Academic journal article Contemporary Southeast Asia

Indonesia as an Emerging Peacekeeping Power: Norm Revisionist or Pragmatic Provider?

Academic journal article Contemporary Southeast Asia

Indonesia as an Emerging Peacekeeping Power: Norm Revisionist or Pragmatic Provider?

Article excerpt

There is growing interest among analysts in the increasing involvement of emerging powers in peace operations. As a larger share of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers are sourced from non-Western states, some have argued that these countries will increasingly demand more of a say in the deployment of those troops, including operational mandates and financing. (1) This, they claim, will challenge liberal norms around peacekeeping and peacemaking operations, including doctrines such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Protection of Civilians (POC), and robust measures such as the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) deployed as part of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). One influential analysis has described this as "the new geo-politics of peace operations", arguing that emerging powers "are likely to act as 'norm revisionists' increasingly influencing the make-up, design and conduct of future peace operations on the basis of their own interests and approaches". (2)

This article examines the changing policy and interests of Indonesia against the backdrop of those claims. Indonesia is frequently mentioned as an emerging player in peacekeeping, but its role has been understudied compared to, for example, China, India, South Africa and Brazil. Several recent reports devoted to emerging powers and peace operations identify Indonesia as a relevant actor, but it receives little detailed attention when it comes to the actual analysis. (3) Drawing on interviews with foreign and defence ministry officials, and independent analysts in Jakarta, as well as statements by Indonesian representatives in the UN and other forums, this article seeks to fill the gap.

In discussing Indonesia's growing role in peacekeeping operations (PKOs), the article makes three arguments. First, although Indonesia has a long history of involvement in UN PKOs, there has been a significant change in its policy in the last decade, with much greater importance attached to peacekeeping in particular since 2011. The article offers some explanations for this new emphasis and explores how it might play out in the future, including highlighting potential constraints.

Second, although Indonesia retains a strong preference for traditional "blue helmet" missions mandated by the UN Security Council (UNSC), and based on principles of host country consent, impartiality and limited use of force, these considerations are not static. While Indonesia is cautious about aspects of the "new" peacekeeping agenda, such as POC and peace enforcement missions, it cannot be considered a norm revisionist. Rather, Jakarta's views on peacekeeping reflect its wider concerns about global order. Indonesia wants to be involved in peacekeeping missions that have wide legitimacy, with greater clarity around mandates and resourcing, and with more consultation between the authorizing powers in the UNSC and troop contributing countries. In reality, Indonesia has also proved to be more pragmatic than some of its rhetoric would suggest.

Third, to the extent that Indonesia has challenged norms, it has done so as an advocate for a more ambitious approach to peacekeeping in Southeast Asia. It was the first to argue for an ASEAN peacekeeping force and has supported the use of regional troops to monitor peace agreements. In doing so, it has challenged long-established ASEAN norms around non-interference and encountered resistance from some neighbouring states. (4) In sum, the Indonesian case supports some of the claims made about emerging powers and peace operations but challenges others, underlining the diversity of this group of states.

The article is organized into four sections. The first part provides a brief overview of the literature on emerging powers and peace operations, identifying some of the core claims and situating the Indonesian case. Section two provides an overview of Indonesia's involvement in peacekeeping, including the important changes in policy and practice that have taken place in the last five years. …

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