Fighting for ecological justice

Civil Society Coalition Calls for Delay of EU CEPA Negotiations, Citing Environmental and Human Rights Concerns

Author: Mardi Minangsari

One of Session negotiation of I-EU CEPA

The Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for Economic Justice (Koalisi MKE) is urging the postponement of negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Indonesia and the European Union.The coalition is concerned that CEPA will exacerbate the climate crisis, environmental damage, and human rights and social justice violations in Indonesia. They demand guarantees for public participation in decision-making on policies with broad impacts and protection of human rights, social justice, and environmental sustainability before CEPA negotiations proceed.

Koalisi MKE believes that the Energy and Raw Materials chapter in CEPA will facilitate the EU’s access to critical minerals in Indonesia. Without strong environmental safeguards, this will lead to increased deforestation and conflict with affected communities.

“CEPA has the potential to drive the expansion of the extractive economy in Indonesia to meet the EU’s green energy transition needs. This could deepen the exploitation of natural resources and worsen environmental damage,” said Joko, spokesperson for Koalisi MKE.

The coalition also highlights the weak commitment to human rights protection in CEPA. The EU’s proposal for an Intellectual Property Rights regime could threaten farmers’ rights to seeds. Meanwhile, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism could hinder government efforts to improve governance in the extractive sector.

“We are concerned that CEPA will strengthen the control of multinational corporations over people’s resources, without adequate guarantees for the protection of the rights of communities, including indigenous peoples and workers,” Joko emphasised.

The Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter in the I-EU CEPA, which is supposed to make it a “green FTA,” lacks seriousness in its commitment to environmental and human rights protection. This is evident in the absence of rules on law enforcement and conflict resolution mechanisms.

However, TSD regulates key Indonesian commodities like palm oil, which is fraught with problems, particularly conflicts in Indonesia. The Pocaji report (2020) shows that palm oil conflicts are rarely resolved, even taking an average of nine years. Meanwhile, migrant workers on Malaysian palm oil plantations often work in poor conditions without documentation, experience human rights violations, and are detained in immigration detention centres. However, these issues are not receiving sufficient attention in the CEPA negotiations, even though palm oil is one of Indonesia’s main export commodities and regulated under the EU Regulation on Deforestation-free Products.

Therefore, Koalisi MKE urges the Indonesian government to postpone the CEPA negotiations and discussions. The coalition also calls on the government to focus on fulfilling the basic rights of the people and improving the governance of strategic commodities, such as palm oil, with the participation of civil society. This is considered more important than pursuing a trade agreement that could harm people’s sovereignty.


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