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PhD Project

Why do non-western emerging middle powers have sought to play a greater role in global governance? What are their strategies in pursuing a leadership role in particular global governance? To what extent do their aspirations in global governance conform and confront with the US interest? These questions have driven a new research program in International Relations (IR) to look closely on the emerging middle powers such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and South Africa. Besides, the behaviour of emerging powers has posed a challenge toward a mainstream International Relations (IR) theory: to what extent does their behaviour might or might not conform to a mainstream IR theory?

In order to answer these questions, this research will use Indonesia as a case study. As a member of the G20, the most important promoter of democracy in Asia Pacific, and supporter of climate change negotiation, Indonesia seeks to play a greater role in global governances. In trade governance, Indonesia demonstrates a leading role in establishing common perception among emerging and established powers to forge an agreement that will advance trade liberalization under the Doha Round last meeting in Bali 2013.

This research project aims to contribute distinctively to both theoretical and empirical objectives. Theoretically, the study aims to apply analytic eclecticism through the application of role theory in explaining the motivation of emerging middle powers’ pursuit of leadership in global governance. Surprisingly, few studies try to apply analytic eclecticism in the study of emerging powers. The application of role theory might be able to fill the gaps by giving a more comprehensive account of the phenomenon. Empirically, whilst a majority of studies on emerging middle powers mainly focus on Brazil, Turkey, and India (Hakim, 2014, Cakmak and Guneysu, 2013, Chacko, 2014), few studies try to use Indonesia as a case study on discussion of emerging middle powers in global governance. Thus, the research might contribute toward expanding the empirical scope of this research program.

This research will focus on three areas of global governance in which the emerging middle powers have sought a greater role in the post-Cold War international order namely peace and human rights governance, trade governance, and environmental governance. In peace and human rights governance, the research project will focus on Indonesia’s aspiration to have a greater engagement in democracy and human rights promotion despite the lack of full acceptance of the democratic norm on the domestic level. In trade governance, the research aims to analyse the puzzling case of Indonesia’s greater support of trade liberalization in WTO despite its domestic audience preference for protectionism. In environmental governance, the project will focus on the subset puzzle why Indonesia wishes to become a leader in climate change negotiation despite its weak capability in implementing the climate change mitigation agenda.