In Indonesia competing cultural and legal norms have been an obstacle to the acceptance of human rights. Security actors had a predominantly instrumental approach to human rights for at least the first decade after democratization, leaving room for covert violations. Working Paper No. 40 “From Alien to Inalienable? Changing Attitudes about Human Rights in the Indonesian Security Sector” therefore analyzes the extent to which human rights have been accepted by Indonesian military and police officers since democratization in 1999.
Author Philip Lorenz finds that few accept human rights fully but most pay at least lip service. Human rights have not been adopted as universal, are considered alienable or alien to Indonesia. Where security forces embrace an active role as defenders of human rights, there remains a gap in human rights protection. Marginalized groups suffer most from the resulting enforcement failure caused by competing normative convictions and unclear legislation. Future advocacy attempts should stress the active role of security forces in the pursuit of a comprehensive human rights regime and consider possible tensions between individual convictions and the universal claims of the international human rights regime.