Hunter Gatherer Research

Legal obstacles to territorial rights recognition, sustainable commodity production and forest conservation on forest peoples’ lands in Southeast Asia with a focus on Indonesia and Malaysia

Hunter Gatherer Research (2019), 4, (1), 81–112.


Details

Most forest peoples in Southeast Asia practice mixed economies in which mobile foraging is a key element in their livelihood strategies, based on hunting, fishing, gathering, shifting cultivation and, increasingly, small-scale commodity production. As well as being central to their identities and economies, such activities are regulated by customary law. In both Indonesia and Malaysia, under the constitutions and other laws, custom is recognised as a source of rights in partial conformity with international human rights laws on indigenous peoples. In practice, rights are often not formally recognised, are readily extinguished by official land designation and, even where recognised, rarely extend beyond farmland to include wider foraging areas. Customary law communities are thus highly vulnerable when their forestlands are allocated to developers of large-scale monocrops such as oil palm and pulpwood. Voluntary ‘sustainability’ standards now require companies to respect customary rights and communities’ free prior and informed consent to land-use plans designed to ensure both development and forest conservation, but legal limitations hinder good practice. Based on detailed field studies and legal reviews, the paper finds that due to these limitations, national legal and procedural reforms are needed if voluntary standards are to protect rights and forests.

References

Abrar 1999. The controlling rights of the state over mining activities under UUD 1945. Postgraduate thesis. Bandung: Pajajaran University. Google Scholar

Afrizal 2007. The Nagari community, business and the state. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme and Sawitwatch. Google Scholar

Afrizal 2015. Third-party interventions in terminating oil palm plantation conflicts in Indonesia: a structural analysis. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 30(1):141–172. Google Scholar

Albrecht, G & Moser, J 1998. Recent Mani settlements in Satun Province, Southern Thailand. Journal of the Siam Society 86(1–2):161–200. Google Scholar

Anaya, J 2008. Report of the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. United Nations Doc A/HRC/9/9. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/665137?ln=en. Google Scholar

Andaya, LY 2008. Leaves of the same tree: trade and ethnicity in the Straits of Melaka. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Google Scholar

Anderson P, Hasibuan, F, Firdaus, AY, Afrizal, Firmansyah, Z & Firmansyah, N 2013. PT Permata Hijau Pasaman 1 and the Kapa and Sasak Peoples of Pasaman Barat, West Sumatra. In Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) Conflict or consent: the roundtable on sustainable palm oil at a crossroads. Bogor, Sawitwatch, TUK-Indonesia and Forest Peoples Programme:101–124. Google Scholar

Ash, M (ed) 1997. Aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada: essays on law, equality, and respect for difference. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Google Scholar

Attorney General 2007. Native customary laws and native rights over land in Sarawak. Prepared by the State Attorney-General’s Chambers, Sarawak for Human Rights Commission in 2004. Updated 15 January 2007. http://www.rengah.c2o.org/assets/pdf/de0157a.pdf. Google Scholar

Banner, S 2005. How the Indians lost their land: law and power on the frontier. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar

Barber, CV & Churchill, G 1987. Land policy in Irian Jaya: issues and strategies. Government of Indonesia and UNDP / IBRD project INS/83/013. Google Scholar

Bartley, T 2018. Rules without rights: land, labor, and private authority in the global economy Oxford, Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Bennett, G 1978. Aboriginal rights in international law. Occasional Paper 37. London: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Google Scholar

Bulan, R 2006. Native customary land: the trust as a device for land development in Sarawak. In Cooke, FM (ed) State, communities and forests in contemporary Borneo. Canberra: Australian National University. Google Scholar

Bulan, R 2011. Legal pluralism in Sarawak: an approach to customary laws on their own terms under the Federal Constitution. In Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) Divers paths to justice: legal pluralism and the rights of indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai: Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact and Forest Peoples Programme:40–65. Google Scholar

Burns, P 1989. ‘The myth of Adat’, Journal of Legal Pluralism 28:1–127. Google Scholar

Burns, P 1999. The Leiden legacy: concepts of law in Indonesia. Jakarta: PT Pradnya Paramita. Google Scholar

CERD (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) 2007. Indonesia, CERD/C/IDN/CO/3. 15 August 2007. http://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/default/files/publication/2010/08/indonesiacerdconclobsaug07eng.pdf. Google Scholar

