Over the past five years, the international community has witnessed an increase in the sheer number of conflicts in some areas. One of the most severe conflicts to date is The Afghanistan Conflict. There have been numerous attempts to solve it, including military actions. Nonetheless, the conflict remains and causes a humanitarian crisis. Hence, this article argues that the parties who are involved in the disputes should consider the use of diplomacy to alleviate those conflicts.
Diplomacy is considered to be the projection of soft power and an ideal way to assist the conflict resolution and prevention of further conflict. Indonesia is one of the emerging powers that is actively involved in peacemaking activities.
While bearing a mandate of United Nations Security Councils (UNSC) non-permanent member, Indonesia has been increasing confidence to uphold peace as a priority, one of them is the conflict in Afghanistan. Given the virtual capabilities and the conflict’s complexities, Indonesia’s commitment to a resolution has raised some doubts. This article intends to elaborate the significance of JK’s works on promoting peace and how they affect Indonesia’s future role in the UNSC.
Key aspects of JK’s diplomacy in the peacemaking process
Soft power is defined as the projection of a state’s capabilities to gain influence, accomplish business or interest in a more lenient manner. The most recognizable tool in projecting the soft power is diplomacy.
Wights in Jöhnson and Hall has categorized diplomacy as the symbol of international society’s existence. Regarding that existence, the practice of diplomacy is believed to be able to mediate and reconnect not only the conflicted states but also non-state actors. It has been a useful method in peacemaking activities. Indonesia has distinct experiences in exercising diplomacy to conserve peace in its land.
The conflict in Aceh, Ambon, and Poso were the most notable self-initiative practices of diplomacy which had taken place. Jusuf Kalla or JK is the crucial figure of those successful conflict resolution managements.
This article argues that some distinct features set JK’s approaches to conflict resolution apart from others. Firstly, his willingness to do in-depth studies about those conflicts before solving them. In doing so, he and his staffs did some researches to comprehend the nature of the conflicts. He applied this method for Aceh, Poso, and Ambon Conflicts. Secondly, his capability to build trust with the two conflicting groups.
He did it by asking the Governor of Maluku to appoint one representative from each group (Islam and Christian); then these two representatives appointed 35 Muslims and 34 Christians to negotiate in Malino. The discussion focused on ending the violence in the region and the plan to investigate the human rights violations during the conflict. The meeting successfully brought about the termination of the 3-year long conflict.
Regarding Aceh, believing that the conflict was not going to end solely with military effort, JK alongside with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), were determined to resolve the conflict with political means. Before signing Helsinki MOU in 2005, JK had started to fix the relationship between the Government of Indonesia and The Free Aceh Movement/Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) by implementing some important steps.
Firstly, he and his team attempted to work out on solutions concerning the economic situation with GAM by holding talks in Aceh, and he also deployed his team to the field to find out the possible solutions to end the conflict. Secondly, his effort to accommodate the needs of GAM was also shown when he appointed the Deputy Coordination for the People’s Welfare, Farid Husain, to discuss with GAM leaders to find a peaceful way to resolve the conflict.
In Poso, JK himself had already built trust among the conflicting communities by taking the initiative to order a direct visit to the conflicting region; it contributed to securing the required accommodation resources . He was able to gather the selected 10 Muslims and Christians representatives separately and entered talks to produce a definitive solution to end the conflict.
The meeting led both parties agreeing to mediation provided by the central government which was chaired by JK. In the mediation process, 25 Muslims and 23 Christians from the conflicting parties were present as the selected delegates. The process resulted in the Malino I Declaration as the peace settlement in Poso.
The reconciliation and resolution of the conflict are the next steps of conflict prevention. Thus, the coordination for post-conflict reconciliation is also needed. JK did it by securing the assistance activities and taking over the handling of aid deliveries to recover the post-conflict situation in Poso.
Long-standing domestic turmoil has led Indonesia to learn and carefully exercise the successful efforts to resolve each conflict. Indonesia has always been interested in promoting peace activities at both regional and international levels. Given its reputation as a peacemaker in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), JK has shown his involvement in mediating the Pattani conflict in Thailand.
Unfortunately, there is no continuation for the peace-talk to happen between the conflicting parties, due to lack of coordination among the two governments.
