The iconic chandeliers of the Savoy-Homann Hotel in Bandung glittered, casting a soft, golden glow over a room filled with intellectual giants. Voices, rich with wisdom and experience, mingled as professors engaged in thoughtful discussions. Amongst them are renowned scholars like Prof Luis Eslava, Prof Anne Orford, and Prof Dire Tladi, each contributing to the collective knowledge of the room. The echoes of a history long past resonated in those walls, each thread intricately woven with the legacy of the Asia-Africa Conference.
I found myself amidst this gathering, a blend of anticipation and awe stirring within me. The two plenary sessions that day would form the nucleus of an enlightening experience: “Revisiting the Bandung Spirit and Outlook of International Law from Asian Perspective” and “(Re)Configuring New Multilateralism through the Asian-African Perspective.” The richness of the subjects and the diversity of the panels reflected a tapestry of ideas and insights. To think that I was to be part of this incredible journey!
Later, a walk to the historical Merdeka Building would unfold layers of learning that added even more depth to an already profound experience. Nevertheless, first, there was a momentous task at hand.
The 9th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law summoned a confluence of minds to Indonesia, resurrecting the spirit of Bandung and envisioning a new era for international law. Under the watchful eyes of the legal luminaries, I was there to present an article co-authored with my senior colleague, Fildza Nabila Avianti, from Anggraeni and Partners’ Legal Lab Division. Titled “An Overview of the Challenges and Opportunities of Sustainable Business Environment in Indonesia: Safeguarding Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Heritage from Business-Induced Climate Losses,” our paper was a heartfelt exploration of the delicate intersection of law, culture, and climate in our beloved Indonesia.
Fildza could not attend, and I felt both the weight of responsibility and the thrill of opportunity as I stood on the precipice of this conference. What unfolded over those few days in Depok and Bandung would become a defining chapter in my professional journey, a dance between history, law, and personal growth that I am eager to share with you.
Part I: The Essence of the Journey
Section A: Crafting Our Paper
When Fildza, having graduated with her LLM of International Law from Columbia University and possessing a keen interest in business and human rights, said ‘yes’ to my proposal for collaboration, I felt a fusion of excitement and responsibility. Fildza, who had been working extensively on the TWAIL approach in her research, paired with me, a junior researcher grappling with myriad topics in search of a specialisation, had stumbled upon a calling.
The inspiration was clear: social justice. Our shared passion for a more equitable and sustainable world drove us to explore a subject of profound significance in our homeland, Indonesia. A similar article I had submitted solo to another ASIANSIL conference in Japan had not been accepted, but this setback only fueled my determination. Teaming up with Fildza, we embarked on an intellectual adventure that would become both a challenge and a triumph.
Challenges and Triumphs
Crafting our paper was akin to navigating a labyrinth of ideas, with each turn presenting new perspectives and dilemmas. As self-professed social justice warriors (indeed, we often laughingly referred to ourselves as such), our desire for perfection clashed with the need to narrow our focus. The discussions were spirited, sometimes veering off into tangential debates but constantly circling back to our central theme.
Our research was a quest for understanding, and the process was filled with struggles and revelations. Late nights poring over legal frameworks, juxtaposing international commitments with national implementation, analysing the disconnection in-laws — it was an exhaustive yet exhilarating journey. We wrestled with complexities, but the paper began to take shape with each step forward.
Our paper’s conclusion resonates as a clarion call for safeguarding Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage against the looming threats of climate change and corporate irresponsibility. Through the examination of the Talang Mamak Tribe’s Forest case and the analysis of national and international legal instruments, we underscored the urgency of concerted efforts.
Our paper highlights a discernible gap in implementing laws such as Law Number 11 of 2010 on Cultural Heritage Conservation and Law Number 32 of 2009 on Environmental Protection and Management. The inconsistencies and enforcement challenges elucidate the need for law reform, environmental and heritage protection laws revisions, emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility, and ratification of relevant bills and conventions.
Ultimately, our paper advocates for a shared responsibility that transcends sectors, disciplines, and generations. It is a charge we owe to our ancestors, a commitment we make for our future descendants, and an expression of Indonesia’s collective identity. The complexity of safeguarding cultural heritage from business-induced climate losses should not deter us but inspire innovative strategies that embody sustainable development principles. After all, preserving cultural heritage is not a hindrance to progress but a foundation upon which a truly sustainable and inclusive society can be built.
Section B: The Conference
The email arrived, unassuming, yet carrying a wave of elation that would wash over me in the moments to follow. The words “accepted” glimmered on the screen, and I was over the moon on cloud nine. This was not merely an acceptance for a conference; it was a validation of our efforts, research, and commitment to the cause.
