Settling Maritime Borders A Tough Job

Opinion, The Jakarta Post, 24 July 2017

In an official visit to Nunukan, East Kalimantan, on June 13, 2017, Ambassador Eddy Pratomo, the Special Envoy of the President for the Determination of Indonesia-Malaysia Maritime Boundaries, informed the progress of his assignment. He clearly noted that the two countries are now working hard toward the definition of fence at sea between them and some progress have been made.

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Diplomasi Kartografis di Laut Natuna Utara

Opini Kompas, 24 Juli 2017

Pemerintah Indonesia, melalui Kemenko Maritim telah mengeluarkan Peta Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia (NKRI) terbaru. Indonesia memang secara berkala mengeluarkan Peta NKRI. Yang istimewa dari Peta NKRI 2017 ini adalah adanya usulan penamaan ruang laut yang tadinya dikenal sebagai bagian dari Laut China Selatan (LCS), menjadi Laut Natuna Utara (LNU). Indonesia rupanya menggunakan kartografi sebagai ilmu dan seni pembuatan peta sebagai alat diplomasi.

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ICST: The Roles of Oil Concession Definition in Maritime Boundary Delimitation

I was invited to as one of the keynote speaker at the Geomaritime Symposium at the International Conference on Science and Technology (ICST) organised by Universitas Gadjah Mada. I delivered a paper on 12 July 2017 and share a stage with my two colleagues, Gede Karang from Udayana University and Mas Aji from a university in Malaysia. Here is my abstract:

The Roles of Oil Concession Definition in Maritime Boundary Delimitation:
A Critical Review on the Case of the Sulawesi Sea and the South China Sea

I Made Andi Arsana

Department of Geodetic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia


In the absence of agreed maritime boundaries, States usually have their unilaterally claimed boundary lines. In many cases, these lines represent the most forward possible line such States would want to he the final boundary lines. Thus, such lines are also known as forward positions, which are usually used by coastal States as their initial position in negotiating their maritime boundaries. In the case of Indonesia’s maritime boundaries, for example, these forward positions have been depicted clearly on its official map so they become obvious to its neighbours.

In the Sulawesi Sea, where maritime boundaries between Indonesia and Malaysia are pending, both States, using oil concession definition, have proposed their maritime claims defined by their forward positions. Indonesia, on one side, utilises oil concession it defined since the 1960s in defining its forward position. Malaysia, on the other hand, started to define its forward positions and then define oil concessions within those forward positions. The utilisation of oil concession definition to represent maritime claims has also been the case in the South China Sea as demonstrated by, for example, China and Vietnam.

This research presentation analyses the roles of oil concession definitions in defining forward position and how they may affect the delimitation of maritime boundaries between coastal States. The cases in the Sulawesi Sea and the South China Sea are investigated with reference to relevant cases in different parts of the world. Findings and conclusions are then presented.

Here is the cover of my presentation:

ASEAN Credit Transfer System – My Cambodian Trip

Universities in ASEAN have been collaborating closely to encourage students mobility around ASEAN member countries. Member of a consortium, ASEAN University Network (AUN), with more than 30 members, are in close collaboration to make the idea a reality. We already have our credit transfer system called ASEAN Credit Transfer System (ACTS), where within the framework, students from ASEAN can study in different universities in ASEAN and the credit of subjects they take will be recognised by their home university. Universitas Gadjah Mada is a party to that system.

On 3 to 4 July 2017 I was assigned to represent Universitas Gadjah Mada in my capacity as the Head of the Office of International Affairs in a meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We discussed the progress and development of ACTS and each university had to present reports illustrating how they have implemented ACTS. It was interesting to observe that mobility of students in ASEAN needs a lot of improvement. We need more students traveling among ASEAN countries in order of young people to understand each other better. We are now facing ASEAN Economic Community so we need to collaborate. Collaboration without mutual understanding is impossible.

Btw, it was my second visit to Cambodia and it was fun. My message to ASEAN students: travel more and know your neighbours, please 🙂