CERD (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) 2009. Letter from the CERD to His Excellency Dian Triansyah Djani, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, 28 September 2009. http://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/default/files/publication/2010/08/indonesiacerdresponseurgentaction-sept09eng.pdf. Google Scholar

CERD (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) 2011. UN CERD formal communication to the Permanent Mission of Indonesia regarding allegations of threatening and imminent irreparable harm for indigenous peoples in Merauke District related to the MIFEE project. 2 September 2011. http://www.forest-peoples.org/sites/fpp/files/publication/2011/09/cerduaindonesia02092011fm.pdf. Google Scholar

CERD (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) 2013. Letter from the CERD to His Excellency Mt. Triyono Wibowo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva, 30 August 2013. http://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/fpp/files/publication/2013/09/cerdindonesi-amifeeaugust2013.pdf. Google Scholar

Chao, S, Colchester, M & Jiwan, N 2012. Securing rights through commodity roundtables? A comparative review. Moreton-in-Marsh, Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

Colchester, M 1991. Pirates, squatters and poachers: the political ecology of dispossession of the native peoples of Sarawak. 2nd Edition. Petaling Jaya: Survival International and INSAN. Google Scholar

Colchester, M 2011. Palm oil and indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia: land acquisition, human rights violations and indigenous peoples on the palm oil frontier. Moreton-in-Marsh and Rome: Forest Peoples Programme and International Land Coalition. Google Scholar

Colchester, M 2016. Do commodity certification systems uphold indigenous peoples’ rights? Lessons from the roundtable on sustainable palm oil and forest stewardship council. Policy Matters (21):149–165. Google Scholar

Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) 2011. Oil palm expansion in Southeast Asia: trends and implications for local communities and indigenous peoples. Bogor: SawitWatch and Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) 2013. Conflict or consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme, TUK-Indonesia, SawitWatch. Google Scholar

Colchester, M & Jiwan, N 2006. Ghosts on our own land: oil palm smallholders in Indonesia and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme and SawitWatch. Google Scholar

Colchester, M & Storey, H 2018. Land and forest tenure reform: levelling the playing field between communities and companies. Paper presented to The Forests Dialogue, Yale University School of Forestry and Environment, 27 February 2018. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Anderson, P & Chao, S 2014. Assault on the commons: deforestation and denial of rights in Indonesia. Moreton-in-Marsh: Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Anderson, P, Firdaus, AY Hasibuan, F & Chao, S 2011. Human rights abuses and land conflicts in the PT Asiatic Persada concession in Jambi: report of an independent investigation into land disputes and forced evictions in a palm oil estate. Moreton-in-Marsh, Bogor and Jakarta: Forest Peoples Programme, SawitWatch and HuMa. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Anderson, P, Luckyharto, D, Nelson, J, Venant, M & Nounah, S 2016. How can ‘zero deforestation’ policies accommodate the rights and livelihoods of local communities and indigenous peoples? Lessons from the field. Paper presented at the 2016 World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, World Bank, Washington DC, 14–18 March 2016. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Jalong, T & Alaza, L 2013. Sabah: Genting plantations and the Sungai and Dusun Peoples. In Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) Conflict or consent: the oil palm sector at a crossroads. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme, TUK-Indonesia, SawitWatch:232–258. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Jalong, T & Wong, MC 2013. Sarawak: IOI-Pelita and the community of Long Teran Kanan. In Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) Conflict or consent: the oil palm sector at a crossroads. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme, TUK-Indonesia, SawitWatch:259–281. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Jiwan, N, Andiko, N, Sirait, M, Firdaus, AY, Surambo, A & Pane, H 2006. Promised land: palm oil and land acquisition in Indonesia: implications for local communities and indigenous peoples. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme, SawitWatch, HuMA and ICRAF. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Sirait, M & Wijardjo, B 2003. The application of FSC principles 2 & 3 in Indonesia: obstacles and possibilities. Jakarta: WALHI and AMAN. Google Scholar

Colchester, M, Wee, AP, Wong, MC & Jalong, T 2007. Land is life: land rights and palm oil development in Sarawak. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme and SawitWatch. Google Scholar

Culhane, D 1998. The pleasure of the crown: anthropology, law and first nations. Vancouver: Talon Books. Google Scholar

Deloria Jr, V & Wilkins, DE 1999. Tribes, treaties and constitutional tribulations. Austin: University of Texas Press. Google Scholar

