Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
e-ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 13, Nº. 1 (May-October 2022)
PhD candidate in Social Sciences at Universitas Airlangga (Indonesia). Assistant Professor at the
Department of International Relations, Universitas Pembangunan Nasional "Veteran" Jawa Timur.
Researcher at the Center for Identity and Urban Studies. Advisor on sister city programs for the
Surabaya City Government. The main focus of the author's research is on issues surrounding
paradiplomacy, especially by cities.
The study of international affairs has found itself increasingly intermingled with local contexts.
This condition has led us to a more decentralised approach toward international relations,
where more attention is given to the role of subnational units such as city and province.
Numerous studies with systemic-level analyses have been dedicated to examining
globalisation as a structure and its impact on the emergence of subnational governments in
foreign activities, which can also be understood as paradiplomacy. However, there has been
limited state-level analysis of how paradiplomacy relates to the evolving state role in the
contemporary era. This paper attempts to fill the gap by drawing the experience of Indonesia,
a unitary state and an emerging democracy, in reshaping its institutional structures to pave
ways for its local governments in conducting paradiplomacy. This exploratory study uses
library study to primarily explore official documents on Indonesian regional autonomy, mainly
related to international cooperation. This paper asserts that the rise of paradiplomacy in
Indonesia is driven by the domestication of global issues, decentralisation of power, and
fragmentation of the formerly powerful central agency.
Paradiplomacy; state transformation; Indonesia.
How to cite this article
Utomo, Ario Bimo (2022). Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of
globalisation: the case of Indonesia. In Janus.net, e-journal of international relations. Vol13,
Nº. 1, May-October 2022. Consulted [online] on the date of the last visit,
Article received on August 21, 2021 and accepted for publication on February 16, 2022
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
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Vol. 13, Nº. 1 (May-October 2022), pp. 63-78
Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
The study of International Relations generally still revolves around the behaviour of
countries that occur across borders. The state's central position, in this paper by Lake
(2007: 1), is said to "stand for the foreseeable future". This idea is, to some extent,
undeniable. Rooted in the study of Political Science, International Relations is generally
busy explaining why a particular country takes specific actions or does not take certain
actions. Even though non-state actors are starting to be included in the equation,
commonly, they are still struggling with how the state will respond to the actions of these
non-state actors.
A good example is taking case studies on terrorism, one of the most salient contemporary
topics in international politics scholarships. Even though much research has been
dedicated to analysing terrorists as non-state actors, the analyses still tend to emphasise
how the state will manoeuvre against the existence of these actors. For example, Lai
(2017) discusses the impacts of terrorism on the states' foreign policy. Valeriano and
Maness (2018) also highlight the relations between terrorism and cyber security. Last
but not least, there is also the likes of Okafor and Piesse (2018), who correlates the
causes of the emergence of terrorism and its relation to cases in fragile countries. Without
belittling other research that focuses on finding the link between international
phenomena and behaviour at the state level, this shows that International Relations is a
study that still places state actors as the central figure in its study.
However, the increasingly vigorous movement of international issues, driven by the
increasing flow of globalisation, has prompted International Relations scholars to find
alternative explanations for the interactions between international actors. International
issues spread despite the existing political borders. We cannot truly distinguish domestic
and international realms as the line has been blurred between those two, bringing us to
the concept of intermestic, a portmanteau of the terms "international" and "domestic".
This term widely appears in numerous research trying to divert our attention to a more
localised global politics version. Those researches remind us that contemporary scholars
need to pay more attention to domestic aspects when analysing global issues (see
Friedrich, 2018; Huijgh, 2017; Huang and Wang, 2021).
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
Studies on the intermingling between the global and local context in the era of
globalisation were notably initiated by Robertson (1995), who has warned Social Science
researchers to be cautious in assuming globalisation as a phenomenon that overrides
localities. According to Robertson, the dichotomous debate about homogenisation or
particularisation cannot fully see the problem because what is currently happening is the
transcendence between the two, giving birth to a concept he coins as "glocal" or a
combination of globalisation and localisation.
In other terms, glocalisation can also include the hybridisation process. Pieterse (2019)
formulates this idea of globalisation which does not automatically eliminate particularity.
