A Kite Does Not Move Backwards! Methodological Observations on Critiques of Human Rights Activism in Indonesia and Southeast Asia

Werner Menski
SOAS, University of London, UK
wm4@soas.ac.uk

Abstract
The key argument of this paper is that while the plurality of inputs into any legal management of human rights issues is bound to generate many frustrations, justice cannot be simply served on a silver plate by making perfect rules. The arduous everyday task to manage diversity and to harmonise competing expectations should thus not lead to disgruntled disenchantment, but needs to ground more critical activism. While there is a need to cultivate realism-inspired recognition that sustained effort in taking account of all reasonable stakeholders is possible, this will be hard work and we need to accept that this will involve compromises. The paper presents the pluralist kite model of law as a basic tool kit for developing more effective practice-focused human rights activism in Indonesia and Southeast Asia and asks some searching questions about the possibilities of sustainable compromises.

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