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Indonesia: Conflict and Development

Available in: Bahasa (Indonesian)


CDD and Local Conflict: Part of the Problem or Part of a Solution? Read more
Delivering Assistance to Conflict Affected Communities Read more
Understanding Violent Conflict in Indonesia. Read more

Violent Conflict in Indonesia study (ViCIS) is being conducted by the World Bank Conflict and Development team in Indonesia. The study uses local newspaper monitoring to track the incidence, forms and impacts of localized violent conflict. Watch the video about the project



Indonesia's 1998 post-authoritarian transition was accompanied by an upsurge of violent conflict. Reforms to democratize and decentralize the Indonesian state led to new struggles over power, identity and resources. Old tensions, previously suppressed by force, emerged. In the absence of effective mechanisms and institutional structures to manage conflicts, in many places they escalated into violence.

The human security costs have been significant: thousands of lives lost, property destroyed, and widespread fear and insecurity amongst those affected. The violence has also resulted in economic retraction, affected service delivery and, in some parts of the country, launched a downwards poverty spiral. While aggregate levels of violent conflict appear to have declined in recent years, violence is still prevalent and there may be potential for re-escalation.

After more than a decade of democratic rule in Indonesia, it is necessary to take stock of the violence that has occurred (understanding the forms it has taken, its impacts, and why it occurred), to examine current forms of conflict in Indonesia, and to evaluate the risk of future escalation. It is also important to assess what has worked in limiting violence in Indonesia and what has been less successful. Understanding past and present conflict trends, and the successes and failures of different conflict management approaches, can provide lessons on how to ensure Indonesia’s development is not accompanied by widespread violence.

The Conflict and Development program - together with its counterparts in government, CSOs and other aid agencies - works within this context to provide evidence and analysis, ideas and funding to support peaceful development in Indonesia. Three tenets drive the program’s work:

  • Understanding local conflict dynamics can aid in the design of effective programs that are sensitive to local contexts: Context is important at two levels. First, as a middle-income country where the state and markets still function, Indonesia requires different approaches to conflict management than those developed for failed or weak states. Second, because many of the factors that determine different forms and levels of conflict in Indonesia are local, interventions that are tailored to specifically target the dominant local form of violence may have a significant overall impact on levels of violence.

  • Rigorously evaluating interventions is necessary to see what works. Evaluations that combine international standard social science methodology with deep knowledge of local context can generate lessons with application to Indonesia and other conflict-affected countries.

  • Interventions will only contribute to sustainable post-conflict transitions if they are owned by governments, civil society and communities in conflict-affected areas: Partnerships and coalition-building are thus key.


Supporting post-conflict recovery in conflict-affected areas.
Security is vastly improved in the areas that were affected by high-intensity violence during the immediate post-authoritarian transition, but these areas continue to face several specific challenges as compared to the rest of Indonesia. Key among these challenges is to maintain security gains, as post-conflict violence or the spread of new forms of conflict remains a risk. Justice issues from each conflict, including investigation of past cases of violence and the restoration of property rights, are yet to be fully addressed. Most post-conflict areas also have higher rates of poverty than the national average, and steps are required to promote equitable and inclusive economic recovery.

Mainstreaming conflict sensitive development.
Conflict sensitive development addresses conflict and its causes in order to tackle the economic dynamics and grievances that fuel conflict and limit the conflict-generating impacts of development efforts. The mainstreaming of conflict sensitivity is important throughout Indonesia, not just in post-conflict areas, to anticipate and prevent adverse interactions between development and local conflict dynamics. Key measures and safeguards for development projects to incorporate conflict sensitivity typically include i) mapping local conflict dynamics and risks during the planning phase of projects to anticipate the ways that projects may interact with these dynamics ii) ensuring that projects do no harm by ensuring community involvement and inclusiveness, establishing a clear and transparent complaints handling mechanism, and ensuring programs work as intended, by developing strong mechanisms for socialization, monitoring and follow-up. In areas where conflict management is a priority, conflict resolution training for facilitators and strengthening or establishment of local bottom-up conflict resolution mechanisms may also be beneficial.

