Maritime security in Indonesia: Towards a comprehensive agenda?

James Malcolm and Ioannis Chapsos publish in Marine Policy


Against the backdrop of Indonesian President Widodo’s expressed intention to turn his country in to a maritime nation again, this article examines the way in which the Indonesian state understands and utilises the concept of maritime security. The article achieves this aim by discussing the results of a Training Needs Analysis of key Indonesian state maritime security actors, conducted as part of the first phase of a multi-stakeholder project examining how Indonesia’s maritime security capacity can be improved.

The article illustrates how key maritime actors within the Indonesian state demonstrate a diverse understanding of what maritime security is, and argues that there is a demonstrable willingness on their part to look beyond a narrow conceptualisation of security in the maritime domain, which is solely focused on military threats and the defence of the state, towards something more comprehensive. Here the Indonesian approach to maritime security mirrors in practice conceptual trends encapsulated in the emergence of maritime security studies. The article concludes that there is the potential for a more comprehensive maritime security agenda to take hold in Indonesia but that this will require continued strategic and policy focus on the maritime domain within the country, alongside an emphasis on partnership building both within the state and between the state and non-state actors.

Consistent dialogue around how maritime security is conceptualised would be helpful in supporting these two conditions the article posits, elaborating the value of the human security lens for those interested in a more comprehensive approach to maritime security.