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Batik, traditional textiles grace Indonesia-led UNSC session

Agnes Anya

The Jakarta Post

New York, United States  /  Wed, May 8, 2019  /  01:35 pm
  • Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (second right) among other non-Indonesian delegates in batik attending the Indonesia-led UNSC open debate on May 7 in New York.

    Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (second right) among other non-Indonesian delegates in batik attending the Indonesia-led UNSC open debate on May 7 in New York. OF Foreign Ministry/File

    Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (second right) among other non-Indonesian delegates in batik attending the Indonesia-led UNSC open debate on May 7 in New York.

  • United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (second left, seated) wore a shirt made from 'tenun' (traditional Indonesian textile) at the Indonesia-chaired UNSC meeting on May 7 in New York.

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (second left, seated) wore a shirt made from 'tenun' (traditional Indonesian textile) at the Indonesia-chaired UNSC meeting on May 7 in New York. OF Foreign Ministry/File

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (second left, seated) wore a shirt made from 'tenun' (traditional Indonesian textile) at the Indonesia-chaired UNSC meeting on May 7 in New York.

  • Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Jose Singer (left) and another delegate also wore batik and 'tenun' to the UNSC meeting on May 7 in New York.

    Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Jose Singer (left) and another delegate also wore batik and 'tenun' to the UNSC meeting on May 7 in New York. OF Foreign Ministry/File

    Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Jose Singer (left) and another delegate also wore batik and 'tenun' to the UNSC meeting on May 7 in New York.

  • Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Christoph Heusgen (right) attends the May 7 UNSC meeting in New York in a batik shirt.

    Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Christoph Heusgen (right) attends the May 7 UNSC meeting in New York in a batik shirt. OF Foreign Ministry/File

    Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Christoph Heusgen (right) attends the May 7 UNSC meeting in New York in a batik shirt.

OF

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was ready to attend the Indonesia-chaired United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Tuesday, but first; he made sure to don tenun – traditional Indonesian textiles.

"Before the meeting, he came to greet us in the presidential room carrying a brightly colored tenun shirt in his hand, without even a bag. I was surprised when he said he would leave for a moment to change into the tenun shirt," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday in New York City.

Guterres and Retno met at the UN headquarters in New York, where they were attending the Indonesia-led open debate on peacekeeping operations. 

Read also: UN secretary-general confirmed for two Indonesia-driven UNSC sessions

Tuesday's debate is one of Indonesia's main priorities during its 2019-2020 tenure of the UNSC presidency, which commenced this month. The country intends to pursue the theme of "Investing in Peace: Improving Safety and Performance of United Nations Peacekeeping" during its presidency.

Retno added that her surprise continued when she entered the Security Council chamber to start the meeting, where she saw at least a dozen participants wearing batik shirts.

The delegates represented around 10 different UNSC countries and were not from the Indonesian delegation.

Besides the UN secretary-general, the other delegates who were seen wearing batik and tenun included UN representatives from China, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, the Ivory Coast, Peru and the United States.

"They make me feel like our countries have even closer ties to each other. I was honored to see that," she said.

The batik and tenun clothing that the delegates wore were from their personal collections, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir.

Some delegates said that the clothing were gifts from the Indonesian delegation in New York, he added, while others had acquired the garments as souvenirs when they attended conferences in Indonesia.

Guterres wore the same tenun shirt he had been given during the 2018 International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings in Bali, Arrmanatha noted. 

Meanwhile, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto said at the Gelar Batik Nusantara event in Jakarta, on Wednesday that the Industry Ministry was making a push to support small industries in batik sectors, as they played an important role in the national economy and contributed to the country’s foreign exchange.

The ministry targeted a 10 percent increase in 2019 batik and tenun exports to US$58.6 million from last year’s $53.3 million. The batik industry has created jobs for 15,000 people in 3,782 business units within 101 small-medium industry (IKM) centers in Java, while tenun is produced in 368 IKM centers with 14,618 business units that employ 57,972 people.

“[Supporting the batik industry] inspires batik artisans and the national batik industry, including the government, to continuously develop the batik industry so it can get recognition from the world,” Airlangga stated as quoted by Antara news agency.

Read also: Batik: A cultural dilemma of infatuation and appreciation

Indonesia will hold a series of events this month, including an informal meeting on illegal settlements in Palestine and an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. 

The UNSC has 15 member countries, including Indonesia, which was elected last year as a non-permanent member for the 2019-2020 term. Indonesia has been a UNSC non-permanent member three times, in 1973-1974, 1995-1996 and 2007-2008. (asw)

Editor's note: added paragraph 12-14; Industry minister's statement on the Indonesian batik industry

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