Jakarta, October 25, 2022 – Civil society groups who are members of the Indonesia Focal Point (IFP) Coalition for Corporate Accountability held an audience with the Director of Human Rights and Humanity, Directorate General of Multilateral Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Achsanul Habib. This hearing aims to obtain updated information from the Government of Indonesia regarding the discussion of the Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) business practices and human rights, especially regarding binding legal rules for corporate responsibility in doing business which is being discussed in the discussion of the 8th session of the legally open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) binding [a1] instrument in Geneva, Switzerland. Also attending the hearing were representatives from IFP, namely: Salsabila, Muslim Silaen, Rahmat Maulana Sidik and Betty Tiominar.
IFP representatives conveyed several concentrations of issues related to business and human rights, including: Indonesia must be actively involved in playing its role in the negotiations on the United Nations Legally Binding Instrument (UN LBI) on Business and Human Rights as a logical consequence of giving full support to Resolution 26/9 that[a2] . Indonesia has a very important role in this negotiation because it was chosen as the Friends of Chairs (FoC) along with four other countries, namely Azerbaijan, France, Portugal and Uruguay. This position can be used by the Government to attract more support from other UN member states to be involved in the process and agree with this LBI. Apart from being a FoC, Indonesia’s position as the country that initiated the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) can also be used to consolidate NAM countries to support the LBI process.
In his response, Mr. Achsanul Habib, stated that the discussion of the UN LBI is also a matter of concern to the Indonesian government. The biggest challenge in the current LBI process is the trend of decreasing UN members who are interested in being involved in the process of drafting this instrument. In the last two years, according to him, of the 90 UN member countries that initially agreed with the LBI discussion, it has decreased to around 60 countries. Without the active involvement of most members of the United Nations – total of 193 countries – the LBI could not become a binding instrument as mutually expected.
The different interests of the Non-Aligned Movement countries are also an obstacle for the Government of Indonesia to strengthen the LBI drafting process. Another thing, the absence of developed countries, members of the United Nations, in the process of preparing the LBI is also seen as one of the factors that slows down the process of preparing the LBI at the United Nations. However, the Indonesian government remains optimistic that this convention can be ratified. Although it will take a long time, the Government of Indonesia will continue to seek to approach UN member countries so that they are willing to be actively involved in the process of preparing the LBI.
The Indonesian government considers that a legally binding instrument is important for transnational companies operating in a country, thus they do not violate human rights when conducting their business. While pushing for the ratification of the LBI, the Indonesian government is currently preparing a National Human Rights Strategy with reference to national regulations and policies.
At the end of the hearing, the Director of Human Rights and Humanity gave several notes to the coalition to continue to jointly push for the ratification of this instrument, taking into account the peculiarities of Indonesia, such as: 1) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which are mostly household based, 2) the existence of a Board of State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN) which are different from transnational companies; and 3) how to apply national law in extraterritorial law so that sanctions for transnational companies that violate human rights can be punished by national laws and regulations.
For this reason, it is important for the government and civil society organizations to give voices and conduct wider socialization to all parties who will be affected in this process. So that human rights principles can be recognized by all parties, both national and local governments, private companies, national and regional judicial institutions, civil society and all related parties.
In closing, IFP representatives provided critical note documents to the Director of Human Rights and Humanity, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia as input and consideration in the LBI negotiation process at the UN later.
Members of the IFP (Indonesia Focal Point for Corporate Accountability) Coalition:
Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ), People’s Coalition for the Right to Water (KRuHA), Indonesia Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS), People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA), FIAN Indonesia, Solidarity Women, KontraS, ELSAM, Lokataru, IILH-apintlaw.