Understanding the Meaning of Pancasila as the Idea of Law (Rechtsidee)

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Understanding the Meaning of Pancasila as the Idea of Law (Rechtsidee)

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Understanding the Meaning of Pancasila as the Idea of Law (Rechtsidee)
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Legal LiteracyThis article discusses the concept of “rechtsidee” or legal ideal within the context of Indonesian law, particularly in relation to Pancasila, the legal foundation of the Indonesian nation.

This article also explains the concept of rechtsidee according to experts and how Pancasila functions as a filter for international conventions as well as a fundamental principle in criticizing and underpinning legal conduct in Indonesia.

By: Shenny Mutiara Irni

The Constitution of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), the 1945 Constitution, states in its preamble that it creates a central idea. This central idea represents the spirit of the Constitution itself, which is none other than Pancasila. Thus, Pancasila contained within the constitution, is also adopted as the legal ideal (rechtsidee) for the Indonesian nation. The legal ideal of Pancasila is the desired legal ideal of the Indonesian people. This is because, in essence, law is based on the values held by its society.

Pancasila itself contains values originating from the Indonesian people. These nationally rooted values naturally promote the effectiveness and enforcement of law. Therefore, Pancasila is made the law of all sources of law. Subsequently, Pancasila governs over all prevailing positive laws, both written and unwritten.

Pancasila as a legal ideal (rechtsidee) must or is obligatory to underlie positive law in Indonesia, as well as act as a filtration tool for international law. Moreover, the aim of the Indonesian nation’s journey is certainly reflected through the legal ideal upheld by the state.

What is Rechtsidee?

The term rechtsidee is derived from Dutch, meaning legal ideal. According to A Hamid S Attamimi, it is best translated as legal ideal rather than legal aspirations. These two phrases indeed show a significant difference in meaning. Therefore, a legal ideal can be interpreted as an idea, concept, creation, or thought. The definition of a legal ideal implies that the essence of law truly originates from the ideas, concepts, or feelings of its society.


Referring to another expert, Gustaf Radbruch argues that a legal ideal is a fundamental form of law that is constitutive. This means that without a legal ideal, a law would lose its meaning as law. Thus, a legal ideal becomes a regulatory measure.

This means that a legal ideal serves as a test of whether a country’s positive law is just or not. Meanwhile, Radbruch conceptualizes rechtsidee with the value of justice in the context of law. He tries to relate this concept to a value-oriented theory of law, where the ideal value used by Radbruch is the value of justice.

For a simplification regarding Radbruch’s intent, Hans Gribnau, a legal expert from Tilburg University, the Netherlands, attempts to further explain the concept of legal value in Radbruch’s legal ideal. This implies that its starting point is the idea that law aims to create justice, or ideal law itself.

Then, another correct opinion from Radbruch states that the concept of law depends on the legal ideal (rechtsidee) of the country itself. There is also another consistent opinion from Meuwissen, who conceptualizes the legal ideal as a legal reality. The meaning of this statement is that the legal ideal is formed from the thoughts of society aimed at achieving happiness, order, and justice.

What is the Pancasila Rechtsidee?

Discussing the legal ideal of Pancasila, on a micro level, it can be defined as a law that encapsulates various values and concepts selectively taken from the best elements of the legal consciousness of Indonesian society. On a macro level, the legal ideal of Pancasila can be described as a filter for international conventions. Pancasila is also used as a general principle in terms of critiquing and underpinning all legal behaviors in Indonesia.

This article represents the personal opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the Literasi Hukum Indonesia editorial board.


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