Points for Intervention by H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa at High Level Ministerial Meeting on the Global Democracy Agenda, Krakow, Poland, 3 July 2010

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency Radoslaw Sikorski,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be here among friends who are at the forefront of promoting the values of democracy around the world.

Like others, I wish also to commend the Government of Poland for initiating this forum back in 2000.

In its 10th year, the Forum has become an important feature in the global democratic architecture.

During the same ten year of the Forum’s existence, Indonesia has transformed itself.

Gone is the country which suffered from “democratic deficit”.

In its place, we have now an Indonesia which constitutes the third largest democracy in the world. A vibrant, yet stable democracy, proving that Islam, democracy and modernity can go hand-in-hand.

A country, keen to share the challenges it has experienced in nurturing and consolidating democracy – lest they be useful for others in similar stage of democratic transformation.

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through its democratic transformation; through the democratic milieu which its some 235 million people now enjoy, Indonesia is pleased to have contributed in tipping the balance in favour of democratic values in the world – from the east to the west, and from the north to the south.

At the same time, we recognize that there can be no artificial arrival point for democracy; when one pronounces that “it’s done”.

It is, in fact, a constant journey. A process.

Democratic values must be constantly nurtured if they are to flourish and democracy be made irreversible.

Hence, I thought it may be pertinent to share some thoughts, based on our own modest experience, on some of the conditions we deem conducive for the promotion and consolidation of democracy.

First, to be sustained, a democratic political system should ensure “democratic dividend”.

In short, democracy should deliver results.

This means, for example, that democracy should result in the betterment of the people’s economic welfare.

Good governance, determined efforts to overcome corruption, a people-centered or pro-poor economic model, we call it growth with equity, ensure that democracy is not only consistent with development; rather that it also promotes development.

An illustration.

For three decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s, Indonesia’s closed political system did co-exist with periods of stellar economic growth. Yet, when the Asian financial crisis struck in 1998, that same political system provided little protection. The financial crisis exposed the inherent shortcomings of an authoritarian system. Indeed, the latter magnified the financial crisis; resulting in a full blown economic and political crisis.

Contrast to our recent experience.

Post 1998 – democratization in Indonesia, not least the unprecedented decentralization efforts, essentially bringing democracy to all levels of governance – provinces, regencies, towns, villages – have provided the impetus towards a more sustainable economic development. Our economy, the largest in Southeast Asia, is making great strides. Indeed, ten years after the Asian financial crisis, Indonesia is a permanent member of the G20.

In short, democracy is delivering results in Indonesia: economic betterment.

Democracy and development do go hand in hand.

Without development, democracy would not achieve its goal of enhancing people’s welfare.

Democratic dividend, however, extends beyond economic development.

Equally important is proof that democracy best equip countries in addressing political and security challenges.
Once again, Indonesia is replete with examples.

Of “democratic response” in overcoming the challenge of terrorism, for example, in a manner consistent with, and respectful of, hard earned civil liberties.

Of autonomy and decentralization as the preferred means to promote national unity as evidenced in the successful resolution of the decades long conflict in the province of Aceh.

Second, a democratic political system should ensure a sense of common ownership.

Democracy signifies greater participation of all elements of the society, including those hitherto marginalized.

And although the government undoubtedly has a major role in stimulating the growth of democracy, much needs to be taken up by other elements of the society in nurturing this growth.

All stakeholders must take its part and play its crucial role.

The government and civil society should be partners in strengthening democratic values and institutions.

The government and the parliament should strengthen the check and balance system to ensure good governance and the rule of law.

Hand in hand, the government, parliament, civil society and the media should all walk on the same path towards the goal of a democratic society.

Third, a democratic political system should encourage dialogue and the sharing of experience.

We believe that the basic principle of democracy is universal in nature.

This is not in any way inconsistent with the fact that each nation has its own tradition and history; its own view of the world.

In this regard, dialogue and frank discussions become important.

Especially among those who may not always see eye to eye.

It is crucial to reach out to countries with different political systems in order to develop greater understanding about democracy as well as to promote the development of the values of democracy as a whole.

We must derive from practical insights and ideas from our own experience and from the experience and best practices of other countries.

Indeed, this was the rationale that prompted Indonesia to launch the Bali Democracy Forum in 2008. Last year, the Forum was convened for its second time and drew participation from greater and more varied delegations.

As an initiative to promote regional and international cooperation on democracy, the Bali Democracy Forum is the first home-grown intergovernmental forum of its sort in Asia.
We have emphasized that cooperation in this field should be based on inclusiveness, equality, and be open for participation by countries with differing political systems.

In doing so, we are creating a platform not only to share democratic experiences and exchange of ideas on democracy, but also garner mutual support and cooperation.

And to support the work of the Forum, we have established the Institute for Peace and Democracy that has now initiated research programs on the advancement of democracy in the region.

Fourth, to be sustained, capacity building in democratic institutions is key.

The gains and success of democracy can never be taken for granted.

Even in the most advanced democratic society, democracy continues to evolve in order to remain relevant in the face of new challenges.

Indeed, this ability to adapt and evolve is one of the strengths of a democratic system.

In this regard, capacity building and strengthening democratic institutions is key.

Efforts that are being carried out at the national level should be supported by other democracies around the world.

What we need is a sincere global partnership to ensure the growing tide of democracy around the world.

Fifth, the consolidation of democracy at the national level cannot be isolated from the wider region.

Indonesia’s democratic transformation over the past decade has been almost mirrored by changes within ASEAN.

This is not a coincidence.

For Indonesia believes that democracy at the national level can only be sustained if it finds a regional milieu that is conducive.

Democratic capacity building should not be confined to domestic institutions only.

Many regions around the world are also investing in regional mechanisms to complement the strengthening of national democratic systems and to promote cooperation in democracy.

In this context, in Southeast Asia, we have strived to ensure that democratic norms and values are embedded into the various institutions of the ASEAN Community, including in its Charter.

To translate the commitment laid out in the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN has developed an ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint which states that “ASEAN’s cooperation in political development aims to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and individual freedoms.”

While admittedly this region still faces many serious hurdles for the advancement of democracy, I firmly believe that the “democratic investment” on our regional mechanism is well spent and can become a catalyst for a democratic transformation of the region.

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We in Indonesia are very proud of our achievements in the development of democracy at home.

Yet, we are always constantly reminded that democracy needs to be nurtured.

Democracy remains an unfinished task.

In this vein, as we consolidate the development of the values and institution s of democracy at home, we seek to share our experience in overcoming the challenges we encountered with countries around the world.

This is the rationale behind our contribution to the present Forum.

I thank you.