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From conflict to sustainable peace: Jusuf Kalla’s path toward Noble Prize recognition

Building peace is not a linear way approach that can be done single-handedly by an International body. Therefore several notable persons in the global history of peacebuilding are renowned to enlighten the complexity of such effort.

Rewarded names such as Gandhi with his nonviolent civil disobedience way against colonization of British government, Eleanor Roosevelt in ending racial conflict of minority group in the United States through civil right reform and many other notable names are exemplifications of complex exertions in peace-building and peacemaking around the globe.

Global peacemaking process in Indonesia also has a notable figure with the calibre of those historical world leaders. Through the reconciliation of perpetual conflict in three different regions with three different approaches, this man named Jusuf Kalla (JK) has gained recognition for his endless effort in building sustainable peace over Indonesia. Not merely due to his endless effort, his signature approach on every conflict he dealt with is self-proven as a figure who always gives the best to reduce conflicts and promote peace and worth global recognition.

Unique approaches JK employed in each conflict resolutions of Aceh, Poso and Ambon has provided notable examples in global scale to highlight the importance of context (Mac Ginty, 2011) and mechanism to assert the execution in every peacebuilding process.

JK’s strategy in dealing with conflicts in Indonesia was different from global examples I previously mentioned. While Gandhi in India or Roosevelt in the United States were dealing with single nation-state scale issues, JKneeded to assess three recurring national conflicts with three different contexts.

Aceh, Poso and Ambon have different cultural, historical and socio-economic backgrounds that need to be adequately addressed to comprehend each recurring conflict; and JK succeeded doing so in Aceh through Helsinki MoU, Poso through Malino agreement and Ambon as well.

The three conflict resolutions with three different approaches, though, are yet to be discussed within the strategic notion of peacemaking a la Jusuf Kalla. This essay captures two central thoughts from the peacemaking efforts JK did in Aceh, Poso and Ambon, and his effort in creating sustainable peace for the future through the idea of contextualities and execution. Each conflict represents a different locality approach that needs to be identified.

JK came up with contextually vast literature and knowledge to comprehend issues of conflicted parties in detail. The history, parties involved and leadership role, and each actor contributed to the recurring dispute were mapped comprehensively and led to progressive output. The vital standard he also set was the execution process to evaluate every detail progress in a positive manner, and a bold signature move that represented his abundant experience in business industries and government.


Reconstruction of the contextual map

Every conflict has its historical background, socio-economical cause and cultural framework which are needed to be acknowledged to comprehend the situation better. JK reckoned this matter as a prerequisite to move further on addressing conflicting parties on the negotiation table. The matrix of time length and ample resources extenuate the enormous energy JK gave in the process of understanding each case differently and also yielded a simplified picture of the sophisticated map he made to cease the recurring conflicts above.

Aceh conflict had 29 years of history. Poso conflict resulted in thousands of people losing their lives in a few years. Ambon conflict proliferated religious tension with a bigger scope. Each conflict was mapped and classified through specific contexts, including but not limited to disputed parties, leadership and prominent issues.

Poso and Ambon conflict resolutions were similar, though different in detail. JK disentangled religious and racial disputes as the root cause through several steps concluded in the last Malino Agreement processes. The important milestone of the agreement did not merely address the conflict as a racial dispute, but deeper to acknowledge that group vested interest noises swayed it, and was further recognized that the major fundamental cause was an economic gap.

Subsequently, the literal notion of Malino Agreement addressed the economic issues and providing consolidated solutions to cease the dispute. As prominent issues were addressed, the agreement could have been, though, an arduous effort without JK’s step to involve each leader in both religion and local parties.

Acknowledgement of JK as a government official and a party leader has represented a unique characteristic of his peacemaking strategy. As an expert leader, he understood the significant role of local leaders had in the development of conflict. Therefore he kept the resolution processes within the high-level framework that identified each issue with mutual respect and dignity for all parties involved.

