CTBT ratification a chance for Indonesia

20 Februar, 2011 | Source: Jakarta Post

Progress is being made on Indonesia’s idea for a ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), as Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa submitted a bill on the ratification to the House.

In this paper, Muhammad Najib, on Monday Jan. 24, 2011 argued that Indonesia should ratify in order to increase its international reputation. Regardless, it will be difficult to make the large and powerful countries comply.

The idea of ratification was spelled out by Marty, on May 3, 2010 at the opening of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Even though there was no wide response from Indonesians, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, and Michael Douglas, UN Special Envoy on CTBT, praised this initiative.

The pending of ratification by Indonesia of the CTBT, which has already been signed in 1996, seems merely hindered by an administrative obstacle, not political rejection at home. Many also argue that since Indonesia has already ratified the NPT, which is the umbrella of all nuclear non-proliferation treaties, there is no need for the country to ratify the CTBT. In addition, as a non-nuclear weapon state, there is no point in ratifying anyway, as Indonesia does not possess any existing nuclear weapons for testing, in the air, underground, or under the sea. 

Yet, the ratification will boost Indonesia’s independent and active foreign policy and diplomacy, by initiating in at least three opportunities.

First, Indonesia can show its consistency in following up with its commitment on a series of negotiations. Indonesia’s initiative to ratify the CTBT then can be seen as a compliance with the result of previous conferences. The 2000 Review Conference has outlined 13 practical ways for systematic and progressive efforts to implement disarmament obligations of the Treaty. One of the ways is to sign and ratify the CTBT. Indonesia was obliged to follow up the previous result.

Therefore, the CTBT ratification initiative is not “the achievement”. It is a follow-up and indeed represents a more fundamental independent and active foreign policy. The ratification could generate a sense that Indonesia confirms its consistent position on creating an active position to support the nuclear disarmament.

Second, the statement of Marty on Indonesia’s willingness to ratify the CTBT was spelled out in the position that Indonesia speaks both as Indonesia’s representative in the pursuit of national interest and also as a NAM representative for the sake of the movement interest. 

Indonesia’s firm position was driven solely by the stimuli for creating a nuclear free zone. This is indeed an active position that is expected to generate a domino effect inspiring eight other countries — US, Iran, China, North Korea, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, India and Egypt — which have not yet shown their intention to ratify the Treaty. 

Prior to the May conference, in formulating the NAM position, Indonesia has played its active role.In that multilateral diplomacy setting, Indonesia leads the negotiation and compromise of all the member interests in obtaining the lowest common denominator among the NAM members. The New York NPT Review conference is indeed a follow-up negotiation in that sense.

Previously Indonesia has acted as a great compromiser in creating common platforms of 119 interests among the members of NAM. Leadership and active diplomacy were performed during this stage. With its active role in NAM forums, Indonesia has been the head of working groups in nuclear disarmament since 1995. NAM also points to the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and those countries outside the NPT for not retaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals which endanger regional and international peace security particularly in the Middle East.

In order to avoid emerging catastrophic nuclear weapons, NAM suggests that there should be a clear regulation on unimpeded and non-discriminatory transfers of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It is apparent that both Indonesia and NAM share the same interest, which puts them in the same direction in supporting more nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) in all regions of the world.

Lastly, having been selected as the chairman of ASEAN this year, Indonesia should take the lead in maintaining Southeast Asia’s nuclear free zone. All three positions help Indonesia step up its firm independent and active principles, actions similar to so called regional and global players. Though we may not yet be positioned to be so ambitious, nevertheless with the capabilities we have, it makes no sense not to ratify the CTBT and in the process we also actively promote world peace.

Writer: Peni Hanggarini, a lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Paramadina University Jakarta. She is a Fulbright-DIKTI scholar in a PhD program at the Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University, the US.



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