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Indonesia – Presidency in ASEAN and MIKTA – From a medium power country to future world leader?

Intergovernmental organizations have managed to acquire a fundamental role in international relations in recent decades. Since their foundation, countries united by similar objectives have constantly struggled to participate in the international arena and thus, strengthen alliances to achieve their objectives.

One global partner that has played a vital role in recent years is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, better known as (ASEAN). Established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand by the five founding countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. The ASEAN has welcomed five other member countries; Vietnam, being the most recent (annexed in 1995). The intergovernmental organization has exercised its functions to guarantee peace and stability in the Asian region, as well as across the globe. Its objectives are not limited to security issues, since it also has the mission of accelerating the economic, social and cultural development of the area, promoting cooperation and mutual assistance on issues related to the above. Likewise, it seeks to provide assistance in technical, educational, and administrative areas. However, it gives priority to maintaining close cooperation with various existing international and regional organizations that have like-minded purposes. In fact, there is a collaborative alliance between ASEAN and the United Nations Organization (UN) since 2011. An Action Plan between the two organizations was established in 2016 and upon satisfactory completion in 2020, a second Plan was approved, the ASEAN and UN Action Plan 2021-2025. In this alliance, new intersectoral categories on cybersecurity, gender perspective and environment have been incorporated.

Most international organizations have a fixed protocol where they highlight the rule of the rotation of the presidency. In the case of the ASEAN, the presidency for 2023 fell upon Indonesia. The Indonesian President and new ASEAN leader, Joko Widodo, announced the motto for 2023, “ASEAN Matters: Epicenter of Growth”, giving importance to the formation of the Association as an essential tool for the economic growth of the region.

During an official statement, Indonesia announced its diplomatic achievements for 2022, calling attention to the maintenance of the ASEAN as the main organization of the Southeast Asia zone. Which led to increasing the pressure on the Myanmar military to implement the “Five Point Consensus”; where the main objectives where to end the violence, build a constructive dialogue between the parties involved in the conflict, the acceptance of aid and a special visit sent by the ASEAN to Myanmar. Indonesia’s Diplomacy Plan for 2023 continues to include its interest in resolving the conflict in Myanmar while preserving the foundations of democracy and the rule of law. On the other hand, it strives to strengthen the efforts to provide aid in Afghanistan, enhancing access to education for Afghan women. It also seeks to speed up the economic negotiations with the European Union to finalize the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Additionally, Indonesia will present its nomination as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period of 2029-2030. This is not all, since on March 4 of this year the country also received the transfer of the presidency of MIKTA, the interregional grouping of five of the G20 member countries.

The balance of power between States is being modified, and it should not be a surprise if in a couple of years Indonesia emerges as a world power since it is currently a front runner in its region

 MIKTA is made up of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia. Committed to peace, democracy and mutual support in the multilateral system, MIKTA is dedicated to serving as an interregional consultative platform that increases mutual understanding to deepen bilateral ties and consequently, obtain a common ground for cooperation. Regardless of its participation in international forums, it also functions as a mechanism for launching initiatives and implementing reforms on global governance. With the common goal of reinforcing shared values ​​and similarities such as democracy and respect for international law, MIKTA continues to take the role of being one of the leaders responsible for ensuring cooperation between governments and the flourishing of multilateralism.

During its tenure as MIKTA´s chairman, Indonesia reported that it has three priorities to fulfill. The first is the reinforcement of multilateralism, since with this, it can be ensured that all countries are at the same level and “avoid the arbitrariness of those in power.” On inclusiveness issues, Indonesia mentioned that MIKTA has to take steps towards a comprehensive global recovery. The Sustainable Development Goals will remain at the core of MIKTA, which with the assistance of an inclusive dialogue with external partners, can be strengthened. The third purpose is digital transformation as the prosperous future of the MIKTA´s economy derives from digitization. Although digital transformation reveals opportunities in its favor, it also includes challenges such as misinformation. Hence, this year MIKTA will need to intensify its fight to set standards, perform better practices and drive collective responses.

Indonesia has multiple responsibilities and plans to exercise in 2023. Its leadership in the international arena is positioning the country at a high level. With deeds and efforts, Indonesia is in pursuit of sustainable economic development, regional stability, strengthening cultural ties with other countries, and will continue to advocate for the solution of global problems. Although Indonesia has been regarded as a middle power, its involvement in international affairs and assuming the presidency of MIKTA and ASEAN, will allow the world to turn its gaze towards emerging countries. The balance of power between States is being modified, and it should not be a surprise if in a couple of years Indonesia emerges as a world power since it is currently a front runner in its region.

Alide Flores Urich Sass

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