I was going to say “Who doesn’t know Prof. Hasjim Djalal?” when I started writing this article but I cancelled my intention. While to me Prof. Djalal is definitely the prominent person in the area of the law of the sea in Indonesia and even in the world, a friend of mine, who is a surveyor, does not know him. It was too bad. But this is a different story.
I was one of the lucky people in the room this morning for the chance to learn from such a great presentation by Prof. Djalal. He was invited by DOALOS/UNITAR to give a presentation in the celebration of the 25 years of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It was in December 1982 when the Convention was open for signature and Prof. Djalal was the one who was actively involved in the negotiation of the Convention. He is definitely a living witness to the “making” of the so-called “Constitution of the Oceans”. Therefore it was an excellent idea for DOALOS/UNITAR to present Prof. Djalal to the audience this morning. Not only because he is the veteran of the Convention but also because he has been devoting his life to the issues of law of the sea for such a long time and even until has he aged 74 years, now. He is really the one to whom we should speak about the historical context of the Convention.
Prof. Djalal definitely knew what the convention is all about. He amazingly recalled the philosophy behind the Convention and clearly delivered it to the audiences in a very interesting manner. He started his presentation by addressing the issues the world was facing prior to the Convention, leading to the need of the establishment of the Convention. I am sure that everybody in the room was enlightened by his interesting presentation. He was always frank and spoke honestly from his hearth. He said anything clearly without any hesitation. Not to mention that his English is undoubtedly excellent.
I was personally amazed how clear he could address every single issue in the Convention as well as the historical context of them. He was the star in the conference we had for a whole day today. His extensive knowledge concerning ocean affairs and law of the sea is unquestionable. In addition, he without hesitation spoke up his disagreement with some of the US policies concerning Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea. He made it interesting as he spoke in front of many Americans, who seemed to me agree with him. That is why I call him frank and brave.
As a new comer in the law of the sea, I was so glad to know that an Indonesian played significant role in drafting such an important Convention, which I did not really know until this morning. I heard that Prof. Djalal was involved but I did not realize that his contribution was massive and was highly acknowledged by people from around the globe. It seems to me that Prof. Hasjim Djalal is a special person and a very good advocator. No wonder that he was assigned to be an ambassador in several States in the past and also an Ambassador At-Large for Ocean Affairs and law of the Sea for many years. I am definitely convinced that it was the right choice by the government of Indonesia.
Talking about Prof. Djalal and his greatness will last forever. This article can be so long. I should stop here. As an Indonesian, I could not agree more that he is the one Indonesia should be proud of. The next question is “when will Indonesia have another Djalal in her history?”