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The impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy: regional cooperation, promotion of political values, and conflict management

Wirajuda, Muhammad (2014) The impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy: regional cooperation, promotion of political values, and conflict management. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This study examines to what extent Indonesia’s transition to democracy has impacted Jakarta’s foreign policy, particularly regarding the foreign policy-making process, its fundamental doctrine, and foreign policy strategies in three specific areas: regional cooperation in ASEAN, promotion of political values, and conflict management. The puzzle this thesis addresses is that Indonesia’s foreign policy in many ways does not conform to expectations generated by theoretical works on democratization and foreign policy. The dissertation argues that Indonesia’s democratisation has affected Jakarta’s foreign policy only in a mixed and limited fashion. While Indonesia’s democratisation has shaped ideas that have influenced Indonesia’s foreign policy, some traditional foreign policy pillars continue to be relevant. First, notwithstanding Indonesia’s democratic transition, Jakarta remains committed to the principle of an independent and active (bebas-aktif) foreign policy. As such, maintaining a balanced presence of big powers remains a key explanation for Indonesia’s policies on East Asia cooperation. Second, while democratisation has led to the proliferation of foreign policy actors, foreign policy-making remains largely unaltered, with the president and the foreign minister serving as the central decision-makers. However, democratisation has changed the substance or style of Indonesian foreign policy, and such a change is discernible in efforts to shape political cooperation in ASEAN, Jakarta’s management of conflict on Ambalat dispute with Malaysia, and its Myanmar policy. Additionally, democracy and human rights now prominently feature in Indonesia’s foreign policy strategy towards the wider Asia. Significantly, however, while democracy promotion has been driven by the desire of Indonesia’s foreign policy leaders to reflect its newfound identity, human rights promotion has been lacking in Indonesia’s promotion of political values abroad due to domestic considerations. Hence, frameworks focusing on the role of identity and ideas in foreign policy flowing from democratization offer an important, yet insufficient explanation of Indonesia’s foreign policy in the cases discussed. Using an integrative approach that draws on works on the role of leaders, the salience of institutions, and the influence of identity and ideas in foreign policy, this study contributes to the wider discussion about the relationship between democratisation and foreign policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Muhammad Hadianto Wirajuda
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Haacke, Jürgen

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