Anggota DPR Mewakili Siapa?

DPR adalah lembaga negara yang secara mentereng berhak menggunakan nama “Perwakilan Rakyat”. Tapi apakah benar setiap anggota yang duduk sebagai wakil rakyat itu benar-benar mampu menjalankan fungsi sebagai wakil rakyat dalam menyusun undang-undang, anggaran, maupun dalam melakukan pengawasan?

Agenda Pembangunan Pasca-2015

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) akan selesai pada tahun 2015 atau tinggal 2 tahun lagi. Beberapa bulan terkahir ini, Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa (PBB)disibukkan dengan penyusunan Post-2015 Development Agenda.

IGI Sebagai Perangkat Reformasi Birokrasi

Dalam rangka mengukur kemajuan ditingkat provinsi, lembaga Partnership for Governance Reform atau biasa disebut dengan nama singkatnya Partnership, melakukan pemeringkatan Tatakelola Pemerintahan (governance) di 33 Provinsi.

Indonesia Governance Index: Tata Kelola Provinsi Jateng Alami Kemajuan

Permasalahan tata kelola kebijakan publik Pemerintah Provinsi Jawa Tengah mengalami kemajuan. Ditandai dengan hasil pemeringkatan yang dituangkan dalam indeks tata kelola pemerintahan Indonesia atau Indonesia Governance Index (IGI).

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Indonesia and Australia: Improving Perceptions and Creating Opportunities

By Agung Wasono
In 1994, Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating once said, during his visit to Jakarta, “No country is more important to Australia than Indonesia. If we fail to get this relationship right, and nurture and develop it, the whole web of our foreign relations is incomplete.”
Last month, I had the privilege of interviewing more than 50 candidates – shortlisted from hundreds of applicants – for CAUSINDY 2017.
I was amazed by the passion of the selected candidates, as they all want to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia.
When I asked them to elaborate more about current situation of bilateral relationship, most of them argued that public perception plays important role in shaping relationship between the two countries.
They also argued that getting to know each other better as a first step is crucial to strengthening business-to-business and people-to-people relationship, which will in turn, boost culture, education, security, and economic cooperation. 
The state of the relationship 
Despite distracting incidents, such as the recent suspension of military cooperation earlier this year, it can be said that the relationship between Australia and Indonesia is somewhat on the right track. The 2017 Lowy Institute Poll reveals that 52 per cent of Australians trust in Indonesia as one of the global powers compared with the United States (20 per cent) and Russia (38 per cent).
However, only 27 per cent of Australians agree overall that Indonesia is a democracy. One explanation for this may be Australians’ continuing lack of awareness about Indonesia. Notwithstanding this lack of familiarity, a large majority of Australians (91 per cent) said that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is important.
Current data show that Indonesians attitude to Australia is very good. A comprehensive Australia-Indonesia Perception Report 2016 by The Australia-Indonesia Centre found that 87 per cent of Indonesians had a favourable perception of Australia, including 22 per cent very favourable. On the other hand, only 43 per cent of Australians had a favourable impression of Indonesia including 6 per cent very favourable.
H.E Paul Grigson, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia gives the easiest example of a huge impact from the cooperation between two countries which people sometimes do not realise: Indomie. Every time we eat Indomie we are eating Australian product because the biggest Australian export to Indonesia is wheat, $1.2billion a year worth, not cattle.
The recent data also show that around 8,500 Indonesians study in Australian universities each year – this makes up almost a quarter of all Indonesians studying overseas. There are also 50 per cent more Indonesians studying in Australia than in all of Europe combined.
It is also notable that Indonesian visitors spend more days in Australia staying on average for 16.3 days at a time compared to Australian visitors to Indonesia who stay for an average 9.2 days. The number of Indonesians visiting Australia in 2016 was about 156,000 and these visitors generated more than AU$600 million for Australia’s economy. However, the number is quite low compared to 1,128,000 Australians visitors to Indonesia in the same year.
Creating opportunities and better perceptions together
Some argue that very strict Australian visa policy contributed to a low number of Indonesian visitors. However, Australian Embassy in Indonesia has approved more than 95 per cent of visa applications for Indonesians every year. Also, the cost of Indonesians applying for visitor visa to Australia is at AUD163, lower than the cost of applications to other major developed countries, such as the United Kingdom (AUD167), New Zealand (AUD193), and the United States (AUD220). In addition, Australia has issued three-year multiple entry visas for Indonesian visitors since last year. This policy, therefore, signals Australia’s recognition of Indonesia as its closest and most important neighbor for tourism and business.
As next steps, spreading more good news from Indonesia to Australians and from Australia to Indonesians should be on the agenda of both countries. Australians’ view of Indonesia is often swayed by what is reported in the media, which usually taints Indonesia as one of sources of terrorism and radical Islamists. These stories often exaggerate the real situation and puts a stigma on Indonesia among Australians – we need to address and fix this problem.
Another intervention that we can make is through education. Basic education about Australia should be improved in Indonesian schools and basic education about Indonesia should also be improved in Australian schools.
If both countries can work together on this, Australia and Indonesia relations will be stronger in the future.
Agung is CAUSINDY Alumni 2015. He is currently working for Australian Embassy in Jakarta as Senior Program Manager Quality and Risk Unit. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta or the Australian Government.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

