Forum on The Hague’s South China Sea Ruling: Legal and Political Implications

Jakarta, 6 September 2016—The United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO), in collaboration with The Habibie Center, hosted an open forum on “The Hague’s South China Sea Ruling: Legal and Political Implications,” in Kemang, South Jakarta. The forum brought together Professor Julian Ku, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Faculty Director of International Program, Hofstra University; Mr. Aaron Jensen, Deputy Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy Jakarta; and Mr. Ayodhia Kalake, Assistant Deputy Minister, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, Republic of Indonesia. Ms. Rahimah Abdulrahim, Executive Director of The Habibie Center and Advisor of USINDO, moderated the forum.

The forum specifically discussed two points, a) the crucial role of Indonesia and ASEAN in responding to The Hague’s South China Sea ruling, as it generated diplomatic implications to countries involved in the dispute, including ASEAN as a region; and b) the political stance of the United States of America in regards the ruling.

Professor Ku commenced the forum by presenting key analysis of diplomatic trends of China and the US as well as their histories and track records in dealing with territorial claims. He also provided additional review on Indonesian and ASEAN experiences in facing territorial disputes. Mr. Kalake, as a representative of the Republic of Indonesia, explained how the country views the ruling and urged all countries involved to respect international law. Lastly, Mr. Jensen informed the audience on how the US views the ruling. The country is committed to respect international law as well, and would like to contribute to maintaining the region’s peace.

The audience responded with critical questions and inputs with regard to all countries’ attempts in maintaining peace within the region. Both scholars and practitioners in this field posed questions on whether more would be achieved if the US toned down its strong diplomatic approach and allowed Indonesia and ASEAN to settle the issue in their own way. These comments were made in light of the perceived manner by which the US is seen to be actively pursuing the region’s support in favor of the ruling. The audience also focused on discussing next steps for ASEAN in maintaining good relationships with the US, China, and the Philippines while securing trading activities across these countries.