A good analogy is the creation of McAlooTikki by McDonald's India to cater for the local
patrons, even though the spread of the aforementioned fast food joint itself is a global
phenomenon (Reyaz 2013, p.244). This situation gave rise to terms such as "think global,
act locally", which can be interpreted that each region has its particularity even though
it is faced with the globalisation phenomenon, which seems to be a universal occurrence.
Pieterse (2019) states that globalisation is an extensive process permeating every aspect
of life. Another essential idea from him is that glocalisation can also strengthen
supranational and subnational regionalism. What is meant in this context is that not only
globalisation can create new supranational blocs that respond to global issues, but it can
also cause subnational government actors to adjust their positions on these issues.
Therefore, globalisation in structural terms needs also to be understood as "the increase
in the available modes of organisation: transnational, international, national,
microregional, municipal, and local." (Pieterse, 2019: 72-73)
In light of that explanation, this paper attempts to see a facet of globalisation related to
how subnational units are getting more power in international affairs. In the field of
International Relations, such international affairs conducted by local governments is
called parallel diplomacy or paradiplomacy. This paper tries to demonstrate how
globalisation permeates the domestic level and transforms the role of states into making
subnational governments the new international actors. In doing so, the author will bring
the case of Indonesia's paradiplomacy through which we can see how globalisation brings
a rise to subnational actors.
The structure of this paper will be structured as follows. First, the author will describe
the logic behind globalisation and its impact on state dysfunction in carrying out activities
to resolve their issues. Second, this paper will continue with how the dysfunction of the
state causes subnational actors to come to the fore. Third, this paper will trace how the
state then fragments and delegates its power to subnational actors to carry out
paradiplomacy through case studies in Indonesia that can be related to the phenomenon
of globalisation mentioned in the previous two sub-chapters.
In doing so, this paper utilises the State Transformation perspective developed by
Hameiri et al. (2019), a frame of analysis that emphasises the development of states'
roles in the era of globalisation where the global permeates into the local. The core of
this perspective consists of three aspects: (1) fragmentation, (2) decentralisation, and
(3) internationalisation. First of all, fragmentation refers to delegating the policy-making
process to different actors. Then, decentralisation means allocating power to sub-state
entities, for example, provincial and municipal governments. Third, internationalisation
understands that there is a crossroads between domestic and international issues, so
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Vol. 13, Nº. 1 (May-October 2022), pp. 63-78
Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
state agencies have begun to interact across borders (Hameiri et al., 2019: 4-5). Those
three dimensions will be the departing points in seeing how paradiplomacy occurs due to
the states' development under globalisation.
The main argument of this paper is that paradiplomacy is a product of state
transformation driven by how globalisation slowly incapacitates centralised states and
forces them to delegate some of its power to subnational actors. On the other hand,
globalisation does not create uniformity but encourages glocalisation, absorbing the
international issues into domestic realities. As a result, subnational governments
welcome globalisation as an opportunity to internationalise themselves through
paradiplomacy activities.
Previous studies on the topic
The study of paradiplomacy is still on the rise, and it has been getting more popular
within the last few years in Indonesia. Among the earliest works that explore the concept
of paradiplomacy from the Indonesian perspective are done by Damayanti (2012),
bringing the argument that the practice of paradiplomacy can be used by Indonesia to
enhance its stature within ASEAN. The study provides an idea that paradiplomacy has
the potential to increase the depth of cooperation between members in regional
Some other articles, such as by Effendi (2012), Alam et al. (2020), as well as Moenardy
and Sinaga (2021) add to the body of literature by using the economic lens in seeing the
benefits of paradiplomacy. Those articles argue that paradiplomacy is an opportunity for
Indonesian local governments to promote their international competitiveness by
enhancing entrepreneurial government spirit. Mukti (2013), on the other hand, goes with
a more holistic study, exploring the issue of paradiplomacy from four sides: International
Relations, diplomacy, legal-formal, and practical. In his work, he highlights the
prominence of the Indonesian Regional Autonomy in enabling the subnational
government to perform in international affairs before providing case studies from the
province of West Java, East Java, and the Special Region of Yogyakarta.