An Organisational Critique of the International Monetary Fund: The Case of Governance and the Effectiveness of the IMF

International Monetary Fund

This article discusses the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its organisational strengths and weaknesses. The IMF is one of the two Bretton Woods Institutions, the other one is the World Bank, which serves to promote international financial stability and established by 44 countries at a UN conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA in July 1944 (IMF 2016: 1). The primary purpose of the IMF is ensuring the stability of the global monetary system to enable mutual transaction between countries and their citizens (IMF 2016: n.p). This short article focuses on the internal governance within the IMF particularly the quota system, the IMF’s conditionality, the relation of the IMF and the neoliberal agenda, and the reforms within the organisation.

I argue that the IMF has internal governance problems especially in its quota system. The quota system which also determines the voting rights is unjust in the sense that developed countries, which can afford to contribute more funds, generally have greater power and control over the organisation. In addition, the IMF’s conditionality and its Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) have failed to overcome poverty in developing countries. It is even responsible for causing the worsening crisis in many countries. Therefore, this article will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the IMF. The weaknesses of the IMF are analysed in terms of the good governance, the IMF’s conditionality, and the neoliberal thinking of the IMF. The analysis on the strengths of the IMF focuses on the reforms that have been done to increase the global acceptance of the IMF. The last section discusses the conclusion and the recommendation.

Governance within the IMF: the quota system

There have been criticisms against the IMF due to the closed and undemocratic process within the institution. One of the main criticisms relates to the ‘quota system’ of voting rights or how countries represented in the IMF. Each country has different quotas which affect their voting weight and access to financing in the IMF (McDonald 2007: 1749). The quotas are given to member countries according to the formula which is a weighted average of gross domestic product (GDP), economic variability, and international reserves or financial contributions to the IMF (IMF 2016: 1). Schild (in Strand and Retzl 2016: 419) argues that the quota system is the result of the Bretton Woods meeting in which the United States wanted to secure a veto power within the World Bank and the IMF despite concerns from developing countries.

Moreover, the quota system can affect the relationship of the member countries with the IMF in several ways. First, the subscriptions. A member country must pay its subscription prior to joining the IMF and the amount paid will determine the quota. The IMF decides the maximum contribution of a member to the IMF’s financial resources based mainly on its size in the world economy (IMF 2016: n.p). Second, the voting power. Given this formula, major developed countries have greater power and control over the institution as they have more voting influence. Currently, the six biggest powers in the IMF are the United States, Japan, China, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom (IMF 2016: n.p). The United States, with 16.54% voting share, has a veto power over the most important decisions which require special majorities of 85% of the votes and this creates governance problems within the IMF (Leech 2002). Third, access to financing. The amount of loan to members is determined by their quota. The more quota a member has, the more amount of financing they can obtain (IMF 2016: n.p).

As the implication of the quota system, the IMF faces other governance problems including legitimacy and participation or ownership within the organisation. Woods (2000: 836) argues that the IMF faces a tradeoff between legitimacy and effectiveness in its decision-making processes.

