A delegation from Sweden’s well-known think tank, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), will visit Indonesia this week to foster deeper cooperation and build new research networks with its counterparts in Indonesia, a Swedish diplomat has said.
“The aim of SIPRI’s visit is to establish deeper forms of international cooperation and research exchanges and ultimately build new areas of research with an international impact within SIPRI and its regional counterparts in Indonesia,” Swedish Ambassador to Indonesia Ewa Polano said in a press release sent to The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
SIPRI is one of the world’s top think tanks, which mainly focuses on research on conflict, armament, arms control and disarmament. Every year it publishes the well-known SIPRI Yearbook.
SIPRI’s six-member delegation visit comes at the right time as most of Indonesia’s think tanks face a crisis due to little encouragement and proper funding for their activities. Indonesia, like most developing countries, spends little on research and development. Many university graduates consider research to be a an unattractive profession.
Higher education in Indonesia is very expensive, but no Indonesian university has ever found itself among the world’s top 50.
According to Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, Indonesia — a country of 240 million — can only produce 600-800 Ph.D holders per year. As of 2011, Indonesian universities had produced only 14,000 Ph.Ds, half of them in religious studies.
Think tanks in Indonesia also face a similar fate. According to the University of Pennsylvania’s 2012 Global Go To Think Tank Rankings, Indonesia has only 21 think tanks, much lower than Zimbabwe’s 24. Indonesia ranked second from bottom among G20 members in terms of the total number of think tanks in each member country. Saudi Arabia, a G20 member, has only four think tanks, while the US has 1,823 and South Africa 86.
But there was some consolation for Indonesia. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was the best think tank in Southeast Asia with a global ranking of 74, much higher than Singapore’s Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (78), the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (82) and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (88). SIPRI ranked fourth best in the survey after the Brookings Institution from the US, the UK’s Chatham House and the US’ Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
With 21 think tanks, Indonesia has the highest number out of all countries in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is second with 20 think tanks and Malaysia is third with 18. They are followed by Cambodia (10), Vietnam (9), Thailand (8), Singapore (6) and Laos (3). Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam do not have any think tanks.
During their four-day visit (March 11-14) to Jakarta, SIPRI executives, led by SIPRI chairman Goran Lennmarker and its director Tilman Bruck, will visit a number of research institutions and think tanks and have talks with researchers, academics and government officials on security and foreign policy.
“The delegation [is scheduled] to arrive in Jakarta on Sunday night and is scheduled to meet Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, prominent scholar Juwono Sudarsono and others. It will also meet with executives of CSIS,” the Swedish Embassy’s political officer Per Herrmansson told the Post on Sunday.