RMS The Caspian Sea

Canada and Maritime Dimensions of Regional Security

Regional Maritime Security in the Caspian Sea

Workshop on the Caucasus, Caspian and Central Asia: Maritime Dimensions of Security

(Halifax, 14-16 May 2004)

This workshop was the fifth in the series of the Regional Maritime Security Project (RMSP) regional workshops conducted in Halifax.  Participants included Caspian experts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Russia (the invited participant from Kazakhstan was unable to attend for personal reasons). Proceedings were not published, but working papers are held on file.

Roundtable on Maritime Safety in the Caspian Sea

(Tehran, Iran, 11 October 2004)

David Griffiths was invited to Tehran by the International Institute for Caspian Studies to conduct a Roundtable on Maritime Safety in the Caspian Sea. The visit also provided the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Caspian Environment Program, the International Ocean Institute and marine search and rescue experts to discuss future collaboration.

Workshop on Marine Emergency Management in the Caspian Sea: Cooperation in Search and Rescue

(Astrakhan, Russia, 22-25 August 2005)

As a result of discussions during the 2004 RMSP workshop in Halifax, this international workshop was coordinated by the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies and hosted by the Caspian Sea Operational Centre of the International Ocean Institute (IOI) at Astrakhan State Technical University (ASTU), in partnership with the Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) at Sandia National Laboratories in the United States, the International Centre for Emergency Management Studies (ICEMS) at Cape Breton University in Canada and the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University in Newfoundland. Funding was provided for three people from each country: a senior manager from the national marine Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) or its equivalent responsible for providing marine Search and Rescue (SAR) services; a member of the marine environmental protection discipline familiar with existing cooperative arrangements to protect the marine environment of the Caspian Sea; and a representative from the national disaster management organization. In addition, other maritime safety experts from government and industry were welcomed to participate at their own expense. Participants were invited to engage in this mutual problem-solving exercise as professional individuals, rather than as representatives of their respective organizations, so that the exchange of ideas could be candid, creative and innovative. This technically focused, results-oriented meeting, provided participants with an opportunity to identify mutual maritime safety challenges, and to identify organizational and technical means by which these might be addressed cooperatively.  Bilingual (English/Russian) Proceedings were published by Cape Breton University's International Centre for Emergency Management Studies with translation arranged through the RMS Project.

Workshop Astrakhan, 2005


A second outcome of the 2004 workshop was an invitation to provide maritime expertise to a “Caspian Dialog” (CaspiLog); a series of meetings of government and non-government individuals from the five littoral Caspain states. It was coordinated by the Processes of International Negotiations Program (PIN) of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in partnership with a number of other organizations. The purpose was to “foster communication and involvement among the littoral populations in order to create a supportive social base for eventual government measures and cooperation to deal with common issues and eventually to create a Caspian regime.” http://webarchive.iiasa.ac.at/Research/PIN/caspian-dialog/index.html?sb=23

First Caspian Dialog (CaspiLog I)

(Istanbul, Turkey, 13-15 May 2006)

The PIN Program hosted the first Caspian Dialog (CaspiLog I) in the Imperial Mint of the Topkapi Palace under the auspices of the Hollings Center. The aim was to prompt discussion, not about contentious political issues of borders or maritime legal regimes, but rather about equally important matters that have received less attention, such as pollution, safety, land use, and water. IIASA scientists David Wiberg, Fabian Wagner, Ulf Dieckmann and Yaroslav Minnulin, as well as David Griffiths from CFPS, provided introductory briefings, after which representatives of the five littoral Caspian states (Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Turkmenistan) discussed their applicability to the Caspian basin and issues which could be pursued in future sessions.

Cruising the Bosphorus, CaspiLog I

Second Caspian Dialog (CaspiLog II)

(Baku-Novkhani, Azerbaijan; 7-9 May 2007)

CaspiLog II was again organized by the PIN Program, this time in cooperation with both the Caspian Partnership for the Future Public Union (CPF) and the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan (ACSDA). This event brought together over 40 academics, policymakers, and NGO representatives to discuss Caspian issues and potential areas for cooperation. Building on the Istanbul session it explicitly avoided the political issue of the legal regime of the Caspian and focused on issues of common concern such as water management, maritime emergency management (addressed by David Griffiths), fisheries, and energy transport. This dialogue between scientists, technical specialists, and government and non-government experts improved mutual understanding and identified specific action items that were addressed the following year in “CaspiLog III”. 

Visiting a Zoroastrian fire temple

Third Caspian Dialog (CaspiLog III)

(Almaty, Kazakhstan; 3-4 October 2008)

The purpose of this session was to continue discussion of non-contentious urgent issues facing all five Caspian states such as pollution and environmental protection, management of water resources, fisheries, market development, terrorism, and comparative sea/lake regimes. Again the IIASA scientists presented on new findings and developments from other regions, followed by discussions on their applicability to the Caspian Basin. The RMSP contribution was a paper by David Griffiths on “Governance of Landlocked Seas: The Great Lakes Experience and Caspian Analogies”.The forum also discussed the evolution of the Tehran Convention on the Caspian Environment.

Arrival at the conference site, CaspiLog III, Almaty, 2008


David N.Griffiths. “What's in a Name? The Legal Regime in the Caspian Sea (or Lake)”, Ocean Yearbook 23 (Boston/Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009). pp. 161-192.

______. “Governance of Landlocked Seas: The Great Lakes Experience and Caspian Analogies.” Unpublished paper presented at Caspian Dialog Session III, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 3-4 October, 2008.

______.  “Maritime Emergency (Disaster) Management in the Caspian Sea.” Paper presented at Caspian Dialog Session II, Baku, Azerbaijan, 7-9 May 2007. Published online by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

______ (ed). Proceedings of a Workshop on Marine Emergency Management in the Caspian Sea: Cooperation in Search and Rescue. Astrakhan, Russia, 22-25 August 2005. International Centre for Emergency Management Studies, Cape Breton University.