Challenges and Opportunities
At the Symposium Commemorating
Fifty Years of Canada-Indonesia Relations
Ottawa, 13 March 2003
Over the past 50 years, our friendship and cooperation have grown from strength to strength. That is because, although we have many differences, there are far outweighed by our similarities.
The differences are obvious: Indonesia is a nation of islands, in fact the largest archipelago in the world; Canada spans the vast North American continent. Indonesia is a developing country; while Canada is the eighth largest industrialized country in the world and outranks all other countries on the UNDP human development index.
On the other hand, our similarities are much more significant: both our nations take pride in our rich diversity – of cultural heritage, religions, ethnic origins and languages. We thus put a premium to national unity and to tolerance. Both countries extend over vast territories endowed with abundant natural resources. And while our political and social systems are quite different, we are both deeply committed to democracy both within and among nations, and to human rights and dignity.
As medium powers, both our countries are committed to diplomatic activism and attach great importance to regionalism and multilateralism. We are both committed to the shaping of a better world of peace, justice and equitable prosperity. As such we have collaborated in addressing various global and regional issues, such as the North-South dialogue, the Law of the Sea, disarmament, and the management of potential conflict in the South China Sea.
Indeed, the annual informal Workshop on Managing Potential Conflict in the South China Sea, launched by Indonesia in 1992 and nurtured over the years with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the University of British Columbia, stands out as an important initiative in preventive diplomacy and confidence building in East Asia.
Over the past five decades, Canada has strongly supported and contributed to Indonesia’s social and economic development. In turn, Indonesia has always sought to provide a hospitable environment in which Canadian business interests can prosper and grow.
We deeply appreciate Canada’s “people-oriented” policies in development cooperation, directed towards such concerns such as basic human needs, small and medium enterprises, human rights, democracy and good governance, women in development and gender equality, human resources development and the environment. We appreciate Canada’s assistance all the more because it comes in the form of grants.
Our bilateral trade has steadily grown: Indonesia’s exports to Canada have considerably risen over the past five years, reaching $620.6 million in 2001. Canada ranks eighth among countries with foreign investments in Indonesia, with a total of well above US$6 billion in 2002, mostly in mining ventures. Recently, Canadian investments have also been channeled to the financial sector and to such fields as agribusiness and the environment.
Canadian-Indonesian relations, however, cannot be viewed solely in a bilateral context. They are inevitably influenced by the larger regional and global issues. And, conversely, Canadian-Indonesian relations can have a positive or negative impact on regional and even global developments. I do belive that our two countries, each according to its own capabilities and unique perspectives, have a proactive role to play in this post-Cold War era. By fulfilling that role in a spirit of constructive cooperations, we will not only strengthen our bilateral ties, but also enhance the prospects for stable peace, common security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
This is especially true in the context of our two countries’ activities in the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences (PMC) with Dialogue partners, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
That shared role is of equally acute relevance to the need to respond to the challenges of the post-Cold War era. Allow me, therefore, to share my thoughts with you on three of the most pressing of these challenges.
First there is the challenge of globalization, with its all-encompassing scope and implications, both positive and negative. Driven by the swift advances in science and technology, globalization, in tandem with liberalization, offers the prospects of benefits through enlarged markets, greater productivity, faster economic growth and new trade and investment opportunities.
But over the years, globalization has proven to be an indiscriminate force, incapable of distinguishing between advanced and developing countries, between the strong and the weak. Thus, globalization is indeed opening up vast oportunities for economic progress, but only to the stronger economies, those capable of seizing such opportunities. On the other hand, it poses real and often severe risks to the vulnerable developing economies that can cause economic and even political upheavals.
Hence, the international community and like-minded developed and developing countries, such as Canada and Indonesia, are called upon to find ways of eliminating or at least ameliorating the adverse effects of globalization so that it will wreak no havoc on the developing economies and its benefits can be shared by all.
The second challenge is the issue of human security. As distinct from the conventional notion of state security, the concepts of human security, which Canada has pionereed and promoted, can now be said to be almost universally accepted. It has been increasingly realized that when a state is secure, and its territorial sovereignty and integrity well protected, it does not necessarily follow that the people within that state, the human beings, are also secure.
This realization has come about with the growing shift in the nature or armed conflicts, from interstate wars to armed conflicts and turbulence within states, as well as the emergence of new types of security threats – those posed by organized transnational crimes and gross violations of human rights. Hence, security should now not merely be conceived and pursued in terms of the interests of the state but also in terms of the needs of human beings to be shielded from acts or threats of violence.
Out of this realization emerged the question of what the international community of states must do when one of them is unable to protect its own citizens from violence or, as it sometimes happnes, when it is the state itself that does violence to its citizens. It is in this regard that the concomitant issue of humanitarian intervention has arisen and posed an acute dilemma to the international community, especially to the United Nations.
It is a dilemma because on the one hand there is the acknowledged necessity of putting an end to man-made humanitarian disaster whenever it occurs, while on the other hand, there is the question of legitimacy of and the bad precedent set by an intervention by a country or group of countries without the autho
rization of the United Nations or the consent of the targeted country.
There is great sensitivity and concern among developing countries at the notion of eroding or superseding state sovereignty as implied in humanitarian intervention. There is also the fear that those engaging in or leading humanitarian interventions will most likely be the advanced countries of the “North” and those subjected to the humanitarian intervention will be the developing countries of the “South,” thus adding yet another dimension to North-South contention.