The IMF can claim to represent almost all countries in the world but this claim is problematic because inequality among its members has widened due to an unfair voting system. This creates problems in transparency and accountability since many developing countries have little access to information and decision-making processes (Woods 2000: 836). In addition, Rapkin and Strand (2006: 305) argue that the perception of unequal participation has undermined the effectiveness and legitimacy of the IMF. This is because countries are less likely to fully comply with the decision of the institution and they might perceive to only have little ‘ownership’ in the institution. The quota system also makes developing countries, individually and collectively, lack of a meaningful participation in the IMF’s governance. Strand and Retzl (2016: 415) analyse that, whether using the old or the new quota system, the United States still holds the largest share of voting power.

The IMF’s conditionality

In order to ensure the stability of the global monetary system, the IMF conducts a ‘surveillance’ to monitor its 189 member countries’ economic and financial policies (Karns et al 2015: 393; IMF 2016: 1). Following the surveillance, the IMF provides technical assistance and policy advice to assist countries in building their economies. It also provides loans to member countries to maintain or fix their economic conditions (IMF 2016: 1). The IMF’s conditionality means that, in order to request financial support from the IMF, a member country should agree to adjust its economic policies to overcome the monetary problems by preparing the Memoranda of Economic and Financial Policies. The document describes the policies the member country intends to implement to restore the balance of payment viability and to maintain macroeconomic stability (IMF 2016: n.p).

The IMF’s conditionality is also subject to criticisms because there is no evidence that it can lead a country to economic growth and poverty reduction. Besides, its general prescription (one-size-fits-all) is not necessarily applicable to different cases in different countries.

Dreher (2009: 256) argues that the IMF conditionality is ineffective and there is no evidence that it makes an economic recovery program successful or enhances ownership. Williamson (2004: 7) argues that the IMF’s policy in mid-1990s to urge countries to liberalise their capital flows to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was responsible for causing the 1997 Asian crisis. In addition, Bird (2001: 46) finds that the move toward greater conditionality may have negative impacts on both the economic out-turn and the incentive for countries. It may also have negative consequences by limiting the IMF’s ability to assist countries in getting out of the crisis.   

The issue of conditionality is fundamental since it is the principle modality which affects countries’ macroeconomic policies. In channeling their funds to the members a recipient country should agree to adjust their economic policies and programs and meet the IMF’s standard known as the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). Easterly (2003: 388) argues that the SAPs have reserved the development success of the 1960s and 1970s because the programs are not really targeted at reducing poverty but rather subsidizing the middle class, if not the upper class. In addition, Easterly (2000) also evaluates the correlation between the IMF and the World Bank programs on poverty and finds that there is no evidence for a direct effect of SAPs on growth.

One of the critiques to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is given by Rioja and Valev (2004). In their study, Rioja and Valev (2004: 443) find that the policy prescription package, introduced by the IMF and the World Bank, does not work because different regions tend to have different effects on growth when given the same financial policy treatments. In addition, Easterly (2003: 370-387) examines four currency crises: Mexico in late 1980s and Indonesia, Thailand, and Russia in 1996-1998 and finds that growth is negative in all cases and, except for Indonesia, the increase of poverty is fairly modest.  

Meltzer (1998) argues that the Asian crisis was due to the failure of the solutions given by the IMF. For example, by mid-January 1998, the stock market in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia had lost about 75% of their value one year before and the Indonesian currency lost 70% of their value whereas South Korean and Malaysian currencies fell to 50% in the same period (Meltzer 1998: 268). Furthermore, the financial crisis in Indonesia even escalated into a political and leadership crisis due to the errors made by the IMF especially the elimination of petroleum subsidies. It therefore helped to destabilize the political system in Indonesia (Grenville 2004: 83; Stiglitz 2003: 205).

The IMF and neoliberal agenda

Another criticism of the IMF is in regards to the relation between the institution and the neo-liberal economic agenda. The capital-market liberalisation is one of the most controversial aspects of globalization and the IMF is one of the most influential organisations that support and push the agenda around the world (Karns et al 2015: 393). Furthermore, Onis and Senses (2005: 263) contend that the Bretton Woods institutions, like the IMF, have aggressively propagated a set of neoliberal economic policies known as the Washington Consensus. The Washington Consensus consists of ten reforms agenda which mainly focus on the market liberalisation, privatisation, deregulation, and redirection of public spending from subsidies toward pro-growth and pro-poor programs (Williamson 2004: 3). In addition, Canova (1999: 1549) contends that the IMF, along with other western multilateral organisations, has formulated the neoliberal agenda that emphasises the importance of private investment and underestimates the public-sector oriented prescriptions.

