In December 2013, following pressure from its customers and investors, the palm oil giant Wilmar committed to delinking its entire supply chain, including joint ventures and third-party suppliers, from deforestation, peatland development, and human rights abuses. The commitment, to be fully implemented by December 2015, was welcomed by groups who had tracked and criticised Wilmar for its environmental destruction and human rights abuses. Two years on however, despite its promises, Wilmar has failed to resolve many long standing conflicts between its operations and impacted communities. The following material looks at a couple of cases where Wilmar has failed to resolve its conflicts with communities.
The Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG), Palawan, have released revised versions of three major reports produced mainly through the Ecosystem Alliance Fund. One report focuses on the case of oil palm expansion in Sarong (Municipality of Bataraza), another deals with the conversion of primary upland forest for rubber plantations on the West Coast of Aborlan and the last one concerns organised squatting by migrants into the forest land of indigenous Tagbanua tribes.
Concerned human rights groups meet at the 5th Regional Meeting on Human Rights and Agribusiness in South East Asia
The raging forest fires in Indonesia and numerous extrajudicial killings related to agribusiness land grabs throughout South East Asia have made headlines all over the world. These shocking violations of peoples’ fundamental human rights have compelled concerned human rights groups to come together at the 5th Regional Meeting on Human Rights and Agribusiness in South East Asia during the 5th and the 6th of November 2015 in Puerto Princesa, on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
The complaints procedure of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is one of the options available to communities threatened by the negative impacts of the palm oil industry. Drawing on direct experiences of supporting communities to use the RSPO complaints mechanism in Indonesia and Liberia, this review summarises how communities can get the most out of this procedure. Realistic outcomes include a temporary freeze on plantation development by palm oil companies while longer term solutions are negotiated.
Puerto Princesa: 11th November 2015 - A recent fact-finding mission by regional human rights groups in the south-western island of Palawan, the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has revealed a pattern of land grabs and forest destruction by palm oil companies, partly owned by Malaysian and Singaporean investors.
Participants at the World Indigenous Summit on Environment and Rivers, WISER Baram 2015, hosted by the grassroots network SAVE Rivers collectively produced a declaration that acknowledges the widespread suffering and destruction caused by dams, and stresses the importance of obtaining Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from communities impacted by dam building.
A regional network of Asian human rights commissions and supportive NGOs has issued a strong statement supporting calls for a moratorium on palm oil expansion in the Philippines southern island of Palawan. The call came at the conclusion of a week of fact-finding trips and discussions of the 5th South East Asian Regional Conference on Human Rights and Agribusiness which was hosted by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the Coalition on Land Grabbing of the Philippines supported by the Forest Peoples Programme.
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Public Statement, 23 October 2015 – Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact has called for greater respect for the rights of indigenous peoples inits comments [link to the letter] on the draft Environmental and Social Framework of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The comments endorsed by 119 organizations from 27 countries include recommendations for stronger safeguard for indigenous peoples.
In response to an appeal submitted by the Indonesian Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN) and Forest Peoples Programme under its urgent action procedure, the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on the Indonesian government to reconsider its plans to allow a private sugar company to take over half of the Aru Islands as a plantation.
Sarawak, Malaysia: A new film from the Borneo project, Broken Promises: Displaced by Dams, made in conjunction of the indigenous peoples of central Sarawak and many support organisations summarises the threat posed by 17 large dams under development. Featuring interviews with numerous Dayaks and activists, the film describes the impact of previous dams, shows the strong and growing mobilisation in opposition to these impositions and calls for alternative development and energy supply systems.
NEW DELHI, INDIA (22 July 2015): A new study has revealed that India’s 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA) has the potential to recognize the rights of approximately 150 million forest dwellers on at least 40 million hectares of forested land.
In order to avoid imminent and irreparable harm, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), the national indigenous peoples’ organization of Indonesia, and Forest Peoples Programme respectfully request that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) considers the situation of the Aru indigenous peoples of the Aru Islands District, Moluccas Province, under the its early warning and urgent action procedure.
Kathmandu, Nepal, July 14, 2015 – Last week an independent investigation revealed serious abuses in a World Bank-funded transmission line project in central Nepal. The Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line runs through indigenous and rural communities, who have been raising concerns about the project for over five years. Though the findings validate community concerns, the World Bank has not committed to correcting the damage caused by its failures in this project.
7th July 2015: In a recent meeting with the national indigenous peoples’ alliance (AMAN), the Indonesian President vowed to support the Bill on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, which has languished in the legislature for several years. He also committed to setting up a Task Force on Indigenous Peoples and promised to release indigenous persons unfairly criminalized for pursuing their livelihoods.
World’s largest palm oil trading company, Wilmar International Ltd., under scrutiny as communities accuse its suppliers of harassment, deception and rights abuses.
Borneo human rights organization files complaint alleging multiple breaches of RSPO standards by palm oil supplier PT. Swadaya Mukti Prakarsa (SMP) / First Resources.
By Philip Jacobson / Mongabay.com
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has prohibited Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), one of its most prominent members, from "acquiring or developing any new areas" pending the resolution of a formal complaint against the palm oil giant in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province.
The decision by the RSPO, the world's largest voluntary certification scheme for palm oil, is a stern directive from an organization that has been criticized for failing to take action against companies that flout its standards.
Palm oil conglomerate ordered to halt expansion of operations following multiple violations of RSPO standards.
7th May, 2015: The RSPO’s Complaints Panel has upheld the Forest Peoples Programme in its complaint against Golden Agri Resources, which was seeking to expand 18 of its operations in Kalimantan. After concluding that it has ‘reasonable grounds’ to conclude that the company is in violation of several RSPO norms, the latest ‘determination’ by the Panel notes:
With 57 nations already on board the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as prospective founders, a 250-member strong civil society network made an appeal to the newly-formed bank to adopt robust safeguards in its principles, policies and operations.