HRWG’s Experiences on the ESCR Advocacy

Indonesia’s Civil Society Experiences on the ESCR Advocacy to ASEAN and UN Human Rights Bodies | by Rafendi Djamin

Executive Director of Indonesian NGO’s Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (HRWG)

At Panel 2: Mainstreaming Economic, Economic Social and Cultural Rights 

Geneva, 8 October 2014

(Presented in the Programme of the workshop on enhancing cooperation between United Nations and regional mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights, Room No. XVIII, Palais des Nations –Geneva, 8 and 9 October 2014)

Excellency’s and Distinguished Participants,

Coalition of Indonesian NGO for International Human Rights Advocacy (Human Rights Working Group) hosted the secretariat of Indonesian Civil Society network for Economic Social and Cultural Rights and organized preparatory activities in drafting alternative report on the implementation of IESCR by Indonesian Government to UN ESCR Committee. Started with first preparatory meeting in December 2012, initiate a dialog with relevant Indonesian Government Agencies, attending the Review of Indonesian Government Report by the UN Committee on ESCR, until the Press Conference and diplomatic briefing in Jakarta after the adoption of the Concluding observation of UN ESCR Committee.

Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) Indonesia, the short name of the Coalition was established in 2003, is a national permanent NGO Coalition focusing on advocacy of International human Rights obligation of Indonesian Government. Targeting its Advocacy work to all Treaty monitoring bodies where Indonesia is a state party of, as well as to relevant UN Special Procedures from the Charter based monitoring bodies including engagement with UPR process at national and during the Review itself. Later in 2006 HRWG expanded its advocacy work to the ASEAN human Rights mechanism. Lastly since 2009, HRWG –Indonesia further expanded it advocacy target to IPHRC of the OIC.

The collective work of not less than 60 Indonesian NGOs in targeting the UN Committee on ESCR was started with the preparation of initial Indonesian Government Report to UN Committee on ESCR in 2012. Involving not less than 60 NGO working of different sector such as Women’s Rights, Indigenous people Rights, Labor Rights including Migrant workers and domestic workers rights, Housing Rights, Health Rights including Sexual and reproductive rights, rights of PWD, rights of people living on HIV and rights of people with different SOGI, ESC rights of minority groups including religious minority group, right to clean Water and Sanitation, Mining network and Rights to Environment Groups, and Right to Development.

The engagement continued with delivering civil societies’ response of the list of issues to the Committee on October 2013, that have involved around 60 civil society organizations in Indonesia, from several provinces. As a coalition, HRWG facilitated Indonesian civil society to engage with the reporting process, by collecting information and data, drafting the alternative report and submitting it to the Committee. The engagement also incudes participating the Committee ESC’s session in Geneva though delivering statement, organizing parallel event, discussion with country rapporteur, and lobbying with other UN ESC Committee members.

Distinguished participants,

From this engagement, by measuring the concluding observation (CO) of the Committee, we assumed that half (around 50%) of recommendations in CO are taken from CSOs alternative report, reply list of issues report and meetings with the Committee members.

At the national level, HRWG also made several activities to follow-up the UN Committee’s recommendations, such as a publication of State’s report, civil society’s alternative report, as well as the concluding observation with local language; disseminating Committee’s recommendation to the state apparatus, civil society organizations, and Indonesian public, through discussion, workshop and seminar; and, integrating of ESC rights advocacy with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) advocacy (combining human rights issues with development and advocating SDGs with ESC rights framework).

Another opportunity for HRWG-Indonesia in mainstreaming ESC rights was by working closely with the country visit of UN Special Rapporteur on Housing to Indonesia in 2013, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Migrant Workers in 2008, and Visit of UN High Commissioner on human Rights during the tenure of Madame. Louis Arbor and Navy Pillay to Indonesia. The modality of engagement was through consolidation of NGO’s submission and interface dialog with the SR or HCHR, including facilitating interface dialog between the survivor/victims of ESC rights violations and SR/High Commissioner. This could be done with close collaboration of the supporting staff from OHCHR both in Bangkok and Geneva. And the space provided by Indonesian Government as a host of the visit.