Brenner and Theodore (2002: 361) state that there are signs that the IMF is aggressively implementing the neoliberal goals with their advice on deregulation, trade liberalisation, free flow of capital and investment. The world is now being shaped by the Neoliberalism as the dominant ideology of capitalist globalisation (Brenner and Theodore 2002: 359). Furthermore, the Washington consensus or the ‘US model’ becomes an important tool to enforce the neoliberalism in developing countries (Palley 2005: 25). Unfortunately, the neoliberalism has failed in fighting poverty and ensuring economic growth. Stiglitz (2004: 62-63), a former chief economist at the World Bank, argues that the capital-market liberalisation advocated by the IMF often leads to increased economic volatility instead of economic growth or higher investment.

In line with the above criticisms, the IMF’s loans and its neoliberal thinking contribute to spreading financial crisis in emerging markets. Meltzer (in Nunnenkamp 1999: 3) argues that the IMF’s loans to crisis-ridden countries such as Brazil and Mexico triggered further financial crisis in the Asia. In fact, neoliberalism was also responsible for the financial crisis around the world such as in Mexico, East Asia, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Argentina (Saad-Filho 2005: 116).

Quota reforms within the IMF

One of the critical strengths of the IMF is its ability to reform itself in order to adapt with new global development especially in the financial sector. Despite criticisms against the IMF, this institution has also undergone some reforms. Tyson (2016) argues that the reforms within the IMF is necessary in order to boost its legitimacy as an international financial institution. In addition, Kenen (2007: 3) and Karns et al (2015: 394) argue that the reform within the organisation is generally inspired by the emerging underrepresented countries such as China and India which now play an important role in the world economy. As the world financial system has evolved, the quota system must also reflect and adapt with the new changes and development of financial and economic strengths of the IMF’s members.

Although its current quota system is still subject to criticisms, it is important to note that the IMF has changed its quota system several times. It will possibly change again in the near future owing to the global development and internal concerns. Furthermore, Bryant (2008: 1) contends that, to be an effective organisation, the reform within the IMF cannot operate with one-nation-one-vote system such as that of the UN General Assembly in which a large nation has a larger vote share, considering it also has greater responsibilities.

The quota formula has changed four times. The original formula, agreed at the Bretton Woods Conference, used five variables and then it changed in 1962/63 to increase the quotas of small and open economies. In 1983 the GDP variable replaced the national income variable. The last change in the formula is that it contained four variables in 2008 (50% GDP, 30% openness, 15% economic variability, and 5% international reserve) (IMF 2011: 4; IMF 2016). The 2008 quota reform has adopted several principles i.e: being simple and transparent, being consistent with the roles of quotas and reflecting global trends, being acceptable to the membership and feasible to implement (IMF 2011: 2-3). Ridrigo de Rato, the managing director of the IMF, proposed the IMF 2008 quota reform in 2006 by asking the executive board to do the IMF surveillance and to distribute the IMF quota system and voting share (IMF 2005; Kenen 2007: 15). Finally, in 2010, the reform shifted more quota from over-represented to under-represented members and also increased the quota of the emerging developing countries such as Brazil, China, India, and Russia (IMF 2015).

Openness and Transparency within the IMF

The IMF used to be criticised for lacking transparency and accountability especially by the late 1980s when institutional transparency was not on the organisation’s agenda (Houtven 2002: 58). The major reform to strengthen the accountability of the organisation was taken in 2001 with the establishment of the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO). It operated independently of the IMF management and also brought a mission to support the institutional governance and oversight (EOI no year: n.p; Houtven 2002: 60).

Since then, IMF has made public most of its activities, reports, lending activities, and international policy deliberations (IMF 2001: n.p). The IMF reform also contributed significantly to making the member countries more transparent and accountable. The country transparency on the economic and financial data, especially on the external vulnerability, is important as part of the efforts to prevent future crisis through early detection system (IMF 2001). At the same time, such transparency also makes countries transparent and accountable to their people.

