Our Researcher Dedi Dinarto engaged in a debate on whether Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) will undermine ASEAN centrality in Indonesia’s foreign policy.

Earlier this month, Dedi published an article at The Diplomat which discuss whether Indonesia shifts its foreign policy focus towards IORA rather than maintaining ASEAN Centrality. He argues that Indonesia’s active participation in organising IORA should not put aside ASEAN in foreign policy, since it could undermine regional environment.

Dedi’s article was written as a response from an idea brought by Ibrahim Almuttaqi, the Head of ASEAN Studies Programme at The Habibie Center. He previously wrote at The Jakarta Post that IORA is Indonesia’s initiative to fill the ‘vacuum of governance’ in the Indian Ocean as a part of Jakarta’s new foreign policy under Jokowi.

Dedi’s responses to Ibrahim’s article was responded by two separate articles from David Willis, a PhD Candidate at Flinders University, Australia, and Ibrahim Almuttaqi himself. Responding to Dedi’s argument, David wrote at the Diplomat that Indonesia is neither shifting from ASEAN nor filling the “vacuum of governance” in IORA, but rather promote a form of pragmatic bilateralism.

Ibrahim sets in a rejoinder at the Jakarta Post by noting that “ASEAN is still the cornerstone of Indonesia’s foreign policy”,

Dedi presented his article at bi-weekly Bincang ASEAN at ASEAN Studies Center UGM in Friday (31/3). At the forum, several ASC colleagues raised some questions and comments over Dedi’s arguments over IORA and ASEAN.

Dio H. Tobing, ASC Research Manager, commented that whilst Jakarta seems to promote IORA in a global level, the Association still lacks institutional basis as a global governance institution. In the same vein, Ahmad Rizky M. Umar (ASC Executive Secretary) also mentioned that Indonesia’s foreign policy should also be seen as driven by larger geopolitical contestation rather than merely a product of decision-maker’s choice.