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Jakarta Post

Great opportunity, great responsibility

  • Abdulkadir Jailani


New York   /   Mon, June 11, 2018   /   09:06 am
Great opportunity, great responsibility Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi speaks during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the US, on Sept. 19, 2017. (Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry/file)

The United Nations General Assembly elected Indonesia as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on June 8. The election signifies the continuing confidence of the international community in Indonesia’s diplomacy. 

It also shows global acknowledgement of our notable track record and commitment to maintaining world peace and security.

To have a seat on the UNSC, considered the most powerful organ of the UN, is a great opportunity that Indonesia could not afford to miss. 

Membership would place our country at the epicenter of international decision making. It would also give Indonesia a chance to wield its diplomatic influence over the international community, albeit within the limitations of a non-permanent member. 

Nonetheless, this is a great opportunity that certainly comes with great responsibility.

The heart of this responsibility is to make a noteworthy contribution and leave the council at the end of its two-year term with a reputation as a true partner in creating peace. 

There is indeed a legitimate expectation that the current membership will write the same or even better success story as Indonesia did previously in 1974-1975, 1995-1996 and 2007-2008.

It is without a doubt that Indonesia has the capacity to discharge such a great responsibility and realize its vision and mission in accordance with the main challenges of the UNSC. Against this backdrop, there are some issues under the UNSC agenda that need particular attention under our membership.

First, Indonesia assumes the duty to ensure all actions taken by the security council are consistent with its mandate and the fundamental principles of international law. 

This is relevant as there is great concern that the UNSC exercises legislative, judicial and executive power, which has been frequently described as being ultra vires (beyond the power). 

Indonesia will need to make a solid stand that seeks to redress this particular challenge by highlighting the importance of the legitimacy and predictability of the UNSC’s actions.

Second, it is imperative that the UNSC immediately addresses the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Middle East, most importantly the question of Palestine. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is undeniably the root of all problems in the region, and there can be no peace without settling it.

As Indonesia always stands with Palestine, it underlines the importance of the impartiality of the international community in resolving the Palestinian issue and pushing for a peace process. Voicing the respect for the rights of Palestinians and guaranteeing their safety and protection is also essential.

Third, terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to world peace. While acknowledging the central role of the UNSC in addressing the threat of terrorism, Indonesia attaches great importance to a multilateral approach, meaning international cooperation is a prerequisite for countering this heinous crime. 

There is also a need for states to respect human rights and uphold international and national law in combating terrorism. Within this context, Indonesia should also reiterate its outlook of creating a culture of tolerance through dialogue among civilizations under the UN framework.

Fourth, as one of the largest contributors of military and police peacekeepers, Indonesia needs to actively ensure that the UNSC response to crises is wholesome, by integrating conflict prevention, peacemaking and peace building. 

Furthermore, Indonesia should also continue promoting the outstanding role played by UN peacekeepers through providing capacity building and capability development.

Fifth, we should also not lose sight of the role of regional organizations in the promotion of preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict peace building. While the Security Council would continue to have primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, regional organizations should not only provide support to the UNSC, but also contribute to a deeper sense of a more democratic international order.

In a nutshell, the opportunity to be a non-permanent member of the UNSC entails great responsibility. We need to be mindful of all the expectations of UNSC membership. 

As the UNSC plays an important role in providing a catalyst when it comes to core international issues, Indonesia is expected to act freely and independently and yet contribute toward consensus.

Amid the uncertainty of global politics, Indonesia in the UNSC will continue working optimistically.


The writer is a senior diplomat living in New York. The views expressed are his own.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.