JEAIL > Volume 2(1); 2009 > Notes & Comments
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2009

Acting Locally, Thinking Globally? The Relationship between Decentralization in Indonesia and International Human Rights

Luke Lazarus Arnold
Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia
Unit 69, 47 Kennedy Str. Kingston ACT 2604, Australia
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


International human rights discourse has largely ignored the decentralization of political, fiscal and administrative authority currently taking place across the developing world. By reference to Indonesia's recent transition from a highly centralized system of government to a system of regional autonomy (called Otonomi Daerah, or "Otda"), this article demonstrates the importance of more closely examining the relationship between international human rights and decentralization. In particular, it is argued that an understanding of international human rights can shed light on the dynamics of decentralization and, vice versa, examining decentralization can inform our understandings of international human rights. The essay explains the historical, political and economic context of Otda and briefly describes its current legal framework. It then explores the varied impacts Otda has had on international human rights in Indonesia and how Otda can, in turn, highlight some of the limits and possibilities of international human rights.

Keywords : Decentralization, International Human Rights, Otda

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