Indonesia: Rule of Law Challenges

The past decade has witnessed profound social, political and economic change in Indonesia. The country has transformed from an authoritarian regime into one of Asia's most vibrant and decentralised democracies. This transformation is especially remarkable given Indonesia's high vulnerability to natural disasters, its geographical fragmentation and its large ethnically diverse population. In a decade, Indonesia achieved relative political and macroeconomic stability, made important progress toward its Millennium Development Goal targets, graduated from a Middle Income Country status and was welcomed to the fold of the G20. 1

However significant challenges to development remain. Problematic drug use has increased in the last decade, and Indonesia is now a major manufacturer for the growing amphetamine-type stimulant market. The link between drug use and HIV/AIDS remains strong, as statistics indicate that 40% of all HIV/AIDS cases consist of injecting drug users. In addition to drug trafficking, illegal forest crimes and the trade of environmental goods are issues of increasing concern. The Indonesian Department of Forests estimates that in recent years, the country has been losing 1.6 to 2.8 million hectares annually to illegal land and land conversion.

Terrorism remains high on the priority of the UNODC and the Government of Indonesia after the Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005 and the attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta in 2009. UNODC applauded the Government's significant progress in ending the separatist conflicts in Aceh and Papua, which has helped to reduce terrorist attacks by separatists. Of late, the large scale radicalization of students enrolled in Pesantrens (Islamic schools) and the subsequent spreading of such influence in regular universities remains a cause for concerns.

As with other countries in South East Asia, Indonesia suffers as a prime source, transit and destination for illegally trafficked and smuggled persons. Patterns are further exacerbated by internal strife, such as underemployment, poverty and organised crime. Many efforts to address current security threats are challenged by the prominent role that corruption plays in the day-to-day running of the nation. In 2011, Indonesia was ranked 100 out of 183 counties on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, although this was an improvement on the previous year. Indonesia has advanced a strong institutional reform program over the past 10 years. Indonesians have successfully held elections, institutionalized democratic politics, made multiple improvements to their constitution and initiated a comprehensive program of decentralization reforms. An anti-corruption agenda has moved to the centre of Government reforms with the establishment of anti-corruption institutions. However, combating corruption is still a struggle.

Susceptibility to corruption flows from systemic weaknesses in governance. Government of Indonesia ongoing efforts are required to strengthen flaws in law enforcement agencies and transparency mechanisms. The Government initiatives, such as the Corruption Eradication Commission has contributed positively to Indonesia's fight against corruption, their full effectiveness remains impaired by deep-rooted challenges.


1UNPDF 2011-2015.