Between Foreign Policy and International Law: Indonesia’s Practice and Interpretation as an Archipelagic State under UNCLOS

Event Date 30 Jan 2023 (Mon), 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Venue The Keypoint, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Organiser Jefferson Ng (Email : )

Event Info

As the largest archipelagic state in the world, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the sea (UNCLOS) is an integral part of Indonesia’s foreign policy. The recognition of archipelagic states' regimes under UNCLOS is often regarded as a major achievement in Indonesia’s diplomatic history. However, the recognition of archipelagic status is not a zero-sum game. There are obligations that Indonesia must fulfil.

This seminar will discuss Indonesia’s obligations as an archipelagic state under UNCLOS as well as its interpretation and implementation of the archipelagic state regime by scrutinising two case studies. The first is the interpretation of UNCLOS Article 51 where Indonesia has a different interpretation with Singapore on the obligation of respecting “other legitimate activities” in Indonesian archipelagic waters. The key issue is whether conducting military exercises in the EEZ of an archipelagic state fall under the umbrella of the phrase “other legitimate activities”.

Secondly, Indonesia and the United States have different interpretations of Article 53 (12) on the scope of “routes normally used for international navigation”. Previous Freedom of Navigation Reports released by the US States Department have regarded Indonesia as having inconsistent practices with regards to UNCLOS. By analysing the two case studies, this seminar will explore how Indonesia views and practices its legal rights and obligations as an archipelagic state as well as the implications for Indonesia's foreign relations.


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