In 2023, the issue of the maritime border between Papua and Maluku islands still remains a hot topic among scholars, policymakers, and the general public. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the legal and political aspects of the border dispute, as well as its economic and social implications for the two provinces and the wider Indonesian region.
The Legal Framework
The maritime border between Papua and Maluku is defined by the 1977 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Indonesia and Australia, which sets the boundary between the two provinces as the 141st meridian east longitude. However, this treaty is not recognized by the government of Papua New Guinea, which claims a portion of the border as part of its own territory.
Recently, the Indonesian government has sought to resolve the border dispute with Papua New Guinea through bilateral negotiations and international arbitration. However, progress has been slow due to political tensions and economic interests on both sides.
The Political Context
The border dispute between Papua and Maluku is not only a legal issue but also a political one, as it involves the rights and interests of the two provinces and their local communities. Some groups in Papua have demanded greater autonomy and even independence from Indonesia, citing historical, cultural, and economic reasons.
Similarly, some groups in Maluku have called for the creation of a separate province or region, citing the need for more resources and development. The maritime border between the two provinces is seen as a symbolic and practical manifestation of their respective identities and aspirations.
The Economic Implications
The maritime border between Papua and Maluku is also significant for its economic implications, especially in terms of natural resources such as oil, gas, and fishery. The two provinces have some of the richest marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the world, as well as large reserves of minerals and hydrocarbons.
However, the exploitation of these resources has been a source of conflict and controversy, as it often involves foreign companies and investors who may not respect the rights and interests of local communities and the environment. The border dispute adds another layer of complexity to the already complex issue of resource management and governance.
The Social Dynamics
The maritime border between Papua and Maluku also has social implications, as it affects the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who live in the two provinces and their surrounding areas. The border is not only a geographical line but also a cultural and historical boundary that reflects the diversity and richness of the Indonesian archipelago.
However, the border has also been a source of tension and violence, especially in the past when the two provinces were under authoritarian rule and faced human rights abuses and discrimination. Today, the border remains a site of contestation and negotiation, as different groups and interests seek to define and defend their identities and rights.
The Way Forward
The issue of the maritime border between Papua and Maluku is complex and multifaceted, involving legal, political, economic, and social dimensions. However, there are some possible ways forward that could contribute to a peaceful and just resolution of the dispute.
Firstly, there should be more dialogue and engagement between the government and the local communities in Papua and Maluku, as well as with Papua New Guinea and other stakeholders. This could help to build trust, understanding, and cooperation, and to address the underlying issues that fuel the conflict.
Secondly, there should be more transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources, especially in terms of the rights and interests of local communities and the environment. This could help to prevent and mitigate conflicts and to promote sustainable and equitable development.
Thirdly, there should be more recognition and respect for the cultural and historical diversity of the Indonesian archipelago, including the border between Papua and Maluku. This could help to foster a sense of national unity and solidarity, as well as to enhance the international reputation and influence of Indonesia in the global arena.
The maritime border between Papua and Maluku is a complex and contested issue that requires a comprehensive and inclusive approach from all stakeholders. By understanding the legal, political, economic, and social dimensions of the dispute, we can contribute to a peaceful and just resolution that respects the rights and interests of all parties involved.