UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women publishes List of issue for upcoming review of Indonesia

On 17 July 2020, the ‘Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women‘ (CEDAW) published the ‘List of Issues’ (LoI), which will set the thematic framework for Indonesia’s upcoming review between 8 and 26 February 2021.  Indonesia will be reviewed for the 8th time by the CEDAW during its 78th session. The review will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, where the United Nations Human Rights Council resides. Non-Governmental organisations are invited to submit information on issues mentioned in the LoI to the CEDAW due 18 January 2021. The CEDAW has called upon NGOs working on Indonesia to deliver statements and organise side events during the review in Geneva.

Download ‘List of Issues’ here

Concerning the specific context of West Papua, the committee asked the Indonesian Government to “specify the measures taken to introduce and implement a 30 percent quota of women candidates to the general elections of the House of Representatives, the provincial and regency houses of representatives as well as local government in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua.” (paragraph 7). According to Indonesia’s state report, the Government had established integrated service centres providing a mechanism for prevention, protection, promotion, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of violence. In this regard, the UN experts asked the Government of Indonesia to “explain any measures taken to ensure that such centres operate in rural areas, including West Papua“ (paragraph 10).


The CEDAW experts also shared civil society concerns regarding the situation of Papuan women in conflict-affected areas like the regencies Nduga, Mimika and Intan Jaya. The widespread issue of impunity in West Papua was particularly taken into consideration. The committee requested “information on steps taken to promptly investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of conflict-related to gender-based and sexual violence against women, including such committed by security forces against indigenous women and in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, and to provide full and effective reparation, medical and psychological support as well as counseling to all victims” (paragraph 13).

Likewise, the experts also addressed the issue of economic marginalisation of indigenous women in West Papua. Multiple civil society stakeholders have repeatedly risen this issue throughout the past decade. The state party was requested to describe “measures to address the economic marginalization of indigenous women traders, to provide women, including indigenous women and women in Papua and West Papua, with access to markets and to ensure that marketplaces are safe, affordable and respond to the needs of women” (paragraph 18).

Particular references on the human rights situation in West Papua appeared in the thematic field of healthcare. The CEDAW highlighted the situation in West Papua and other areas of Indonesia, where the maternal mortality is above the national average and asked the Govt to explicate “steps taken to ensure the expansion of access to sexual and reproductive health services, including maternal health services in rural areas, including in Papua.” Moreover, the experts stressed the HIV/AIDS situation in West Papua. Despite the relatively high prevalence of HIV/AIDS infections in both Papuan provinces, indigenous Papuans also face a much higher risk of getting infected than non-Papuans. Accordingly, the committee asked the state party to “indicate steps taken to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, and to ensure that women living with HIV/AIDS are not discriminated against and are provided with assistance” (paragraph 21).

The committee members mentioned Papuan women and girls living with HIV/AIDS among the disadvantaged groups of women and asked the Indonesian Government to “specify measures taken to ensure that disadvantaged groups of women and girls, such as refugee, asylum-seeking and internally displaced women and their families, women and girls without identity cards, poor women and girls, women and girls affected by leprosy, indigenous, Papuan women and girls living with HIV/AIDS, women and girls with disabilities and minority women and girls, have access to education, health, including sexual and reproductive health, basic services, housing, food, employment and identity cards, and to prevent and end gender-based violence against them, including sexual violence.” (paragraph 22). The committee likely made the reference to internally displaced women and girls related to the situation in West Papua, where human rights defenders documented a rapid increase of internal displacements in multiple regencies throughout the past 20 months.

The LoI for Indonesia’s 8th review cycle mainly highlighted national human rights concerns about discrimination against women, among them legal implementation of gender equality, boundaries for women and girls to access justice, education, employment and health care, as well as the existence of harmful practices like female gender mutilation (FGM). The CEDAW committee placed a strong emphasis on state measures to prevent all forms of gender-based violence against women in conflict, post-conflict and pacified areas of the country.

Download ‘List of Issues’ here