Opening Statement by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at The Bali Democracy Forum V

Bismillahirrahmanirrahiim,

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, 

May Peace Be Upon Us All,

Om Swastyastu,

 

Your Majesty,

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government and people of Indonesia, I am pleased and honoured to welcome all of you to Indonesia and to the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF). Your participation and continued support have further enhanced BDF as the premier inter-governmental forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences on democracy in the region.

I thank my Co-Chairs for this year’s meeting : President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia.

And as this is going to be his last attendance at the BDF as President of Korea, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and highest appreciation to President Lee Myung-bak for his strong support for the BDF process all these years, for the enduring friendship that he has shown me and to Indonesia, and, most importantly, for his remarkable service and contribution as one of Asia’s most energetic and visionary statesmen. Let us give President Lee Myung-bak a big hand of applause to our appreciation. 

I would also like to thank all other Heads of States and Governments present here today, as well as other delegates and observers. I wish in particular to acknowledge the consistent support shown by His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao of Timor-Leste. I also wish to express my appreciation to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of Papua New Guinea, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean of Singapore, and Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha ‘Prakash’ of Nepal.

Your presence today signifies our common interest in promoting and consolidating the values and principles of democracy in the Asia-Pacific. I am confident that through sharing and exchanging views and experiences, this Forum will contribute positively to the attainment of democracy in the region.

This is the FIFTH annual meeting of the Bali Democracy Forum. 

It is a pertinent time to reflect on what we, through BDF, have achieved in the past five years. And to reflect on where we are heading in the coming years?

While there is yet to be a study on the impact of BDF on advancing democratic values and principles in our region, I think there are some reasons for us to feel confident that we have made important contribution in the past five years.

FIRST, every year, since 2008, the BDF produces concrete outcomes. These are not just outcome documents: they are also testimonies to the increasing shared commitment of countries in the Asia-Pacific to democracy. Every year, we express our determination, and every year we reaffirm our commitment to the democratic values and principles. 

SECOND, there has been significant prospect in the past five years for democracy in Asia and the Pacific to flourish. India and Indonesia continue to be the largest democracies in the region and the world. An impressive democratic transformation is now unfolding in Myanmar. In Mongolia, where I made a state visit last September, and in many countries of Central Asia, democracy is thriving. And of course, the Arab Spring that continues to evolve. 

And THIRD, five years ago, 40 countries and international organizations took part. Three Heads of State or Government attended. Today, we have some 80 countries and International Organizations, and 11 Heads of State or Government taking part in the forum. 

I believe that such growing participation means that BDF is serving its basic purpose of sharing experiences and best practices in democracy. We have learned a lot from one another, and mutually reinforced our commitments to democracy.

It is not my contention that because of the BDF democracy in Asia and the Pacific is strengthening. But I do believe that in the past five years, together, through the BDF we have done something. Together, we have used the BDF as a substantial and strategic platform for partnership in the promotion of democracy and political development in our region. Together, we have made the Forum an important part of democratic architecture in the region.

As to our future direction, we cannot stop with this modest contribution of the BDF. We must ensure that we remain focused on our democratic pursuit. Democracy is a work in progress, and therefore we need to consolidate the gains that we achieved from democratization during the past five years. 

We believe that the sustainability of democracy rests upon our ability to nurture its benefits and to build a democracy that delivers tangible outcomes. These are outcomes that our people can fully appreciate and enjoy such as economic benefits, political rights, and shared ownership of governance. 

Democracy should also be nurtured to ensure our resilience. Commitment for democracy should not be taken for granted as it may weaken when people are faced with pressing political, economic and social challenges. This is why our forum becomes even more relevant in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As you all are aware, the theme of this year’s BDF is “Advancing Democratic Principles at the Global Setting: How Democratic Global Governance Contributes to International Peace and Security, Economic Development, and Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights.”

The choice of this theme is based on a belief that there must be a parallel between our democratic work at the national level, with that at the global level. I believe that the Forum can help us find ways of making our democratic principles work effectively, not only in our region, but also in a global setting. 

Critical to our democratic work at the global level is global governance. It is a governance that fully subscribes to democratic principles. It is a governance that strengthens international peace and security, advances economic development, and promotes effective enjoyment of human rights.

