The Role and Conduct of the Military

The Role and Conduct of the Military is an important component in the Indonesia Programme’s portfolio.

The Indonesia Programme seeks to provide substantial inputs on human rights and the law of armed conflict to the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) through trainings and other capacity building activities.

Field simulations are a regular part of TNI trainings. Photo: Indonesia Programme

A professional military

After an initial period of relation building and monitoring of the steps taken towards reform, cooperation with the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) first materialised as joint activities in 2006. Since then, a truly positive climate of cooperation has developed.

The regional conflicts that plagued Indonesia after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, as well as the national tribunals (Human Rights Courts) that was set up in Indonesia after the withdrawal from East Timor in 1999, could be seen as the contextual background which led to the initiation of this cooperation.

Legislation coming into place after 2004 draws attention to the need for the TNI to respect democracy; human rights; national law; international law and the welfare of the people. These laws also underline that a professional soldier is one that follows the principles of democracy; civil supremacy; human rights; national law and ratified international law.

Further, in a ministerial decree it is stated that defence and security operations should be conducted in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and other parts of international law including international customary law and human rights law that is understood to be universal.

From the mid-2000s a repositioning of the TNI from appearing as the defenders of Suharto’s personalised regime, to becoming a tool of the state where defence policies are decided by a democratically elected government has gradually taken place.

Human Rights - not an obstance to effective military operations

Current counter insurgency theory has played into how the Indonesia Programme's projects on human rights and military operations have been directed.

Realising that repression of the local population in a conflict area only strengthens the support for insurgents opens up for the perspective that human rights are not an obstacle to the carrying out of effective military operations.

On the contrary, a military organisation taking visible measures aimed at abiding by human rights standards has a far better chance of winning the population over, than one which simply strives to kill as many insurgents as possible.

Courses in Human Rights and the Law of Armed Conflict

The cooperation with the TNI has primarily focused on the Army, and the units which interact most with the civilian population.

The activities are organized in cooperation with the Programme’s Indonesian partner FRR Law Office. Also the Norwegian Defence Forces offers much appreciated support by providing military instructors to trainings and courses.

The courses have been held for troops under the territorial commands in Aceh, Maluku, Papua, as well as for the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (KOSTRAD) and the Army's Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS).

Published Aug. 22, 2014 1:45 PM - Last modified June 10, 2016 9:08 AM