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Indonesia's Independent and Active Foreign Policy:
Not Being Neutral or Taking Equidistant Positions on Int'l Issues Nor Is It Neglecting or Ignoring Dev't in World Affairs
Indonesia's foreign policy, like that of any other country, is shaped by various factors such as the nation's history, geographic conditions, demography, security and national interest. These factors prompted Indonesia to adopt a foreign policy that is independent and active, as espoused in 1948 by Mohammad Hatta, then Indonesia's Vice President.
Indonesia's independent and active foreign policy is not about being neutral or taking equidistant positions on international issues, nor is it a policy of neglecting or ignoring developments in world affairs.
The word independent means that Indonesia alone will decide and determine its own position on world issues without external pressures or influence. The word active means that Indonesia is committed to participating in constructive efforts that help build and maintain a just and peaceful world.
The philosophy behind this principle is the mandate enunciated in Indonesia's 1945 Constitution. Moreover, having been subjugated by a colonial power for over 300 years, Indonesia inevitably adopted a foreign policy that is anticolonialist. In the conduct of its foreign policy, Indonesia also adheres to the following guidelines:
- The Pancasila, the state ideology;
- The Wawasan Nusantara, (archipelagic sense); and
- National Resilience.
The adoption of these guidelines in Indonesian foreign policy was stipulated by provision of law, particularly Act No. 37/1999 on Foreign Relations and Act No. 24/2000 on Treaties, which are translated into a five-year national policy by the elected President. To reach these goals, the Department of Foreign Affairs laid down the following objectives to:
- restore Indonesia's international image;
- help boost the economy and public welfare;
- help strengthen national unity, stability and integrity, and preserve the nation's sovereignty;
- develop bilateral relations, particularly with countries that can support Indonesia's trade and investment and economic recovery; as well as
- promote international cooperation that helps build and maintain world peace.
To ensure that these goals are within reach, the Department of Foreign Affairs puts emphasis on diplomatic cooperation with countries that are within a series of concentric circles.
The first of such concentric circles, which Indonesia considers a major pillar of its foreign policy, is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN). Just beyond that first circle, Indonesia likewise places importance on promoting relations with its eastern and southern neighbors, prompting Indonesia to be engaged with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the Southwest Pacific Dialogue, and with the recently established Tripartite Consultation between Indonesia, Australia and Timor Leste.
Also within the second concentric circle is the ASEAN plus Three (the three being Japan, China and South Korea). The new process of East Asia Summit with its first meeting in Kuala Lumpur, in December 2005, will have its regular meeting involving ASEAN plus three countries (Australia, New Zealand and India). Beyond that, Indonesia puts a premium on its relations with the United States and the European Union, both of which are major economic partners of Indonesia.
In compliance with the 1945 Constitution, Indonesia also gives importance to working with like-minded developing countries. That is why Indonesia is deeply involved with the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Group of 77 (G-77) and the Group of 15 (G-15). It is in this context that Indonesia remains supportive of the struggle of the people of Palestine toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian State within their own homeland.
Indonesia's diplomacy also aims to solidify the collective effort of developing countries to bridge the gap between the developed and the developing countries. The forums that address this problem are the NAM, OIC, G-15, G-77 and D-8, in all of which Indonesia plays an active role.
At the global level, Indonesia hopes to strengthen multilateralism through the United Nations. From a political and security perspective, the end of the Cold War 13 years ago also revealed strong unipolar tendencies, characterized by the emergence of one single military power with global reach. The hope for a new world order based on multilateral processes has become slimmer as a result of this conspicuous unilateralism. Indonesia has consistently emphasized the central role of the United Nations in resolving issues on international peace and security. In line with the United Nations Charter, the issue of peace and security is a collective responsibility of all member states through the mechanism entrusted to and a mandate vested in the Security Council. Accordingly, Indonesia rejects all unilateral decisions taken outside the framework of the United Nations.