Regarding the use of State Transformation in the study of Indonesian paradiplomacy,
Karim (2019) 's work has provided an essential foundation by highlighting the activities
of frontier areas of Indonesia such as Batam and West Kalimantan participating in para-
diplomacy activities with foreign territories bordering them (Singapore and Malaysia,
respectively). However, the point of view Karim uses, in this case, is the dimension of
border studies, which emphasises how regions respond to border management
challenges that commonly occur in areas that share borders. Another dimension of
paradiplomacy that has not been explored is the dimension of globalisation, or how the
intensification of the spread of global issues ultimately encourages the redistribution of
power from the state to the regions (Kuznetsov, 2014). Therefore, this paper will offer a
new contribution from this aspect and see how globalisation has encouraged Indonesia
to delegate the power to carry out diplomacy to the regions.
The author observes that while many Indonesian paradiplomacy pieces of research go
directly to evaluating practices case studies or discuss them from the juridical side,
departing from globalisation will add to the existing literature in viewing paradiplomacy
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
as a necessity. In developing countries, paradiplomacy is not optimal because the
implementing regions do not adequately perform it (Nganje, 2013). Meanwhile, there is
also the possibility that the minimal knowledge of paradiplomacy will make the activity
just a mere ceremony (Tavares, 2016). Thus, such a study is needed to prepare
developing countries to welcome globalisation more responsively to essential issues.
Glocalisation and the rise of subnational actors
Even though the Westphalian nation-state system seems to be the prevailing status quo,
it is not immune to objections after all this time. A notion of the "post-Westphalian order"
is thus offered to accentuate the evolving global system. Linklater (1996: 78) defines the
so-called post-Westphalian global system as a system in which the exclusionary nature
of traditional sovereignty is put into question as "the central purpose of the state is
mediating different loyalties at the subnational, national and international levels."
Drawing from the European case study, he asserts this argument by saying that the bond
which holds the communities within a state together is being challenged by globalisation
and new loyalties towards subnational communities. In another article, Osiander (2001:
251) even dismisses the Westphalian order as a "myth" and describes it as construction
that hampers the development of different International Relations theories by fixating it
upon a largely imaginary concept of sovereignty which finds its roots from an event from
the seventeenth century. The debate goes on until now and finds its ways through
different aspects of global politics such as security (Sperling, 2017; Doyle and Dunning,
2018; Mircea, 2020), culture (Mancini, 2017; Beyer, 2020), as well as the political
economy (Langan and Price, 2020; Hester and William, 2020). Consequently, nation-
states are increasingly dysfunctional in managing affairs in an increasingly connected
world (Bell 1987; Ohmae, 1992). However, from such a vast array of discussions, there
is a conclusion that globalisation has created deterritorialisation and decentralisation as
the new norms in managing global issues.
However, globalisation itself is not a monolith, and not all countries experience it
uniformly from time to time. Following Swyngedouw's (2004) idea, globalisation has a
two-way process. First, it infuses global issues and trends into daily human life. However,
on the other hand, globalisation also allows subnational actors to express their interests
in international forums. According to Robertson (1995), this two-way process is called
glocalisation. Robertson argues that globalisation creates not only uniformity but also
cultural enclaves, each of which can have its characteristics in globalisation, hence a
“localised” version of global issues. Robertson finds that globalisation can lead to
differences in local politics that differentiate the practice of globalisation in one place
versus another. This condition makes the approaches might differ between countries to
meet global trends.
Regarding the rise of local actors, Keohane and Nye (1971) are the prominent names
who notably bring the study to the table through their work entitled Transnational
Relations and World Politics: An Introduction. The authors develop a theoretical
framework that departs from the traditional wisdom, which puts states as the basic unit
of action in global politics. This work mainly responds to realism, which treats states as
the main actors in international affairs. Keohane and Nye argue that the increasingly
interdependent relations will bring a new trend called "transnational relations" rather
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
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than the conventional "international relations". By definition, transnational relations
refers to "interactions across state boundaries that are not controlled by governments'
central foreign policy organs" (Ibidem: 331). In this case, the notion of transnationalism
begins from acknowledging that the dynamics between statesas we know it and thus
becomes the basic of realist thinkingdoes not occur within a vacuum. This argument
means that several other factors contribute to play, including geography, domestic
politics, and the advancement of technology. Therefore, global interdependence also
creates a window of opportunity for the new international actors to build mutual interests.