Furthermore, JK and Joko Widodo have been trusted to contribute to the peacemaking process through visits and negotiations about the Afghanistan conflict. Indonesia hosted a meeting on May 11th, 2018 as one of the mediation attempts.
The peace-talk consisted of Ulemas and religious scholars from Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan (.
Having said that, this article acknowledges that Indonesia’s involvement in Afghanistan’s peacebuilding process is still at its early stage. However, considering Indonesia’s successful attempts in solving its domestic conflicts, it is safe to say that Indonesia has potential success to mediate the conflict.
This idea is being propped up by the argument that Indonesia does not utilize the ‘one-size-fits-all’ in its policy approach when it takes part in other countries’ peacemaking process . Furthermore, Alexandra elaborates that Indonesia tends to take into account the local context of the country which affects the nature of the conflict itself, to find ‘modalities’ that could be used to find the solutions for the conflict resolutions process.
In a discussion panel of Roundtable on Enhancing Global and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution wherein JK acted as one of the panelists, it was concluded that the peace mechanisms through negotiation process is essential and cannot immediately bring results, instead it should be taken step-by-step. Moreover, the mediator should exhibit impartiality from the conflict because it needs compromise among the conflicting parties to resolve the conflict.
Having built its reputation as a trusted mediator, Indonesia does not act to steer but to share its conflict resolution experiences. This article finds that Indonesia as the most prominent Muslim countries in the world and has indicated its neutral position. Also, Indonesia’s foreign policy “free-and-active” has been flexible to emphasize its practice in politics and diplomacy to promote peace without being too assertive.
So, Indonesia’s involvement in conflict resolution is considered as a part of Muslim country’s duty to assist. JK himself has already proven well-qualified as a peacemaker by receiving a notable honor as Doctorate Honoris Causa from University in Malaysia, Japan, and Thailand.
JK’s insights on the Afghanistan conflict accentuated the modalities above by encouraging discussion with the Ulemas and Muslim scholars within the negotiation talks. On the Asia Society Policy Institute discussion, he stated that most war-torn Islamic countries have issues on politics and economy. According to his experiences, psychological preconditions which place particular stresses on anger will likely trigger violent acts.
Consequently, the wrong perception of ‘jihad’ only followed these negative situations. About the Government of Afghanistan’s effort to resolve the conflict, they attempted to invite the Taliban group as a political party to join the peace talks. It was indicated as a potential approach due to its impartial and religious nature.
Indonesia’s experiences of conflict resolution, particularly in the Afghanistan conflict, has marked its contribution which is in line with the UNSC’s vision and mission. Indonesia has been a non-permanent member for the fourth time from 2019 to 2020.
Moreover, Indonesia commits to assist peace activities, particularly in Palestine and Myanmar. Importantly, Indonesia will be able to enhance its role to promote international peace and security by projecting its foreign policy, emphasizing on its principles and values of tolerance as a diverse Muslim majority nation. Significantly, this has been projected well by JK.
Peacemaking and peacebuilding are two intertwined aspects needed to maintain international stability. In the case of JK’s involvement in the peacemaking and peacebuilding activities, he has given fruitful insights to sustain domestic and regional peace and stability.
Those are the willingness to comprehend the root of the conflict before solving it, the ability to build trust and cooperation between the conflicting parties, and his competence to coordinate with stakeholders regarding the post-conflict process. Together with his current efforts in the peace talks in Afghanistan Conflict, Indonesia’s strive for regional peace will have a better future.
For that reason, this article finds that JK is suitable to be nominated as a Noble Peace Prize Candidate. The Noble Peace Prize Candidacy is going to leverage Indonesia’s position as a peacemaker country.
Vita Fulla Mayliya
24 years old, final year student at Universitas Diponegoro, majoring in International Relations, currently completing my undergraduate thesis.
Audrey Rachalia Achmad
23 years old, Bachelor of Political Science from Universitas Diponegoro. I was involved in a research project that was led by my lecturers, as a research assistant. The research focused on the issue of food security, with a specific case of the practice of eating grasshoppers in Gunung Kidul.
This essay has been edited and modified for digital publication and reading easiness reasons.
These terms have been agreed upon by the writer (s).