The United Nations (UN) was founded in San Francisco, United States on 25 October 1945 after the World War II had ended. However, the first Session of General Assembly was held on 10 January 1946 in Church House, London and attended by representatives of 51 states. There are currently 192 states joining as UN member states. All of them have declared their independence.
Since established in 1945, UN member states have been fully committed to maintain international peace and security, to foster the friendship among states and also to promote social development, improvement of acceptable living standard and Human Rights. Equipped with unique character, the UN is able to adopt certain stance and action toward various international issues, as well as to provide a forum for its 192 member states to express each of their views through the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Human Rights Council, and also other UN bodies and committees. The incumbent UN Secretary General is Ban Ki-Moon from South Korea, effective on 1 January 2007.
The scope of UN roles extends to peacekeeping, conflict prevention and humanitarian aid. Moreover, the UN is also dealing with fundamental issues, such as sustainable development, environmental issues, refugee protection, disaster relief, terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation as well as promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and woman empowerment, governmental issues, economic and social development, health issues, landmine clearance, expansion of food production, and many others. All of these roles are meant to accomplish its objective and to coordinate any attempts at safer world for future generations.
A Glance at Indonesian Diplomacy in the United Nations
Indonesia officially joined as the 60th UN member state on 28 September 1950 by a gaining unanimous vote from the entire member states. The UN membership was attained a year after the Netherlands' recognition of Indonesia's sovereignty at the Round Table Conference. Indonesia and the UN share a strong historical connection which points to Indonesia's declaration of independence in 1945, the exact same year as UN establishment. The UN has ever since given consistent support towards the free, sovereign and independent Indonesian state. Therefore, many states call Indonesia as "truly child" of the UN due to the organization's heavy involvement during Indonesia's period of physical revolution. During the Dutch Military Aggression, for instance, Indonesia and Australia proposed the respective issue to be discussed in the Session of UN General Assembly. The UN responded by forming the Three Nation Commission which successfully seated Indonesia and the Netherlands at the table of Renville Talk. Afterwards, during the Dutch Military Aggression II, the UN formed UNCI with a mission to unite Indonesia and the Netherlands in the Roem Royen Talk.
The Government of the Republic of Indonesia appointed Nicodemus Palar as the first Indonesian Permanent Representative to the UN. Ambassador Palar played a considerable role in the effort to gain international recognition for Indonesia's independence during the time of conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands in 1947. He was bold enough to debate over Indonesia's sovereign position in the UN and the Security Council when he was only a UN "observer" because Indonesia had not been a member at that moment. In his speech during the Session of UN General Assembly, at the time of Indonesia's acceptance as member of the UN, Ambassador Palar thanked those who had supported Indonesia, and he also promised that Indonesia would perform all of its duties as a UN member. His tenure then ended in 1953.
In the hope for solution, Indonesia—as a member of the UN—submitted dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over Irian Jaya to the UN in 1954. This action was then endorsed by the Asian-African Conference in April 1955 through a resolution which conveyed support for Indonesia and requested the UN to bridge the two conflicted parties toward a peaceful solution. However, despite of frequent discussions on the respective matter at the plenary meetings of UN General Assembly and Committee I, there was not any indication towards a peaceful solution until 1961.
Finally, the dispute saw an end at the 17th Session of UN General Assembly in 1962 through the issuance of Resolution No. 1752 which adopted "The New York Agreement" on 21 September 1962. Afterwards, the United Nations Executive Authority (UNTEA) – a body mandated by the UN to help transfer the power over Irian Jaya from the Netherlands to Indonesia—performed the duty effectively on 1 October 1962 and completed it on 1 May 1963.
In response to UN's decision to recognize Malaysia's sovereignty and to appoint Malaysia as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, President Soekarno announced Indonesia's withdrawal from the UN on 20 January 1965. After experiencing transition of power from the Old Order to the New Order, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia declared its intention to resume cooperation with the UN and to continue participations in UN activities on 19 September 1966. Indonesia finally resumed its UN membership on 28 September 1966, precisely 16 years after Indonesia first accepted as member of the UN.
As a continuation of Irian Jaya conflict resolution, the Government of Indonesia conducted a Referendum (Pepera) in Irian Jaya (Papua) under UN supervision in 1969. The Referendum went democratically and transparent by involving the entire Irian Jaya society and taking into accounts the participation, aid and suggestion from the UN via its special envoy, Ambassador Ortiz Sanz from Bolivia.
Finally, the Referendum gained acceptance from international society through the issuance of Resolution No. 2504 at the 24th Session of UN General Assembly on 19 November 1969, confirming the transfer of power over Irian Jaya from the Netherlands to Indonesia.
As one of the UN member states, Indonesia has been listed on a number of UN bodies, such as the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), ILO (International Labour Organization) and also FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization).
One of the Indonesia's most noted achievements in the UN was when Adam Malik, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, served as the chairman at the Session of UN General Assembly in 1974.
Indonesia is also directly involved in the UN peacekeeping troops by dispatching its Garuda Troops to undertake the UN peace mission in various conflicted nations.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's achievement in the UN Security Council (SC) was when first elected as the non-permanent member of the UN SC for the period of 1974-1975 and then reelected for the 1995-1996 term of office. During the latter term, Indonesian Permanent Representative Nugroho Wisnumurti was recorded twice of becoming the President of UN Security Council. Lastly, Indonesia was elected for the third time as the non-permanent member of the UN SC for the 2007-2009 term of office. The election process was carried out through a voting system by the UN General Assembly, resulting 158 votes in favor of Indonesia from a total of vote of 192 states with suffrage.
In the UN International Law Commission (ILC), Indonesia recorded an achievement when former Foreign Minister Mochtar Kusuma Atmadja was elected as a member of the ILC for the period of 1992-2001. On a recent election at the 61st Session of UN General Assembly, Ambassador Nugroho Wisnumurti was elected as a member of the ILC for the period of 2007-2011 after competing with 10 other Asian candidates.
Indonesia became one of the 47 first elected member states of the UN Human Rights Council in 2006. Indonesia was then reelected for the period of 2007-2010 by gaining 165 votes from UN member states.
As an international organization whose legitimacy roots from universal membership, the UN should be a forum for handling global challenges and crises which are getting more complex in the future. Reformation in UN bodies, especially the Security Council, needs to reflect more on the current political condition in order to produce more effective efforts and gain legitimacy value. Indonesia will continue to be at the frontline in enhancing UN roles of handling global crises, but at the same time Indonesia also calls for reformation in the UN itself. The following are a list of Indonesian Permanent Representatives who were or are representing Indonesia in the UN:
- Lambertus Nicodemus Palar, 1950-1953
- Sudjarwo Tjondronegoro, 1953-1957
- Ali Sastroamidjojo, 1957-1960
- Soekardjo Wirjopranoto, 1960-1962
- Lambertus Nicodemus Palar,1962-1965
- Dr. H. Roeslan Abdulgani, 1967-1971
- Yoga Soegomo, 1971-1974
- Ch. Anwar Sani, 1974-1979
- Abdullah Kamil,1979-1982
- Ali Alatas, 1982-1988
- Nana Sutresna, 1988-1992
- Noegroho Wisnumurti, 1992-1997
- Makarim Wibisono, 1997-2001
- Makmur Widodo, 2001-2004
- Rezlan Ishar Jenie, 2004-2007
- R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa, 2007-2009
- Hassan Kleib, 2010