PRESS STATEMENT RESPONSE TO THE NEWS RELEASE BY SEVERAL SPMH “INDONESIA: UN EXPERTS FLAG RIGHTS CONCERNS OVER $3BLN TOURISM PROJECT, 31 MARCH 2021

March 31, 2021 Topics
  1. The Government of the Republic of Indonesia rejects the news release by several Special Procedures Mandate Holders, entitled “Indonesia: UN experts flag rights concerns over $3bln tourism project” of 31 March 2021. The news release has unfortunately misrepresented cases of legal disputes related to the sale of land, subjecting it into the false and hyperbolic narrative of putting “…Indonesia’s laudable commitments to the Sustainable Development Development Goals and its underlying human rights obligations to the test”.
  2. Since the inception of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as an active proponent, Indonesia has always underlined that the SDGs can only be achieved by advancing the pillars of economic growth, social development, and environmental protection, in a balanced manner.
  3. At the national level, Indonesia has mainstreamed the SDGs in its national development planning policies. At the same time, Indonesia has also undergone 2 (two) voluntary national reviews on the implementation of the SDGs, and is currently preparing for the third voluntary national review scheduled for later this year. This strong commitment proves, once again, that Indonesia has no intention to slow down the national trajectory towards achieving the SDGs.
  4. The aforementioned news release is indicative of an SPMH practice that has been subject to vast criticism by many UN Member States, namely the lack of any willingness on the part of the relevant mandate holders to conduct constructive dialogue with the concerned country on an issue that they wish to highlight.
  5. Had a consultative process been given, the relevant mandate holders would have been better informed of the Mandalika project; its potentials and challenges, as well as the efforts that the Government of Indonesia have and will take to overcome such challenges, including, inter-alia, information on the available avenues for registering legal grievances and remedies pertaining to the related disputes.
  6. Through a constructive dialogue, the relevant mandate holders would also have had a better understanding that the aim of the Mandalika project is precisely to empower local communities, as well as enhance their livelihoods and participation in decision-making.
  7. As a State Party to the International Covenant of the Economic Social and Cultural rights, Indonesia will continue to fully implement the Covenant for the benefit of all Indonesians. This includes guaranteeing basic rights for all persons, including access to water and right to food, that will be fulfilled through various sustainable development projects throughout the country.
  8. Moreover, Indonesia reiterates that the right to development should continue to be guaranteed, so as to equitably meet the developmental and environmental needs of the present and future generations. As a member of the Human Rights Council, Indonesia will also continue to advance the inclusive participation of all segments of society, including local communities, in decision-making processes. In this regard, support from all stakeholders, including from the SPMH, is key.
  9. It is therefore also regrettable to note that the concerns expressed by the mandate holders in the news release have also been communicated to the Government of Indonesia through a joint letter dated 11 March 2021, whereby a response to this letter can be expected very soon.The  response from the Government of Indonesia will certainly offer a comprehensive, factual and objective review of  the SPMH’s concerns, as well as be guided by the rule of law. In this context, there is clearly no value in taking a “one-side of the story” megaphone approach.
  10. A politicized stance towards an issue of concern will not only further erode the trust that States have towards the SPMH, but will also continue to be a direct affront to resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council, as well as Human Rights Resolution 5/2 on the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders.
  11. This “one-side of the story” megaphone approach will certainly further contribute to the growing concern and mistrust in the Human Right Council towards the profesionalism and performance of certain mandate holders. Indonesia stands against such a practice, which undermines the system of special procedures, and most importantly, weakens the trust of States, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders.
  12. As a member of Human Rights Council, Indonesia will continue to support the work of the UN human rights bodies and mechanisms. Indonesia therefore, will continue to preserve the transparency and accountability of the work of the Special Rapporteur.