"The Democratic Response"

Statement by

H.E. Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda

Minister for Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia

At the 56th Session of

The UN General Assembly

New York, 15 November 2001

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Mr. President,

On behalf of the Indonesian delegation, I am pleased to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to the Presidency of the 56th session of the General Assembly. We are pleased that the stewardship of this session has been entrusted to so capable a diplomat from a fraternal Asian country, with which Indonesia has always enjoyed the most cordial relations.

I wish to preface my statement by once again, on behalf of the Government and people of Indonesia, express our deepest condolences and sympathy to the Government and people of the United States on the massive tragedy that they have recently suffered and borne so admirably.

Indeed, international terrorism today looms on the horizon as one of the major threat to human life and civilization. The truth, of course, is that multiple threats and challenges are an inherent and co-existing feature of inter-state relations. We cannot grapple with this threat and leave the others to wreak havoc on the world. It is the urgent and compelling task of this world organization to address them all, for each of them has the potential to destroy a large part if not the entire human race.

The threat of nuclear annihilation is still there. It has by no means faded with the demise of the Cold War, as the cause of nuclear disarmament remains stalled.

With conventional weapons, mostly small arms, wars and other forms of mass violence are being carried out in various parts of the world. Thus whole populations, millions, are being displaced, maimed or killed-90 percent of them civilians, majority of them women, children and the elderly.

In the Middle East, the killing of innocent Palestinians continues even while Israeli forces partially withdraw from occupied Palestinian towns. For as long as the inalienable right of the Palestinians to self-determination is being violated with impunity, there can be no lasting peace in that part of the world.

In the economic sphere, we have not been able to solve the basic problem of poverty-in spite of the fact that we have the resources and the technical capability to at least wage an effective war against this scourge of humankind.

The economies of Southeast Asia have just begun to recover from devastation of a global financial crisis that erupted just a few years ago-and already we are facing the unwelcome prospect of its possible recurrence. A new international financial architecture that would shield vulnerable economies from such a crisis remains a distant dream.

The global economic environment is simply getting less hospitable to the aspirations of the developing world for growth.

Without the resources and technology for sustainable development, developing countries are rapidly losing their natural resources while the physical environment of the world continues to deteriorate.

To us Indonesians, these global problems become even more poignant as they are replicated in our country and as they  impact on the lives of our people.

In the financial crisis of 1997-98, as the rupiah plummeted in value and factories and businesses closed down, millions lost their jobs and were reduced to abject poverty.

Since then, our economy has begun to recover. Last year, Indonesia enjoyed an economic growth of some 5 percent in contrast to the 13.5 percent contraction that followed the onset of the financial crisis in 1997. Also in the year 2000 Indonesia attained a level of trade that surpassed those achieved before the crisis. However, the current global economic downturn, compounded by the events of 11 September, has lowered the expected target for economic growth to 3 percent in 2001.

In the face of these realities, we need massive direct investment flows in order to consolidate our recovery and march steadily on the road of development.

We feel that the situation in Indonesia today already merits the confidence of investors, but we can barely make a good case for this in the light of lingering threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our Republic.

As in many other developing countries and indeed, in some developed countries, Indonesia needs to. overcome the problem of graft and corruption in its bureaucracies and in the corporate sector. The deficiencies of our legal system and the judiciary, the past human rights record of our police and military establishment have produced a less than optimum conditions for Indonesia's economic recovery.

These are daunting challenges, as daunting as the global problems that they replicate and reflect.

Yet, in confronting these national problems, I do not despair just as I do not despair in contemplating the global challenges problems of our time.

For I believe that all these problems, global and national, can be traced to a single common root-and that is a deficiency in human relationships. For wherever there is inequality and it is not acceptable to the weaker party, there can only be tension and conflict. Wherever the powerful can get away with exploiting the weak, a sense of outrage smoulders and there can be neither stability nor peace. Wherever there is injustice and it is not redressed, there arises a culture of vengeance.

If  the problem is basically an imbalance in human relationships, then the solution lies in the rectification of that imbalance-in the recognition that all human beings are of equal worth and have basically equal rights before the law of 'God and human law. As they are all equals, each is accountable for what he does to any other and everyone's common sense of justice is satisfied.

This solution is not something I discovered on my way to this forum. It is something that we all have known for a very long time now and we have been calling it "democracy".

Against the expectations of many outside and indeed within our own nation, over the past three years, especially the last six months, and in the midst of financial crisis, Indonesia has relentlessly pursued the difficult process of reform and democratization. We are able to manage successive transitions of power in a democratic, peaceful and constitutional manner.

Thus, Indonesia today stands proud as one of the largest democracy in the world. As a nation, with an overwhelmingly Muslim population, we are the living refutation of the erroneous notion that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Islam has always stood for the equality and fraternity of all human beings, for the optimum exercise of the human will, and if only for that, we Indonesians have a natural affinity to democracy.

The challenge for all of us is to ensure that democracy works and that it does actually deliver a better life for the people.

In the case of Indonesia, pivotal to this outcome is the recent introduction of bold and far-reaching measures on the relationship between the central government and regional authorities in order to address the legitimate aspirations of the societies in the regions. Likewise, my Government has made a democratic response to the challenge of separatism in Aceh and Irian Jaya.

We will sincerely bring redress to their grievances.

We will meet their legitimate demands by introducing special autonomy and a greater sharing of resources, and guarantee respect for their culture and ethnic identities.

We will not, however, tolerate any acts of terror or violence for separatist ends against the territorial integrity and national unity of our Republic.

In this regard, Members of this Organization have extended overwhelming support for Indonesia's territorial integrity and national unity, consistent with the principle of territorial integrity of states as enshrined in the UN Charter.