Doolittle, A 2004. Property and politics in Sabah, Malaysia: native struggles over land rights. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Google Scholar

Doolittle, A 2011. Native customary lands rights in Sabah 1884–2010. In Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) Divers paths to justice: legal pluralism and the rights of indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai: Forest Peoples Programme and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact:81–105. Google Scholar

Dove, M 2011. The banana tree at the gate: a history of marginal peoples and global markets in Borneo. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Google Scholar

Drakard, J 1990. A Malay frontier. Ithaca, NY: Cornell. Google Scholar

DTE 2013. A turning point for Indonesia’s indigenous peoples. DTE Update. 7 June 2013. http://www.downtoearth-indonesia.org/story/turning-point-indonesia-s-indigenous-peoples. Google Scholar

EIA 2015. Who watches the watchmen? Auditors and the breakdown of oversight in RSPO. London: Environmental Investigation Agency. Google Scholar

Endicott, K 1999. Introduction: Southeast Asia. In Lee, RB & Daly, R (1999) The Cambridge encyclopedia of hunters and gatherers. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press:275–283. Google Scholar

FPP 2015. Hollow promises: an FPIC assessment of Golden Veroleum and Golden Agri-Resource’s palm oil project in south east Liberia. Moreton-in-Marsh, Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

FPP 2016. Tongod villagers secure settlement of land claim with palm oil developer Genting Plantations. 8 April. Forest Peoples Programme. http://www.forestpeoples.org/en/topics/palm-oil-rspo/news/2016/04/tongod-villagers-secure-settlement-land-claim-palm-oil-developer-g. Google Scholar

FPP 2017. Indonesian President endorses legal recognition of indigenous peoples’ lands as best way to save the forests. Forest Peoples Programme http://www.forestpeoples.org/en/law-policy-cultural-identity/press-release/2017/press-indonesian-president-endorses-legal. Google Scholar

FPP 2018. Victory at last for Long Isun. 12 February. Forest Peoples Programme. http://www.forestpeoples.org/en/rights-land-natural-resources-responsible-finance-timber-pulpwood-and-fsc/press-release/2018/press. Google Scholar

FPP et al 2018a. Closing the gap: rights-based solutions for tackling deforestation. Moreton-in-Marsh, Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

FPP et al 2018b. Supply chain solutions for people and forests. Moreton-in-Marsh and Amsterdam: Forest Peoples Programme and BothENDS. https://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/default/files/documents/%28EN%29%20Recs%20for%20WEB%20smaller.pdf. Google Scholar

Garnett, ST, Burgess, ND, Fa, JE, Fernández-Llamazares, Á, Molnár, Z, Robinson, CJ, Watson, JE, Zander, KK, Austin, B, Brondizio, ES, Collier, NF, Duncan, T, Ellis, E, Geyle, H, Jackson, MV, Jonas, H, Malmer, P, McGowan, B, Sivongxay, A & Leiper, I 2018. A spatial overview of the global importance of indigenous lands for conservation. Nature Sustainability 1:369–374. Google Scholar

Gilbert, J 2007. Historical indigenous peoples’ land claims: a comparative and international approach to the common law doctrine of indigenous title. International & Comparative Law Quarterly 56(3):583–612. Google Scholar

Gilbert, J 2014. Nomadic peoples and human rights. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Gilbert, J 2017. Litigating indigenous peoples’ rights in Africa: potentials, challenges and limitations. International & Comparative Law Quarterly 66(3):657–686. Google Scholar

HCSA 2017. The high carbon stock toolkit 2.0. http://highcarbonstock.org/. Google Scholar

Hoffman, C 1984. Punan foragers in the trading networks of Southeast Asia. In Schriere, C (ed) Past and present in hunter-gatherer studies. London: Academic Press:123–149. Google Scholar

Holleman, JF (ed) 1981. Van Vollenhoven on Indonesian Adat law. The Hague: Konninklijk Institut Voor Taal-, Land-en Volkekunde, Martinus Nijhoff. Google Scholar

Hong, E 1987. The natives of Sarawak: survival in Borneo’s vanishing forests. Penang: Institut Masyarakat. Google Scholar

Hooker, MB 1978. Adat law in modern Indonesia. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

IDEAL 1999. Tanah Penghidup Kitai: Our land is our livelihood. Sibu: Ideal. Google Scholar

