Mending imaginary wall: understanding border incidents in Indonesia and proposals for solution

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 25 July 2012


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


I Made Arsana (Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta & University of Wollongong)


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
Incidents around maritime borders are by no mean new for Indonesia. Cases between Indonesia and Malaysia seems to be one of the most frequent, while Indonesia in fact shares maritime borders with at least ten countries. Due to its geographical location, Indonesia has to determine maritime boundaries with India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Timor Leste. While, Indonesia has started the establishment of its maritime boundaries as early as the 1960s, a number maritime boundary segments have yet to be resolved.

The pending of maritime boundary settlement is one of the main reasons of disputes and incidents between Indonesia and its neighbours. The case of Ambalat Block (2005, 2009), incident in Tanjung Berakit involving Indonesian officers and Malaysian fishermen (2010) and incident in the Strait of Malacca involving Malaysia-flagged fishing vessels, Indonesian officers and Malaysia Helicopter team (2011) are three biggest cases in relation to border disputes. Similarly, fishing activities conducted by Indonesian fishermen around Indonesia-Australia maritime boundary area also often causes tension. Apart from the completion issue, unlike land borders, which are usually represented by physical markers, maritime boundaries are imaginary in nature. This, to an extent, adds further complexity.

This presentation is aimed at explaining border incidents around Indonesian maritime borders with emphasis on their legal (law of the sea) and technical (geospatial) aspects. Borders incidents involving Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia will be analysed to represent typical cases Indonesia have been facing. Eventually, options of solutions for border disputes through maritime boundary delimitation will be presented.

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