Through strict and impartial enforcement of recently passed anti-graft laws, we are cleansing our bureaucracy and corporate sector of the taint of graft and corruption. Through strict and equal application of laws on economic reform, we assure every entrepreneur an equal chance in their business undertakings.

We are reforming the legal system and the judiciary so that every individual stands equal before the law, whoever may be his adversary in litigation.

Both the police and the military have undergone reform and have proven themselves to be faithful to the Constitution and to the democratic process. They have the encouragement of my Government and the Indonesian people as they continue reforming themselves. We will see to it, however, that those who have perpetrated human rights violations, including those who carried out the gross human rights violations in East Timor in the wake of the popular consultation, will be brought to justice.

Thus, immediately after assuming office, President Megawati Soekarnoputri signed an amending Presidential Decree that would enable, starting next month, an Ad-hoc Human Rights Court to adjudicate cases of human rights abuses prior to and following the popular consultation.

These are the main lines of our democratic response to the many and formidable challenges that Indonesia must contend with. I have no illusions that they will be accomplished without difficulty and without occasional setbacks. But I have faith in the rightness of working for human relationships that are based on equality of individual human worth. It is the decent, enlightened thing to do. I therefore have no doubt that ultimately these measures will yield sufficiently positive results to move us forward on the road of development.

Mr. President,

I am no less confident that the democratic response will just be as effective in addressing the global challenges of our time.

Consider the problem of armed conflicts in various parts of the world: the use of violence against other human beings, whether carried out through nuclear weapons or through small arms, is an assertion of a view that those others have no equal right to life.

That is why violence is escalating everywhere. And that is why there are terrorists-madmen who regard the lives of innocent people as worthless compared to their political agenda. In a democratic setting, where everyone is committed to equality, where every human life is as precious as any other, violence cannot thrive, certainly not on a massive scale.

If the nuclear disarmament agenda has not been moving forward, it is because the nuclear powers enjoy a real advantage over everybody else, and those that are nuclear-capable strive to become nuclear powers themselves. Inequality thus becomes an incentive for nuclear proliferation. In a democratic setting, that incentive is not available.

The same is true with the endeavours to reform the United Nations, particularly the Security Council. So long as the present Permanent Members see others as not equal to them, and act on that basis, there will never be an equitable representation on the Council. To say that we are reforming the world organization in order to make it more democratic is to put the cart before the horse. First, let us all embrace democracy and then it will not be difficult to reform the United Nations.

In the economic sphere, the fundamental challenge is simply to create a level playing field for all nations, whether it be in trade or in international financial flows. We may all be paying lip service to the sovereign equality of all nations, but if a reality check shows that multilateralism is on the wane, it means that in fact a good number of developed nations do not really believe that the developing countries thus deprived are their equals.

International financial flows for development will resume, the debt burden of poor countries will be eased, and barriers to the exports of developing countries will be lifted-if and when the entire developed world sincerely regard the developing countries as true equals and not as recipients of charity. Since the people in developing countries, particularly those who are most vulnerable, are down today, they need a helping hand to raise them to a position commensurate to their dignity as coequal human beings. In this regard, a special case could be made for the teeming millions in the countries of Africa, a continent that has already given so much of itself to the rest of the world.

The principle of equality among all human beings must be applied as well in the use of natural resources and its profound impact on the environment. It would be the most cruel form of inequality if the present imbalances in the use of resources among nations are left unaddressed and if the present generation uses up the earth's resources and leave nothing to sustain future generations of humanity.

Mr. President,

This yearning for democracy has been with us for a long time. It is the spirit behind every movement for reform-behind the French and American revolutions, and the struggle of colonized countries for independence, Indonesia among them.

This is the spirit to which the first generation of leaders of Asia and Africa gave voice in Bandung in 1955. It guided the founding and growth of the Non-aligned Movement and brought about the demise of apartheid.

In my region of Southeast Asia, it gave rise to the birth and growth of ASEAN, just as it earlier ushered in the founding and enlargement of the United Nations. It is what we need today to reform the United Nations and make it a more effective instrument of global peace and development. It is what we need to translate into concrete reality the provisions of the Millennium Declaration.

And, indeed, the democratic spirit is what we need in order to wage an effective struggle against the dark forces of international terrorism. Without that spirit, we  can only fail.

The best course, therefore, would be to launch a collective action on the basis of the UN Charter. For this war against international terrorism to be able to cover all fronts, for it to be sustainable and imbued with long-term legitimacy, it is imperative that the United Nations play an active and primary, role. The global campaign should be complemented at the regional level with coordinated efforts such as those launched by ASEAN just over a week ago. In that way we make sure that our response to terrorism is a democratic response.

Indonesia has consistently emphasized the role of the United Nations in addressing the unfolding developments in Afghanistan.

It therefore welcomes the adoption yesterday by the Security Council of resolution 1378 (2001). For this development represents a manifest recognition of the need to enhance political and diplomatic efforts to find a comprehensive solution to the Afghan crisis. At the same time, however, it is important to underline that the role of the United Nations could only be to support the efforts of the Afghan people themselves, most notably in the establishment of a new and transitional administration which is broad-based, multi-ethnic and representative of all the Afghan people.

For its part Indonesia is committed to support the United Nations in these noble endeavours. Indonesia stands ready to contribute to any future peace-keeping operation needed to support peace-building in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

To my mind, there is no question of whether the democratic response will work as a way of solving this problem and all the other global problems of our time. Nothing else will work. The question is whether we are courageous and sincere enough, whether we are enlightened enough to apply it.

History, it has been said, is a race between enlightenment and catastrophe. Let us come to our enlightenment now before catastrophe overtakes us.

I thank you, Mr. President