To Indonesia’s surprise, several delegations at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, including UN Secretary-General, were donning batik to the meeting.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was ready to attend the Indonesia-chaired United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Tuesday, but first; he made sure to don tenun – traditional Indonesian textiles.
“Before the meeting, he came to greet us in the presidential room carrying a brightly coloured tenun shirt in his hand, without even a bag.
“I was surprised when he said he would leave for a moment to change into the tenun shirt,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday in New York City.
Guterres and Retno met at the UN headquarters in New York, where they were attending the Indonesia-led open debate on peacekeeping operations.
Tuesday’s debate is one of Indonesia’s main priorities during its 2019-2020 tenure of the UNSC presidency, which commenced this month.
The country intends to pursue the theme of ‘Investing in Peace: Improving Safety and Performance of United Nations Peacekeeping’ during its presidency.
Retno added that her surprise continued when she entered the Security Council chamber to start the meeting, where she saw at least a dozen participants wearing batik shirts. The delegates represented around 10 different UNSC countries and were not from the Indonesian delegation.
Besides the UN secretary-general, the other delegates who were seen wearing batik and tenun included UN representatives from China, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, the Ivory Coast, Peru and the United States (US).
“They make me feel like our countries have even closer ties to each other. I was honoured to see that,” she said.
The batik and tenun clothing that the delegates wore were from their personal collections, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir.
Some delegates said that the clothing were gifts from the Indonesian delegation in New York, he added, while others had acquired the garments as souvenirs when they attended conferences in Indonesia.
Guterres wore the same tenun shirt he had been given during the 2018 International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings in Bali, Arrmanatha noted.
Indonesia will hold a series of events this month, including an informal meeting on illegal settlements in Palestine and an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.
The UNSC has 15 member countries, including Indonesia, which was elected last year as a non-permanent member for the 2019-2020 term. Indonesia has been a UNSC non-permanent member three times, in 1973-1974, 1995-1996 and 2007-2008.