The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

Indonesia has become a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations around the globe.

This month, the United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial (UNPM) conference is scheduled to convene in Accra, Ghana. Indonesia is anticipated to exert a significant influence on the outcome of the conference.

The conference is dedicated to fortifying the impact and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, with a focus on the well-being of communities served by UN peacekeepers. The agenda is set to address four pivotal topics: the empowerment of women in peacekeeping roles, mental health support for uniformed personnel, the safety and security of peacekeepers, and the safeguarding of civilians in tandem with strategic communication initiatives.

Indonesia, proudly positioned as the seventh-largest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among 122 countries, stands as the only nation from Southeast Asia to secure a spot in the top 10. During President Joko Widodo’s tenure, Indonesia has not only consistently deployed upwards of 1,000 personnel each year but has also maintained its top 10 ranking over the past seven years.

According to Indonesia’s constitution, the nation is bound by duty to actively partake in the pursuit of world peace, a commitment reflected in its steadfast contribution to UN peacekeeping operations. The latest figures from the United Nations show that Indonesia has contributed a total of 2,717 personnel, drawn from its military and the national police.

This leads to a pivotal question: In light of its historical contributions, how should the Indonesian government prepare for the conference in order to strategically determine the direction of its future policy regarding peacekeeping operations? Is there an imperative for Indonesia to enhance its contributions both qualitatively and quantitatively? Or should Indonesia rest on its laurels, content with its current level of involvement?

In 2015, Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister, outlined her vision for Indonesia’s 4,000 UN peacekeeping personnel. This was later amended in 2017, setting forth the benchmarks for Indonesia’s contribution to peacekeeping operations.

Subsequently, these aims were reinforced by a presidential executive order in 2015. The intention was for Indonesia to deploy 4,000 UN peacekeeping personnel and emerge as a top contributor by 2019. Despite achieving this rank by 2017, Indonesia has yet to meet the 4,000-troop target, with the highest deployment number recorded in 2018 at 3,065 personnel.

A government review in 2020 suggests a more subdued ambition in terms of increasing Indonesia’s contribution, particularly concerning the deployment of peacekeeping personnel. The government’s objective is to preserve a consistent ranking without specifying numerical goals, indicating an absence of explicit targets for Indonesia’s peacekeeping contributions.

In anticipation of the conference in Ghana, the issue of bolstering women’s roles in peacekeeping operations deserves attention. To date, Indonesia has deployed 115 women among its 2,717 peacekeepers, a figure that represents only 4% of the total force. Post-2019, no clear targets have been set for the inclusion of women, despite their critical role in engaging with local communities and enhancing the diversity and efficacy of peacekeeping missions.

The significance of mental health care is underscored by UN Resolution 2668, which highlights the urgency of addressing the psychological well-being of UN peacekeepers. Indonesia, as a major contributor, must earnestly contend with this issue, especially given the evidence of considerable psychiatric disorders among veterans of peacekeeping forces.

Furthermore, the safety and security of peacekeepers and the protection of civilians are intrinsically linked and warrant comprehensive discussion at the gathering in Ghana. Since the inception of the United Nations, there have been 4,337 fatalities, including 44 from Indonesia—numbers that underscore the gravity of these concerns.

As a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations around the globe, Indonesia holds a strategic position that extends beyond national borders, influencing the international community at large. Yet, Indonesia must delineate precise targets for its future contributions. It is incumbent upon Indonesia to forge a new roadmap, drawing from past foreign affairs regulations and forthcoming development plans, to articulate its aspirations. Such clarity will help Indonesia increase the quality and number of its peacekeepers, thereby advancing its strategic interests and cementing its role as a pivotal leader in international affairs, in line with the goals of a ‘Golden Indonesia‘ by 2045.

Yokie Rahmad Isjchwansyah is a Master’s student in International Relations at Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy (PGSD). He holds a law degree from Universitas Diponegoro, majoring in International Law. Yokie focuses in matters related to Indonesian foreign policy as well as defense and security sector, specifically civil–military relations. His work has appeared in various publications, such as the East Asia Forum, the Habibie Center, Modern Diplomacy, the National Law Development Agency of Indonesia, and many others.