Development Human Rights Indonesia

Challenges Facing the Use of Human Rights to Address a Negative Impact in Development, A Case Study of Indonesia

I’ve been wanting to publish a kind of short version of my dissertation. The idea is to highlight the concept of development hazard. It hasn’t been easy, unfortunately.

My article on “Challenges Facing the Use of Human Rights to Address Negative Impacts in Development” published in The Law and Development JournalVol. 4(1), 2011: 247-268, is one of these attempts. This article brings into focus the complexities between state-market relationship as one of the challenges.


The importance of human rights in development is gaining prominence. In concrete settings and contexts, however, contesting development practices with human rights normative standards is controversial. The article outlines this controversy and complexity in Indonesia. It highlights tensions in human rights regulatory frameworks and development policies pertaining to housing and promotions of healthy environments. The main challenge faced by human rights to address development in Indonesia is to understand the complexity of state and market relationship, in designing the process and mitigating the negative impacts of development. Such a complexity is argued to shape the enforcement and susceptibility of international and national human rights laws.

Development Human Rights

Bare necessities: have human rights been effective to secure basic needs?

Worldwide consensus expressed among others in the Millennium Development Goals demands a considerable reduction if not eradication of poverty and hunger in the world. One of the attempts to come closer to the fulfilment of these desires is a shift in development cooperation initiatives from ‘needs based’ to ‘rights based’. This shift is motivated by the conviction, voiced most prominently by Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen, that in most cases hunger is caused not by an overall quantitative lack in availability of food, but by exclusion of the poor from access to food. It is believed that access to the necessities of life, including food, can be improved by promotion of recognition of human rights.

Development Human Rights Indigenous Peoples Indonesia

Declared – Not Acquired

I am planning to do a field research on the negotiations of human rights in the context of agricultural modernisation in Merauke, Papua, next year. In preparation for this visit, I have written a paper that addresses the complexity, or cornucopia, of laws in Indonesia regarding food, food security, and general food law. I added a small case study on hunger in Yahukimo to illustrate my argument.


The right of everyone to be free from hunger is recognised as fundamental in the international human rights laws. This means that states have the obligation to take immediate measures against this adversity. However, optimism towards state compliance in this regard is challenged by the intricacies in state laws, regulations and practices that buttress the measures to eradicate hunger. This chapter depicts the complexity of addressing hunger as a violation of the right to food in Indonesia. Based from a comparative analysis of the Indonesian human rights law, general food law and disaster management law as well as an examination of state measures against the hunger in Yahukimo, Papua, the chapter highlights that one can expect little when normative points of the right to food are being used as the standards of enforcement. In reality, people’s actual command to food commodity is being governed according to the prevailing struggles and relationships of people, context and power.

This article will be published in the book ‘Governing Food Security: Law, Politics and the Right to Food’, which I co-edited with my colleague, Dr. O. Hospes.

Development Human Rights Indonesia

Hazard or Right?

My book is finally published!

Here is the abstract of the 31st volume of the School of Human Rights Research Series:

Contrary to the generally positive connotation of development as structural improvement in people’s well-being, development policies, programmes and projects often affect people’s lives in a negative way. Is there, then, a protection against such “development hazards”? The question is highly topical as about ten million people annually enter the cycle of forced displacement and relocation due to development projects. Their lack of access to decision-making on development policies is part of the problem. In this context the internationally declared right to development might offer a solution as it stipulates free and meaningful participation.

The analyses in this thesis show that the official and international consensus on the moral ideas behind the right to development is insufficient to guarantee proliferation and implementation of that discourse at the grass root level. In Indonesia, efforts towards implementation reflect different dynamics entailing competing encounters between all stakeholders, which sometimes are unfavourable to the poor. Notably, the enforcement of the right to development – as both a legal resource and a political instrument to change development practices – needs to be firmly rooted in an enabling, rather than adverse, national environment.

While opening a new dialogue on the right to development as an instrument to combat development hazards, this book reveals the complex interface between human rights and development as actually practised.
You can order the book online via this link.