” State Law In A Multicultural Country Of Indonesia “


I Nyoman Nurjaya
Fax. +62-341-566505
HP. +62-81344549111

Paper presented at The 4th. Asian Law Institute (ASLI) Conference: Voices from Asia for a Just and Equitable World 24 – 25 May, 2007 at Faculty of Law University of Indonesia, Jakarta


Indonesia is well known as a multicultural country in term of its ethnic, religion, racial and social stratification. It is, therefore, Unity in Diversity is reflected as an official motto of the State in order to describe the empirical social and cultural diversity of Indonesia. Territory of Indonesia which lied down from Sabang to Merauke contains richly natural resources, as well as cultural resources spread out in the region.

In one hand, the diversity refers to a cultural configuration which reflect the Nation identity of Indonesia, in which on the empirical circumstance forming elements that establish Indonesia as a Nation State. The cultural diversity mentioned has been cultural capital and cultural power as well that generate dynamically the life of Nation State of Indonesia. But, on the other hand, these of cultural diversity contains yields of conflict that could potentially generate a situation of social disintegration. It is because the inter-ethnic and inter-religious community disputes bring sensitively about the consequence of disintegration of Indonesia as a Nation State. It is said that conflicts can not be avoided within human interaction; conflicts and tensions inherent within the life of community, wherever, whenever and within every kind of society (Bohanan, 1967; Nader and Todd, 1978; Spradley and McCurdy, 1987). Hence, for the case of Indonesia, it will be able to become a fact if the conflicts can not be managed and handled wisely by the Government and all components of society in the country.

In the last three decades Indonesia has increasingly been facing by conflict that based on cultural pluralism such as emerged in Aceh Province, Abepura and Timika of  West Papua,  Sampit and Palangkaraya  of Central Kalimantan, Pasuruan and Situbondo of East Java, Mataram of West Lombok, Lampung of South Sumatera, Poso of Central Sulawesi, and Pontianak and Sambas of West Kalimantan. Those conflicts look like inter-ethnic conflicts that caused by conflict of values, conflict of norms, and conflict of interest between ethic communities in the multicultural country of Indonesia.

It is interesting to observe in order to obtain a better understanding whether cause of the conflicts originally based on the inter-ethnic disputes? In the ayes of legal anthropologist, source of the conflicts is naturally based on the discriminated policy and treatment of the Government that expressed within State law and regulation in line to the recognition and protection of rights of the local communities namely adat communities in most region of Indonesia. In this respect those of State laws that particularly enacted and enforced by the Government tend to dominate, marginalize, and ignore the local values, traditions, religions, as well as the customary law of adat communities in the region.

It is conventionally stated that basic function of the law is to keep social order and protect legal order in maintaining function of law as a tool for social control and ordering of society (Patterson, 1950). In doing so, another function of the law is remains improved to be an instrument of orderly change namely social engineering (Friedman, 1975). In the development of complexity society within Nation State such functions of law then questioned whether the role of State Law could also be improved as an instrument for maintaining and strengthening social integration within multicultural Nation State?

The paper attempts to offer the answer of the above fundamental question by employing legal anthropology approach in order to obtain another atmosphere in building a better understanding holistically regarding function and the role of the State law in multicultural Nation toward a more just and equitable objective of State law of Indonesia in particular  and the other multicultural countries in the region of Asia.

Complete – State Law in Indonesia


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