The transparency and accountability of the organisation can be seen from the contents of its website ( The IMF’s website also releases Letter of Intent, Memoranda of Economic Policies, Policy Framework Paper and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) as part of the prerequisites for loans release (see IMF’s website under the title Country’s Policy Intentions Documents Type). In addition, such transparency and openness give significant benefits to the IMF to be able to influence the public debate and to enhance the IMF’s legitimacy by making it more accountable (IMF 2009: 2).

Furthermore, the transparency and accountability reform within the IMF have been implemented for the investment activities of Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). Truman (2009: 439) argues that the transparency and accountability of SWF is important to be accountable to the citizen of the home country and also to the government and citizen of the countries targeted for the investment.  

Conclusion and recommendations

The IMF is obviously the organisation with extensive number of member countries. However, its legitimacy cannot only be seen from the number of its members but also the implementation of its internal governance. Despite its efforts to reform the organisation especially in the quota system or voting share as well as its openness and transparency, several weaknesses are apparent within the IMF governance system. The IMF quota system, mostly based on the economic scale of the country, still favours developed countries especially the United States. This creates unequal relations among members of the IMF particularly for developing countries in which they have little access to decision making processes. In addition, the IMF conditionality and Structural Adjustment Programs which lead to neoliberal agenda have not proven successful in reducing poverty and increasing economic growth. Instead, some evidence shows that the solution given by the IMF have made even worse crisis in many countries.

Therefore, it is crucial for the IMF to reform its quota system and find the right weighting system which will allow developing countries to participate actively in the decision making processes. Granting a ‘veto’ to a country, in this case the United States, is problematic and it should be abandoned by cutting down the voting share owned by particular countries or cutting down the need of 85% vote share for important decisions. In addition, it is important for IMF to base its solution more on evidence rather than one-size-fits-all neoliberal ideology for all different types of crisis. By relying on evidence in working with the member countries and considering their social and political conditions, the IMF can work together with countries to come up with the right solutions to stabilise the national economy, reduce poverty and increase growth instead of merely pushing countries to liberalise their markets and cut public spending.***

Written by: Agung Wasono (October 2016)


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Monday, June 27, 2016

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and State Sovereignty

Crisis in Syria - Implementation of R2P 

This article discusses the criticism to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and more specifically on the debate of its relationship to State sovereignty. This article is divided into four main parts: the first part discusses the background of R2P including its pillars and principles, the second part discusses the different understanding of sovereignty in the context of national and international relations, the third part explores the debates on R2P and sovereignty, and last but not least is the conclusion. Overall, I found that criticisms to R2P are mostly addressed to its imperfect implementation instead of its principles. I argue that the difference concepts of State sovereignty should not be contested each other. In addition, R2P should also be understood in a comprehensive approach by considering all pillars and principles.


The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) according to the 2005 UN World Summits, is the responsibility of the international community to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (UN 2005: 30). There are three pillars of R2P as the guide for the implementation which agreed by the General Assembly meeting in January 2009, are: State responsibility to protect their populations, the responsibility of international community to assist states in fulfilling this responsibility, and the responsibility of international community to use diplomatic, humanitarian, and other means to protect populations from these crimes (UN 2009: 10-22). These pillars are nonsequential and are equally weighted (Bellamy 2010: 143). Moreover, in specific case in which military intervention need to be implemented, there are six principles that must be satisfied, i.e: (1) just cause or there must be an extraordinary level of human rights violations, (2) right intention to stop human suffering, (3) proportional means, (4) last resort after all non-military options have been considered, (5) reasonable prospects or likelihood to success, and (6) right authority from the UN Security Council (Hamilton 2006: 290-291).

R2P and State Sovereignty: the dilemma of intervention 

The conservative meaning of State sovereignty is related to States’ power over their territories, governance, law, and citizens. Walker (1988, as cited by Thomson 1995: 213) explores that the debate among realist and liberal independence about the concept of sovereignty has rescued the concept from something abstract onto something practical. State sovereignty, for liberal independence theorists, is defined as State’s power to control activities and populations within their territory, whereas for realists, the very meaning of sovereignty is the State’s ability to make authoritative decisions and it necessarily entails nonintervention as a logical precondition for the existence of a multiple State system (Thomson 1995:213; Glanville 2014: 13).

