SBY and Cameron, co-chairs of the High Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda: time to protect indigenous peoples’ rights

Protesters call for the return of their customary territories, Jakarta.

Press Release by AMAN and DTE, Jakarta and London, 17th March, 2014

Civil society organisations in Indonesia and the UK have joined forces to urge their government leaders to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in Indonesia. It is critical that unfinished business on recognising and protecting the rights of an estimated 60-120 million Indonesians are implemented as the country’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono enters the last few months of his second and final term.

President Yudhoyono and British Prime Minister David Cameron are co-chairs of the 27-member High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Panel’s report calls for the post-2015 agenda to be “centred around people, including those affected by poverty and exclusion, women, youth, the aged, disabled persons, and indigenous peoples.”[1]

In an open letter, AMAN, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago, and Down to Earth, the International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia, urged President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Cameron to follow up on their commitments to indigenous peoples.[2]

They called on Yudhoyono to intervene personally to issue a Presidential Instruction on indigenous territories which enables the implementation of last May’s groundbreaking Constitutional Court’s ruling.[3] The Court’s decision takes indigenous peoples’ customary forests out of the control of the state and has the potential to secure rights to land and resources for millions of indigenous people. They also urged the President to repeal all regulations and decisions issued by the Forestry Minister which hinder the implementation of the Court’s decision and to ensure that the bill on the Recognition and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is passed into law before the end of his presidency.

There has been an alarming lack of progress in implementing the Court’s decision. Instead it is being undermined by new regulations issued by the Forestry Ministry - in particular Ministerial Regulation No P.62 amending Ministerial Regulation P.44/2012 on the Establishment of the Forest Zone.

“This is bringing further uncertainty for indigenous peoples along with the prospect of more deforestation and worsening poverty,”

said AMAN and DTE.

Meanwhile, Law No.18 passed in August 2013 on the Prevention and Eradication of Forest Degradation has been used to evict indigenous Semende communities in Bengkulu and to arrest twelve indigenous community members in Meratus, South Kalimantan.

The organisations also urged Prime Minister Cameron to conduct a review of UK policy towards Indonesia so that conflicting policies on business, human rights and climate change are identified and amended to support the recommendations of indigenous peoples noted in the High Level Panel’s Report,[4] and to support the speedy implementation of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court Decision. 

The Panel’s report calls for the sustainable management of natural resource assets (Goal 9). It highlights the fact that globally, over a billion people living in rural areas depend on forest resources for survival and income, yet the world loses about 5.2 million hectares of forest per year. It recognises that many of these forests have been traditionally managed by indigenous peoples and local communities and when forests are cleared, people and communities lose a traditional livelihood source, societies lose an important natural resource and the destruction of forests also accelerates climate change, which affects everyone.

“This is one reason why measures which protect the rights of Indonesia’s indigenous peoples to manage their forests and other natural resources are a crucial part of securing a sustainable future,”

said AMAN and DTE.  

For further information contact:

Rukka Sombolinggi
Tel: +62 8297954 / 837 06282

Down to Earth,
Carolyn Marr
Tel: +44 (0)169773422


[1]    The High-Level Panel’s May 2013 report can be downloaded in English and Indonesian from

[4]    These are noted in Annex IV of the High Level Panel’s Report as examples of some of the issues raised as follows: “Mechanisms to recognise and protect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to land, territories and resources and other rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) must be ensured” and “Legislative and institutional mechanisms to recognise the indivisible rights of indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, dalits and other socially excluded groups must be put in place.” The report notes that a more extensive list is available at