During a recent workshop on business, human rights and the environment for Southeast Asian National Human Rights Institutions, we spoke to Dianto Bachradi. He is commissioner at Komnas HAM, the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission. He is passionate when he talks about the issue of business, human rights and the environment.
“I worked for 25 years in NGOs and farmers’ organisations with land rights and human rights violations in rural areas before I decided to join Komnas HAM two years ago. People asked me to go and work for the commission as they hoped I could have an impact on the commission’s work when it comes to these issues,” he says.
Dianto says Komnas HAM, as a National Human Rights Institution, has a specific and unique role because it can function as a bridge between parties like states, corporations and victims when negotiating or discussing the topic of business and human rights.
In the case of Indonesia, the country has already ratified all significant international human rights instruments, but the problem lies with the implementation of those instruments. The state does not push the corporations hard enough to respect human rights, according to Dianto.
”In my previous work I did a lot of advocacy and when I was working for the NGOs I used to shout loud to both companies and the state, but now when I work with the commission I have a wider spectrum of actions to take in relation to building mechanisms for the state to develop specific policies to ensure that corporations respect human rights,” he says. “If we do it successfully, it would have a huge impact on the human rights situation and many agrarian land conflicts in Indonesia.”
Komnas HAM receives close to 7,000 individual human rights complaints every year and the majority of those concern agrarian conflicts and labour issues, which all relates to the issue of business and human rights.
”Our domestic law in this area is rather weak,” says Dianto. “Many agrarian and natural resource management laws or regulations focus on how the country can invite and welcome the investor to explore and exploit our natural resources, not at all taking into consideration human rights protection.”
However, through Komnas HAM’s legal mandate to conduct mediation, which is one of the remedy mechanisms of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the commission can bring victims and corporations to the table to ensure that human rights violations are remedied.
Dianto says: ”This is in my view is the unique role of the NHRIs, to function as a bridge between different parties and narrow the gap. We also need to advocate for the government to push harder for corporations to respect human rights. To speak frankly, given that Komnas HAM is so busy dealing with the many complaints we receive each year, we are a bit slow on promoting business, human rights and the environment as an important issue and to raise public awareness. This is our homework.”
For the future, Dianto says the real challenge lies in how to achieve human rights law enforcement. “The UNGPs has created a new space for this, but we as NHRIs need to bring the actors into this room. The foot is in the door but we need to ensure they’re fully committed.”