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Reforming Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry: Ideas, Organization and Leadership


More than a decade after Indonesia’s democratic transition, the effects of domestic politics on the conduct of Indonesia’s foreign policy continue to attract scholarly attention. Relatively less attention, however, has been given to the foreign ministry, the principal institutional actor responsible for foreign policy formulation and management of Indonesia’s external relations. This article argues that this neglect is a mistake: institutional changes within the foreign ministry, together with the emergence of new ideas, have played a key role in transforming the country’s foreign policy. It was principally within the foreign ministry that significant attempts were made to change Indonesia’s national self-image so that it better reflected the values of the reformasi experience. This article explores how democratic norms have been internalized in both the organization of the foreign policy bureaucracy and in the conceptualization of Indonesia’s external identity.

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