International Legal Clinics

The establishment of international legal clinics is aimed to provide free legal assistance for the non-traditional victims of human rights abuses, i.e. non-citizens, to benefiting from the international human rights mechanisms. One of the major impetus to enlist international law in human rights promotion in Indonesia is due to the fact that the current national human rights regime is inadequately addressing the human rights concerns of non-Indonesians. Arguably, the underdeveloped scholarship of international law that persistently defending its state-centered paradigm is significantly denied its humanizing impacts. As far as we are concerned, the prevailing discourse on human rights is predominated by constitutional law scholars who somewhat championing some kind of legal-nationalism. Worse still, the national mainstream human rights groups turn a blind eye on this fundamental issue as it undermined the very idea of global movement of human rights itself. The introduction of this clinics is supposed to be something of a new era of human rights activism in Indonesia by taking advantage of the liberal potentials of the latter.

Broadly speaking, this initiative highlights the internationalist strategies that include: “(1) ‘broadcasting’ domestic violations to international entities, (2) international law formation, and (3) importing international standards into domestic advocacy” (Beth Lyon 2008). Supposedly, this model of advocacy will be of enormous significance in terms of its practical as well theoretical contributions for the development of law in democractic Indonesia. At the practical level, the most significant contribution would be the introduction of “another” fora for the benefits of the individuals who lack of access to national justice system. Meanwhile, theoretically the initiative will directly expose the intersection between two distinct legal systems that eventually challenge the established viewpoint of the conventional scholarship that stress the compartmentalization between those two. Ultimately, this would propel the ongoing process of democratization building into a more liberal direction that stress the importance of human rights as rights for every human being.

Moreover, the underlying rationale for this cannot be separated from the fact that today’s Indonesia is entering the fifth phase of Risse and Sikkink’s spiral model in which “[g]overnment accepts the validity of human rights norms, but still continue to [violate human rights] . . . [but] is not fully in control of their police and military forces . . . it is crucial for this phase . . . that the domestic-transnational-international networks keep up the pressure in order to achieve sustainable improvements of human rights conditions” (Thomas Risse and Kathryn Sikkink 1999). Based on the above contention, it makes sense for the Institute to view that international law “provides a resource in litigation should the government be less than eager to comply” (Beth Simmons 2009). In addition, the burgeoning studies have been invaluable in confirming the importance role of international law in supporting the socialization process of human rights norms in domestic sphere. More importantly, this initiative is not only another intellectual exercise but also in the long run would also provide a constitutional legitimacy for international law in Indonesian legal system.

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