A need to see the rise of these new international actors can also be seen through the
speech by Javier Solana (1998) at the Symposium on the Political Relevance of the 1648
Peace of Westphalia. Regarding the concept of Westphalian sovereignty, he implies that
the prevailing state-centric point of view is less able to accommodate the increasing
interdependence of actors in this globalising world. Drawing from the European Union
lessons, Inanc and Ozler (2007: 127) resonate with this argument by stating that the
notion of traditional international relations is insufficient to explain the increasing level
of interaction and transaction under globalisation.
From here, we can conclude that we are now facing a condition where (1) scholars need
to re-shift their attention toward the increasingly glocalised version of international issues
and (2) states need to restructure themselves in the face of globalisation. Otherwise,
they will be highly dysfunctional as issues are now moving fast despite the existing
borders, and those issues permeate into the domestic realm within their borders. On the
other hand, this signifies a condition where traditional international relations are
reshaped to accommodate more actors.
If we relate the above discussions to the concept of glocalisation that this paper has
mentioned earlier, then the unification of the world into a more integrated system has
made local governments now begin to engage in their capacity as subnational actors
(Mukti, 2014: 176). Theoretically, this phenomenon is called paradiplomacy, a
portmanteau of "parallel" and "diplomacy", which translates to the capacity of
subnational actors to engage in foreign diplomacy in order to fulfil their specific interests
(Wolff, 2009). It is named "parallel" because it occurs alongside the traditional diplomacy
that the state does. This definition infers a meaning where the host states share their
power in foreign activities with the subnational governments. Currently, the notion of
paradiplomacy is normalised as the standard practice in international relations. In this
case of normalisation, he argues that paradiplomacy is too relevant to be dismissed in
the current international context. The normalisation of paradiplomacy is measured
through the intended outcomes, but it can also be studied as an assertion of "institutional
autonomy in an increasingly complex context" (Cornago, 2010: 35). Next, it is essential
to unveil the logic behind the existence of paradiplomacy due to the transforming role of
the state in the current context.
State transformation and paradiplomacy
Previously, we have seen that globalisation brings with it the interconnection of issues
and actors, which ultimately renders the absolute nature of the state obsolete. Here, the
author argues that one of the lenses that we can use to view the phenomenon of
paradiplomacy is to relate it to how the state's role has evolved in globalisation.
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
The concept of state transformation was developed by Hameiri and Jones (2016), with
the main idea of this concept departing from the assumption that global governance is
facing a crisis. Meanwhile, the crisis in question is the difficulty in balancing the relevance
of multilateral institutions with domestic interests in a country. Thus, the authors argue
that in this era of globalisation, what is no less critical for the state is transforming its
institutional functions to respond to global challenges better.
The consequence of living in the post-Westphalian era is that countries can no longer
minimise the impact of an issue in their territory. A case study on this is the mitigation
of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, more popularly known as SARS, pandemic in
China. The clash between Westphalian and post-Westphalian logic is at play here because
China, as the first affected country, decided to postpone official information about SARS
to save the domestic economy. On the other hand, the World Health Organisation (WHO)
has vigorously announced the research results on SARS that China can no longer hide
from the public. In this case, WHO's meta-governance positions it as an international
oversight agency that defines the institutions, capacities, and relationships that China
had to develop domestically to address global health problems (Hameiri and Jones 2016:
The state transformation theory asserts a "pluralisation of cross-border state agency via
contested and uneven processes" (Hameiri et al., 2019: 1). This idea arises as a further
analysis upon the post-Westphalian order, which can no longer regard that only one
central solid authority can "resolve all questions and contestations into a single foreign
policy" (Ibidem: 3). There are three points that Hameiri et al. made in explaining such
transformation. First of all, there is a process of fragmentation, noting that the initially
powerful central agency has now been pushed to distribute its resources to different
actors and sub-agencies, including private and public agencies. Second, there is also the
process of decentralisation. Through this process, the central agency is now sharing its
power with subnational entities such as regions, provinces, and cities. Lastly, state
transformation also occurs as the domestic agencies have become involved
internationally. In such a sense, globalisation will not be experienced equally by all the
states in the world. Also, this concept reaffirms the post-Westphalian notion that states
should no longer be regarded as single-unitary actors in international politics.
