Participants in a meeting of the United Nations secretary general's High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation (HLAB-M) in Helsinki on Monday (18/06). (Photo courtesy of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry)

Indonesia Highlights Role of Religious Leaders in Conflict Resolution


JUNE 20, 2018

Jakarta. Indonesia highlighted the importance of dialogue and mediation in preventing conflict and promoting peace, during a United Nations special advisory board meeting in Helsinki on Monday (18/06).

In a statement, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi emphasized the role played by community and religious leaders to maintain tolerance in society.

Indonesia, which was recently elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security, cited a recent trilateral ulema conference attended by religious leaders from Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan as an example of how such efforts could promote peace.

She touched on the importance of switching from what she referred to as a "culture of reaction" to a "culture of prevention," and expressed her support for UN Secretary General António Guterres's initiatives in the intergovernmental body, which prioritizes conflict prevention.

Retno said promoting a habit of dialogue will also be essential to addressing and preventing conflict.

Indonesia and Finland co-hosted Monday's meeting of the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation (HLAB-M), established by Guterres in September last year.

The advisory board, which seeks to accentuate the role of mediation in conflict resolution and the broader UN agenda, comprises 18 members, consisting of current and former global leaders, senior officials and renowned experts. This includes former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta, the former president of East Timor.

Indonesia and Finland said mediation continues to be a priority in their foreign policies.

"Our approach to mediation is holistic: it includes conflict prevention, promotion of national dialogues and inclusive participation of civil society actors in peace processes. We emphasize the participation of women and youth, as well as traditional and religious leaders, where appropriate," Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said in a statement.

Retno said empowering women is an important part of efforts to eradicate terrorism and create peace.

"We need to rethink our approach to peace. Quite simply, we need more – not less – mediation and prevention. Women's role is critical," Guterres said in a tweet.