Human Rights Council calls for access to West Papua during UPR

On 9 November 2022, Indonesia was reviewed for a fourth time by the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a review in which the members of the Human Rights Council discuss the overall human rights situation in Indonesia, including in West Papua. During the three hours session in Geneva, Indonesia presented its human rights record from the state’s perspective after it had submitted its national report for this review.

Numerous human rights organisations in and outside Indonesia have submitted reports on the situation. These NGO reports were one of the critical sources of information that the member states of the HRC involved in Indonesia’s review had available.

During this review, seven states raised the issue of West Papua explicitly, while nine raised issues related to West Papua without explicitly referring to it. A video recording of the 3 hours session in all official UN languages is available online.

Mr Yasonna Laoly, Minister for Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia, referred to Papua largely only in terms of development issues. In his opening statement of the review, he said:

“Mr Chair, Distinguished Delegates, allow me to address what some of you have indicated as issues of primary concern. First, in accelerating efforts to promote and protect human rights in Papua, under President Joko Widodo’s administration, the priority has been accelerating development and welfare in Papua by accelerating the comprehensive provision of public services and infrastructure development from education, health services, food and transportation. Throughout the revised Special Autonomy Law, increasing the Special Autonomy Budget allocation for Papua by 2.25% of the national budget will help accelerate the development programmes in Papua. It is supported by presidential instruction, the national medium-term development plan and national priority programme. Currently, 43 ministries and agencies are instructed to participate in accelerating the development of welfare in Papua. The master plan on the acceleration of development in Papua for 2022 to 2041 is being finalised.”

Marshall Islands

In its statement, the Pacific Islands Forum member remarked that “We note that while respect for human rights has generally improved, concerns remain about ongoing reports citing abuses and violations. As such, we share the concerns of various Special Rapporteurs on the dire human rights situation in West Papua.” It recommended that Indonesia “Respect, promote, and protect the human rights of all indigenous peoples in West Papua by ensuring their right to self-determination through inclusive dialogue;” and to “work closely with the OHCHR to commence a visit to West Papua by the High Commissioner in response to calls from the Pacific Islands Forum, the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, and others.”


EU member Slovenia expressed “concern about the reported abuses towards the indigenous peoples in Papua by security forces.” In its statement, Slovenia recommended Indonesia “ensure investigations, accountability and prevention of impunity for the human rights violations against indigenous peoples in Papua carried out by members of security forces.”

United States of America

The US also explicitly mention West Papua in its concise statement. It recommended that Indonesia “conduct prompt, thorough, and transparent investigations into all allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the five Papuan provinces and hold perpetrators accountable.”

“We remain concerned by reports of escalating violence in the Papuan Provinces, including reports of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, and restrictions on independent monitors and media access to the region.”


Vanuatu, as one of the Melanesian neighbours and a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, has also raised the issue of West Papua with concern in its statement. Its representative recommended that Indonesia “Accept without delay the OHCHR visit to the Provinces of Papua and West Papua;” and “enhance the protection and promotion of the right to peaceful assembly and association, especially for the people of Papua and West Papua Provinces.”


The Netherlands, in their statement, recommended Indonesia “continue to investigate human rights abuses, including those in the Papua provinces, and to bring those responsible to justice in a timely and transparent manner.”

New Zealand

In their statement, the representative of New Zealand recommended that Indonesia “upholds, respects and promotes its human rights obligations in Papua, including freedom of assembly, speech, expression, the press, and the rights of women and minorities.”


As a neighbour of Indonesia, Australia, in its statement, recommended Indonesia to “continue renewed efforts to finalise investigations of all human rights violations in Indonesia including in Papua and ensure access including by credible independent observers.”

Another intervention by Indonesia touched on the already mentioned OHCHR visit to Papua, Mr Achsanul Habib, Director for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared a statement saying, “and now let me also explain on the issue of the visit of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mr Chair, although clarifications have often been made concerning the Indonesian government’s invitation to the High Commissioner, please allow me again to set the right situation on this issue. In 2018, during the visit of the former High Commissioner, Prince Zaid Ra’at al-Hussein, to Indonesia, the government expressed the intention to invite the High Commissioner to Papua. This invitation is made to show our openness to continue cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner and be transparent in showing development progress and the challenges in bringing peace and prosperity to the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Unfortunately, several parties have twisted the invitation, falsely characterising it as a mandate of the human rights investigation mission conducted by the Office. The government will continue to engage with the regional office of the OHCHR in Bangkok to discuss this matter further. Meanwhile, all five provinces in Papua remain accessible as NGOs, national human rights institutions, and even UN agencies can continue cooperating. Following existing regulations, foreign embassies and international organisations can also make visits.”

Besides these seven states, nine states raised relevant issues as follows:

Mexico 0:31:21

“promote the protection of the lands and resources of indigenous populations based on prior informed consents and involve indigenous persons in the decision-making process”

Montenegro 0:32:28

“commends the development of the National Action Plan on Human Rights 2021 to 2025 focused on women, children, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.”

Peru 0:44:53

“to establish the appropriate mechanisms which will allow indigenous peoples to have rights to their ancestral lands.”

Moldova 0:50:10

“We commend Indonesia for adopting its fifth National Human Rights Action Plan, focusing on women, children, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.”

Palestine 1:08:25

“We commend Indonesia for adopting its fifth National Human Rights Action Plan, focusing on women, children, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.”

Switzerland 1:11:40

“hold prior consultations with indigenous communities in line with international standards, regarding all plans and projects which could affect them, and in particular, mega-projects.”

Argentina 1:32:46

“We congratulate it on launching the fifth national action plan on human rights 2021-25 based on women, children, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.”

Costa Rica 2:06:22

“include in its national plans and strategies, intersectional discrimination and violence against women, children, adolescents, persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, LGBTIQ community, and people of African descent.”

Denmark 2:13:16

“Denmark has noted the absence of a specific law on indigenous people’s rights and that indigenous people are increasingly losing their indigenous territories and ancestral domain. Denmark recommends that Indonesia recognises and protects indigenous people’s rights to their customary lands and resources, including through the adoption of mechanisms and labelling such protection.”