Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Indonesia steps up to the UN plate

May 12. 2019
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By The Jakarta Post
Asia News Network

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has kicked off Indonesia’s first-ever term as president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the world’s premier authority for maintaining global peace and security.

As an elected non-permanent member of the council, Indonesia is fulfilling its mandate to contribute to the world order based on social justice and rule of law, in accordance with the 1945 Constitution. This is the fourth time the nation has served on the UN body. 

As president of this august forum for the month of May, Indonesia has a golden opportunity to be the change it wants to see in the world. 

As the third-largest democracy, a member of the one-trillion-dollar club of wealthiest nations, a founding member of the Non-Alignment Movement and a nation of growing stature in the Indo-Pacific, many have come to ascribe Indonesia a sense of responsibility – one that comes with its status as a rising middle power. 

A middle power is characterised as a nation that wields considerable strength, resources and strategic value, which is often sought out for support by superpowers. 

Much has been said about what Indonesia should focus on during its two-year tenure on the UNSC, whether to usher in solutions to global conflicts, to position itself as the moderate voice of the Muslim world amid rising identity politics, or if it should work on collective efforts to reform an eroding rules-based international order. 

Indeed, two years seem like a short time for any nation to find lasting solutions to some of the world’s gravest concerns. In any case, observers are keen to see how Indonesia will translate its impressive economic indicators into global political clout. 

Indonesia already represents an unlikely portrait of peace, a tapestry of different cultures woven together by historical bonds – not unlike the batik and tenun fabrics on display at last Tuesday’s open debate on peacekeeping. Council members and even the UN secretary-general dressed up in Indonesia’s iconic prints, injecting the meeting with a much-needed dose of colour and camaraderie. 

Indonesia has the opportunity to bring non-traditional issues to the table, as Retno did with her call for more women in peacekeeping roles, which she insists represents “the face of the Security Council on the ground”.

The UNSC has mainly focused on traditional threats to peace and security, such as war and conflict. Non-traditional threats like environmental ruin, epidemics and irregular migration are often ignored, particularly for peace building. With intersecting global and national interests, Indonesia is well equipped to bridge the gap among nations and ensure that these issues gain adequate attention. 

The month-long president has limited authority, mainly to lead and moderate UNSC meetings based on previously agreed agenda. But the term may add confidence to many potentials during Indonesia’s non-permanent membership; nevertheless it often boils down to courage and political will.

Time will tell if Indonesia shall take on initiatives for meaningful change.

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