I’d like to share my great experience in Europe last two weeks. On 8 August 2008, I presented a paper in Oslo, Norway in UNCLOS Symposium, part of the International Geological Congress. The conference was prestigious as many ‘immortals’ in the field of technical aspects of the law of the sea were there. Several members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf presented their papers in the event and many other people whose names I only saw in textbooks and internet also participated. Simply speaking, it was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. I learned much from those ‘gurus’. The other good thing I’d like to share is that the paper I presented was closely related to the research I did with the UN-Nippon fellowship: Indonesia’s submission for an Extended Continental Shelf. Certainly, I also asserted that I am one of the fellowship alumni.
On 9 – 13 August, I visited Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. I was so lucky to have Reza Dehghani, one of the 2008-2009 fellows from Iran, who helped me so much with many things. The visit to Max Planck was a great experience, not only because I could enjoy fabulous collections of research resources, but also because I had a good time discussing many things with Reza. I also met Prof. Bogdandy, one of the directors and had a good discussion. Once again, thanks to Reza for arranging all that.
During my visit to MPI, I stayed with Reza and we had a good time discovering beautiful Heidelberg. The Castles, the Neckar River, the Old City, the Bridges are what, in my opinion, Europe is all about. We also had a good virtual conversation with Christophe Ekomo, one of the alumni from batch 2007-2008, who was in Hamburg for a short course at that time. Rodrigue Akohou (2007-2008) was also there with Christophe. It was too bad we did not get a chance to meet up. However, the conversation using YM was fun and productive.
On 13 August 2008 I left for the Netherlands to continue my European tour. On 14 August 2008 I visited the Netherlands Institute of the Law of the Sea (NILOS) in Utrecht University. There I met Dr. Elferink and Prof. Soons, two experts in the law of the sea. Just In case you do not know them, Prof. Soons is the director of NILOS and authored one of the first books in Marine Scientific Research back in the 80s. Meanwhile, Dr. Elferink is an international lawyer specialising in maritime boundary delimitation. They also invited me to a lunch and we had a very interesting discussion. I presented to them my latest analysis concerning the options for maritime boundary delimitation in the Singapore Strait in the aftermath of the decision by ICJ concerning the sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, (Singapore vs. Malaysia).
On the same day, I visited the faculty of Geography in Utrecht University and met Prof. Ormeling, one of the internationally-renown cartographers (map makers). He took me to visit his map library with its massive collections. I was so impressed with the collection of old maps the library has. I found an atlas containing old maps of Indonesia drafted back in the 16th and 17th centuries. As you might be aware, old maps/charts are really important when we deal with sovereignty disputes as those maps can be legal basis of certain claim/disclaim. By observing those maps, for example, I understood better the case of sovereignty over Sipadan and Ligitan islands between Indonesia and Malaysia decided by ICJ in 2002.
On 17 August 2008 I attended the celebration of the Indonesian Independence day in The Hague (our Embassy). FYI, Indonesia is now 63 years young 🙂 After the celebration I took the opportunity to visit ICJ in the other corner of the city. Unfortunately, it was not a good time for me as I could not get a chance to enter the premises. However, I took some pictures 🙂
My great European tour ended in the morning of 19 August 2008 when I had to leave for Australia. The two-week journey was, to me, an invaluable experience, from which I learned many things. More importantly, I managed to meet many people with whom I could start building good network for the future.
I am sure you all have your own good experiences. I will be happy to know yours too so please share and be an inspiration to others.