Geopolitik Energi

April 12, 2007


Dispute resolution

Despite the initially ominous signs of military build-up, heightened tensions between rival navies in the disputed zone and confrontational rhetoric, there have been encouraging signs on the diplomatic front, with both sides calling for calm and moving to deescalate the situation, for example by ordering their militaries not to take any provocative action. The two countries’ leaders discussed Ambalat by telephone on 7 March 2005 and agreed to resolve the dispute in a “cordial manner” (Badawi) and “amicably” (Yudhoyono).33 The Foreign Ministers of the two countries, Hassan Wirayuda of Indonesia and Syed Hamid Albar of Malaysia, subsequently met for urgent late-night talks on 9 March 2005 and agreed that both sides would “take necessary steps” to ease tensions and establish technical teams to meet on a regular basis in order to manage and ultimately resolve the dispute.34

The technical teams duly met for the first time behind closed doors in Bali, on 22-23 March 2005.35 Subsequently, negotiations have taken place on a regular basis every two months, alternating between states, as follows: on 25-26 May in Langkawi, 25-26 July in Yogyakarta and 27-28 September 2005 in Johor Baru.36 Little information has emerged from these meetings into the public domain, although both sides have agreed to negotiate on the basis of the LOSC, and continue to hold meetings until at least January 2006.37

There are strong reasons to believe that a diplomatic resolution to the dispute will eventually emerge. First among these factors is the fact that a negotiation process is underway, and for all their need to address domestic patriotic sentiments, both leaders and governments have repeatedly stated that a peaceful resolution is sought. For example, President Yudhoyono has stated explicitly that the dispute should be settled peacefully, “without falling into the trap of confrontation, especially armed confrontation”.38 The two countries also have a strong, friendly bilateral relationship to build on. Both are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and signatories to that organization’s 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, meaning that both are formally committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. Additionally, they share common religious, linguistic, historical, and cultural traditions. Moreover, the two sides have too much to lose economically were the dispute to escalate. Indeed, on March 23, Rafidah Aziz, Indonesian Minister of International Trade and Industry, declared flatly that the Ambalat dispute “will not affect trade relations”.39

As for the final shape of any agreement, this is, unsurprisingly, difficult to predict given the confidential nature of the bilateral negotiations. Nonetheless, both states have considerable experience in negotiating maritime boundary agreements and thus significant ‘in-house’ expertise and capacity. Additionally, there is a wealth of relevant regional and global state practice to draw upon. The likelihood of Indonesia agreeing to submit the dispute to the ICJ is, however, remote, given Jakarta’s experience in the Sipadan and Ligitan case.

One option that may be worth considering in this context is the possibility of establishing a maritime joint development zone instead of a formal boundary line. This could represent a viable alternative and means to cooperatively access the desired resources without prejudice to either side’s claims and without undue delay, thus effectively shelving the boundary and territorial dispute.40 This method may ultimately be applied in the Ambalat area, although Indonesia has, at least initially, stated its preference for a demarcation line solution.41


  1. Bung,

    Bagus euy blognya…
    Kebetulan saya juga tertarik dengan isu-isu hubungan internasional dan internasional politik.
    Coba dong, ulas teori politik internasional punya Kenneth Waltz

    Comment by sholi — August 31, 2007 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  2. bagus…tpi bahasa inggrisnya itu loh,, pegel bacanya!!

    Comment by indah — April 16, 2008 @ 6:08 am | Reply

  3. fuck bgt malaysia

    Comment by wahyi — March 19, 2009 @ 8:05 am | Reply

  4. Outstanding article!! Will come back soon.

    Comment by DescuemDerb — May 20, 2009 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

  5. Hancurkan malaysia, fuck jöngos britis.

    Comment by Merah putih — June 4, 2009 @ 5:18 am | Reply

  6. Sdh taon 2009, Malay’sin’ masih aj nyolek2 Ambalat,Ooi..INA tegaz dong… Gayang Malaysia…:-(

    Comment by Nieki — June 4, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  7. malaysialan anjiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinggnnngggg

    Comment by cata — June 13, 2009 @ 7:58 am | Reply

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