Kebebasan Berorganisasi adalah HAK, Akuntabilitas adalah Kewajiban

Why Establish the Indonesian NGO Council?

A climate conducive for nurturing a thriving and robust civil society has not been fostered optimally in Indonesia. A democratic country should reflect the balanced and equitable standing and role of the three main pillars namely, the government, private sector, and civil society. Recent developments however, show that civil society remains in a relatively weak position compared to the government and private sector. Many state policies which have direct bearing on the role and interest of NGOs are formulated without prior consultation and dialogues based on the spirit of equal partnership with NGOs. Civil society’s feeble bargaining power in Indonesia is an implication of the negligible position and legitimacy of civil society organizations which have emerged exponentially following the reform movement in 1998. A greater sense of freedom in the country has paved the way for the proliferation of thousands of new NGOs. Many of these organizations claiming to be NGOs however were created based on an underlying motive or interest which contradicts the values, vision, and mission worthy of an authentic NGO. Only a handful of errant NGOs suffice to tarnish the good reputation of the rest of the NGOs, compromising the existence and legitimacy of the NGO community. NGOs as a fundamental pillar of civil society are currently afflicted by a trust and legitimacy crisis stemming from weak NGO accountability. The NGO community in Indonesia has responded to demands for greater accountability since 1999, at the time when NGOs were increasingly under public scrutiny. History begins with the founding of Konsorsium Pengembangan Masyarakat Madani (KPMM) or Consortium for Civil Society Development in Padang that spearheaded self-regulatory measures by establishing the KPMM Code of Conduct (1999), followed by LP3ES who initiated the NGO Network for the Code of Ethics in several provinces in Indonesia (2002), and the collaborative effort between TIFA and USC Satu Nama which yielded the Tango instrument (2004). In 2006, a group of NGO activists involved in the foregoing initiatives have banded together under the Working Group on Civil Society Organization Accountability for the purpose of strengthening and expanding the accountability movement in Indonesia. In 2009, the Working Group on CSO Accountability organized a series of FGDs in several provinces across Indonesia on various issues and challenges confronting NGOs in Indonesia. From these FGDs, an agreement was reached on the need to build commitment, solidarity, mutual reinforcement, and trust among NGOs in order to create a robust civil society. It was also recommended to establish an institution conferred with the power to enforce an NGO accountability and transparency system, and to advance the interests of NGOs. Failure to do so will make it virtually impossible for NGOs to further advance the greater interest of becoming a balancing force against the government and private sector. Through accountability reform, a formidable and credible NGO community is expected to emerge and engender the following impact:

  1. Heighten public trust toward NGOs as institutions which stand firm by the commitment to elevate people’s welfare, uphold democracy, and to protect and promote human rights, the environment, gender equality, gender justice, and others.
  2. Build public trust toward NGOs as institutions with high moral standards and as such, warrant respect and appreciation as professional and accountable organizations.
  3. Strengthen NGOs’ bargaining position against external parties such as the government and donor agencies.
  4. Create a legal and political environment conducive for the growth and development of civil society.

From these FGD outcomes, the Working Group on CSO Accountability has subsequently facilitated the convening of the Indonesian NGO National Congress (27-29 July 2010) which culminated in the establishment of Konsil LSM Indonesia, abbreviated to Konsil LSM or Indonesian NGO Council (INC). The Congress succeeded in establishing and endorsing the Memorandum of Association which embodies the Council’s vision, mission, and activities, Indonesian NGO Code of Conduct, and the election of the National Steering Committee and Board of Ethics.