Ihromi, TO 1999. Masyarakat adat dan pengurangan lemiskinan dalam masa transisi: kebijakan, aksi dan implikasi, beberapa butir pemikiran. 25–26 September 2001. Jakarta: Makalah dalam Lokakarya Masyarakat Adat dan Penanggulangan Kemiskinan. Google Scholar

I Tsing (Republished 2006) A record of the Buddhist religion: as practised in India and the Malay archipelago (AD 671–695). Delhi: Cosmo Books. Google Scholar

Kelly, RL 2013. The lifeways of hunter-gatherers: the foraging spectrum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

KomNasHAM, 2016. National inquiry on the rights of forests peoples on their territories in the forest zones. http://www.forestpeoples.org/en/topics/legal-human-rights/publication/2016/indonesian-human-rights-commission-s-national-inquiry-ind. Google Scholar

Laksmi, BI 2018. Pemerintah Berkomitmen Sahkan UU Masyarakat Hukum Adat. 20 July 2018. Kompas. Google Scholar

Li, TM 2014. Land’s end: capitalist relations on an indigenous frontier. Durham: Duke University Press. Google Scholar

Lindley, MF 1926. The acquisition and government of backward territory in international law. New York: Longman. Google Scholar

Lomax, T 2014. Asserting community land rights using RSPO complaint procedures in Indonesia and Liberia. London: International Institute for Environment and Development. Google Scholar

Lumholz, C 1991[1920]. Through Central Borneo. Singapore: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Lynch, O & Harwell, E 2002. Whose natural resources? Whose common good? Towards a new paradigm of environmental justice and the national interest in Indonesia. CIEL, HuMA, ELSAM, ICEL & ICRAF, LBH Bantaya, Palu. Google Scholar

Maclnnes, A 2017. A comparison of leading palm oil certification standards. Moreton-in-Marsh: Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

Maclnnes, A 2019 (in press). Logging the heart out of Borneo. Moreton-in-Marsh: Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

MacKay, F 2001. A guide to Indigenous peoples’ rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System. Moreton-in-Marsh, Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

Mackay, F 2005–2017. Indigenous peoples and United Nations human rights bodies: a compilation of UN treaty body jurisprudence, the reports of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the advice of the expert mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples. Vols I–VII. Moreton-in-Marsh: Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

McNeil, K 2016. Indigenous territorial rights in the common law. Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper Series 173. https://tinyurl.com/yygwsqvv. Google Scholar

Metcalf, P 2010. The life of the longhouse: an archaeology of ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Milner, A 2011[2008]. The Malays. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

Morgans, CL, Meijaard, E, Santika, T, Law, E, Budiharta, S, Ancrenaz, M & Wilson, KA 2018. Evaluating the effectiveness of palm oil certification in delivering multiple sustainability objectives. Environmental Research Letters 13(6). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aac6f4. Google Scholar

Munoz, PM 2006. Early kingdoms: Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet. Google Scholar

Nicholas, C 1994. Pathways to dependency: commodity relations and the dissolution of Semai society. Monash Papers on Southeast Asia No 33. Melbourne: Monash University. Google Scholar

Nicholas, C, Engi, J & Teh, YP 2010. The Orang Asli and the UNDRIP: from rhetoric to recognition. Subang Jaya: Centre for Orang Asli Concerns. Google Scholar

Nichols, RL 1998. Indians in the United States and Canada: a comparative history. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Google Scholar

OAS (Organisation of American States) 2009. Indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights over their ancestral lands and natural resources: norms and jurisprudence of the inter-American human rights system. 30 December 2009. https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/indigenous/docs/pdf/AncestralLands.pdf. Google Scholar

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2018. Initial assessment: specific instance regarding the roundtable for sustainable palm oil submitted by TuK Indonesia. 31 May 2018. Berne: National Contact Point of Switzerland. Google Scholar

Porter, AF 1968. Land administration in Sarawak. Kuching: Government Printing Office. Google Scholar

Prucha, FP 1994. American Indian treaties. The political history of an anomaly. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Google Scholar

Rattanakrajangsri, K, Maneerat, T & Colchester, M 2013. The Mani people of Thailand on the agricultural frontier. In Colchester, M & Chao, S (eds) Conflict or consent: the oil palm sector at a crossroads. Bogor: Forest Peoples Programme, TUK-Indonesia, SawitWatch:282–301. Google Scholar

