Indonesia had the mandate to chair ASEAN in 2023. Following the success of the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia also successfully hosted the 43rd ASEAN Summit, which was held in Jakarta on 5-7 September 2023.
During its tenure as the Chair of the ASEAN 2023, Indonesia has made many achievements. One of them is being actively involved in important issues in the ASEAN region. In addition to creating agreements, Indonesia has also contributed to several peace efforts in the Southeast Asian region.
Here are 14 important issues of Indonesia's involvement in ASEAN:
South China Sea Issue
Indonesia has an important role in resolving South China Sea disputes or issues. Indonesia has actively played a role in promoting initiatives and innovations in the form of various interim measures, among others, the Joint Statement on the Application of Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) and the Hotline of Communications.
Indonesia's engagement can also be seen in the Code of Conduct (CoC) issue. In this case, Indonesia played an active role in the negotiation process of the CoC framework by producing an initial draft of the CoC in Bali in February 2017, which was developed in future joint working group meetings.
ASEAN Centrality Issue
Indonesia also plays a vital role in ensuring the centralization of ASEAN. One of them is initiating the issuance of the Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN Member States on Maintaining Peace, Security, and Stability in the Region in July 2016.
Maritime Security Cooperation Issue
Meanwhile, in the maritime sector, Indonesia continues to encourage the strengthening of maritime security cooperation, especially in tackling the issue of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF). This has been through implementing the East Asia Summit (EAS) Statement on Enhancing Regional Maritime Cooperation in 2015.
Terrorism is a common issue for countries in the Southeast Asian region. To overcome this, Indonesia continues to encourage efforts and cooperation to countering terrorism, radicalism, and violent extremism through effective implementation of the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism and other relevant international instruments.
Indonesia initiated the establishment of the ASEAN Seaport Interdiction Task Force (ASITF) by designating seaports as border areas for the surveillance of narcotics and precursor substances, in addition to airports.
Another involvement is Indonesia's active role in responding to the development of the Rakhine State issue by advocating for the opening of access to and providing humanitarian assistance. Indonesia also urges Myanmar to provide regular updates on the situation in Rakhine.
Free Trade Issue
Regarding free trade, Indonesia has become a highly regarded driving force in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations. The chapter on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the chapter on Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH) were agreed under Indonesian leadership.
Indonesia is actively involved in start-up issues. In this case, Indonesia is actively involved in efforts to develop start-up businesses by strengthening pilot projects by training incubators in product improvement, market access, finance, regulation development, and human capital development.
ASEAN Connectivity Issue
Indonesia and the Philippines succeeded in reaching an agreement that has been negotiated within the past five years. This achievement can be seen in the implementation of the Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) cargo shipping route with the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route, which is one of the connectivity projects.
Migrant Workers Issue
Migrant workers have become a rather crucial issue. The good news is that Indonesia successfully convinced agreement on the Vientiane Declaration on Transition from Informal to Formal Employment towards Decent Work Promotions as an effort to eliminate workplace discrimination and provide guarantees of protection, especially for informal workers.
Disaster Management Issue
Indonesia is engaged in disaster management issues. This is evidenced by Indonesia's initiative on the Declaration on One ASEAN, One Response, which has been agreed upon and signed by all ASEAN Heads of State in September 2016.
Next is the issue of disability. In this case, ASEAN has agreed to Indonesia's initiative in the Joint Statement on Social Welfare and Development, "Strengthening Social Welfare Development in Pursuit of ASEAN Community Vision 2025". The aim is to improve accessibility and protection for vulnerable groups (persons with disabilities).
ASEAN Study Center
Indonesia's involvement can also be seen in establishing ASEAN Study Centers in universities in Indonesia, which continues to be maximized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As of December 2019, it is estimated that there are 69 ASEAN study centers spread across various universities in Indonesia.
Photo: Doc asean2023.id