Negotiating Maritime Boundaries

By Pratomo, Eddy | Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Negotiating Maritime Boundaries


Pratomo, Eddy, Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues


INTRODUCTION

Particularly inside ASEAN, there has been no final agreement between several member states to determine the boundary of the sea territory, coupled with recent developments with tensions over the claim of control over the South China Sea between several ASEAN member countries and China (Samuels, 2013; Dutton, 2011; Rosyidin, 2017). This tension can be regarded as one of the greatest maritime tensions experienced by ASEAN countries with China since decades (Weissmann, 2010; Connelly, 2015; Yahya, 2013; Scott, 2012; Kaplan, 2014; Glaser, 2012; Buszynski, 2012; Fravel, 2011). As one of the largest countries in ASEAN, a member of the G20, the world's largest archipelagic country, and located in a very strategic position, Indonesia has a very important position to contribute actively to reduce maritime tensions in the region (Rüland, 2017). Indonesia's foreign policy is based on an independent and active principle (Djalal, 2012). Independent is that Indonesia's position and view in foreign policy is not subject to pressure. The active principle is that Indonesia has the position to continue to implement a respectful, harmonious foreign policy.

Negotiating maritime boundary is not an easy task. Advanced knowledge of the law, the technical aspects, as well as other relevant factors is required. This multi dimension, multi agencies, and multi discipline negotiation sometimes can take decades to complete. There is no agreement of maritime boundary negotiation. Different place have different characteristics. Different states also have different approaches in settling their maritime boundary negotiation. Although Indonesia declared its independence in 1945, this newly born state was not ready to negotiate maritime boundaries right away. At that time, the Government was not stable yet and internal revolution created further instability (Cribb, 2008; Reid, Bertrand & Laliberté, 2010). Indonesia was also facing military aggressions from the Netherlands. Indonesia has begun its maritime delimitation negotiation since 1960s, and has concluded one of the first maritime border agreement as early as 1969. Nowadays, Indonesia has concluded segments of maritime border agreements with India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Philippines. Indonesia, however, has not entered into any maritime boundary agreement with Palau and Timor Leste.

As a country with a vast territory expanding between two oceans and two continents, negotiating maritime boundary is in Indonesia's blood. Indonesia always considered maritime boundary delimitation as one of its priority. It is believed as one of the cornerstone to support its border diplomacy. Certainty in maritime boundaries with its neighbouring countries is extremely important both from security and from resources management perspective (Rosenberg & Chung, 2008). It is also worth to notice that Indonesia began to negotiate its maritime boundary at the midst of fighting for acknowledgement of the archipelagic state principle after Djuanda Declaration of 1957 (Butcher, 2009). The first batch of Indonesia's maritime boundaries also has strategic value as acknowledgement of Indonesia's neighbours on the archipelagic state principle. With the acceptance of the archipelagic state regime in international law, Indonesia managed to triple its territory without firing a single bullet. After more than four decades negotiating its maritime boundaries, there are segments yet to be concluded. Most exclusive economic zone (EEZ) boundaries are not yet concluded, due to the fact that the EEZ regime is relatively new as it was created by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. Thus, Indonesia has concluded the continental shelf/ seabed boundary, but not the EEZ boundary in some segments such as the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea. The process of maritime boundary delimitation will continue in the future. On the other hand, the diplomats who negotiate the boundary are constantly changes. …

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