Access to impartial dispute resolution mechanisms for resource competition.
The appropriate recognition of indigenous rights remains a significant domain of political contestation in present-day Indonesia. Prior to the democratic transition, customary claims to land and resources received scant recognition. The opening up of the political sphere over the past decade has seen a re-assertion in many parts of the country of indigenous identities and associated claims to resources. At the same time, extensive internal migration and population pressures have generated increased local competition with migrant communities, sometimes themselves equally marginalized. In many parts of the country, violent conflict has resulted from such contestation over resources. It is urgent to establish a transparent, accessible mechanism to reach a just balance between claims based on indigenous rights and on the rights of all citizens. A key step is to ensure ready access to clear and impartial formal and informal dispute resolution mechanisms.

National conflict monitoring for timely evidence-based interventions.
Analytical work indicates that the forms, intensity and impacts of violent conflict vary significantly from district to district in Indonesia. There is a need to understand and track the incidence of violent conflict, and to understand the factors that affect conflict dynamics and pathways. A National Conflict Monitoring System, once established, could utilize such knowledge to help prevent small-scale incidents of localized violence expanding into larger episodes of civil unrest by supporting timely, evidence-based interventions.

Policy-relevant analysis produced by national institutions.
The conflicts that accompanied Indonesia’s post-authoritarian transition have triggered renewed research activity within the country on conflict dynamics and appropriate policy responses. Nevertheless, scholars of conflict face several obstacles in conducting rigorous policy-relevant research: peace and conflict research lacks an institutional home in many universities; funding for research is often limited or unavailable; limited access to research training may also limit the scope to adopt and adapt methodology and practice from international experience. Over time, it is important for Indonesia to develop a vibrant conflict research sector readily able to support policy formulation through rigorous theoretically-informed empirical research.

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The Conflict and Development (C&D) program was established within the Social Development Unit of the World Bank office in Jakarta in 2002. It provides an innovative model for supporting the national and local governments and CSOs in developing conflict-sensitive approaches that respond to Indonesia's changing dynamics. The C&D program's key national government counterpart is the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas). At the local level, the program also works closely with the Aceh provincial government. The program has four core inter-related elements:

  • Analytical work aims to provide empirical evidence for conflict-sensitive development. Research under the analytical arm of the program includes the flagship Violent Conflict in Indonesia (ViCIS) study of escalation and de-escalation, other work on the nature and costs of conflict, monitoring of conflict trends, and assessments of the multi-faceted interactions between development projects and local conflict dynamics.

  • Technical assistance to support the national government and local governments in conflict affected areas to address conflict more effectively. Work includes technical assistance to key national government counterpart Bappenas to conduct a comprehensive review of Indonesia's Conflict Management Instruments, support to national and provincial governments to assist in the mainstreaming of conflict sensitivity, and advisory work with the Aceh government on the conflict-sensitive use of special autonomy funds.

  • Operations work pilots and tests conflict prevention and management approaches to assess their effectiveness and suitability for scale-up. Delivery vehicles include Government of Indonesia projects such as PNPM-Rural and PNPM-SPADA as well as other development projects.

  • Capacity-building to ensure sustainability of the empirically-based approach to conflict-sensitive development. The program has an active capacity building strategy, which enhances the ability of government, CSOs and research organizations to work on conflict and development issues. All activities are evaluated and documented and lessons learned are disseminated within and outside of Indonesia. The program currently provides support to the Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies at Syiah Kuala University in Aceh. Additionally, the program is exploring other partnerships that would allow the transfer over time of elements of its analytical work to national institutions.

The Conflict and Development program has also established four mini portals with information about specific aspects of the overall program and partnerships with the national and local governments:

  1. Aceh Portal: provides information and publications about the Conflict and Development program's activities in Aceh.

  2. BRA portal: provides information and publications on the Aceh Peace-reintegration Board (BRA - Badan Reintegrasi Damai Aceh), Joint Forum to Support Peace in Aceh (FORBES - Forum Bersama untuk Mendukung Perdamaian di Aceh) and the BRA-KDP project, in which BRA provided community-based assistance to conflict victims in Aceh by utilizing the delivery mechanism of the Kecamatan Development Program.

  3. MSR portal: Provides information on the Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming in Aceh (MSR) in Aceh.

  4. PCF portal: Provides information and publications on the Supporting Post-Conflict in Indonesia project, implemented by the C&D program on behalf of Bappenas and funded by the Post Conflict Fund (PCF).
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Conflict & Development Website & Mini portal

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