The addition of a war crime law to the country's penal code would provide a legal basis for dealing with humanitarian crimes as well as victims and perpetrators of war, a seminar concluded here Friday.
Experts on humanitarian law gathered at the Paramadina University also agreed that Indonesia's wealth of experience in solving so many conflicts could provide the international community with better solutions to humanitarian issues.
"The implementation of humanitarian laws in Indonesia has improved significantly throughout the years, but we can do better by perfectingits legal framework or the code," Fadillah Agus, one of the experts speaking at the "Core Professional Training on Humanitarian Law and Policy" at ParamadinaUniversity, said.
He said that the Penal Code did not yet provide a legal framework toprotect Indonesia's peacekeeping forces engaged in overseas missions.
"The passing of the war crime bill is important to protect Indonesiansengaged in peacekeeping missions. They could be either perpetrators orvictims of war crimes," he said.
"Ideally, Indonesia should have its own war crime law, because withoutsuch a law we can only charge perpetrators with common murder orordinary crimes," he added.
The government has been trying to overhaul the flawed and outdatedPenal Code, enacted by the Dutch Indies administration in 1886, since 1963, but has made little progress.
Harvard professor Claude Bruderlein said that Indonesia plays anincreasing role in global diplomacy related to humanitarianism but has not yet realized the uniqueness of its own experience in solvingand managing conflicts.
"Indonesians still see their situation as being problematic. Thegovernment is doing a good job by supporting professional development in the military, but it can do better by promoting its experiences atthe regional level," he said.
He said the Indonesian experience, which could be used to helpfind solutions at an international level, includes the transformationof the military, democratization of the government, mobilization ofthe youth and the role of local wisdom.
"These efforts are the fundamentals of peace. Peace is not simply amatter of a cease-fire agreements but the transformation of a country.The result is a nation investing in development, diversity andeducation."
He added that efforts for peace should be expanded, inparticular through the mobilization of the youth.
"Higher education opportunities, professional training, the capacityto make these courses available and capitalizing on the energy of theyouth are essential to the transformation," he said.
He also said that the role of local wisdom, a very unique aspect in Indonesian conflict resolu-tion, deserves more international attention.
"It's important to build the capacity of local leaders to understand the larger implications. This experience should be brought to theUnited Nations (UN)," he said.
"In many other locations where UN missions take place troops maydisregard locals and see them as spoilers of the peace process, or seethe population as victims and not as actors of peace. But civilians should beat the center of these processes," he added.
The five-day seminar sees the participation of 37 humanitarianprofessionals from 19 countries including the United States, Canada,France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Bolivia, Jamaica andSudan - as well as Indonesia. (fmb)