The same approach was applied in the successful of Helsinki MOU that marked the end of the perpetual conflict in Aceh. JK strategically cooperated with the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) as an international intermediary body and notable GAM leaders to impose the resolution process in an appropriate manner.

He aptly reconfigured the 29 years dispute within a thorough conflict map, by repositioning every detail of actors, issues, objectives, and cost of the outcome of the resolution and plausible burden of both sides if the negotiation failed.

The renowned act of JK in resolving the dispute was when he formally gathered Indonesia army generals and GAM leaders, with resolute consent for the MoU, and step forefront to confront other military generals to seek peace and to stop the continuous casualties, even though he was merely a civilian and businessman without prior military experience. Therefore, in every conflict resolution, remapping of the situation to better comprehend contextual issues emerge was the key JK employed in his peacemaking to sustainable peace.


Prominent execution and control

Vast experiences in business and government assert JK leadership and his method in handling varied issues. It has marked his other signature approaches in leading the execution and control over the reconciliation process. The execution cannot be conducted if there is no legitimate and proper preparation before the official process.

Control cannot be assessed without a justified strategic map. JK’s leadership successfully employed both elements into the continuous strategic peacemaking process. Execution and control are two things that expert leaders in organization management always attach in mind, and JK successfully delivered these acts to preserve conducive behavior among leaders and conflicting parties.

He successfully elucidated his steady leadership to signify his presence he was there not merely to represent his institutions or the state, but further to cease perpetual conflict and save millions of victims in the future. Hence, it was not staggering to find Zakaria, a GAM leader, willing to emanate after 30 years of concealment.

The I personally learns JK’s leadership exemplification over execution and control in preserving peacebuilding over Poso and Ambon through the news, especially when he relentlessly became the first leader who visited both cities periodically every two weeks to warrant the peacebuilding process run according to plan.



As a concluding remark, the steps and quality JK showed have successfully elucidated his caliber as a global leader in holding and promoting global peace. He did not merely exemplify his brave and smart steps to constraint extended dispute, but also aptly provided mutual understanding among parties to build sustainable peace for the future.

Lasting peace can be made if the resilient effort is developed within local environments, such as cultural, historical and socio-economical context. In this case, JK comprehended it by facilitating the foundation to reduce internal tension among social groups.

Three approaches that JK showed in conflict resolution discourse have self-proven of his standing in global practice that should positively contribute to the literature of peacebuilding. Global peace is not merely about solving global issues, but also reducing small fragmented conflicts, that can perpetuate bigger conflicts, to create wide-scale sustainable peace.

Therefore, universities and foreign policy institutes in Indonesia should elevate JK name in the world stage, say, by nominating his name as Nobel Prize Awardee.

JK’s nomination can be done in several ways. Firstly, Indonesian professors nominate his name to the Nobel Committee, as of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1906 nomination. Secondly, another nomination can come from Peter Maurer, current President of International Red Cross as the 1917 Nobel awardee, regarding the fact that JK is chief of Indonesia Red Cross. Thirdly, Indonesia ministers can nominate JK as part of the recognition of his meritorious acts in ceasing recurring conflicts.

These three instances should be done simultaneously to perform higher result upon JK’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination. It was shown in 1906 when several leading professors nominated Roosevelt until finally, he gained recognition from the Nobel Committee. As for the path of JK in ceasing conflicts in the past and building sustainable peace in the present, therefore, for him to be a Nobel Peace Prize awardee in the future is inevitable outcome to realize. Time will tell.



Edwin Arifianto

30 years old, a master student at the University of Sydney, focusing more into ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) and currently active in Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia (PPI Australia), Global Citizenship of the University of Sydney emphasizing on global culture for accelerating peace, and Act for Peace to promote sustainable peace through social justice.



This essay has been edited and modified for digital publication and reading easiness reasons.

These terms have been agreed upon by the writer (s).

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