strengthen cooperation between island countries on various issues, including sustainability of marine resources, climate change, maritime security and trade.

2. Support environmental issues because island countries are often the main victims of climate change and marine pollution and are committed to protecting the maritime environment and unique ecosystems in island countries.

3. Fight for international maritime law to promote the application of international maritime law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to ensure sustainable management of marine resources and resolution of border disputes.

4. Address maritime security threats as an important issue for island countries and work together to overcome threats such as piracy and illegal trade at sea.

Professor at Indonesian Christian University (UKI) Jakarta Prof. Angel Damayanti said that the most important thing, especially for the countries participating in the 2023 AIS Forum Summit, is to equalize perceptions about how to maintain the security and cleanliness of the marine environment, because our seas are related to the livelihoods of many people, such as living for coastal communities, being trade routes and shipping routes. Moreover, currently the dependence on exports and imports is very high so that healthy, sustainable seas can be realized.

AIS Forum has an organized structure to achieve its goals. This structure involves regular meetings, working groups, and collaboration with other regional and international organizations. Some structural elements of the AIS Forum include:

1.  Annual Meeting : holding an annual meeting attended by leaders and representatives from member countries. This meeting is the main platform for sharing information, discussing strategic issues, and identifying concrete steps that can be taken to advance cooperation.

2. Thematic working groups : focus on specific issues, such as sustainability of marine resources, climate change and maritime security. These working groups are tasked with developing concrete recommendations and solutions within their domain.

3.  Cooperation with  other organizations  :  to collaborate with other regional and international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and others  It aims to ensure that the interests of island nations are recognized and integrated in global policy.

This forum has facilitated the exchange of knowledge and experience between island nations, enabling them to address common problems more effectively. The AIS Forum has been active in promoting the sustainability of marine resources, which are important assets for island countries. They have advocated for responsible management practices. The AIS Forum has played a role in fighting for the implementation of UNCLOS, especially in resolving maritime border disputes between island countries. The AIS Forum has become an important platform for maritime diplomacy, enabling island nations to speak with one voice on regional and international issues.

The AIS Forum 2023 (Archipelagic and Island State Forum) Summit is an important initiative that helps island nations around the world to increase cooperation, protect the maritime environment, and advance their interests on strategic issues. By building a strong cooperation network between island countries, it plays a role in promoting peace, stability and sustainability in their unique territories, so this needs to be maintained in order to strengthen strategic cooperation between island countries.

)* The author is an observer of island problems

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