The Future of Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry

International and Domestic Business and Human Rights Legal Perspectives

To what extent does the current legal regulatory framework ensure corporations protect the rights of the community, workers, and specific groups that are vulnerable to palm oil business activities? To what degree do corporations in Indonesia's palm oil industry embrace the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in their codes of conduct? By what means, and why, is it working better in certain corporations? How should the Indonesian government incorporate the UNGPs to become a regulatory measure for the future of Indonesia's palm oil industry? 

About the project

Indonesia's legal regulatory framework currently falls short to specifically extend human rights obligations to corporations. Because of this, corporations are left to implement the principles embedded in the UNGPs based on their moral and voluntary commitments. This has resulted in the loose and fragmented implementation of human rights norms and contributed to human rights issues that arise constantly. 

The main objective of this project is to examine the effectiveness of current domestic legal regulatory frameworks and commitment of corporations in implementing the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council's Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework on Business and Human Rights and the UNGPs in Indonesia's palm oil industry. The project attempts to provide a legal analytical approach to explore solutions to the social and human rights issues affecting communities, workers, and specific groups (women and children) in the industry..

The project seeks to offer a critical legal analysis of current regulatory frameworks relating to business and human rights, complemented with socio-empirical analysis of actors, communities and specific vulnerable groups in the palm oil industry. The project hopes to offer a systemic and evidence-based research of human rights issues by exploring the State and corporations’ perspective on business and human rights as well as the availability of effective access to remedy for victims of human rights violations caused by corporate conduct. The project will discuss possible solutions to address identified gaps to better ensure State’s obligation as the main duty bearer for ensuring corporate accountability in respecting human rights in their corporate conduct for the future of Indonesia’s palm oil industry. 

The project hypothesizes that first, the limited initiatives by corporations in carrying our voluntary commitments as outlined in the UNGPs have ramifications to the continuing social and human rights issues caused by business activities. Second, with the absence of an international treaty on business and human rights, the State needs to enact hard laws to extend obligations for UNGP implementation to corporations to mitigate human rights issues caused by their business activities. Third, the intricacy of human rights issues in the palm oil industry calls for a specialized law tailored explicitly to the palm oil industry. 


Dinie S.M. Arief is a PhD Candidate at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (Faculty of Law, University of Oslo). 

In 2008 she began her career as an Indonesian foreign service officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In her career at the Ministry, she was appointed as the Assistant Deputy Director for Indonesia-United States of America Bilateral Economic and Development Affairs; Assistant Deputy Director for Socio-Economic Rights; and was posted to the Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. 

She holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Law from Trisakti University in Indonesia and a Master's Degree in Multidisciplinary Human Rights Law from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Start date: 01.01.2021

End date: 01.01.2024

Published June 17, 2021 12:59 PM - Last modified June 22, 2021 11:11 AM


  • Dinie Suryadini Mukti Arief
Detailed list of participants