Information Sharing and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) are at the heart of the contemporary maritime security agenda. The goal of MDA is to develop shared understandings of developments and threats at sea. It is one of the preconditions for coordination and cooperation between diverse maritime security agencies and has often been understood as “key enabler”. MDA is a major technical challenge in terms of collecting and fusing data and developing expert systems for the detection of anomalies. It is also a social, political and legal challenge. This study focuses on the latter. It asks how MDA can be organized and how the socio-political challenges can be addressed. The organization of MDA in Southeast Asia is discussed in-depth, with a focus on three major centres that are the backbone of the regional MDA structure. Although far from perfect, this regional system has become a role model for organizing MDA in other parts of the world. This article explores the functions that the three centres perform in the governance of maritime security in the region. I argue that each of the MDA centres has different strengths, and that their work should be seen as complimentary in an overarching system. The strength of the overall system is in enabling trust and being flexible and adaptable to the changing situation at sea. The conclusion outlines what lessons the system holds for the organization of MDA in other regions with a focus on the Western Indian Ocean.


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pp. 157-182
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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