Following that explanation, paradiplomacy is equal to the internationalisation stage of
state transformation. Here, the author sees it as an effort to transform the state to
respond to global issues whose influence has spread to the domestic level. Repeating
what Bell (1987) and Ohmae (1992) argued about the dysfunctional concept of the
unitarian nation-state in the post-Westphalian system, paradiplomacy is necessary for
countries to keep themselves relevant amidst the advent of new international actors. In
this case, the practice pursued by the state is to allow local governments to participate
in formulating foreign activities based on their specific interests. To give an example of
how state transformation is linked to paradiplomacy, the next section will discuss how
the transformation of state functions in Indonesia ultimately results in more regions
practising paradiplomacy.
The case of Indonesia
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
Indonesia is an interesting case study. It is a country that has recently been undergoing
a transition from an authoritarian government to a democratic one. Previously, Indonesia
was under Suharto's New Order regime, where the Indonesian Constitution was
"sacralised" to the extent that criticising Suharto was equal to criticising the Constitution.
This had resulted in the legitimation of Suharto's authoritarian rule for 32 years
(Hutagalung, 2017). In this era, Indonesia was a centralised country where power was
concentrated in the hands of the President and development based on regional autonomy
had no place in the political reality in Indonesia.
However, in 1998, Suharto's government collapsed following the crisis in Asia. Delin
(2000) argues that the fall of the Suharto regime can be categorised as one of the
phenomena of the third wave of democratisation experienced by world countries. In this
context, Delin sees that globalisation has contributed to the downfall of authoritarian
regimes because it was driven by several factors such as the emergence of Western-
educated Indonesian democrats and the loss of legitimacy of authoritarian governments
in the face of the global economic crisis. This argument, for example, is consistent with
other works of literature that discuss the relationship between globalisation and
democratisation, such as Acemoglu and Robinson (2006), who say that maintaining
authoritarianism will be increasingly costly in an increasingly integrated world, and Xie
et al. (2021) who finds that globalisation is positively correlated with democratisation
based on their study of 129 countries in the period 1974-2018.
According to the State Transformation theory, the first dimension that changes the state's
function is the emergence of fragmentation of the initially centralised body. This condition
is due to the state's incapacity to manage increasingly complex problems. Fragmentation
is marked by the spread of power-taking agencies that were previously centralised in one
agency to many agencies, often with overlapping responsibilities (Hameiri et al., 2019:
The 1945 Constitution stipulates that Indonesia is a unitary state. The Constitution,
therefore, implies that the ultimate decision-making power rests with the central
government. Such a context is different from the case of federal states, where the
constituent states have more autonomy in the law-making process. Prior to the 1998
reformation, however, the 1945 Constitution recognised the trias politica model of power
fragmentation, which divides the government into legislative (making laws), executive
(implementing laws), and judicial (supervising the implementation of laws). However,
this division of power remained ineffective because, in practice, the legislature could also
issue decrees that supported the will of the rulers (Hutagalung, 2017: 339). Following
the amendment of the 1945 Constitution in 1999 after the fall of Suharto, the powers
are now fragmented even further to six powers, and those powers are: constitutive,
executive, legislative, judicial, inspective, and monetary (Marlina, 2018: 176). In this
case, fragmentation occurred in the post-Suharto era to minimise abuse of power in the
hands of the executive.
First, the constitutive power is the power to change and establish the Constitution and is
exercised by the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat).
