Australia Awards in Indonesia

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27 Apr 2016

Challenges and Opportunities in the Delimitation of Indonesia’s Maritime Boundaries: A Legal and Technical Approach

I Made Andi Arsana, December 2013
University of Wollongong

Indonesia officially recognises ten neighbours with which maritime boundaries are required. The ten neighbours are, clockwise from the northwest, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Timor-Leste (East Timor). At the time of writing, Indonesia has, either fully or partially, signed 17 maritime boundary agreements with seven neighbours and no maritime boundaries with Philippines, Palau and Timor-Leste. There are more than 20 segments of maritime boundaries to be delimited in the future.

It is evident that pending maritime boundaries between Indonesia and its neighbours have repeatedly cause issues and tensions in international relations between Indonesia and its neighbours. Incidents around maritime boundary areas have taken place from time to time and remind us that settled maritime boundaries are required. Interestingly, such incidents take place not only in areas where maritime boundaries are missing but also in areas where maritime boundaries have apparently, formally at least, been settled. This indicates that settling maritime boundaries is not the end of the story. Administration and management are essential for good ocean governance in the future for Indonesia.

The delimitation of Indonesia’s maritime boundaries with its neighbours in accordance with the international law of the sea is required. This thesis provides options of maritime boundary between Indonesia and its neighbours by critically analysing three relevant case studies which are located in the Sulawesi Sea, Singapore Strait and Malacca Strait. The most recent trends in delimitation methods, which particularly the three-stage approach, were used in analysing options of delimitation. The approach consists of three steps, which is the construction of a provisional line based on equidistance, followed by adjusting the provisional line by considering relevant circumstances and lastly by conducting a disproportionality test to ensure that the delimitation does not cause inequality to parties in question. This thesis does not come up only with options of maritime boundary delimitation between Indonesia and its neighbours but also critical evaluation on the three-stage approach which may be considered as one of novel contributions of the research.

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