The Insecurity Dilemma in the Maritime Domain

The West Philippine Sea. Photo by Ariel Hernández.


The Insecurity Dilemma in the Maritime Domain

The Hall

A Monastery Lecture with Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby

On February 13th, Professor Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby will present her research on how the Philippines' experience with insecurity in the maritime domain illustrates the challenges faced by humanity in terms of maritime security.


Despite the Philippines' victory in the 2016 arbitration case, its experience in the South China Sea highlights the dangers of an inconsistent foreign policy. The pillars of Philippine foreign policy remain constant regardless of changes in administration. However, the way in which different administrations prioritize and configure these areas results in a somewhat clumsy pursuit of the so-called independent foreign policy, particularly in the maritime domain.
What explains the shifts in the Philippines' maritime policy? Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby argues that the inconsistencies in foreign policy are due to an uncoordinated domestic structure in the maritime domain. Despite being an archipelagic and maritime nation, the country's policies fail to reflect this distinction. The lack of sufficient maritime domain awareness results in overlapping mandates and areas of responsibility among maritime law enforcement agencies. The Philippines experiences chronic insecurity in the maritime domain due to the murky and clumsy implementation of policies. Despite having international laws and norms to manage maritime conflicts, the country demonstrates maritime insecurity, which is the opposite of the concept of maritime security. This pertains to the strategic challenges and the combination of hard, sharp, and soft power in and from the seas.
The Philippine experience exemplifies the challenges faced by humanity in terms of maritime security, development, and environmental sustainability. Interdisciplinary discussions that transcend territorial boundaries are crucial to identifying solutions to the common problems affecting different regions.


Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby is a nonresident scholar at Carnegie China, Carnegie’s East Asia-based research center on contemporary China, where she examines China-Philippine relations and maritime security issues in Southeast Asia. An associate professor of international studies at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. Her current research focuses on the narratives that emerge from information campaigns about the South China Sea. Concurrently, she is working on civil, maritime, and blue security and how these shape the Philippines’ foreign policy.


What's a Monastery Lecture? At THE NEW INSTITUTE, we host various in-person discussion formats for sharing ideas, presenting work-in-progress, testing arguments, and engaging in constructive criticism. Either taking a deep dive into the work of our fellows and programs or providing outside stimuli by invited guests, our weekly Monastery Lecture intensifies the exchange of thoughts across disciplines, sectors and views over the course of an evening. Lunch Lectures, a briefer midday format, allow for welcoming discussions of presentations by further guests or by fellows arriving outside of the usual term dates.


This conference is a closed event. If you have any questions about this event, please contact Victoria Sukhomlinova. Press inquiries can be made here.

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