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Dissecting Jokowi's Consecutive Absence in United Nations General Assembly

13 September 2022 19:38 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The absence of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the United Nations General Assembly this year has raised several questions regarding Indonesia's progress on the global stage.

Since taking office as President, Jokowi has been absent 8 times or has never attended the high-level negotiations in person.

The 77th UN General Assembly opens in New York, United States, on Tuesday, September 13. The series of events is scheduled to last until September 27.

The Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi will represent Indonesia in place of Jokowi at the High-Level Week (HLW) session which will take place from September 20 to 26, 2022.

International Political Expert, Fitriani, believes that Jokowi's absence this time has made Indonesia lose two things. First, is the opportunity to communicate Indonesia’s capability of becoming a leader on a global scale as Fitriani believes there is an abundance of capable leaders. 

The second reason is the opportunity to build affinity with other countries that are in the same position in facing uncertain global situations such as natural crises, food crises, pandemics, and conflicts.

"Who measures how important the representation of state leaders is to attend? If President Joko Widodo is not present, then he may think that the presence of state leaders is not important in the UN General Assembly," Fitriani, a CSIS researcher from the political and international relations department, told Tempo, Monday night.

This is all while the leaders of other countries present at the assembly, she said, might think that the United Nations is a significant and important international body in creating and maintaining world peace.

Fitriani mentioned that a country like Palestine considers this meeting very important because the goal is for recognition from the international community.

Meanwhile, countries under pressure such as Russia and China chose not to attend because it was not in accordance with their national interests.

In contrast with Fitriani, the University of Indonesia Director of the Center for American Regional Studies Suzie Sudarman believes Jokowi’s 8th consecutive absence from the UN assembly will not cause too much trouble as there is no critical urgency such as state sovereignty violations happening.

Sudarman argues that such a global forum can be used as a set where state leaders from developed countries pressure others. 

"Jokowi does not put too much emphasis on statements that can trigger conflict because international meetings will inevitably have many journalists asking questions and several superpowers implying pressure on Indonesia," Sudarman explained.

The reason for Jokowi's absence from the UN General Assembly was not immediately clear. The State Palace has yet to provide an official statement.

Indonesia's presence at the assembly, which is scheduled for September 12 to 27, 2022, will be represented by Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi instead.

As previously reported, the Foreign Affairs Ministry did not specify the reason for the President's absence. Tempo has reached out to Presidential Secretariate chief Heru Budi Hartono over Jokowi's absence but until this article was published, had not received an answer.

Retno Marsudi plans to deliver her speech in person at the general assembly in New York, which is being held on-site for the first time following the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Moreover, Indonesia will speak about its G20 presidency mission and the event's continuity apart from energy security, the digital transition of the economy, and the global health architecture.

DANIEL AHMAD 

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