“Indonesian nationalism and international law”
Internationalism cannot flower if it is not rooted in the soil of nationalism, and nationalism cannot flower if it does not grow in the garden of internationalism.” In one of his many powerful speeches, President Soekarno reiterated the fundamental relations between Indonesian nationalism and how it should interact in international fora.
In many foreign policy challenges facing Indonesia today, the public often sees all issues solely from the Indonesian interest point of view with a strong sense of nationalism. The rising tension in the North Natuna Sea with China, the Flight Information Region (FIR) takeover from Singapore, and law enforcement with regards to illegal fishing by neighbouring countries has primarily been viewed in the lens of nationalism and solely on a national interest point of view, without much care about international law.
Indeed, in the international legal discourse, there are a lot of different views and opinions regarding the relationship between state domestic policy and international law. The American jurist, Eric Posner from the University of Chicago argues that states should follow international law only when it serves their self-defined national interest. United States (US) President Donald Trump happens to be a believer of this view.
However, thankfully, it seems that this is not the majority view amongst international scholars in the US and the rest of the world. Most of them still believe that international laws exist and therefore should be respected.
It is interesting to see how Indonesian scholars and practitioners view the rule of international law historically and where it will lead in the future.
Historically speaking, Indonesia has always been a firm believer in the rule of international law. Since the country proclaimed its independence in 1945, Indonesia has sought recognition in the international forum through international law mechanisms.
Even further, Indonesia has inherited the spirit of international law and anti-colonialism in its constitution. The document stipulates that independence is the inalienable right of all nations, therefore, all colonialism must be abolished in this world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice.