Human Rights in Asia

Human Rights in Asia

Edited by Thomas W.D. Davis and Brian Galligan

Does the increasing prominence of Asia also mark a new era for human rights in the region? This timely book uncovers the political drivers behind both recent regional and country-based changes to the recognition, promotion and protection of rights.

Chapter 3: International Networks and Human Rights in Indonesia

Michele Ford

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights, public policy


Michele Ford Discussions of human rights in Indonesia tend to emphasise either their abrogation in regard to particular events and circumstances or the local mechanisms through which an aspect of the international human rights regime is (or is not) implemented. There is a vast and detailed academic and activist literature on the former, providing rich accounts of human rights abuses and local struggles for human rights change. Within the more limited literature on the latter, critics argue that a human rights infrastructure has been developed in response to international pressure with no real intention of addressing ongoing human rights abuses (see, for example, Juwana, 2003; Linton, 2006). More sympathetic accounts assert that, while far from perfect, current human rights mechanisms reflect a genuine and incremental attempt to respond to the demands of citizens, local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the international community, and improve Indonesia’s human rights record (see, for example, Eldridge, 2002). What is missing from this literature is any serious attention to the impact that tensions and inconsistencies within the international rights lobby itself has on rights change at the local level. Scholars have long wrestled with questions regarding the extent to which international norms and covenants and bilateral pressure influence local human rights practice and the mechanisms through which such transformations occur (for example, Donnelly, 1986; Hafner-Burton and Tsutsui, 2005; Vreeland, 2008). It is clear, however, as Risse and Sikkink (1999) have argued, that a crucial factor in the diffusion of international human rights norms is the establishment...

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