Furthermore, it is unrealistic to expect that humanitarian intervention will ever be carried out against any of the veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council or their allies for that matter, or against a major regional power, thus strengthening the perception that it is by nature selective and discriminatory.
To Canada’s great credit, in response to this dilemma, it took the initiative of establishing in September 2000 the International Commission on Intervention and State Soverignty, co-chaired by former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun of Algeria.
The Commission, in its recently published report, put forward an innovative approach in which conceptually the whole debate was re-characterized as a question not of “the right to intervene” but rather of the “responsibility to protect” – a responsibility owed by all sovereign states to their own citizens in the first instance, but one that must be assumed by the international community if the state in question is incapable of fulfilling it.
Correspondingly, in order to reconcile the sovereignty-intervention dichotomy, the Report proposes that the concept of sovereignty be reconsidered not as much as an inherent right or capacity to control but rather as a responsibility. In this way, the Commission may be able to steer away from the dilemmas and controversies that the terminology and concept of humanitarian intervention have raised.
Untimately, however, if humanitarian intervention or protection is to be accepted as a new norm in international relations, it must always be based on the principles of legitimacy and universal applicability or non-discrimination. It must be justly and consistently applied, regardless of which country or group of countries is affected.
I am therefore of the firm view that the fundamental questions raised by this issue need first to be thoroughly discussed by the international community and debated in the UN so as to arrive at a global consensus on the criteria and principles, the mandates and guidelines as well as the specific conditions under which such humanitarian intervention could take place. And here again, Canada and Indonesia can and should cooperate constructively so that such a consensus may be achieved.
Finally, we come to the third challenge: the scourge of international terrorism. This is not a new phenomenon: since ancient times, violence or the threat of violence has been used to pressure governments and societies into accepting radical political or social change. But after the horror of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, international terrorism became the malignant burden of the age og globalization. And after the terrorist bombings in Bali last October, which killed 197 individuals of various nationalities, it became clear that no society, no community in the world today is safe from terrorist attack.
Like all the other forms of transnational crime, international terrorism cannot be effectively fought through unilateral action. Nations must cooperate with one another in a multilaterally concerted effort that is more appropriately directed and coordinated by the United Nations.
Long before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Bali tragedy of 12 October, Indonesia and the other ASEAN countries have begun to address the threat of terrorism as one of the most virulent forms of organized transnational crime, linking it to the problem of the traffic in illicit drugs and the smuggling of arms and people. But we were so focused on economic cooperation that our moves against these threats were slow and tentative.
The shock of 9/11 and the Bali tragedy, however, have galvanized the entire region into vigorously addressing this threat in concert.
Indonesia has signed with Malaysia and the Philippines a “Trilateral Agreement on Information Exchange and Communication Procedures” to facilitate cooperation among ourselves in combating transnational crime, primarily terrorism. Cambodia and Thailand have acceded to this Treaty, and Indonesia is confident that all ASEAN members will eventually join the arrangement.
Indonesia and other ASEAN countries have signed with the United States Government a Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism. Moreover, ASEAN has formulated a regional work plan to combat terrorism that will entail the participation of its Dialogue Partners, including Canada. There are indeed a number of activities in the programme that Canada can undertake with ASEAN, the most obvious of which being exchange of information that will enable each side to intensify police and intelligence work.
Likewise, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), in which Canada is a participant, has begun to intensify work on international terrorism. Canada is, of course, expected to take part in any anti-terrorism activity developed within the ARF, particularly those listed in the ARF Declaration against Terorism that was adopted in Brunei Darussalam last July.
However, the most sophisticated military intelligence and police work, even when carried out in concert by an array of governments, will not suffice to defeat international terrorism. Apart from focusing on its symptoms, its root causes must also be effectively addressed. And there is no doubt that abject poverty and glaring social inequality have a great deal to do with the sense of injustice and alienation, the anger and irrational hatred that erode respect for property and regard for the value of human life.
We must not forget, moreover, that in recent years, the most severe blow against the security and political stability of Southeast Asia was neither a war nor a terrorist attack but a financial and economic debacle.
In the ultimate analysis, the only lasting security is broad-based development that leads to an equitable distribution of prosperity and the enlightenment that attends such prosperity. That is why the threat of terrorism must not distract us from our agenda of development – whether national, regional or global.
Thus, in a globalized world where a welter of non-governmental actors are active, where persistent sociopolitical issues must always be taken into consideration, where notions of security are constantly evolving and terrorism threatens every nation – there is much that Canada and Indonesia can do together and for each other.
We should now be earnestly exploring ways not only to intensify and broaden our economic cooperation in terms of trade and investment and the promotion of development, but also to strengthen our cooperation in the political and security field and coordinate our advocacies in international forums.
We can do all these because Canadian-Indonesian relations are as solid and as broadly gauged as they have ever been. As in any close realtionship, there may occasionally arise some point of controversy due to our differences in cultural background. But always the broad and vital interests of our two nations coverge in a manner that compels us to turn to each other for mutual support and collaboration.
By doing so we can help remove the environment of poverty and ignorance in which terrorism thrives, help remove in international affairs the distrust and tendency to miscalculation that often result into interstate wars, help the citizens of every country lead more secure lives, and al
so address the rigours imposed upon the developing countries by the downside of globalization.
Then we can truly say that Canadian-Indonesian friendship has been a factor in the shaping of a better world.