Executive power, which is the power to implement laws and the administration of the
state government, is held by the President. Legislative power, which is the power to make
laws, is held by the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat). The judicial
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
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power, which is the power to hold courts in order to uphold law and justice, is held by
the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. The penultimate power is the inspective
power related to the conduct of inspections on the management and responsibility for
state finances. The Financial Auditing Agency exercises this power. The sixth and last
power, the economic power to set and implement monetary policy, regulate, and
maintain the currency's value, is exercised by Bank Indonesia as the central bank in
Although this dimension does not directly relate to the discussion of the practice of
paradiplomacy in Indonesia, it provides some background on the current state of power
fragmentation in the Indonesian government. After all, this fragmentation of power
marks the context of Indonesia's post-reform democratisation. This condition is ripe for
international cooperation due to its increasing regard to more accountable governance.
A more detailed explanation of transferring power from the centre to the regions will be
facilitated by implementing decentralisation.
From the aspect of decentralisation, Indonesia came up with regional autonomy, which
later became the next stage after the fragmentation following the end of the New Order
regime. Regional autonomy in the reformation era was the answer to the demands of
society that commonly appeared in the New Order regime, such as the problem of uneven
development, the government that is too centralised, and the ineffectiveness of the
bureaucracy. The first regulation on decentralisation was stipulated through the Act No.
32 of 2004 on the Regional Autonomy. This regulation was later amended by Act No.23
of 2014 to catch up with the developments in the state, state administration, and
demands for regional government administration (Indonesia, 2004).
The decentralisation aspect is fundamental to the study as paradiplomacy is related to
how the powers are dispersed from central agencies to regions as implementers. Even
though paradiplomacy positions subnational governments as the prominent actors, states
as the highest sovereignty holder are the ones that need to bestow the power to the
regional actors. Therefore, even though the Indonesian regional governments can now
manage their affairs, they still have limited authorities (Mukti et al., 2020: 140). There
are six powers reserved only for the central government. Those powers are foreign policy,
defence, security, judiciary, monetary, and religion (Indonesia, 2014).
From the aspect of internationalisation, we need to understand that the context
underlying Indonesia's paradiplomacy activities is the awareness that foreign activities
are not only the central government's domain. Within the Act Number 37 of 1999
concerning Foreign Relations, Article 1 paragraph (1), Article 5 paragraph (1), and
paragraph (2), it is implied that foreign relations are any activity involving international
aspects carried out by the government at the national and subnational level. The
subnational level referred to by this regulation are the cities (Kota), regencies
(Kabupaten), and the provinces (Provinsi).
In its implementation, paradiplomacy by Indonesian subnaitonal governments is
supervised by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The two
ministers coordinate in the implementation of foreign relations and their implementation.
In Act No. 24 of 2000, article 5 paragraph (1), it is stated that state institutions and
government agencies, which have plans to conclude international agreements, must first
conduct consultations and coordination regarding plans with the relevant ministers.
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Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
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With the Act as mentioned above No.32 of 2004, it is also mentioned that autonomous
regions can carry out foreign cooperation as contained in Article 42 paragraph (1). There,
it is stated that the Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat
Daerah) has the function to give approvals for international cooperation carried out by
regional governments. It is also emphasised in the explanation of the article that in
addition to sister cities or province activities, local governments can also make "technical
cooperation agreements including humanitarian assistance, loan and grant forwarding
cooperation, capital participation cooperation and other cooperation following the laws
and regulations" (Mukti, 2014: 182).
The essence of state transformation as a response to the glocalisation of issues is slowly
being captured through paradiplomacy opportunities for Indonesia's cities, regencies, and
provinces. Nowadays, regions in Indonesia are starting to establish cooperative relations
based on the interests they most want to pursue. According to Lecours (2008), the
interests in paradiplomacy are divided into three levels. First is economic interest,
involving cooperative activities that attract foreign investment or promote local products.
Second is knowledge interest, a paradiplomacy level that aims to increase knowledge
through exchanges and capacity building programs. Third is political identity interest, a
paradiplomacy that attempts to display an international image distinguished from the
one possessed by the parent state. In connection with the Indonesian Constitution, which
reserves the implementation of central politics to the state power, Indonesian subnational
governments can only perform paradiplomacy at the first and second levels.