Reid, A 1976. The blood of the people: revolution and the end of traditional rule in Northern Sumatra. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Reid, A 1999. Charting the shape of early modern Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books. Google Scholar

Reuters 2018. Indigenous Malaysians fight new land law with maps of burial grounds. Free Malaysia Today. 16 July 2018. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/07/16/indigenous-malaysians-fight-new-land-law-with-maps-of-burial-grounds/. Google Scholar

Ricklefs, MC 2008. A history of modern Indonesia since c.1200. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Google Scholar

Rousseau, J 1990. Central Borneo: ethnic identity and social life in a stratified society. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Google Scholar

RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) nd. Status of complaints. RSPO. https://www.rspo.org/members/complaints/status-of-complaints/view/4. Google Scholar

Ryan, YI 2017. Jurisdictional approach: a stakeholder collaboration within landscape towards sustainable producers. Kuala Lumpur: RSPO. Google Scholar

Sarasin, V 2014. Tribute and profit: Sino-Siamese trade 1652–1853. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books. Google Scholar

Schiller, A 1997. Small sacrifices: religious change and cultural identity among the Ngaju of Indonesia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Schnitger, FM 1989[1939]. Forgotten kingdoms in Sumatra. Singapore: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Scott, JC 2017. Against the grain: a deep history of the earliest states. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Google Scholar

SDI 2016. Respecting rights? Assessing oil palm companies compliance with FPIC obligations. A case study of EPO and KLK LIBINC estate in Grand Bassa, Liberia. Moreton-in-Marsh: Sustainable Development Institute and Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

SDI & FoE 2018. High risk in the rainforest: Golden Agri Resources and Golden Veroleum Liberia. https://www.banktrack.org/download/high_risk_in_the_rainforest/foe_high_risk_in_the_rainforest.pdf. Google Scholar

Sellato, B 2002. Innermost Borneo: studies in Dayak cultures. Singapore: Singapore University Press. Google Scholar

SesDev 2016. Respecting rights? Assessing oil palm companies compliance with FPIC obligations. A case study of Maryland Oil palm plantation in south-eastern Liberia. Moreton-in-Marsh: Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development and Forest Peoples Programme. Google Scholar

Sibeth, A 1991. The Batak: peoples of the island of Sumatra. London: Thames and Hudson. Google Scholar

Subramaniam, Y & Endicott, K 2018. Land rights for mobile foragers in Malaysia: discrimination and the role for anthropologists. Paper presented to the CHAGS Conference, Penang. Google Scholar

Subramaniam, Y & Nicholas, C 2018. The courts and restitution of indigenous territories in Malaysia. Erasmus Law Review 1:67–79. Google Scholar

Suhakam, 2013. Report of the national inquiry into the land rights of indigenous peoples. Kuala Lumpur: National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia. Google Scholar

Tarling, N 1992. The Cambridge history of Southeast Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

van der Ven, H, Rothacker, C & Cashore, B 2018. Do eco-labels prevent deforestation? Lessons from non-state market driven governance in the soy, palm oil, and cocoa sectors. Global Environmental Change 52:141–151. Google Scholar

Vergouwen, JC 1964. The social organisation and customary law of the Toba-Batak of Northern Sumatra. Leiden: Koninklijt Institut voor Taal-Land-en Volkenkunde. Google Scholar

Volkman, T 1985. Feasts of honor: ritual and change in the Toraja highlands. Illinois: University of Illinois Press. Google Scholar

von Benda-Beckman F & von Benda-Beckman K 1999. A functional analysis of property rights with special reference to Indonesia. In Van Meijl T & von Benda-Beckmann, F (eds) Property rights and economic development: land and natural resources in Southeast Asia and Oceania. London: Kegan Paul International:15–53. Google Scholar

Wallace, J, Parlindungan, AP & Hutagalung, AS 1997. Indonesian land law and tenures: issues in land rights. Jakarta: Government of the Republic of Indonesia. Google Scholar

White, R 1991. The middle ground: Indians, empires, and republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Wright, W 1999. Final report on the review of the Basic Agrarian Law 1960. Indonesia: Land Administration Project. Google Scholar

Ypes, WHK 1932. Bijdrage tot de Kennis van de stamverhantschap, de inheemsche rechts-gemeenschappen en het grondenrecht der Toba en Dairibataks. Leiden: Adat recht stichting, Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Author details

Colchester, Marcus