The workshop was held May 19‐20 in Leiden organized by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, the Van Vollenhoven Institute at the University of Leiden and the Asian Modernities and Traditions program, and NCHR.
Indonesia's 2014 Village Law will likely cause a considerable change in the character of village governance in the coming years. This is likely also to impact the human rights situation in Indonesia’s almost 73,000 villages.
The law allocates much larger financial resources to the village level than previously, and contains provisions for more democratic governance. If well-managed, these increased allocations could potentially have great consequences for the enjoyment of economic and social rights Indonesia’s poor, the majority of whom live in villages. However, the funds could also lead to an increase of money-politics related to village elections, and increased corruption. The calls for more democratic governance at village level could have positive consequences for political participation rights. In a positive scenario, such improved governance could hinder ‘elite capture’ of village land, which has been a common problem due to unclear land tenure rights and rapid expansion of land-demanding industries (in particular mining and palm oil). It is too early to assess whether the law will make village governance better or worse, but legal stipulations alone are not enough - real improvement can only happen with increased political participation at village level.