Working Group Rule of Law Holds Webinar on Resolving Land Conflicts in Indonesia

Indonesia and the Netherlands share a long history of academic cooperation regarding land rights and law in Indonesia. Many Indonesian researchers have studied in the Netherlands, particularly at the Van Vollenhoven Institute in Leiden, and many Dutch researchers have focused their research on land rights in Indonesia.

On 7 December 2020, a webinar was organized by Indonesian and Dutch experts on this topic. The webinar was attended by 193 participants and aimed to highlight ongoing research and gather experts to discuss how to better resolve and minimize land conflicts in Indonesia. As part of the webinar, a group of students of Jentera University and President University in Jakarta joined in a paper-writing contest. From among 51 papers received, the paper of Ni Wayan Cempaka was chosen as the winner. Ni Wawan and 7 other students who wrote excellent papers will receive a Dutch prize. Curious? You can find Ni Wayan’s paper here!

The webinar was opened by the new president of the Dutch Supreme Court, Professor Dineke de Groot. She addressed the role of the Supreme Court in developing jurisprudence and legal certainty. She gave an overview about cases about land in the Netherlands, and the role of the Dutch cadaster in keeping public records on zoning plan and registration of land.

Willem van der Muur, a Land Tenure Specialist at the World Bank, started the online roundtable by reflecting on how to integrate adat rights and formal land rights in a more just way. Yance Arizona, a PhD candidate at the Van Vollenhoven Institute, presented his case study about the adat community ‘Kasepuhan Karang’ in Banten, stressing that protection of customary rights sometimes collides with rights of individual landowners. Myrna Safitri, Deputy at Peatland Restoration Agency, followed by presenting about conflicts in forest areas, emphasizing that these conflicts are largely caused by an inadequate process of determining whether a forest area is a state forest or located as people’s forest (social forest or hutan rakyat). Subsequently, Santy Kouwagam, a researcher at Van Vollenhoven Institute, presented the considerations made by corporations in acquiring land for development, which are mostly based on whether a land certificate has been issued by the National Land Agency.

After the roundtable discussion, the Deputy Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning / National Land Agency, Mr Surya Tjandra, reflected on the opening speech and the roundtable discussion. A concrete effort his Ministry is working on is to consolidate and compile all land maps so that a database can be built to assist in resolving disputes over rights to land.