In the context of international relations, the old meaning of sovereignty has changed and State’s borders have become blurred. Globalisation and the rise of international laws and treaties, as well as regional organisations have made the conservative definition of State sovereignty is no longer the only definition available (Sassen 2005: 535). In addition, Araujo (2000: 1476) contends that within the framework of international law, the doctrine of sovereignty cannot be separated from the relationship between the sovereignty of a State and the sovereignty of peoples. Therefore, the ability of people to exercise their sovereignty – such as basic human rights – within a State is crucial.

Moreover, when it comes to R2P, State sovereignty has completely different meaning. Instead of being a virtue, sovereignty becomes a responsibility of a State to protect their people. ICISS (2001: 13) argues that re-characterisation of sovereignty as a control to sovereignty as responsibility is needed in both internal and external duties. The UN (2014) defines sovereignty as a charge of responsibility that holds states accountable for the welfare of their people and it’s no longer exclusively protects states from external interference. Therefore, the duty and responsibility to protect populations from genocide and mass atrocities lie first with the State, but the international community has a role in preventing genocide and mass atrocities that cannot be blocked by the invocation of sovereignty (UN 2014).

Criticism to R2P

Since its adoption in 2005, R2P doctrine has become part of the diplomatic tools of humanitarian works used by international organisations, governments, independent commissions, and NGOs to justify behavior and demand international action (Bellamy 2010: 144). Since then, there have been many examples of the implementation of R2P. There are at least ten situations in which R2P has been invoked by UN, State, or coalition of states (Bellamy 2010: 149-150; Williams and Bellamy 2012: 273). However, intervention in Libya in 2011 was the first and the only military force operation authorized by UN Security Council through UN Resolution no. 1973 (Williams and Bellamy 2012: 273).

Despite its implementation in many countries since more than ten years ago, R2P and its implementation have been criticized by some countries, scholars, and individuals. The international debates about the role of R2P in preventing genocide and mass atrocities cannot be separated from its relation to State sovereignty. Williams and Bellamy (2012: 283) argue that the debate on the relationship between R2P and State sovereignty usually around the legality and morality of using military intervention and more specifically in the absence of UN Security Council authorization. Welsh (2009: 2-3) states that enshrining the practice of intervening other States’ internal affairs as a right in international law was strongly opposed but then during the latter part of 20th century in which international human rights instruments emerged and vulnerability of civilians increased, the discussion shifted to a more permissive context.

Advocates of R2P contend that R2P is the best option available which enables the international community to intervene in a State when they failed to protect their population from genocide and mass atrocities. Gareth Evans – one of the originators of R2P – argues that R2P is critically important to be implemented to prevent states use their sovereignty as “a license to kill” (Evans 2009: 16). Sovereignty, therefore, should be understood as “sovereignty to protect” (Deng 2010; Evans 2008: 36-37). In addition, Caballero-Anthony (2012: 130) contends that R2P is critically important to be operationalized as a comprehensive and multi-level approach (from international to grassroots level) to protect civilians despite continuing skepticism from several countries about pillar three’s implications.

Responding to criticism that R2P breaks State sovereignty, Power (2009: xi) states that instead of trampling their sovereignty, R2P was crafted precisely to protect developing countries from outside interventions by giving national governments the right of first response. Glaville (2014: 217) argues that conventional account of sovereignty is no longer applicable in international relations because it neglects the relationship between sovereignty and responsibility. In addition, Reinold (2013: 8) points out that sovereignty is not an intrinsic value, it ought to be conditional and not absolute.

Bellamy (2015: 82-90) gives several positive reasons why R2P constitutes the most promising way to protect vulnerable populations: First, it commands a global consensus: R2P can move onto a consensus, and consensus comes legitimacy to create social pressures needed to push governments to comply with internationally agreed standards. Second, as R2P grounded in responsible sovereignty, it can engage States to achieve its goals. Third, R2P provides a clear framework for action which offers a useful guide to prevent and respond mass atrocities both a diplomatic tool and a useful guide to action. Fourth, R2P helps make mass atrocity prevention a living reality when UN member states recognized and approved its pillars and principles by establishing Office of Genocide Prevention and R2P within the UN. Fifth, R2P challenges the ideologies that give rise to genocide and mass atrocities, and sixth, R2P calls for a comprehensive partnership for all people and institutions to mobilise their resources to address the problem of mass atrocities.

