Challenges Facing Developing Countries Adopting International Convention Maritime Search Rescue (SAR)
The growth observed in developing nations has led to maritime traffic in the entire region. In addition, the increase in maritime activities has led to more threats of emergencies at the seas. For the region to enhance security and safety, developing countries had to adopt a legal and binding agreement on working together in maritime search rescue (SAR). The nations have been experiencing manifold challenges associated with the adoption of this international convention agreement. The first is the sheer regional size, harsh environmental conditions, inadequate support infrastructures, and lack of capabilities. This study analyzes the challenges facing developing countries adopting international convention maritime search rescue (SAR) (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2007).
The international convention maritime search rescue (SAR) enacted in 1979 encompasses an internal rescue and search plan. The aim of this plan was to rescue distressed persons in seas, no matter the location. This was to be made possible through the formation of collaborations between all neighboring SAR communities. In 1998, the agreement was modified to clarify the responsibilities of various nations. After the introduction of the 1979 international convention, maritime search rescue (SAR), the Committee of Maritime Safety founded by the Global Maritime Organization divided the oceans in developing nations into rescue and search areas. This has been commonly referred to as the Rescue and Search Regions. From this requirement, any developing country was required to offer services of coordination and management. This was aimed at fostering the provisions of the international convention maritime search rescue (SAR) (Nordquist & University of Virginia, 2005).
Developing nations are among the maritime regions endowed with natural double geographic identities defined by sea and land. With a strategic location on vital world sea routes, developing nations enjoy a measurable distance along the maritime resources. Their geo-strategic locations have been rated as the most fundamental factor. The region's maritime e-zones, marine conservation, ecology, and marine resources accompany this. These factors come along with the region's International and regional obligations. The success of executing such obligations is however riddled by lack of political will to commit money for this cause. Many governments in developing countries do not commit much of their funds on SAR convention. This has caused limited or no progress at all in this new field of maritime safety (Opeskin, Perruchoud & Redpath-Cross, 2012).
Maritime zones of developing nations were legalized in 1994 under the Maritime Zone Act. This Act covers all the territorial waters, exclusive economic areas, exclusive Islands and continental shelves, which belong to the developing nations. All these countries fall under the region's jurisdiction of control, monitoring, and enforcement of regional authority. With such a vast region come certain obligations and rights, which all the developing nations have a legal direct bearing (UN Department of Public Information, 2009). The provisions of the International Maritime Organization and the International Convention Maritime Search Rescue (SAR) govern the third world nations. Under such circumstances, the cooperation between navy and coastal guard and aviation is hindered. Each group may consider itself superior over the other. Rescue missions eventually become unsuccessful because of such challenges related to cooperation. This becomes worse when neighboring SAR speak different languages. Language barrier makes it hard for the operations to execute rescue mission in a timely manner.
The Law of Seas introduced by the United Nations Conventions serves to provide guidelines on how maritime rescues have to be undertaken. Third world nations have the moral obligations of observing the outlined normative global guidelines as signatories of Sea Life Safety of the Convention. This includes a moral obligation towards territorial waters, as well. The total sovereignty of developing countries is counterbalanced with the right to conduct foreign shipments across innocent passages. The contagious zone may enforce particular regional policies, which conforms to fiscal, health, immigration, and customs issues. The obligations and rights of the third world countries have been confined to explorations, protection, and exploitation of marine resources (Nordquist & University of Virginia, 2005).
The rescue and search responsibilities and the hydrographic duties remain as the two major areas of importance. Developing nations have designed an independent Directorate of the Navy charged with issuing navigational warnings and navigation charts in areas assigned. The rescue and search responsibilities are vested in different countries under the International Convention Maritime Search Rescue (SAR). From different borders, third world countries are likely to create a means to carry out successful rescue and search operations across the vast region. However, complexities in coordination and lack of training in the use of essential gadgets create serious challenges. Lack of training on fire fighting, GMDSS, Beacon, and electronic equipments poses serious challenges on individuals expected to undertake SAR duties. Eventually, the realization of a well-coordinated maritime rescue mission becomes a mirage.
Besides its geo-strategic positions, the region has faced with a set of changing regional strategic environment. This is the challenge of emerging theories of common defense policies. As the nations in the region have adopted, this objective has been gaining momentum over forums in the developing world. The region has induced other initiatives on development and security including the Inter-state Committee on Defense Security. The membership and admission of developing nations to this body has emphasized on the need to become a regional partner playing an important role (Nordquist & University of Virginia, 2005). Members of the region have raised various concerns including:
I. The region is vulnerable to possible threats of sea line communications
II. The privileges and interests of landlocked countries in the industry of maritime and the III. The need for urgent regional cooperation such as protecting maritime resources, inability to respond to urgent contingencies of pollution and combating illegal arms, drugs and human trafficking
Research has provided repeated results indicating that all the developing countries are facing similar challenges. These countries are sparsely populated in their respective territories. This has often opened doors to insufficient infrastructures, and lack of assets to handle certain emergency scenarios. This has paved way to gaps in capabilities, which are expected to arise. As the region's main population is centered in one area, the region lacks fundamental supportive infrastructures and capabilities to implement the responsibilities assigned by the International Convention Maritime Search Rescue (SAR). This includes necessary medical facilities, supplies, airbases, and roads (Wu & Zou, 2009).
In addition, the region has an infrastructure that is not meant for the International Convention Maritime Search Rescue (SAR) operations. Recently, countries in the region acquired transport aircrafts that can only use restricted number of airfields. This is because, currently, most of them lack or are short of sufficient landing surface such as that in large aircrafts. Experts have shown that developing countries only have limited infrastructures to address all environmental emergencies and disaster like oil spills. Lack of volunteers to bolster government efforts on the same worsens the situation (Gammeltoft-Hansen, 2011).
Currently, any efforts directed at mounting temporary operations appear to be a great challenge for the third world nations. Another scenario involves incidents of cruise ship. The region has been experiencing a significant increase in cruise ship voyages. There has been an increase in the number of cruise ships. This has raised the question of whether the current structure of SAR in developing nations could cope swiftly and effectively with this scenario that involves an enormous amount of casualties. For instance, third world countries lack substantial ports. Therefore, the governments of these nations have pledged to make strategic investments in marine and air infrastructures. This is expected to enable these countries to execute their responsibilities in accord to the provisions of rescue and search requirement (United Nations, 2006).
It would be necessary to make huge investments in upgrading the current regional infrastructure. Additionally, the region's ability to supply forces across the neighboring countries is expected to lead to costly expenses. Experts have projected that the region could spend an annual operating cost of approximately $10 billion. It is yet to be confirmed whether these investments qualify to be financially attainable. Some of the most useful SAR facilities in developing nations are situated thousands of miles away the seas and oceans. In addition, the most SAR capabilities such as aircrafts, ships, and helicopters are not strategically stationed. This has become a major handicap for SAR agencies in developing countries to react effectively and swiftly to emergencies. Most air capabilities are not strategically located. They include transport aircrafts, helicopters, and Rescue Squads, which are likely to require transit hours in favorable climatic conditions to counter emergencies (International Maritime Organization, 2006).
As developing nations comprise of small populations that support International Convention Maritime Search Rescue (SAR) operations infrastructures, there is a short supply of expertise and capabilities operating the regional stations. Their military forces do not have any capabilities hence they look upon foreign assets. It is clear that these nations are situated at an exit and entrance to oceans and seas. The countries have deep-water…