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Best Strategy for Survival in an Uncertain World

H.E. N. Hassan Wirajuda

H.E. N. Hassan Wirajuda

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by Ellen Daniels

International dialogue about the world’s oceans and seas is crucial to keeping peace between nations, Indonesia’s top diplomat said at the Law School, September 30.

Foreign Affairs Minister H.E. N. Hassan Wirajuda S.J.D. ’88 emphasized the “sharing and shaping of norms” as crucial to keeping nations peaceful and law-abiding. As the largest archipelago in the world, Indonesia has a special regard for maritime territory and resources, Wirajuda said. “The sea is life-giving and a force for national unity and identity . . ..  We refer to our country as ‘My Land and Waters,’” he said.

Wirajuda acknowledged that the world is evolving in its complexity, but emphasized that the importance of the oceans and seas has not diminished. Seaborne trade accounts for almost 85 percent of world trade. And one-third of the commerce from the Middle East to China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan passes through two of Indonesia’s ten straits, accounting for 60,000 vessels a year, he said. “Any disruption to this maritime traffic would have an adverse effect on global trade and economy,” Wirajuda said.

Throughout the past decades, Wirajuda has devoted much of his energy to upholding principles such as peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among nations. “Cooperation is the best strategy for survival in an uncertain world,” he said.

Wirajuda sees the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which Indonesia was actively involved in shaping, as one of the greatest achievements of the international community. Adopted in 1982 by 150 countries, the convention has been the legal framework for the world’s oceans and seas, establishing rules governing ocean space and promoting stability and peace.

Indonesia is one of ten countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development and to promote peace and stability. “Law is always vital because we must have an ordered society of individuals as well as of nations. But the law will never be strong enough until and unless it is supported by human values. Ethics and striving for virtue must complement law,” Wirajuda said.

Wirajuda’s talk was sponsored by the Law School, the school’s Center for Oceans Law and Policy, UVA ‘s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, and the J.B. Moore Society of International Law.