Speech at The General Debate of The 67th Session of The United Nations General Assembly
H.E. DR. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF
THE 67TH SESSION OF
THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 25 SEPTEMBER 2012
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,
May peace be upon us all,
I am honored to represent my country Indonesia at this year’s UN General Assembly debate to discuss how we can find better ways to peacefully resolve or manage conflicts around the world.
This, of course, is what the UN is all about : to end the scourge of war, and to create a peaceful and equitable world order based on international cooperation.
And in the decades since its founding, the UN has developed a number of instruments to address conflicts in all their manifestations. In those decades, many inter-state and intra-state conflicts have been resolved : Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, and many more.
The question we must ask now is whether these instruments are adequate to address the whole spectrum of conflicts that the world community now faces.
This is clearly evident in the Syrian crisis. The world community is painfully witnessing the worsening violence and unfolding humanitarian catastrophe on the ground; at the same time, the UN is in paralysis in responding to the situation. There is no end to the conflict in sight, and it appears that we have not seen the worst of the crisis.
Indonesia therefore reiterates its call for the immediate cessation of violence in Syria, which has taken a high toll on innocent civilian lives. The UN Security Council must now unite and act decisively as mandated by the UN Charter to bring the situation under control.
Clearly, whatever the explanation, the present international system for now cannot resolve the Syrian conflict.
And there is every likelihood that the community of nations will see similar conflicts in the future. It will be in a different corner of the world, and in a different form, with different actors. It will not help the cause of international peace if, again, we end up being divided and unable to positively alter the course of the conflict.
The world community must evolve ways to address them more effectively towards peaceful end.
We must adapt to 21st century security challenges.
There is no question that the world we live in today is in much better condition than the one in the 20th century. Freedom has spread. The threat of nuclear holocaust is receding significantly. There is no prospect of a world war, the kind of which twice wrecked the 20th century. The global economy has expanded remarkably. Nations are becoming more interdependent. International cooperation and partnerships are flourishing.
However, it is only relative peace. Not total peace as yet.
We have moved from the era of the Cold War to an era of warm peace.
In this “warm peace”, the world remains stuck with an outdated international security architecture that still reflects 20th century circumstances; in contrast with the global economic architecture that has done much better to adjust to the 21st century.
In this “warm peace”, the relationships between the major powers, for the first time, are marked by relative stability and increased cooperation. But the question remains unanswered as to how they will accommodate the growing ranks of emerging powers that are reshaping the world order.
In this “warm peace”, old enmities and long-standing conflicts can still resurface in the new strategic landscape, even carried on by new generations.
In this “warm peace”, we are seeing new security challenges and opportunities arising from seismic power shifts that are occurring in some regions. The security implications of the political events in the Middle-East are still unfolding.
In this “warm peace”, the world community still has to contend with an array of unfinished business: the Arab-Israeli conflict, nuclear disarmament, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and the likes.
In this “warm peace”, new progress can easily regress. Hard-won peace process can stall or even crumble. Strategic miscalculations in disputed theatres may lead to rising tension and armed clashes.
And in this “warm peace”, pockets of hatred and bigotry, intolerance and extremism continue to litter our world.
Perhaps we will have to live with this warm peace for decades. But I do believe that we can lower the temperature of this warm peace. Where possible, we can resolve the conflicts one by one. We can strengthen the building blocks for peace. We can promote a new globalism that can potentially change the dynamics of conflict resolution.
In order to do this, we need to try new approaches and be more imaginative.
The first thing we have to do is to evolve a new strategic mindset. Lets face it : the remnants of Cold War mentality still persist in parts of the geopolitical landscape—not least our own United Nations, where rigid, dogmatic, zero-sum calculations sometimes still come into play. For long-term peace—a peace born of trust and mutual confidence - we must get rid of that mindset. In this light, we must continue to work towards a reformed UN Security Council. A Council that reflects 21st century strategic reality and provides security to all.
We must also work to perfect the instruments of peace, which is robust regionalism. We in ASEAN have seen how such regionalism can be a force for peace and cooperation. As a result of a strong regionalism, all of Southeast Asia have thrived under ASEAN cooperation. Once the cockpit of border wars and the proxy wars of extra-regional powers, Southeast Asia has come together.
Since it was founded in 1967, it devoted the early decades of its life as a regional organization to cultivating the habits of dialogue and consultation and cooperation—not only among our members but with our dialogue partners. Thus each ASEAN country adopted a new strategic mindset based on trust and a sense of having a stake in the success and progress of all the others. Today the ASEAN family is united and at peace with itself and with the rest of the world.
At the same time we can also evolve a universal culture of mutual tolerance and mutual appreciation of one another’s religious convictions. In such a world, the voice of the moderates—the voice of reason and compassion—would be heard clearly over the din of prejudice and bigotry. In a global regime of compassion and tolerance, no war is possible.
As a nation that celebrates its diversity of culture and religions, Indonesia calls for mutual respect and understanding among peoples of different faiths. Despite initiatives undertaken by states at the United Nations and other forums, the defamation of religions persists. We have seen yet another one of its ugly face in the film “Innocence of Muslims” that is now causing an international uproar.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines that in exercising their freedom of expression, everyone must observe morality and public order. Freedom of expression is therefore not absolute.
Hence, I call for an international instrument to effectively prevent incitement to hostility or violence based on religions or beliefs. This instrument, a product of international consensus, shall serve as a point of reference that the world community must comply with.
For good measure, we also need to promote a continuing process of dialogue among faiths, civilizations, and cultures. But of course this dialogue should not remain a dialogue, but should translate into actual cooperation so that communities in which peoples of different cultures and faiths can come together and care for one another. These communities will become bulwarks for peace and they will make it difficult if not impossible for any kind of armed conflict to erupt.
Yet another thing that we must do is to master the art of preventive diplomacy. Most disputes are intractable: they simmer for what seems to be an eternity but by historical reckoning they are not really long drawn-out affairs. Sooner or later, there comes a confluence of factors and events that provide a window of opportunity for resolving a dispute and removing conflict from the table of options.
This is what we in ASEAN have done with the potential conflicts in the South China Sea. The territorial and sovereignty disputes have been festering there for the better part of a century. But we are managing them with restraint, confidence building and, at present, through earnest negotiations toward a legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
And finally the culture of peace, mutual tolerance and appreciation, and cooperation must be supported by the right kind of economics. People need to be fed, to be sheltered and to be assured of a future where they have opportunities for a living and a livelihood. That is the only way that peace can be locked in for the long term—when it brings dividends that give human beings a robust confidence in the future.
The price of inequality between nations and within nations could be tension born of grievances that can, unless effectively addressed, lead to radicalism and even violence that threaten international and national peace and security. The solution is for all of us is to form a global partnership for poverty eradication and the attainment of the MDGs and after that formulate a post-MDGs development agenda that we can fully carry out.
Our experience in the resolution of the intra-state conflict in our province of Aceh proves that if we do enough for peace, and when there is a confluence of favorable circumstances and we are prepared to seize the moment, then peace can be achieved. The peace that we achieve will not only give temporary respite, it will also last for generations.
For many years peace has been treated as if it were a science and there are whole libraries about how it can be achieved and preserved. I have come to the conclusion, however, that peace may have a technology but it is one that is born of experience. That experience can be shared and can be useful in creating new experience. And if there is enough sharing of experiences—and this is what Indonesia is trying to achieve—and if there is sufficient political will to apply what is learned from others to one’s unique circumstances, then peace can be widely spread. Peace can be effectively waged. And we would have a gentler, better world.
I thank you.