Moreover, a public opinion study in Arica (covering Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and South Africa) in 2005 concluded that 65 percent of the Africans agreed that UN Security Council has the right to authorize the use of military interventions to prevent genocide and mass atrocities (Chalk et al 2012: 41).

On the other hand, critics to R2P rest on several contentions such as: R2P violates State sovereignty, unclear legal status in world politics, the use of military intervention and the creation of war, double standards in its implementation, and abuse of R2P for other State’s hidden agenda. Moran (2011) states that the new concept of sovereignty as “responsibility” – instead of “rights” or “control” – was introduced to please the United States (US) and its allies to intervene other states’ internal affairs. By changing the meaning of sovereignty from power and control to responsibility, R2P also weakens State sovereignty. 

Loewenstein (2014) gives an example on how R2P has been misused by Western countries when the UN-authorized military intervention to Libya succeeded to kill Muammar Gaddafi and change the regime but current events in which Libya is now divided by civil war and violence is widespread. The intervention has failed and left the country in a worse situation. Moreover, Fahim (2014) reports that after the military intervention, the US and its allies failed to help Libyans achieve either security or democracy. Libyans have left to uncertain future and endless fights. There are also critics that R2P has double standards in its implementation. If the aim of R2P is to prevent genocide and mass atrocities, we never hear the idea from R2P backers implement R2P in Gaza to protect Palestinians from Israeli missiles (Loewenstein 2014).

There are also criticisms when it comes to the UN, Holmes (2014) states that one of the weaknesses of R2P is inaccurate understanding of the role of the UN which is based on the principle of equal sovereignty of all its members. Moreover, Hamilton (2006: 296-297) argues that “in principle” R2P has no problem and supported by a range of international stakeholders, but it has three challenges in the implementation: a lack of political will, a lack of authorization, and a lack of operational capacity. These three challenges become the decisive factors to determine whether some interventions will be succeeded.

Another criticism to R2P is related to the problem of governance within UN Security Council. As the authorization of the use of military force is in UN Security Council, in the implementation phase, it will depend on five – out of 193 countries – permanent members of Security Council only. Holmes (2014) gives an example that R2P would never come to the US since they have a veto on the UN Security Council. The different States’ political interests within the UN Security Council – such as the invocation of R2P in Libya and not in Rwanda and Syria – also lead to uncertain decisions about the use or the absence of R2P in the future (Holmes 2014).

When it comes into military force, Williams and Bellamy (2012) argue that R2P has three main challenges: First, principled disagreement on legal and moral reasons for using military intervention. This disagreement framed around the issue of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. Second, political objections: the objections framed in the political priorities of State’s duties to take care of their internal matters rather than “saving strangers” and also the objection on the use of State’s financial resources. Third, prudential consideration: this objection is mostly related to the assumption that military intervention is likely to create more harm than good.

Looking at different perspectives on R2P above, it can be seen that most of the criticism is addressed to its implementation and not to its pillars and principles. Advocates and opponents of R2P agree that genocide and mass atrocities should be prevented and people everywhere should be protected from those crimes. The critics are also targeted specifically to the third pillar of R2P which gives an opportunity for international community to intervene State sovereignty without national government’s consent.

In my opinion, R2P should be understood comprehensively and the discussion of it should beyond the use of military force. Military force is the last option only if all non-military options have been considered. R2P was criticised due to its imperfect application in decision making, problems occurred during its execution and post operation by using military force. As a result of the imperfect application, R2P is also being blamed for breaching State sovereignty. Sovereignty as “power” and “control” and sovereignty as “responsibility” should not be contested each other in the context of R2P. All pillars of R2P are addressed to strengthen State sovereignty by giving international assistance if the serious problem occurred.


As a concept which ranges from national responsibility and international community assistance to the use of military force, R2P should be understood in a comprehensive approach. There are view criticisms addressed to the pillar and principles of R2P. Criticism appears as a response to narrow understanding and applications of R2P which focus on the use of military force as it breaches State sovereignty. The narrow application will lead to the misuse of the concept and create uncertainty in the future. The next step that should be considered is to have an agreement on how to apply the pillars and principles in a very complex crisis including the possibility to reform the structure and governance within the UN Security Council to engage UN member states in a more inclusive way. *****

Written by: Agung Wasono (May 2016)


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