I believe that our Forum can play its part in the shaping of such global governance. This should be the natural progression of our Forum, especially as the current global governance has yet to effectively address the challenges of our time. For example, the worsening situation in Syria and the ongoing global financial crisis.

Let me share some thoughts on how we can advance democratic principles in the global setting. 

FIRST, we must make sure that the global governance reflects the reality of our time where the center of power is widely dispersed. The credibility of global governance is at risk, if nations see it as being based on the realities of the past. 

In the political sphere and to achieve global security, we must have a responsive and effective international organ that can put an end to protracted and bloody conflicts.

In the case where the central authority fails to protect their own citizens, we are left with the question of as to who should protect them. In my opinion, the international community should step in to prevent further humanitarian tragedies--- to fulfil its responsibility to protect. On the one hand, such steps should fully respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country concerned. And yet, on the other hand, the steps should also ensure the immediate bringing to an end of the humanitarian tragedy. Syria is again a case in point. The protracted conflict there is a harsh reminder of the failure of the current international system to fulfil its expected mandate. 

Let me therefore reiterate what I stated at this forum two years ago: that the reform of the United Nations Security Council is needed now, more than ever before. In my opinion, an effective Security Council must be one which better represents the contemporary global reality. A Council that enables the widest possible contributions of UN Member States. We need to ensure a harmony between the aspirations of the Security Council Members with the rest of the UN General Assembly Members. Such harmony entails the promotion of multilateralism and rejection of unilateralism. 

The same principle applies in addressing various global issues, such as climate change and the development agenda. The formulation and implementation of any global agenda will be more successful if in the process, democratic principles are followed. Thus, the voices and support of all UN Member Countries, big or small, are pertinent. 

In the economic sphere, global economic institutions must continue to expand the participation and contribution of the emerging economies. The emerging economies have been very influential in promoting global trade, capital flows and investment. That is why, within the G-20 framework, Indonesia has consistently promoted the interests and concern of developing countries.

In the social sphere, global prosperity may never be achieved if global economic governance does not address development issues. Developing countries should be able to enjoy equitable access to markets and financial flows for development. Global poverty is not only an economic problem but also a major security challenge. It is also about global justice. This is why the attainment of the MDGs is crucial and also the shaping of a post-2015 development agenda. 

SECOND, global governance must provide mechanisms to address long-standing issues of intolerance and prejudice. We should deal with the issues openly with a view to finding mutually acceptable solutions. 

In my opinion, a more democratic world should be founded on the principle of mutual respect of our diversity. We need to encourage greater respect for different values, faiths and religious beliefs. We should not allow irresponsible acts such as the defamation of religion to divide us. Therefore, we should continuously promote harmonious relations among civilizations and a global culture of peace and moderation. 

For example in our region, ASEAN promotes genuine, frank and honest dialogue and advances cooperation on the issue of human rights. ASEAN has been able to take bold steps to establish fully functioning human rights mechanisms and to formulate an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

Beyond the regional level, inclusive engagement has been promoted through the work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. 

Moreover, we can still further democratize governance by establishing norms and standards, to address the emerging challenges that are getting more globalized. 

And THIRD, regional organizations should be given a bigger role in the global decision-making process. They are in a better position to understand and assess the root causes and particularities of the multi-dimensional challenges that arise in their respective regions. 

For Indonesia, ASEAN is the driving force for regional political development on the basis of the principles of democracy, because it ensures inclusiveness, participation and a sense of ownership by all its member countries. I believe ASEAN will be able to contribute to the creation of a more democratic global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a final thought, developing a democratic system of global governance is not an easy task. However, I am confident that our forum can make some positive contributions in shaping a more democratic global environment. An environment where peace, prosperity, and a better life for all humankind prevail.

I am optimistic that in the long run, we can achieve our goals. We do this in line with the practice that we follow in our forum: the sharing of ideas, exchange of experiences and lessons learned among participants of equal standing. We share the same wisdom that there is no single model of democracy. No one size fits all. Democracy will be self-sustained if it is a homegrown process. 

With that in mind, by saying bismillahirrahmannirrahim, I declare the Fifth Bali Democracy Forum officially open. 

Thank you.

Wassalamu''alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh. 

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om.

Nusa Dua, 8 November 2012

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