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ASEAN; Indonesia: Indonesia Urged to Ratify Smog Treaty

(July 8, 2013) On June 30, 2013, the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged Indonesia to ratify a treaty designed to limit smog pollution across borders, the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The statement was part of a joint communiqué from a meeting of the foreign ministers of the ten ASEAN countries, held in Brunei Darussalam. (Joint Communiqué, 46th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam 29 – 30 June 2013, ASEAN website; Martin Abbugao, Asean Urges Indonesia to Ratify Haze Pact, JAKARTA GLOBE (July 1, 2013).)

Indonesia has signed the Agreement, but not ratified it, and is the only one of the ASEAN nations not to ratify. According to Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the treaty has been submitted to the current legislature, but no prediction was made as to when it might be ratified. The focus is currently on Indonesia due to the forest fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island that have resulted in serious smog problems in Singapore and Malaysia, where occupants are wearing face masks to deal with the pollution and some schools have had to close. (Abbugao, supra.)

The Agreement is designed to “prevent and monitor transboundary haze pollution as a result of land and/or forest fires which should be mitigated, through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international co-operation.” (ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (June 10, 2002), art. 2, ASEAN HAZE ACTION ONLINE.) The parties agree to exchange information on fires, as well as to work to prevent forest burning and to provide mutual assistance. (Abbugao, supra.)