STRENGTHENING PEACE ORIENTED VALUES IN ASEAN – Speech by H.E. Amb. Artauli Tobing
STRENGTHENING PEACE ORIENTED VALUES IN ASEAN
PRESENTED AT THE AIPR IPD
Symposium on Capacity Building and Peace and Reconciliation
Principles and Best Practices By H.E. Ambassador Artauli RMP Tobing
Bali, 22 – 23 April, 2014
Excellencies, Distinguished members of the Governing Council and the Advisory Board of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR),
Distinguished Resource Persons and Speakers,
Distinguished participants of the Symposium,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Institute for Peace and Democracy and MOFA Indonesia for organizing this Symposium. My appreciation also goes to the Government of the Kingdom of Norway for making this event possible.
I hope you agree with me when I say that our discussions yesterday was very productive – where we had the opportunity to look at the whole spectrum of how to prevent potential conflicts all the way to how conflicts could be resolved.
Today, I will share with you on how ASEAN could strengthen its peace oriented values. I must admit that some of those thoughts I have on this, has already been expressed yesterday. So it some cases there will be some repetition. So please bear with me.
My focus will be more on the lessons learned from the Indonesian experience and also in the regional context. Before doing so, I have to first of all touch on some of the thoughts that I have started in Manila namely the imbalance between economic and political development prevailing in our region.
An Imbalance concept of development
You are all aware ASEAN which is located in the Asia Pacific region is often referred to as the Asia Pacific century. This is mostly a consequence of the phenomenal economic growth happening during the past decades and is still continuing. It is even predicted that in 2040, our region will contribute more than 60 percent of the worlds GDP.
However, our region is seldom seen from the perspective of its political development, within the larger context of democratic development, human rights and good governance. We celebrate Asias economic rise, but its differences in its political development is often referred to as the proverbial sweeping under the carpet.
Ever since the membership of ASEAN was expanded from 6 to 10, there was a lot of talk on how we need to narrow the development gap. The development gap in this context is focused more on economic development, because political development has been neglected. Interestingly, significant economic transformation from a backward economy to rather respected countries including the so called ASEAN tigers was achieved by countries with authoritarian rule. A case in point is Indonesia.
This imbalance of economic versus political development is comparable to the Arab Spring which occurred in the Middle East and North Africa. What we can learn from this experience is that we cannot simply rely only on the economic development and neglect the political development.
That was why there was a need for ASEAN to change its attitude. In the past there was a lot of hesitance to take up sensitive issues such as the border issue as it would disturb the ASEAN consensus. It was easier to just shelve the problem.
The adoption of the three pillars of ASEAN community, including the political and security community therefore, took one year to complete. It was a good example that despite the sensitivity of the issue of the political cooperation, by 2003 ASEAN leaders endorsed the Bali Concord II in which took a historical step towards regional integration.
On a wider scale, ASEANs political development is still behind such organizations as the African Union, where they already have the political and security council of the African Union, the African Charter of rights and obligation, the African Human Rights Court, and the African Peacekeeping Force. Other organizations have also similar types of bodies such as the OAS and Mercosur.
Democracy and Peace
Perhaps now we should move to some peace oriented values. Indonesia has always opted to dialogue as the key word to avoid conflict or prevent differences to develop into tensions or conflict situation. The words musyawarah and mufakat which means extensive deliberation and consensus is derived from the nature of great diversity of Indonesia in many ways.
Dialogue underlines both the importance of the process as well as its outcome. Mutual understanding and confidence amongst parties could be reached through dialogue and will further help prevent any type of conflict. This approach may cause impatience for others as it is often referred to as going too slow.
Another example of Indonesias use of dialogue is illustrated in its contribution through the series of workshops on Managing Potential Conflict in the South China Sea. We didnt even call it a dialogue. The objective of the workshops was not to solve the conflict, but to create confidence among parties with a view to prevent tensions and conflict from occurring. This Workshop process at the track two level has often be referred to as one of the contributions towards the maintenance of peace in the region and also the adoption of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea which in essence sets the rule of good conduct for this area.
Dialogue and consensus seeking have strengthened conflict avoidance and further paved the way towards compromised solutions. In the name of consensus, in the past, ASEAN has practiced the option of if you are not able to solve the problems, shelve it. It must be recognized among ASEAN members we have situations or disputes in which if they are not solved, they could easily develop into conflicts. A case in point is the border disputes both land and maritime borders which practically affect all ASEAN members.
These situations have occurred as an imbalances of the concept of cooperation in ASEAN which existed before. In 2002 Indonesia was therefore encouraged to introduce a Political and Security Community concept which underlines the importance of promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance, and also conflict resolution. Our approach was to take the bull by the horn which allowed ASEAN to acknowledge and recognize their differences, potential conflicts among its members, and to systematically try to solve the problems. In other words, there is a need to develop an openness and habit of solving conflicts through dialogue.
In some instances, excessive claim in the principle of non-interference on the domestic affairs is a barrier in developing such favourable environment.
Therefore, when Indonesia opted for democracy through its reformasi it opened up to more ideas such as creating continuous dialogue with conflicting parties. It means that an open and more democratic Indonesia has allowed a greater role in restoring peace. Even though we live in a relatively peaceful region compared to other regions in the world, there are various types of conflicts. I think we have to be more open to each other, rather than put ourselves on the non- interference mode. We have to see ourselves as family, and we should be more open with each other. Its not a way to interfere, but to help in situation where we can help. Nevertheless, this takes time and a lot of patience.
Another example is the earthquake and tsunami that struck Aceh in December 2004 and turned into a blessing and perhaps inspired the two sides in the conflict to resume the dialogue. This time in 2005, under the facilitation of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) lead by former President Martii Ahtisaari of Finland. The dialogue reached a final peace agreement signed in August 2005 and is referred to as the MoU on Aceh.
Furthermore, one of the reasons for Indonesias openness of involving third party facilitation to resolve its conflicts including on the issue of sovereignty issues was that by way of sharing, we induce openness and at the same time allow us to deal with excessive arguments on non- interference on domestic matters.
In a new and democratic Indonesia, we were more open to new ideas in obtaining peaceful conflict resolutions, not only in terms of procedure, but also concepts that contributed to the final solutions (i.e special autonomy, the application of Syariah, and local parties).
In addition, Indonesias openness to third party facilitation is derived from its earlier experiences as Indonesia itself was to facilitate cases of conflicts resolution in Cambodia through the Jakarta Informal Meetings and in the Southern Philippines (between the Government of Philippines and the Moro National Liberal Front-MNLF).
In conclusion, perhaps what the AIPR could initially do is to start compiling (as it is stipulated in the ASEAN and Political and Security blue print), ASEANs lessons learned and best practices.
Thank you for your attention.