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Blurring public and private security in Indonesia: corporate interests and human rights in a fragile environment

White, Nigel D.; Footer, Mary E.; Senior, Kerry; Dorp, Mark van; Kiezebrink, Vincent; Wasi Gede Puraka, Y.; Anzas, Ayudya

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Professor of Public International Law

Mary E. Footer

Kerry Senior

Mark van Dorp

Vincent Kiezebrink

Y. Wasi Gede Puraka

Ayudya Anzas


While legal and policy frameworks are based on a clear distinction between public and private security actors and functions, the reality on the ground in Indonesia reveals that there is a high level of corporate capture of public security services, including the military and police, who often operate alongside private security companies (mainly local, though there is some evidence of an emerging international presence), and the security personnel of companies engaged in the natural resources industry. This has led to serious human rights violations of indigenous peoples and other local inhabitants, who often find themselves entangled in protracted conflicts with multinational companies over access to their land. Two case studies involving fieldwork in the logging and palm oil sectors in Sumatra reveal a pernicious and deliberate erosion and violation of rights of local inhabitants across the spectrum of security actors, showing that public security actors are protecting corporate interests rather than performing public functions. The implications of these findings are considered in terms of legal responsibilities as well as access to justice. The article reasons towards what are argued to be necessary legal and policy changes.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 12, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 21, 2018
Publication Date Jul 31, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 1, 2019
Journal Netherlands International Law Review
Print ISSN 0165-070X
Electronic ISSN 1741-6191
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 2
Pages 217-252
Keywords Accountability; Corporate capture; Corporate-community conflict; Human rights; Indonesia; Land rights; Logging; Private military and security companies; Natural resources industry; Palm oil; Public-private security; Responsibility
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Netherlands International Law Review. The final authenticated version is available online at:


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