Regional governments in Indonesia lend support for human rights in businesses

October 11, 2021

Jakarta – October 11. A wave of changes may soon sweep through Indonesia in the way the private sector conducts businesses.

From Indonesia’s western tip of Sabang to the western frontier of Merauke, regional governments in Indonesia’s archipelagic nation showed keen interest in advocating a more inclusive and humane business practices, during a recent joint UNDP webinar on business and human rights.

Regional governments’ strong political buy-in could pave the way for a smooth implementation of the National Strategy on Business and Human rights which currently is being developed.

For the first time, 33 out of Indonesia’s 34 provinces took part in the webinar, which was co-hosted with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.  The online event was part of UNDP’s broader efforts to support the government in developing the National Strategy for implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights.

The Ministry of Law and Human Rights is currently developing the National Strategy on Business and Human Rights (NSBHR) in collaboration with a National Task Force comprised of 20 ministries, civil society organizations and business associations. With support from UNDP and the European Union (EU), the first draft was launched in November 2020.

“Indonesia’s National Action Plan on Human Rights [Rencana Aksi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia/RANHAM] has been well-implemented and acknowledged by international stakeholders.  We intend for the National Strategy on Business and Human Rights [Strategi Nasional Bisnis dan HAM/StraNas BHAM] to complement the RANHAM,  which will be implemented across the country,” said Mualimin Abdi, Director General of the Directorate General of Human Rights of Ministry of Law and Human Rights, during the webinar.

UNDP welcomes the Minister’s remarks acknowledging that businesses will be advised on how to follow the human rights agenda.

“While the National Strategy will serve as a guide  to ensure that human rights are protected, the National Task Force with cross-sectoral ministerial and institutions will further raise awareness on business and human rights agenda and ensure that National Strategy is implemented in a wide range of business sectors,” said Siprianus Bate Soro, Head of UNDP Indonesia’s Democratic Governance and Poverty Reduction Unit.

While the private sector has been the engine of Indonesia’s growth - creating much of the  jobs, and supporting infrastructure development and  innovations in key sectors - they can also cause negative social impact with instances of unethical practices including forced labor and child labor.  

The United Nations developed Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights were unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011. The UNGPs are widely recognized as the world’s most authoritative, normative framework for addressing the adverse impacts of business on human rights. The UNGPs outline how the State and business share responsibility for human rights concerns, noting their complementary but differentiated roles.

The regional offices operating under the Ministry of Law and Human rights are involved in this initiative as part of the Subnational Task Force on Business and Human Rights.

“The regional offices will help enforcing businesses to undertake self-assessment on risks posed by their operations to human rights throughout the provinces,” said Hajerati, Director at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ Directorate General of Human Rights of Ministry of Law and Human Rights.

It is well documented that women and girls experience adverse impacts of business activities differently and often disproportionately. As a result, it is critical that businesses examine their operation to create a gender-balanced workforce, while also creating ample and equal opportunities for women and men. Similarly, the impact of their work on women in the communities they serve must also be a priority.

Involving regional offices, local governments and key stakeholders including women as the impacted right holders will help inform stakeholders about the issue and encourage provinces to adopt to implement the National Strategy on Business Rights with a gender perspective.  

A public consultation to further gain feedbacks from national and subnational government, businesses, civil societies, and CSOs to strengthen he National Strategy on Business Rights is expected to be conducted on October 14th, 2021.


Text by Sagita Adesywi

Edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose