Business and Human Rights Working Group Launching: Promoting Business in Justice

ELSAM, Jakarta –Recently corporation holds great power overwhelming the state power. In this regard, it is important for corporation to respect human rights. Such statement was delivered by Human Rights National Commission (Komnas HAM) commissioner Nur Kholis in the launching of Business and Human Rights Working Group (B&HRWG) in Jakarta on Thursday (7/4).

Corporation becomes the second institution to be reported to Komnas HAM concerning on human rights violations, after police institution in the last three years. In 2013, there were 1.126 complaints, while in 2014 there were 958, and 1.127 in 2015. Based on the analysis conducted by Komnas HAM, the rank of parties being reported is straightly proportional to the power or authority. “The bigger the power or authority is, the potential of human rights violations is either bigger,” Nur Kholis, who is the Special Rapporteur of Business and Human Rights of Komnas HAM, said.

The launching of B&HRWG, initiated by Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN) and ELSAM, was attended by Executive Director of IGCN, Josephine Satyono, Vice President of IGCN, Debora Tjandrakusuma, Chairman of B&HRWG, John Darmawan, Director of Human Rights Instrument of Human Rights Directorate General of Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Dr. Molan Tarigan, Professor of Law Faculty of University of Indonesia, Prof. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, one of Chairman of APINDO ( the Employers’ Association of Indonesia) Executive Board, Harijanto, and other directors of national and multinational companies. B&HRWG was established to promote equitable business and human rights respect to the corporation circle. This is pursuant to the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights issued by the UN Human Rights Commission in 2011.

On the launching, IGCN Secretariat delivered the survey result of the implementation of UN Guiding Principles to the corporation circle, especially to the members of IGCN. The survey showed that the policy statement related to the commitment to respect human rights needs to be better communicated to the society. Other than that, it is also important to widely spread the company annual report, particularly related to the issue of Business and Human Rights, to the public society. Meanwhile, for most of IGCN members, the role of government in encouraging the companies to apply the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights has not been well implemented.

On the occasion, ELSAM also has the opportunity to expose the initial study on human rights policy of 6 big corporations from the sectors of oil, mineral and coal mining, and palm oil plantation. Those companies are, inter alia, British Petrolium Indonesia, PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia, PT Freeport Indonesia, PT Cargill Indonesia, Wilmar International Ltd, and PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology Tbk.

The ELSAM’s initial study showed that the human rights policy statements of the six companies have not been able to easily be accessed by the public. Besides, there are several companies which have not refer to the human rights instrument in their policy statement or place their policy statements to be the code of conduct of the companies. The mechanism for remedy to the victims of company operations has not been specified in the policy statement, which further makes the victims hard to seek for remedy.

Regarding with the survey result carried out by IGN Secretariat and ELSAM’s initial study, Molan Tarigan said that the survey results of both institution are the needs in order to balance the activities of business and human rights. He later added that the survey needs its scope to be expanded including the corporation of the water and sanitation, and housing sectors.

Moreover, Harkristuti said that the survey conducted by IGCN and ELSAM will strengthen the previous researches which have been conducted by Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC). “There are many homework to finish still after seeing the fact that there a lot of companies have not been subject to the UNGPs,” the former Directorate General of Human Rights of Ministry of Law and Human Rights said.

She also emphasized the importance of immediate government intervention to amend the number of regulations which are overlapping in legislating the issue. She also expected that the survey of IGCN and ELSAM can be further the reference of the government to formulate the policy framework on Business and Human Rights in the future.

Furthermore, Harjanto began his response by stating that the commencement of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will influence to the fierce competition of businessmen in Indonesia. He also said that any efforts the companies do to adjust with the international standard, including human rights standard, will take an effect on the production cost. Therefore, he added that it needs the protection and empowerment from the government to the companies, including UMKM (Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises). Harijanto concerned on the fact if there was no protection and empowerment to the UMKM, the sector will not be able to compete because of the bigger production cost they must bear to adjust with the prevailing market standards, including human rights standards.  []