Looking for New Markets: The Reorientation of Indonesian Foreign Policy

Between 19th and 24th of April 2015 Indonesia hosted the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta and Bandung. More than 100 Asian and African countries have participated in the conference. This year also marks 10 years of the Declaration of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). This gives the opportunity to examine how relevant is for Indonesia the cooperation with African countries?

Indonesia has played an undisputed role in the development of south-south cooperation as it could be claimed that the Asia-Africa Conference in 1955 laid the foundations for the establishment of the Non-Alignment Movement and the beginning the so-called South-South cooperation. Since then, South-South cooperation has expanded from small-scale technical cooperation projects and ad hoc initiatives to longer-term development interventions. A clear example of this cooperation is the agreement signed between Colombia, Indonesia the Philippines and Vietnam for knowledge exchange on climate change, agricultural innovation, social protection, and disaster risk management.

Indonesia has been working on increasing its capacity to engage in this type of cooperation via institutional development notably with the creation of the Indonesia’s National Coordination Team on South-South and triangular cooperation, comprised of the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of State Secretariat. Indonesia has also made good advances in identifying priority cooperation countries and regions as follow: Asia-Pacific region, ASEAN countries, Palestine, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste. No African country seems to have made into priority country.

The type of cooperation Indonesia seems to be willing to pursue in Africa is be better explained by what Mr. Joko Widodo calls “economic diplomacy”. Several key countries have been identified in this regard, namely: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia. Due to the state of infrastructures in the country and its open economic policy, South Africa stands to become a hub for Indonesian exports in Africa. As for Nigeria and Kenya, the presence of Indonesian companies in those countries is still modest but both countries possess great potential.

Indonesia became a permanent observer to the African Union in January 2012. This status will surely be used to strengthen economic tights within the African continent. But haste is the devil’s work, so perhaps those in charge of putting into practice Mr. Joko Widodo “economic diplomacy” should device by-side strategies such as the provision of aid in the form of more traditional development cooperation practices to win the heart and minds of the local population such as the construction of schools and the development of local infrastructures.

Africa is not short of conflicts and cooperation with the African Union puts Indonesia in a privileged position to offer assistance. Peacekeeping has been a traditional important area of cooperation for Indonesia. Indonesia has established itself as a leader in ASEAN in this regard. Participation in peacekeeping missions makes credible Indonesian aspirations to be a regional player in maintaining peace and security. Crisis management is another area where Indonesia has developed substantive expertise and that should be considered where designing a strategy of cooperation vis-à-vis African countries.

Indonesia has a long tradition of non-interference but that should not prevent Indonesia from using its foreign policy to promote those values its has already championed within ASEAN: the promotion of people’s participation; good governance and respect for human rights norms and obligations. Failing to do so in a forum like the Asia-Africa conference would mean to condemn the forum to become an obsolete relic from a post-colonial world that does not exist anymore.

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Removing barriers with the disabled and building a future together

INTERNATIONAL Day of Persons With Disabilities 2013 was celebrated early this month with the theme โ€˜Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for allโ€™ and it provided opportunities to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realise the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all.

This was highlighted by Daniel Ruiz de Garibay, Assistant Programme Specialist of UNESCOโ€™s Jakarta office, in his keynote address during the launching of the Asean Disability Forum 2013.

Present as the guest of honour to launch the opening ceremony afterwards and to deliver her sabda prior to the keynote address was Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman.

โ€œThere is a need to eradicate all โ€˜wallsโ€™ that affect the inclusion and involvement of persons with disabilities within society, including through changing egotisms that fuel stigma and institutionalise acumen,โ€ marked Garibay.

Garibay shared that majority persons with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society.

Daniel Ruiz de Garibay, Assistant Programme Specialist of UNESCOโ€™s Jakarta office, delivering his keynote address during the launching of the Asean Disability Forum 2013. โ€“ BAHYIAH BAKIR

These individuals lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support system, he said, adding that above all, stigma may cause their families to limit their involvement in the community, thus denying access to education and jobs.

Garibay shared that 2013 โ€œState of the Worldโ€™s Childrenโ€ report by UNICEF on children with disabilities was launched recently to raise awareness about the group of children who are amongst the most invisible and vulnerable in the world.

โ€œIt was emphasised that one important reason for this is the children with disabilities are often hidden away at home or in institutions, because their families are embarrassed or they donโ€™t know how best to support them. Discrimination and prejudices often leave children with disabilities isolated, bullied and with only very few friends, if at all,โ€ pinpointed Garibay.

For the reason he just mentioned, Garibay urged that it is of utmost importance to take action now and governments should make sure that the significant advancement in the international normative framework on disability makes concrete impact in ameliorating the live of persons with disabilities.

He shared that while adopting a holistic approach in addressing disability inclusion issues, UNESCO promotes the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons living with disabilities and encourages all stakeholders to take concrete measures for their inclusion and empowerment.

โ€œUNESCO is making a strong contribution in the preparations for the post-2015 agenda, mobilising all its strengths to make the case for the centrality of education, the sciences, culture and communication and information for sustainability and for building the inclusive, knowledge societies we need for the century ahead which also incorporates the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities in development at all levels,โ€ underlined Garibay.

United Nations Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was signed by all Asean countries, which was a good start, but more work needs to be done, particularly regarding the signature of the protocol, says Garibay.

He pointed that the convention introduces new understanding of โ€˜disabilityโ€™ to define persons with disabilities โ€“ those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and active participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Garibay underscored that the new definition implies that disability is not synonymous with impairment, a view which tends to focus on fixing the impairment rather than improving the environment or changing attitudes that define people mainly based on what they cannot do rather than in light of their abilities.

โ€œIf we understand this basic principle, it is easy to realise that exclusion not only impacts the lives of persons with disabilities, but affects the development of communities and society as a whole,โ€ he affirmed.

Garibay explained that โ€œdisability tends to reduce economic output by reducing or eliminating the economic contributions of certain members of society, particularly people with disabilities and their family members and close friendsโ€.

โ€œHence, the socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities is not just a question of their right to participation; it is also a prerequisite for broad-based and sustainable development.

โ€œGovernment policy is essential โ€“ reliable and comparable disability data are needed for a rigorous evidence base to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of effective policy.โ

Source: http://borneobulletin.brunei-online.com/index.php/2013/12/12/removing-barriers-with-the-disabled-and-building-a-future-together/