Indonesia's 'No' Vote on Including the R2P as an Annual Agenda

What is the Responsibility to Protect?

First introduced in the UN World Summit 2005, Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a principle aimed to uphold peace and human rights all around the globe. It is believed that ideas for such a principle rose after the failure to prevent the Rwandan Genocide back in 1994 and the Srebrenica Massacre in 1995.

Three Pillars of the Responsibility to Protect

According to Bellamy (2010), there are three equal and inconsequential pillars of the Responsibility to Protect principle that are formulated in the year of 2005:

  • the responsibility of states to protect their own populations from the four crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, as well as from their incitement;

  • the international community’s responsibility to assist a state to fulfill its R2P; and

  • the international community’s responsibility to take timely and decisive action, in accordance with the UN Charter, in cases where the state has manifestly failed to protect its population.

Why It’s Significant

Some countries deal with asymmetrical conflict, e.g. the Libyan citizen v.s. armed belligerent, or the people of Myanmar against their government and military. This makes civilians the only vulnerable party who are unable to properly protect themselves from a much bigger power. Based on the requirement for R2P to be conducted, that is, when the country is unable to protect its people (Pillar III of the 2005 World Summit), often times pleading to the international community is their last resort.

Pros of R2P

Better power balance between conflicting parties

Although not necessarily in the form of humanitarian intervention (in which military force is used), R2P will balance negotiating power between parties in order to result in a balanced solution.

Cons of R2P

Prone to worsen conflict

An aid in the form of intervention under political ties is bound to cause and be caused by other certain political interest of both the giver and the granted. This may cause unnecessary secondary conflict or even a prolonged proxy war in said area as a means to reach said interest.

“Indonesia Votes No”

On Tuesday, 18 May 2021, the Republic of Indonesia voted no to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) draft resolution that wants to use the Responsibility to Protect to intervene in the current Palestine-Israel conflict as the annual agenda.

This response then abruptly shocks the international community, and speculations began to surface as to why Indonesia reacted in such manner. Some suggested that it is because Indonesia is against R2P values, and weirdly enough, some even suggests that Indonesia was influenced by China to vote no. But is this really true?

Was the decision a product of coercion?

Was it because Indonesia doesn’t value R2P principles?

The answer is FALSE, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia

According to an article by, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi stated that the problem lies on the mechanism of the resolution and not in the R2P itself. She stated that “the R2P does not need a standing annual agenda item” (Afifa, 2021). Adding to that, MoFA spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah also said that Indonesia feels that an annual agenda is not necessary because discussion on R2P in the UNGA has been going smoothly until now. Secondly, Faizasyah also said that R2P HAS been discussed in the UNGA, specifically in the ‘Follow Up to Outcome of Millenium Summit’ (Chaterine, 2021). Hence, as we can see, the Indonesian government is said to be in favor of the R2P principles and they are not influenced by any country to vote no. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only wants the UNGA to strengthen existing resolutions instead of setting up new agendas (Septiari, 2021).


Afifa, L. (2021, 05 20). Indonesia Votes Against Adoption of Responsibility to Protect; Minister Explains.

Bellamy, A. (2010). The Responsibility to Protect–Five Years On. Ethics & International Affairs, 24(2), 143-169. DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7093.2010.00254.x

Chaterine, R. N. (2021, 05 20). Indonesia Tolak Pembahasan Rancangan Resolusi "Responsibility to Protect", Ini Penjelasan Kemenlu.

Septiari, D. (2021, 05 20). Indonesia votes 'no' on UN crimes against humanity resolution. The Jakarta Post.

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