Human Rights International Law Southeast Asia

Institutionalisation of Human Rights in ASEAN

This paper addresses the continuing process of institutionalising human rights in the ASEAN system. It examines the substantive and procedural contexts to capture the dynamics of contesting human rights and the evolving conceptualisation of human rights in the region. The analysis of different actors and factors demonstrates that the considerable efforts towards a stronger enforcement for human rights are made based on the interplay between the logical and concessional processes in ASEAN.

I wrote this paper to contribute to the special volume published in honor of my promotor, Professor Fried van Hoof. A copy of the publication can be downloaded on my SSRN page.

Governance Human Rights Indonesia

Upstream Human Rights Activisms in Indonesia

For the past years I have been working on the issue of translating human rights, in which I become fascinated with social processes of connecting grievances into human rights discourses and terms. Middle actors, such as non-governmental organizations or semi governmental bodies play a crucial role.

My latest publication from last year, which I wrote for the special volume on Human Rights and Conflict, published in honour of Professor Bas de Gaay Fortman, addresses the effort done by Indonesian Human Rights Commission to address the negative impacts of development.

Here is the abstract of the article:

The contestation for an implementation of international human rights battling against development hazards is the deficit in legal enforcement at the country level. The inadequacy in law as a check of power and the reception of human rights ideas in cultural and/or politico-economic contexts are identified as the factors contributing to this dynamic. The article draws out this contestation by charting the upstream approach of human rights as a strategy to combat development hazards. Particularly it aims to analyse the negotiation of economic, social and cultural rights in Indonesia in human rights activisms conducted by the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and the National Commission in the case of Sidoardjo Mudflow. The article questions whether upstream human rights activism compensate the persistent enforcement deficit.

Human Rights Indigenous Peoples

Should indigenous peoples apply human rights to secure their access to livelihoods?

Increasingly in Southeast Asia, the issue of indigenous peoples gains considerable attention. Studies on the revival of indigenous politics emerge along with the implementation on decentralization. Additionally, indigenous politics also surface in the context of development; particularly when one connect the entitlements regarding indigenous tenureship on resources, usually land or forest with the access they have and require to securing their livelihoods. In this regard, many struggles as well as academic reporting usually refer to human rights.

There is something paradoxical about indigenous peoples invoking their entitlement to control their native resources with universal human rights. In a legal perspective, the term peoples constitutes a collective entity and social identity of a specific community, with special needs to ensure their historical continuity to include occupation of ancestral land, language, religion and tradition as well as culture of living under tribal system. In the context of international law, the idea of establishing indigenous peoples as a specific legal subject with specific legal rights, still faces some unresolved issues, although it is a generally accepted that a distinctive treatment is required given to their identity, collectively and more importantly their survival. 

Governance Human Rights

Book Review Customary Justice and the Rule of Law

A book review from a very interesting volume on customary justice and the rule of law written by me was published last year in  Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law. Vol. 64/2011. You can read it here.

The book consists of case studies that go beyond traditional legal analysis to include historical perspective as well as the complexities of actors and institutions in Mozambique, Guatemala, East Timor, Afghanistan, Liberia and Sudan.

It is worth reading for any scholars working in the field of access to justice and conflict studies.

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.