The 9th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law was not just a platform; it was an arena of ideas, a congregation of minds, a stage where the freshest insights met seasoned wisdom. Moreover, I was going to be a part of it.
With a month or two to pen down our full article, the race against time began. I found myself consumed by books, absorbing lines and theories, scribbling notes in margins, and yes, perhaps breaking my eyes in the process (a jesting observation I would make to myself in those intense days). Nevertheless, laughter was a fleeting guest amidst the anticipation and anxiety.
A week before the event, the programme handbook arrived in my inbox. It was a moment of revelation: I, a fresh graduate, was to present amongst PhDs and Professors. Fildza’s absence added to the weight of responsibility. The nervousness intertwined with excitement, forming a potent mix of emotions that would fuel my preparation.
The Savoy-Homann hotel, rich with the legacy of the Asia-Africa conference, became the crucible for intellectual discourse. As an underdog, I felt a mixture of awe and trepidation. Nonetheless, the esteemed academics and experts gathered there did not underestimate me. Their welcoming attitude, and their readiness to connect, instilled in me a sense of belonging.
I found myself in the illustrious company of Panel 2B.6, “Environmental Law,” moderated by Dr. Iing Nurdin. Discussions ranged from international adjudication in climate change cases to the rights of nature in socio-legal contexts. The diverse perspectives from universities across the globe resonated within the room, and I was both a contributor and an eager learner.
The presence of Professor Dire Tladi, a recent nominee for a judgeship at the International Court of Justice, added an air of gravity to the proceedings. Although no question was directed at me, the learning was immense, and the insights were invaluable.
The conference was more than a series of plenary sessions or panels; it was a tapestry of ideas woven by voices that represented both the vigour of youth and the wisdom of experience. The dialogues on revisiting the Bandung Spirit and configuring new multilateralism will long echo in my mind.
A walk to the Merdeka Building added layers to my understanding, weaving the local context into the global conversation. The journey was not just one of presentation; it was an education, an inspiration, and a connection with a community dedicated to social justice and the betterment of our world.
Part II: Reflections
Section A: The Interaction with Esteemed Minds
Being amongst experts whose work I had admired from afar, whose papers I had read, and whose ideas I had followed was an unparalleled experience. The first plenary session, aptly titled “Revisiting the Bandung Spirit and Outlook of International Law from Asian Perspective,” resonated with my Indonesian background and was enlightening in more ways than one.
Prof. Luis Eslava’s and Prof. Anne Orford’s contributions, especially, were illuminating. They delved into the historical significance of the Bandung Conference and its transformative effect on international law. The discussions on anti-imperialism, de-colonisation, and the contemporary echoes of the Bandung Spirit were intellectually stimulating. Prof Eslava’s work, mainly his book published in 2017, provided a vital context to the theme of the conference.
The parallel panels were an avenue for further exploration. Panel 1A.3, “Dispute Settlement,” opened vistas into climate change-related disputes and international conciliation at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Panel 2A.6, “Cyberspace and International Law,” moderated by Prof. Miras Daulenov, examined contemporary challenges, including the Indonesian jurisdiction’s stance on cyberspace and legal frameworks governing artificial intelligence.
Of course, my presentation at Panel 2B.6, “Environmental Law,” was an enriching experience. Sharing the platform with scholars discussing climate change advisory cases, the rights of nature, and sustainable business environments was a profound learning experience.
The informal interactions were no less significant outside the panels and plenary sessions. Meeting researchers, PhD candidates, lecturers, and even lawyers from diverse backgrounds, I found a commonality of purpose and passion. Discussions transcended academic formalities and delved into the real-world implications of our studies.
One connection, in particular, promised to blossom into a future visit, a testament to the bridges built during these precious days.
The conference was not merely an academic exercise; it was a melting pot of perspectives, an amalgamation of ideas, and a testament to the power of international collaboration. Whether discussing legal challenges in the maritime industry or understanding the nuances of sustainable business environments in Indonesia, the insights gained were multifaceted and invaluable.
In reflection, the journey was more than a series of lectures or presentations; it was a communion with like-minded souls, a reinforcement of my beliefs, and a window into the vast world of international law. The value of this conference extended beyond academia; it shaped my perspective, enriched my understanding, and created connections that I will cherish for years to come.
Section B: Lessons and Insights
The conference was an eye-opener, not merely in theoretical constructs but in providing a tangible sense of the legal frameworks that govern the complex interplay of cultural heritage and climate change. Discussions in the environmental law panel exposed me to a myriad of viewpoints and methodologies, reflecting on both the common heritage of mankind and the multifaceted challenges of sustainable business.
