It’s two o’clock in the morning on the last day of the climate conference in Bali in December 2007, with weeks of negotiation seemingly nearing a dead end as rich and poor countries failed to reach consensus on key issues. Just hours earlier, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered speeches to give a boost to conference delegates to come up with something meaningful, with Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) leaving the conference room in tears in a sign of how difficult the situation was.
The challenge was to get the Bali conference to lay a foundation for a legally binding treaty, with clear carbon cut targets, to replace the Kyoto Protocol, without scaring off the US. Led by then foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda, the Indonesian delegation managed to get developed and developing countries to agree on a compromised outcome just before the last plenary meeting. Entering the meeting, the US appeared to be the only country rejecting the compromised outcome.
But following heavy pressure from other participants during the meeting, the US agreed to the outcome, and the conference adopted the Bali roadmap as a two-year process to finalizing a binding agreement in 2009 in Copenhagen. Although the momentum created by the Bali roadmap disappeared after the Copenhagen meeting failed to create a legally binding treaty, the Bali conference has made the international community recognize Indonesia as a global champion for climate change, with Hassan, now a member of the presidential advisory council, being remembered as the mastermind behind the success.
Now that de Boer will leave his post in July and Indonesia has voiced an interest in filling the soon to be vacant post, officials and observers have expressed confidence that Hassan is the right person to replace de Boer. “We have approached a number of countries to express our interest in the job. We have to come out with the right candidate. We must first ask Hassan whether he wants the post,” the Foreign Ministry’s director general for multilateral affairs Reslan Izhar Jenie said.
“It also depends on the President because Hassan is now a member of the presidential advisory board.” Reslan said Hassan was very qualified to hold the job, agreeing that Indonesia must come out with the best candidate to compete with candidates from other countries, including India. “But the job will be handpicked by the UN secretary-general. So, we have to move quickly to launch our lobbying efforts. I believe that Indonesia deserves to fill the post as we have done a lot to help climate change negotiations move on,” he said.
In his eight years as foreign minister, Hassan led Indonesian diplomacy in various areas during which he established close relations with Ban, then the South Korean foreign minister. “He is capable of almost any of the top posts at the UN,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said. Hassan, however, was mentioned in the recent Foreign Ministry airline ticket graft case. But for Nasir Tamara, the chairman of the Association of the International Indonesian Scientists, Indonesia has no better option for the position than Hassan.
Source: The Jakarta Post – March 4, 2010
By Abdul Khalik