Indonesia has long been said to be the ‘natural born leader’ or ‘first among equals’ within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ‘leadership’ role of Indonesia dates back to the establishment of ASEAN in 1967. The end of konfrontasi (confrontation) and Indonesia’s willingness to join ASEAN were critical to ASEAN’s creation. This, in turn, served President Suharto’s goal to portray Indonesia as a constructive neighbor.1 As Dewi Fortuna Anwar argues, following ASEAN’s formation, ‘Indonesia’s restraint, plus its substantial contribution to the regional cooperation, … earned the country the respect and recognition of the other members as a primus inter pares’ or ‘first among equals’.2 However, the establishment of ASEAN has also been interpreted as an effort to constrain Indonesian hegemony in Southeast Asia. Therefore, as a form of consent to this, Suharto’s policy towards the organization was also influenced by a desire to reassure its regional partners.3 While Indonesia became somewhat introverted following the 1997–98 East Asian Financial Crisis and associated collapse of President Suharto’s New Order regime, the consolidation of stability, economic growth, and democratic values saw Indonesia once again emerge as an active leader in ASEAN.
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- Foreign Affair
- Foreign Minister
- United Nations Security Council
- Southeast Asian Regionalism
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© 2015 Christopher B. Roberts and Erlina Widyaningsih
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Roberts, C.B., Widyaningsih, E. (2015). Indonesian Leadership in ASEAN: Mediation, Agency and Extra-Regional Diplomacy. In: Roberts, C.B., Habir, A.D., Sebastian, L.C. (eds) Indonesia’s Ascent. Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137397416_13
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