Paradiplomacy at the first level, namely economic interests, can be found on issues such
as tourism and the creative economy. For example, tourism is a prevalent glocalised
issue that many Indonesian regional governments focus on. It has become attention
because of its promising position as the extension of the creative economy strategy in
the current era. Arionesei et al. (2014) see that tourism has now become a global issue
because of the growth of leisure time, accompanied by a better living standard, as well
as increasing tourism demands by the international community. The advancement of
information technology has made it possible for people to find different new touristic
destinations. In response to this globalising tourism, the city of Bandung in West Java
translates the issue by developing its own "halal tourism" concept by conducting
paradiplomacy through tourism fairs by inviting Muslim country representatives as well
as foreign journalists to come to Bandung (Dermawan et al., 2020). On the other hand,
highly touristic regions such as Bali and the Special Region of Yogyakarta are also well-
known for promoting their tourism potentials through foreign engagements (Adil, 2017;
Rahmawati, 2019; Sabarno, 2021).
At the second level of paradiplomacy, the paradiplomacy infused with interest to increase
knowledge, we can take environmental issues as an example. Responding to
environmental demands that are starting to be felt at the local level, cities such as
Surabaya (East Java) have established a thematic paradiplomacy with the city of
Kitakyushu with a focus on green cooperation. This partnership with Kitakyushu also led
to the development of the Green Sister City Program to manage waste and prevent this
environmental issue from spreading into a more significant health issue (Wardhani &
Dugis, 2020). Suppose we trace it up to the international context leading to the
cooperation. In that case, we can find that the choice of the theme of green cooperation
was initiated from a need to answer the eleventh point Sustainable Development Goals
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
e-ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 13, Nº. 1 (May-October 2022), pp. 63-78
Paradiplomacy as the product of state transformation in the era of globalisation: the case of Indonesia
Ario Bimo Utomo
(SDGs), regarding sustainable cities and settlements. This point regarding the SDGs is
then translated into Indonesia's national plan to follow the SDGs as a national
development priority that requires synchronisation of planning policies at the sub-
national government level. Based on the SDGs, Surabaya then translated it into a vision
of "Surabaya, a prosperous city with a strong character and a global competitiveness
based on ecology" (Surabaya City Government, 2016). Surabaya also implemented
regional development plans, which the Surabaya City Government facilitated through
foreign cooperation schemes, one of which was with Kitakyushu through green
cooperation. The implementation of the green sister city between Surabaya and
Kitakyushu is an example of how the domestication of global issues translates to the
paradiplomacy among subnational governments.
Admittedly, the paradiplomacy activities carried out by regions in Indonesia are still far
from perfect. One lingering issue is that some paradiplomacy plans have stopped
following the creation of the Memorandum of Understanding. Therefore no practical
implementations are made (see Erika & Nurika, 2020; Putri & Adnan, 2017; Rani, 2014).
However, this does not negate that a precondition has led to these regional activities on
the international scene. In this case, the transformation of the Indonesian state can
explain such a phenomenon. As a result, the regions now have a window of opportunity
to interpret the reality of globalisation based upon their specific interests and react
accordingly through cooperation.
The decentralisation and internationalisation phase of the state transformation are so
closely related. The role of subnational governments in globalisation can be explained by
a need to look at local aspects of the economy, followed by a need to look at local aspects
of the state system. The logic of glocalisation is that it creates a particularity obtained by
translating the global context into local aspects. The closer the translation is to the
constituents, the more unique a subnational government is in globalisation (van der
Heiden & Terhorst, 2007). In this context, the subnational government is a political actor
whose function is to capture the needs and local context of the community below. On the
other hand, decentralisation allows sub-national governments to have the political and
structural capabilities to interact with international actors and global values in line with
the transformation of power at the state level.
This paper has attempted to answer a question on how subnational units are getting
more power in international relations. More specifically, it tries to shed light upon an
issue about what makes them more engaged in international affairs through
paradiplomacy. Throughout the discussion, the author has shown that the explanation
can be related to how globalisation has been absorbed at the local level, creating the
"intermestic" approach to varying life problems. This condition makes not every country
faces this phenomenon uniformly. In addition, in responding to globalisation, countries
also feel dysfunction increasingly due to growing issues and increasingly felt at their local