The Territorial Dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia over Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Ligitan in the Celebes Sea: a Study in International Law
Author: Renate Haller-Trost
Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Ligitan are two small islands in the Celebes Sea off the southeastern coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah, whose sovereignty are disputed between Indonesia and Malaysia. The dispute flared up in 1991 when Indonesia discovered that Malaysia had built some tourist facilities on Pulau Sipadan. Indonesia claimed that the two governments had made a verbal agreement in 1969 to discuss the question of sovereignty at a later date; Malaysia denied this, maintaining that the islands have always been part of Sabah.
The dispute is significant as it was the first Southeast Asian territorial dispute to be settled at the International Court of Justice. Dr Haller Trost's thoroughly-researched legal analysis of the claims of the two parties examines the origins of the dispute, relevant international treaties, cartographic evidence and state practice. This Briefing provides a unique overview of a hitherto little understood dispute.
Boundary & Territory Briefings (Vol. 2 no. 2)