For instance, the socio-legal study of the Kishenganga Hydro-electric Power Plant highlighted the intricate balance between ecological responsibility and legal entitlements. As a legal professional focusing on Indonesian law, the broader understanding of how legal frameworks interact with climate change was an invaluable insight that resonates deeply with the environmental challenges faced in my homeland.
On a personal level, the conference was a journey of discovery and affirmation. The opportunity to present amongst esteemed academics, to engage with legal minds of diverse backgrounds, and to navigate the complexities of international law – these experiences have enriched me as a legal professional.
The interactions have also provided a renewed perspective on my role at Anggraeni and Partners. They have bolstered my conviction in the importance of safeguarding indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage from business-induced climate losses. In a world increasingly grappling with environmental challenges, the alignment between my professional responsibilities and global imperatives has never been more evident.
The Indonesian Perspective
The conference also prompted a contemplation of Indonesia’s role and opportunities within the global context. Panel discussions, particularly those that addressed cyberspace, artificial intelligence, and environmental law, resonated with Indonesia’s unique position as a developing nation striving to reconcile tradition with modernity.
The dialogue on the Indonesian jurisdiction in cyberspace offered a glimpse into the complexities faced by the nation, reflecting an intricate dance between governmental control and individual liberties. Similarly, exploring challenges and opportunities in sustainable business environments in Indonesia highlighted the delicate interplay between national interests, cultural heritage, and international norms.
In reflecting upon these lessons, I discern a path where Indonesia can assert its unique voice, leverage its rich cultural heritage, and align with global environmental and legal paradigms. In its many facets, the conference offered a tapestry of thoughts, challenges, and possibilities, making it an unforgettable expedition into the depths of international law from an Indonesian vantage point.
The journey that began with an email of acceptance culminated in a transformative experience transcending mere academic exchange. As I stood amongst esteemed scholars, legal professionals, and passionate academics, the essence of the conference seemed to embody the spirit of the Bandung Conference—a symbol of solidarity, a beacon of intellectual emancipation, and a testament to the collective pursuit of understanding and cooperation.
Much like the Bandung Conference, which reshaped international law and challenged the status quo, my journey to the conference brought forth a renewed perspective on legal frameworks, personal growth, and Indonesia’s unique voice in the global discourse. The panels, discussions, and interactions at the conference were not just an education but a manifestation of an ongoing dialogue on issues that affect us all.
In this microcosm of intellectual exchange, I discovered the resonance of the Bandung Spirit in every handshake, every question, every thoughtful exchange. The egalitarian ethos, the shared pursuit of knowledge, and the openness to diverse perspectives were reflective of the values that defined the Bandung Conference. Just as the conference in 1955 stood as a symbol of empowerment for the then-emerging nations, my journey echoed the empowering belief that every voice matters, every perspective is valuable, and every contribution adds to the tapestry of global understanding.
Call to Action
This journey has reaffirmed that we are all part of a broader dialogue, whether as legal professionals, academics, or concerned citizens. The subjects we discussed—climate change, cultural heritage, and international law—are not abstract concepts confined to scholarly debates; they are living realities that influence our world.
As I reflect on this enriching experience, I invite you, the reader, to engage with these subjects, explore more, and reflect on your role in these critical issues. Feel free to join conferences, question, learn, and most importantly, always appreciate your research and work because all works are valuable.
The Bandung Spirit is not a historical footnote; it is a living philosophy calling on us to engage, connect, and contribute. It is a reminder that we are all part of a global community driven by shared values and common goals. Let us embrace this spirit, foster intellectual curiosity, and add our voices to the chorus that shapes our collective future.
Acknowledgement: I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to those who were instrumental in making this journey a success. A special thanks to Mas Anggi Hakim and Ibu Dwi Suryandari for their unwavering support in assisting me with administrative hurdles. Navigating this being my very first physical paid conference, their assistance proved invaluable. Whether it was paperwork or moral support, they were there at every step, ensuring that everything ran smoothly.
Appendix or Links: For those interested in delving deeper into the subject matter and exploring the contents of the paper presented at the conference, the link to the full article (once it has been published) is provided here: [written publications]
About me: I am a legal researcher and analyst at Anggraeni and Partners, driven by a passion for understanding and contributing to the evolving legal landscape. In addition to my legal pursuits, I am currently studying information systems for my second bachelor’s degree, bridging the gap between law and technology. For more insights, discussions, and updates, please feel free to check my other works [links].
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