Moratorium and the Rights of Indigenous and Local Communities

Moratorium of conversion of peat and natural forest as mentioned in the LoI (Letter of Intent) between Indonesia and Norway basically not a new discourse among observers, experts, and supporting of sustainable development in Indonesia in particular and the world as a whole. It is an idea that has been fought since the first. Although until now, there is no comprehensive concept covering various aspects (political, economic, social, cultural), but the moratorium is an idea that tends to be understood as the idea of reformation in forest policy. The moratorium is an effort to reform the forestry policy thoroughly. Therefore, to and in its own, moratorium is a concept that covers many aspects.  In this regards, moratorium considers the future of forests as well as future of culture, economy and politics. The future of the economy can be regarded as the sustainability of economic benefits not only for large-scale enterprise which has benefited most, but also for the communities whose lives are dependent on forests. The same analysis can be applied also to the political and cultural context. That moratorium is not just told to stop but also provide benefits.

In order to build the definition and the scope of the moratorium, the various stakeholders have proposed their own concepts. In a proposal submitted to the government, civil society defines the moratorium is to stop the state from logging activities and forest conversion in a certain time to take a distance from the problem to obtain solutions that are long term and permanent.[1] The government itself has not made the definition of a moratorium yet.[2]

Even if the government does not have a broad concept, however the moratorium is an opportunity to review and give breath to the Indonesian forest and the opportunity to do it should be taken as the first step to initiate change in all policies and forestry practices over the years. In this context moratorium needs some sort of bolstering from related concepts. One of the crucial concepts is about rights of forest dwellers.

Moratorium and Rights: Not a New Matter

In order to respond to the proposed moratorium in the LoI, up to now there are two areas completely untouched by the government: the rights of forest peoples and the rights to the territory. These two things are actually still in a serious struggle in a number of policies. Moratorium as a new policy should not add complexity by leaving the issue and rush only to discuss the forest as a purely environmental issue.

In the forest policy and natural resources as a whole in Indonesia, there are various regulations that have prompted efforts to conduct a review of forestry policy in the past that continue to be brought up to date.

First of all TAP MPR No. IX/MPR/2001. It contains a recommendation for the government and parliament immediately took the initiative to reform the policies of agrarian and natural resources with reference to the principles already stated in the ruling (see article 4). Some of these principles include respect and uphold human rights (article 4 letter b), recognize, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous people and the nation’s cultural diversity over agrarian resources / natural resources (article 4 points j).

Second, Law No. 26 of 2007 on Spatial Planning. This rule governs the obligations of the central government, provincial and district / city to disseminate information related to the implementation of spatial planning. While the arrangements concerning the right to information on these regulations also include providing information to the public associated with spatial information as part of spatial development. In addition, this law also provides special protection for the rights to the traditions and local culture. Every effort must consider the spatial layout of such rights (Article 6, Section 17, Article 48).

Third, Law No 32 of 2009 on the Environment Act. General Explanation of this law states …. The management of the environment must be able to provide economic benefits, social, and cultural, based on the precautionary principle, environmental democracy, decentralization, and the recognition and appreciation of local knowledge and wisdom of the environment ….

Refers to the formulation of laws, the Indonesian government had no reason to evade the consideration that recognizes the right into the scheme moratorium. Furthermore, by law, the government must obey the law. Moreover, according to human rights instruments (Law No. 39/1999), the rights and freedoms set forth in the Human Rights Act can only be limited by and under the Act, solely to ensure recognition and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, morality, public order, and the interests of the nation.

By recognizing the rights of forest peoples, the moratorium would be implemented effectively and benefit the community in and around forest areas. Thus, the moratorium in the end not only makes the forest can take a breath but also still provide a profit to people, especially the forest peoples.

[1] See civil society proposals to the draft Presidential Regulation on the moratorium.

[2] See the draft Presidential Regulation regarding the proposed moratorium on the government version 9 June 2010

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