Indonesian CSO, ASEAN human Rights and UN Bodies

  • HRWG-Indonesia plays significant role in coordinating Indonesian civil society advocacy to the ASEAN Human Rights mechanisms. First, as focal point of Indonesian Civil Society engagement with wider CSO in ASEAN. Second, Although HRWG is a national platform of CSO, since it is based in Jakarta where ASEAN Secretariat and all Permanent Representative of ASEAN members state are located, HRWG has played pivotal role in facilitating engagement of civil society groups from other ASEAN countries. Issues of ESC rights have been advocated through various CSO-ASEAN forums namely. ASEAN CSO forum with ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC), dialog with like minded members of ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW) and AICHR.
  • Beside direct interface dialog with ASEAN human rights bodies. Modality of engagement on issue of ESC rights is conducted through participation of workshop organized by AICHR, ACWC, ASEAN Forum on Migrant and labor. For example AICHR and UN Women: On September 5-6, 2011, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), in cooperation with UN Women, held a Seminar “Towards Achieving Substantive Gender Equality”, aimed to help participants gain a better understanding of principles of non-discrimination and substantive equality and state obligation as prescribed in CEDAW; share international good practices on compliance with CEDAW in selected areas of women’s human rights; and make recommendations to AICHR on its possible actions on gender equality in ASEAN. One of issues has been discussed in the meeting is about women migrant workers in Southeast Asia.
  • Participating in AICHR workshop on Post MDGs and Human Rights cooperation with UNDP. AICHR organized a two days Regional Workshop on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Post 2015 and Human Rights in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 11-12 December 2013. The Regional Workshop was held by AICHR Indonesia with support from the Directorate General of ASEAN Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) Facility, as well as UNDP.
  • CSR and human rights. The Representative of the Philippines to AICHR, in collaboration with UN Women and the WG for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism conducted the “Regional Workshop and Consultation on Business and Human Rights in ASEAN” on 11 – 12 December 2012 at the Bay view Hotel, Singapore. This discussion using the UN Guideline Principle on Business and Human Rights as a framework and invited UN officer (John Ruggie’s staff) at that time acted as UN Independent Expert on Business and Human Rights. The engagement of HRWG on this issue was conducted both at national and regional level, at the national level by working closely with Indonesian Reps to AICHR and regionally by active participation on the Verification Workshop of this thematic Studies of AICHR. This study was already concluded last April 2014 with the participation of member of UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
  • Other previous AICHR’s workshop participated by HRWG-Indonesia and its network on ESC rights are ASEAN Conference/Workshop on Promoting Maternal Health: Responding to the UN Millennium Development Goal 5 with the Centre for Reproductive Rights and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Manila (2011); and “Regional Workshop on Statelessness and the Rights of Women and Children” with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Manila, and discussed the possibility of taking concrete steps as a follow up to these seminars, 2011.
  • Human Rights and Extractive Industry in ASEAN. HRWG and its network closely engaged with ASEAN Sectorial Body on mining by advocating the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). As it is now the awareness and ratification of EITI voluntary principle is already part of the Plan of Action of ASEAN Mineral and Mining Cooperation. Another way to strengthened advocacy on human rights and extractive industry is by close cooperation with a network of National Human Rights Institution in South East Asian countries focusing on Land Rights, Indigenous People and Plantation in ASEAN countries.

Challenges and way forward,

There areas to be improved for national Civil Society Organization Working on human rights advocacy at the UN and ASEAN human rights mechanism. One of the challenges in the ASEAN and IPHRC is the lack of access and openness to engage with diverse civil society groups. The Absence of rules of engagement that are accepted by both parties Civil Society groups could be one of the reasons. The engagement so far was conducted on case-by-case basis witch lies on the preferences of member states.

Another area of concern in strengthening cooperation between UN and Regional Mechanisms is also limited access of National human Rights Institutions (NHRI’s) that mostly have a good collaboration with civil society groups, to engage with the work of Regional mechanisms within ASEAN and OIC-IPHRC.

Thank you,

Rafendi Djamin