SSTC: A New Paradigm of International Development Cooperation
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 05:15
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SSTC: A New Paradigm of International Development Cooperation
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An interview with Dr Rizal Sukma, Indonesian Ambassador To The United Kingdom


In this Chapter, Rizal Sukma, Indonesian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and International Maritime organization (IMO) was sharing his perspective on Indonesia’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) during interview through video conference on 22nd July 2016 in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. Attending as interviewers were representatives of NCT of SSTC from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of State Secretariat, and Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas of the Republic of Indonesia.

Talking about Indonesia’s SSTC programs, Rizal Sukma’s name is rarely mentioned although he is not a new actor in Indonesia’s international cooperation, especially within the context of SSTC. In 2014, he was involved in NCT’s study in collaboration with Centre for strategic and International studies (CSIS), and supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) about the Policy Implementation and Funding Partnership strategy of SSTC.  The result of the study then became one of references to formulate the national Medium term development Plan (RPJMN) 2015-2019. He also contributed in the development of foreign politics policy, since he was in Jokowi’s presidential election team in charge for the issue. Other than that, Rizal Sukma had organized activities related to SSTC initiated by non-government parties. The ambassador was also actively involved in various activities of SSTC conducted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs. such as Bali democracy Forum (in cooperation with the Institute for Peace and democracy), and sharing knowledge on democracy with Egypt and Tunisia, as a prominent program in public diplomacy context. 

International Cooperation in Rizal Sukma's perspective

“Indonesia’s SSTC in its nomenclature is still considered as an instrument of public diplomacy. Is it only meant to escalate Indonesia’s image or does it have more strategic roles?”

The Indonesian intellectual who was once listed on the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine believed that now is the time for international cooperation to be strategically regulated and managed. International development cooperation should not only be designed to escalate state image or international reputation, but is also expected to increase national economic status (as an economic diplomacy instrument); therefore conventional tools of diplomacy should be reduced or replaced with more relevant ones, aligned with national economic development and the current era. In this case, Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to have more strategic role in SSTC, as it has strong dimensional of international relations and strong awareness of historical framework to support international development agenda.


New Face of  international Development Cooperation in SSTC


Regarding the international cooperation situation, SSTC is viewed to offer a new paradigm to stakeholders, especially actors in SSTC. SSTC is presented as a new face of more equal cooperation through partnership concepts of triangular cooperation. Rizal Sukma emphasized the equal partnership model as a more relevant answer to current development needs. This model enables every country to actively and proportionally contribute, to show their solidarity as southern Countries that are committed to international development.

“So the relevance of SSTC can be seen through the shifting paradigm on foreign assistance (mechanism) that still needs to be promoted, especially through increasing roles of countries like Indonesia and other Asian Countries.”

Indonesia is a New Emerging Partner in SSTC

Rizal Sukma said that Indonesia’s international diplomacy achievement has shown its accomplishment. The rising position indicated that Indonesia experienced national economic increase and was recognized as a reliable development partner. He highlighted the importance of strategy and tools that enabled Indonesia to contribute more significantly. According to his study related to SSTC, it was found that to support a more strategic role of Indonesia, more organized, clearer, and more systemized regulation and structure are needed, one of them is through the establishment of a single agency.

Dreaming about Single Entity

After more than 30 years of involvement in international development cooperation, are we ready to bring the idea of SSTC single institutional entity into reality? To ease the articulation and  implementation of Indonesia’s SSTC strategy, strong coordination among line ministries is needed. Utilizing single agency has been projected as the bridge for government in managing cooperation more effectively, focused, and in maximizing its impact together with relevant line ministries and institution to answer coordination challenges and to increase efficiency of SSTC’s financial resources. In this case, Rizal Sukma considered institutional restructuration which enables Ministry of Foreign Affairs to serve as center of this coordination. Other than that, this is also aligning the relations with external partners.

“Study I conducted about international development cooperation by Washington DC and Brazil showed that coordination becomes one of the obstacles.”


Projecting Indonesia’s Future Within Framework of SSTC

In the future, Rizal Sukma expected there will be improvements in the framework of Indonesia’s international cooperation under sstC. these could be achieved through:

Strengthening of indonesia’s SSTC legitimation: Strengthening the legal side can emphasize the relevance of SSTC implementation for Indonesia and southern partners. This includes Institutional regulation and working structure of SSTC. In this point, Rizal Sukma recommended if the revision of Foreign Affairs Regulation 1999 is still far from possible, this could be accommodated through establishment of a Presidential decree.

Adjustment of national economic priority with international evelopment program: Indonesia’s SSTC should cover all interests/ priorities of Indonesia’s economic development, along with the interest of southern partner and/or donor proportionally

• Enhancement of SSTC’s functions: Indonesia’s SSTC should be positioned not only as tools of public diplomacy, but also to be directed towards politic and economic diplomacy which bring national development. Ensuring SSTC’s components in every implementation of economic function and program enhancement, not only in development issues, could be a strategic step taken by the government.

• Strengthening involvement of private stakeholders: The involvement of the private sector could improve program effectiveness, if only the government could enlighten the private sector on SSTC’s relevance; therefore the government needs to identify which private sector to be involved, to create cooperation with them, and also to support them to independently follow up on business opportunities after the implementation of SSTC.

• Creating a forum for emerging donor country: Rizal Sukma recommended forming a forum in which donor countries could learn from each other’s experience, especially in managing international development cooperation.



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