At the Closing of The Senior Diplomatic Training Course For Diplomats from ASEAN Plus Three Countries and the Mid-career Diplomatic Training Course For Diplomats from Asia and Africa Jakarta, 25 April 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bring to all of you the greetings of the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, H.E. Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda— especially those of you who are about to complete the one month Senior Diplomatic Training Course for Diplomats from ASEAN Plus Three Countries plus Somalia and The Mid-career Training Course for Diplomats from Asia and Africa.
Let me take this opportunity to thank and commend the Head of the Centre for Education and Training of the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the Directors of the SESDILU and SESPARLU and the members of the organizing committee for a job well done, in spite of the short preparation time.
And to the participants, we in the Government of Indonesia sincerely appreciate your active involvement in what we hope will be a learning experience that will stay in your memories for the rest of your lives.
Some of you left the comfort of your homes and traveled thousands of kilometers to come here in pursuit of new knowledge and skills. We trust that you will find the knowledge, skills and orientation that you acquired here will serve you in good stead as you take on higher responsibilities in a vitally important and demanding profession.
Our fondest hope is that, in the pursuit of the profession of diplomacy, you will in various ways contribute to the making of a better world. And there is no doubt that the world in which we live needs very badly to be made better. That is obvious from the magnitude of the problems confronting the world today.
The most obvious global problem is that there is no peace on earth. When the Cold War came to a close, we thought there would be peace. But peace did not come about. Armed conflicts increased. Some old conflicts, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, persisted. New conflicts, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, erupted.
And now we also have to come to grips with the spectre of international terrorism. And you know how difficult it is to deal not only with the violence of the terrorist and his network but also with his false promises of the redress of social grievances.
Another new security threat that can inflict enormous suffering on the human race is global warming. If the current trend in climate change is not reversed through decisive global measures, millions upon millions in the developing world will suffer such immense disasters as floods, droughts, outbreaks of pestilence, and a rise in sea level that could make many islands and coastal areas disappear.
This problem is compounded by an energy crunch that has seen the global price of oil shoot through the ceiling and stay at US$117 per barrel. As if that is not enough, we are also confronted by a food crisis due to a combination of factors that include the energy crunch and the shift from food crops to biofuels, the early effects of global warming and the inefficiencies of the global distribution system.
The United Nations has been trying to address these problems. The UN has held many global summits to address such worldwide concerns as poverty, human rights, social justice, the environment, trade and sustainable development. But, sad to say, the UN, although effective in other ways, has not been successful in forming the global partnerships that would effectively address these global concerns.
In the face of that reality, we in Indonesia hold the view that the UN has to be assisted vigorously at the regional level if these global concerns are to be effectively addressed. This is not a new idea: when the UN Charter was being formulated in 1945, there was a proposal that the Security Council be made up of representatives of regional organizations. Even in international plenary gatherings today, nations tend to form regional blocs.
That is why many regional organizations were established soon after the UN itself was founded. Many of them failed. But among the most successful were the European Union, the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
There is no denying that in the 40 years that ASEAN has been in existence, relative peace was attained and sustained in Southeast Asia. It is no coincidence that during that regime of peace, the Southeast Asian economies, as a whole, proved to be among the most dynamic in the world.
The dynamic growth of the ASEAN region was interrupted only by the Asian Crisis of a decade ago—but since then the ASEAN economies have recovered and are today poised for dynamic growth. Their speedy recovery from the crisis is the result of ASEAN’s robust and successful drive toward integration.
I refer, of course, not only to ASEAN’s internal integration but also to its inter-regional integration with its more mature Northeast Asian economic partners: China, South Korea and Japan. Today, equipped with an ASEAN Charter that gives it legal personality and greater competence, is going for the ultimate integration by becoming a true community. It is also busy building bridges of cooperation in all directions.
Thus, it serves as the driving force to the ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit (EAS) processes. It is linked to the rest of the Pacific region through APEC, to Europe through ASEM, and to Africa and the rest of Asia through the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). It also occupies the driver’s seat of the most comprehensive politico-security forum in the world, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Clearly, ASEAN has contributed significantly to a regime of relative peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. It has also contributed to better bilateral relations between nations in the region. And the world is the better for it.
In fact, the world is so much the better because of the work of regional organizations as a whole. And as regional organizations in various parts of the world mature and form strong partnerships with the United Nations, humankind will have a much better chance of effectively addressing such global concerns as poverty, climate change, food security, social justice and human rights.
Let me now get to the heart of my message: without good diplomats, the UN is nothing. ASEAN is nothing. And I can’t imagine how even bilateral relations can be managed smoothly.
When I speak of the achievements of regional organizations like ASEAN, and their role as partners of the United Nations in addressing the challenges of our time—I am actually speaking of the work of diplomats.
I am actually speaking of the knowledge and wisdom and the communication skills that diplomats put to good use so that a persuasive case could be made for a proposed convention, treaty or declaration—and so that the document is actually signed, ratified and its provisions faithfully complied with. I am speaking of the patriotism, respect for others and the love of humanity that enables a person to endure the tedious and sometimes frustrating processes of diplomacy.
And I am also talking of the friendships, the mutual confidence and trust, and the goodwill that make diplomatic interaction orderly and even pleasant. That is what we in ASEAN mean when we speak of the habits of consultation and cooperation that we developed over the years as we got to be familiar with one another.
It is therefore my hope that there has been a substantial addition to the sum of your diplomatic knowledge, skills and orientation as a result of this training. And I fervently trust that in the one month that you have been here, you have been able to form friendships with one another that will last a lifetime.
I bid you farewell. Now go forth from here and serve your country, and in the process serve also humankind.
I now declare the Senior Training Course for Diplomats from ASEAN Plus Three Countries and the Mid-career Diplomatic Training Course for Diplomats from Asia and Africa officially closed.