The role of non-state actors in South-South and Triangular Cooperation
Thursday, 03 March 2016 04:16

The second half of the twentieth century has evidenced the extraordinary advancement of numbers of international organizations. Now, scholars argue how globalization has influenced the interdependency of actors in international relations. Nation states do not hold a dominant role in international relations anymore, hence non-state actors raised to gain more and more importance in shaping interconnectivity between different actors of international relations. In international development cooperation, this trend has been observed for decades. Non-State Actors (NSA), namely international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), private sectors including multinational corporations, and philanthropies have now evolved to show themselves as more influential actors. This essay aims to contribute to the discussions of how NSA may contribute to the enhancement of international development cooperation taking studies in Indonesia, particularly under the framework of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC). In doing so, this essay will examine the challenges and opportunities of the NSA’s role in advancing SSTC in Indonesia.




South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) has recently become a trend in development cooperation between developing countries. In Indonesia, the movement that was first called Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) established some five decades ago, now being revitalized to become SSTC. This term was formulated and attested through establishment of the National Coordinating Team on SSTC (NCT-SSTC) in 2010. The NCT consists of the Ministry of State Secretariat (MoSS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas), and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) with the mandates to coordinate development of SSTC in Indonesia by facilitating the management, supervision, and regulations as well as liaising interconnectivity and information sharing between technical ministries/agencies in Indonesia.


Looking at the shift from TCDC to SSTC, there are in fact not many changes in their modalities. Most of TCDC funding came from developed countries or international governmental organizations (IGOs), while SSTC has twofold of funding mechanisms,  firstly, funding from developed countries or IGOs with more or less equal share from national budget and secondly, funding entirely from national budget. Other difference are, where TCDC was mainly coordinated by MoSS, SSTC has the four pillars of NCT-SSTC, MoSS as coordinator of Indonesian technical cooperation, MoFA as implementer and foreign policy maker, MoF as the financier, and Bappenas as national development planner adapting the program with the national development plan.


Now, where the NSAs can play their roles? In order to get the most out of development cooperation, Indonesia need to utilize all the channels they have. The state is separated into three major actors, the government, civil society organizations (CSOs), and private sectors. In this context, the essay would argue that enabling other two channels for the benefit of development cooperation will further enhance Indonesian SSTC. Here are the reasons as to why other two channels’ (the NSAs) involvement might boost SSTC:

  1. 1. Cost effective

Private sectors’ involvement in development cooperation can be twofold. First providing services for capacity building programs and second to provide funding for such program, through CSR support, for instance. NGOs as one actor of CSOs can contribute as facilitator to development cooperation. These agents are able to work with tight budget and deliver specific targets effectively.

  1. 2. More familiar with developing countries’ environment.

NGOs have many experiences working closely and in the environment in developing countries. They are familiar with the politics and economics as well as cultures in developing countries.

  1. 3. Reaching to the Grassroots Levels

CSOs have the tools needed to work closely, or even blend in to the grassroots level. These tools consist of strategies, technical abilities, human resources, and ideas. They may also hire locals in order to more effectively run their programs and easily connect to the society they are working with. In the context of SSTC, in many cases capacity building programs are visiting villages or community groups where some NGOs have been working with for many years. This has helped programs to gain extra miles, having NGOs facilitating.

  1. 4. Interest Free

Many scholars argue that international development aid was a form of political effort done by developed countries to gain more support for their devilishly bad deeds. A project funding can sometimes come from multiple bilateral partners and many times pull their fund through IGOs. NSAs can work without too much associating themselves with their benefactors, therefore making them interest free and protect them. Consequently development assistance can become more effective in its delivery.


In Indonesia, the challenges of maximizing the role of other two channels for SSTC lay in administrative matters. Firstly, Indonesia had laws and regulations for receiving funds for development assistance from abroad but does not have rules and regulations to enable delivery of development assistance abroad. This creates a problem because Indonesia can accept aid but does not have a platform to deliver the aid. Secondly, there is no legal framework to enable contracting development cooperation with NSAs. Modalities such as Public Private Partnership (PPP) for development cooperation are recognized but have not been utilized. Other mechanism channels, such as philanthropy also face the same fate while some CSOs/NGOs are considered luckier than others.


This could also mean a bigger opportunity for Indonesia as there is a still big room for improvement. A better and improved mechanism for SSTC needed to be formulated as soon as possible. This includes a procedure to involve NSAs in its processes. With a newer and better mechanism will bring SSTC Indonesia to a whole new level in International development cooperation.




Bureau for Technical Cooperation

State Secretariat of__

the Republic of Indonesia__

Jl. Veteran III No. 9__




Ph. +62-21-3846463__

Fax +62-21-3866579__

email: indonesia.sstc@setneg.go.id__