JAKARTA, Indonesia – On March 30, more than 350 civil society organization (CSO) experts and representatives from across Indonesia gathered online for the third Indonesia Civil Society Forum (ICSF) to discuss common challenges, compare notes on successes, and explore new initiatives supporting tolerance and social inclusion.
“Civil society organizations have proven their valuable role as representatives of citizen interests, and by learning from each other they can bring about even greater progress,” said U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Mission Director William Slater. “It’s clear that intolerance cannot be addressed by government institutions alone. It requires collaboration with citizens and civil society by encouraging democratic, inclusive, and tolerant values.”
Through USAID, the “U.S. government is proud to contribute to this forum promoting tolerance, accountability, transparency, and democratic rights, which are critical to protecting democratic principles and Indonesia’s religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity,” he added.
Opened by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Cultural Affairs, Muhadjir Effendy, and Acting USAID Mission Director Slater, this two-day forum convenes national and local civil society activists and government actors for networking and gathers insights and perspectives on the health of democracy and civil society in Indonesia, the context and key issues faced by the Indonesian social inclusion movement, and the role of civil society organizations in supporting tolerance and social inclusion.
Participants discussed increasing challenges to freedoms of association and expression and agreed that new forms of civil society organizations led by a new generation well versed in new forms of communication and social media must emerge.
Since 1998, Indonesia has enjoyed a vibrant democracy; however, in the past few years, the country has witnessed slower progress towards democratic principles. Indonesian CSOs have contributed to and benefitted from key democratic achievements, and strongly supported the country’s democracy and regional autonomy. Forum participants discussed what civil society and CSOs can do to contribute to a stronger democracy.
“The government has limitations in providing political empowerment. Massive empowerment is needed to equip the community with understanding and knowledge (about diversity). Civil society organizations play an important role to advance democracy in Indonesia. The Ministry of Home Affairs has recorded more than 430,000 CSOs. We can imagine the enormous potential of CSOs in collaborating to create an inclusive and effective democracy,” said Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy.
The United States continues to support Indonesia in demonstrating its support for—and the value it places on—the important work of civil society in making Indonesia a just, tolerant, prosperous, and inclusive democracy.
For more information about USAID and ICSF please contact: Swiny Andina, firstname.lastname@example.org, USAID’s Communications Officer and Danumurthi Mahendra, email@example.com, Communications Specialist, USAID MADANI Civil Society Support Initiative, FHI 360.