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The Philosophical Basis of Human Rights in Indonesia

The Indonesian Government has consistently endeavored to adhere to the humanitarian precepts and basic human rights and freedoms embodied in its national philosophy, Pancasila, its 1945 Constitution, and its national laws and regulations. Indeed these precepts, rights and freedoms, as embodied in the constitutional and legal system, derive from age-old traditions, customs and the philosophy of life of the Indonesian people.

Further, Indonesia has always stressed indivisibility, interdependence and non-selectivity in all deliberations on human rights.

The philosophical basis of Indonesia, Pancasila, which are the "Five Moral Principles" of Indonesian life and society, embrace humanitarian ideals that are mutually interlinked and inseparable. In the words of President Soeharto, "Pancasila is the sole, basic principle of our life as a society, nation and state."

The essential meaning of the Principles which relate directly to human rights in

Indonesia include:

  • "Belief in the one and only God, " which means every Indonesian citizen, no matter which religious denomination or faith they follow, should respect each other’s belief for the sake of the harmony and peace of mankind. This Principle contains the precept of religious tolerance and freedom of all to adhere to the religion or faith of his or her choice.
  • "Just and civilized humanity, " which is closely identified with balancing fundamental individual human rights and freedoms with the individual’s obligation toward society and state. This Principle highlights the idea that relationships within society and state be based on a just and civilized morality.
  • "Democracy, " which within Pancasila connotes democracy in the formal sense and in the material sense as well. It is a democracy imbued with belief in the One, Supreme God, with the morality of a just and civilized humanity and directed toward the goal of social justice for the entire people. It is a democracy conceived in consonance with Indonesia’s own traditional and social values, which emphasize consensus and imply not only political equality, but economic, social and cultural equality.
  • "Social justice, " which contains the basic principle that in the common endeavor to attain a just and prosperous society, materially as well as spiritually, any form of exploitation of human beings is prohibited. This Principle points to the necessity to create conditions whereby all groups of Indonesians have an equal and just opportunity to earn their livelihood and secure a life with human dignity.

The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, which is based upon Pancasila, also contains humanitarian precepts and basic principles of human rights. These principles have been incorporated into a number of national laws and regulations that serve to protect and promote the well-being of the Indonesian people. Moreover, it is also important to note that the 1945 Constitution has many principles that are similar to those contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Preamble of the 1945 Constitution sets forth the humanitarian principles as contained in Pancasila, and forms the basis of the State and the philosophical outlook on the lives of the Indonesian people. The Preamble states:

"Whereas independence is the natural right of every nation, colonialism must be abolished in this world because it is not in conformity with Humanity and Justice...Following this, in order to set up a government of the State of Indonesia which shall protect the whole of the Indonesian People and their entire native land of Indonesia, and in order to advance the general welfare, to develop the intellectual life of the nation and to contribute in implementing an order in the world which is based upon independence, abiding peace and social justice..."


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