Synopsis – Recently, the US Navy challenged India’s maritime rights in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep Islands. It called India’s claim excessive and its actions as per the freedom of navigation.
- Recently, a move by the US navy came as a surprise to India. It is a surprise, especially after two successful visits by senior U.S. officials.
- The US Navy carried out Freedom of Navigation Operation [FONOP] in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep Islands.
- The US warship did not request India’s permission before sailing through its Exclusive Economic Zone.
- It also challenges India’s excessive maritime claims. This operation, according to the US Seventh Fleet, was to assert navigational rights and freedoms. Moreover, it also claims that this move was in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
What was India’s stand on the issue?
- India has raised its concern to the US, through diplomatic channels.
- Further, India also said that UNCLOS did not authorize military maneuvers on the continental shelf or EEZ. That too without the prior consent of a country.
The incident is an unusual fallout between the two members of the QUAD. They both recently pledged to work together to protect freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific.
US may adopt a new SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for these FONOPs. India must take some of the following steps to avoid any further tension.
- India needs to deal with the US’s open challenge to its maritime claims.
- Further, India must clearly articulate its stance, demonstrating to all stakeholders how Indian maritime law is consistent with international law.
- Also, India must seek clarification from the US that how the aim of the Quad grouping of “free and accessible Indo-Pacific,” can coexist with the US Navy’s open challenge.
Source- The Hindu