Foreign Policy


The principles underlying Indonesia’s foreign policy were expounded for the first time by Mohammad Hatta on September 2, 1948 at Yogyakarta in Central Java. In a session of the Working Group of the Central National Committee of Indonesia (KNPI), the forerunner of the Indonesian Parliament, Vice-President Hatta, concurrently Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the young Republic clarified the Government’s stand on various domestic and international issues. Refuting the premise of the People’s Democratic Front of the Indonesian Communist Party, that in the Cold War between Russia and America the best foreign policy for Indonesia would be to side with Russia, Hatta stated: “Do we, Indonesians, in the struggle for the freedom of our people and our country, only have to choose between Russia and America? Is not there any other stand that we can take in the pursuit of our ideals?”

“The Government is of the firm opinion that the best policy to adopt is one which does not make us the object of an international conflict. On the contrary, we must remain the subject who reserves the right to decide our own destiny and fight for our own goal, which is independence for the whole of Indonesia.” (Mohammad Hatta, ‘Mendayung Antara Dua Karang,’ 1976).

The above statement was an indication of the golden mean Indonesia would take in international relations, which later became known as “mendayung antara dua karang” (“rowing between two reefs”).


These principles are the foundation of Indonesia’s foreign policy, which is independent and active. The policy is independent because Indonesia does not side with world powers. As a matter of principle, so doing would be incompatible with the country’s national philosophy and identity as implied in Pancasila.

The foreign policy is active to the extent that Indonesia does not maintain a passive or reactive stand on international issues but seeks active participation in their settlement. In other words, Indonesia’s independent and active policy is not a neutral policy, but it is one that does not align Indonesia with the super powers nor does it bind the country to any military pact. Essentially, it is a policy designed to serve the national interest while simultaneously allowing Indonesia to cooperate with other nations to abolish colonialism and imperialism in all their forms and manifestations for the sake of world peace and social justice. This explains why Indonesia was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.


Any country’s foreign policy is a reflection of its national aspirations vis-a-vis the rest of the world. It is a component of the country’s geopolitical strategy. Based on these premises, the primary objectives of Indonesia’s foreign policy are:

  1. To support national development with priority on economic development, as set out in the Five-Year Development Plans;
  2. To preserve internal and regional stability conducive to national development;
  3. To protect the territorial integrity of Indonesia and safeguard the peoples place of abode.


The pursuit of the above objectives, Resolution No. II/MPR/1993 of the People’s Consultative Assembly outlines Indonesia’s foreign relations as follows:

  1. Foreign relations shall be conducted on the basis of the independent and active foreign policy and dedicated to the national interest, especially to supporting national development in all spheres of life, and for the purpose of establishing a world order based on freedom, lasting peace and social justice.
  2. International relations should aim to strengthen international and regional friendly relations and cooperation through various multilateral and regional channels, in accordance with the national interest and potentials. In this regard, the positive image of Indonesia abroad should be enhanced such as by way of cultural activities.
  3. Indonesia’s role in settling international problems, particularly those threatening peace and contrary to justice and humanity, shall be continued and intensified in the spirit of the Ten Principles of Bandung.
  4. Any international developments and changes shall be watched carefully in order that appropriate steps can be promptly taken to protect national stability and development from any possible negative impact. At the same time, international developments that provide opportunities to assist and speed up national development should be seized and fully exploited.
  5. Indonesia’s international role in promoting and strengthening friendly reldfions and mutually-beneficial cooperation among nations should be intensified. The country’s effort to achieve national targets, such as the realization of the Archipelagic Principle and expansion of its export markets, should be continued.
  6. In order to help in the establishment of a New World Order, based on freedom, lasting peace and social justice, greater efforts should be made to strengthen solidarity and develop a common stand and cooperation among developing nations through various international organization, such as the United Nations, ASEAN, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Islamic Conference Organization, etc.
  7. For the specific objective of building a new world economic order steps should becontinued with other developing nations, to speed up the realization of an international agreement on commodities, to remove trade barriers and restrictions imposed by industrial countries on the exports of developing countries, and to broaden economic and technical cooperation among developing countries. Efforts to establish a new information and communication order should also be continued.
  8. Cooperation among the public and private sector of ASEAN member-countries should be intensified with a special emphasis on economic, social and cultural cooperation. This, in turn, would reinforce the national resilience of each member-country and the regional resilience of ASEAN, thus enhancing the common endeavor to build a South Asian Zone of peace, freedom, neutrality and prosperity. Furthermore, greater cooperation should be fostered among the countries of the South Asian and Southwest Pacific regions.