Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
As the world's most populous Muslim country and a prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indonesia is seen by many as having the credibility required to deal with many of the high-profile issues currently being discussed by the UN Security Council.
A possible UN resolution for Myanmar, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs and the Iraq war are all in the hands of the UN body.
Dewi Fortuna Anwar, an international relations expert at the Indonesian Institute of Science, said that the most important task for Indonesia and the other countries recently elected non-permanent members of the Security Council was to convince the U.S. and the other permanent members to push for multilateralism instead of unilateralism.
""Iraq has shown the world and the U.S. how a unilateral act can have a harmful result. With its good relations with the U.S. and other big powers, Indonesia has a chance of convincing them to avoid unilateralism to serve their own purposes,"" she told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Several observers believe Indonesia has the potential to be an influential player at the UN's most powerful body.
""We have all the credibility required to have a significant voice when discussing how to solve peacefully all the big international issues from the Palestine-Israel conflict, the Iraq war, to Myanmar,"" Theo L. Sambuaga, head of the House of Representatives' Commission I overseeing security and international affairs, also told the Post on Sunday.
Indonesia assumed its new position on the Security Council this month, after being elected in October last year. The 15-nation council has five permanent members with veto power -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and 10 elected but non-permanent seats that hold two-year terms. The council's decisions on peace and security are mandatory for all UN members.
Indonesia was elected along with South Africa, Italy, Belgium and Panama. The Congo Republic, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia make up the other five members, although their terms will end this year.
Indonesia has said it plans to be independent and avoid using sanctions and force to solve issues. It will also try to bring the voices of developing countries and the Muslim community to the council.
""We will urge the use of dialog as a way to solve problems instead of sanctions as we believe that sanctions are not only ineffective but bring misery to people as well,"" Desra Percaya, the Foreign Ministry's director for international security and disarmament affairs, said during a workshop last week.
He added that Indonesia was continuing to consult with members of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Indonesia has already shown it is capable of expressing its differences with the U.S., when Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda disagreed with the U.S.'s draft resolution on Myanmar.
However, the real test for Indonesia will be how it deals with the Iran nuclear row.
""The majority of our domestic constituents support Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Indonesia also has to defend the rights of (Non-Proliferation Treaty) members to acquire nuclear power for peaceful purposes. In the meantime, Indonesia also wants to show that it is against an Iran that builds nuclear weapons,"" Dewi said.
As a member of the council, she added, Indonesia could no longer sit on the fence and abstain as it would be questioned domestically and internationally.
""We are fortunate for now that a resolution on Iran has been issued. But if things heat up, a new resolution will be needed and Indonesia will have to make a decision,"" Dewi said.
On the subject of the Middle East, she said Indonesia needed to direct the Security Council to become a mediator for the Hamas-Fatah dispute before taking on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
But an international relations expert at the University of Indonesia, Hariyadi Wirawan, said he doubted Indonesia had enough leverage to achieve much on the council.
""Indonesia is willing to play a greater role on the council, but are the big powers willing to listen to Indonesia?"" he said.