Government Relations & Capacity Building

Government Relations & Capacity Building Activities

Government Relations

UNHCR advocates and supports the development of a national protection framework to assist the Indonesian Government manage the arrival of persons seeking asylum.

In this respect, UNHCR continues to actively promote Indonesia’s accession of the two international refugee legislations: the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. These two instruments were listed in the government’s 2010-2014 National Human Rights Plan of Action, confirming the Government’s intention to first accede to the 1951 Refugee Convention in 2013 and subsequently also to the 1967 Protocol (2014).

In 2008, UNHCR prepared and shared with the Government, a draft of “10 Point Plan of Action in Addressing Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration in Indonesia,” (linked to 10 Point Plan of Action document) which is a step-by-step process intended to assist the Government of Indonesia to develop mechanisms to effectively address refugee protection and to manage mixed migration issues as Indonesia moves toward accession to the 1951 Convention. The 10 Point Plan of Action includes the most appropriate ways to build capacity within the government so that it can eventually take on this responsibility with support from UNHCR.

The main Government counterparts of UNHCR in this capacity building process are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and two Directorate General Offices under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights: the Directorate General of Immigration and the Directorate General of Human Rights. The training programme further involves Department of Police officials countrywide.


  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) In 1975, a massive Indochinese influx brought thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian asylum seekers and refugees to Indonesia’s Galang Island. This historical momentum lead to the establishment of a UNHCR office in Indonesia. However, UNHCR’s presence was only formally authorized in 1979, the year a MOU was signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authorizing UNHCR to protect refugees in the country. Throughout the years the MFA’s support to UNHCR allowed the agency to process refugee arrivals in Indonesia, as it happened with the arrival of the Oceanic Viking boat, the Jaya Lestari boat to Merak, or the MV Alicia to Tanjung Pinang in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

UNHCR has also been an active participant of the Bali Process since 2001. The Office is working closely with the MFA in the implementation of the decisions taken by the 4th Bali Regional Ministerial Conference (March 2011) on the operationalization of a Regional Cooperation Framework to address shared problems involving irregular movements and refugees. On 10 September 2012, the Bali Process reached a new height after the Regional Support Office (RSO) was launched in Bangkok, co-hosted by Australia and Indonesia, the two co-chairs of the Bali Process.  

  • Ministry of Law and Human Rights – Directorate General of Immigration and the Directorate General of Human Rights.
    • Directorate General of Human Rights – the Directorate of Human Rights launched the third generation of Indonesian Human Rights Plan of Action (RANHAM), which provides another national programmatic framework for promotion and protection of human rights from 2011 to 2014. The RANHAM includes the Government’s decision to accede by 2014 to the two Refugee Instruments, the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. UNHCR welcomes the Government’s intention and continues to discuss the accession process with the Directorate General of Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    • Directorate General of Immigration – As UNHCR deals with foreign people present in Indonesia, it also works closely with the Directorate General of Immigration. Our daily activities are conducted in full observance of the terms established by the September 2010 Directorate General of Immigration Directive on Handling of Illegal Migrants. Among others, this Directive grants UNHCR access to intercepted asylum-seekers and refugees, including those taken and being kept in Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs).

Capacity Building Activities

Since 2008, in accordance with the 10 Point Plan of Action, a three UNHCR staff training team has been dedicated to capacity-building activities in support of the Government of Indonesia’s decision to accede to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol.

UNHCR regularly conducts capacity building and advocacy activities with the Government (MFA, Parliament and other relevant line ministries) as well as with lawyers, NGOs, and university students. This includes a series of workshops, meetings, briefings, roundtables and other promotional activities on UNHCR mandates and international refugee law. In 2012, UNHCR has held 7 training and workshops for 212 government officials, 5 socialization sessions for 113 staff of Immigration Detention Centers, 4 socialization sessions and trainings for 472 members of Peacekeepers, and two general lectures on UNHCR which was attended by 180 high school students and 90 university students, as well as 4 presentation sessions for 137 diplomats and the national police.




Pioneered by the United Nations in 1948 with the deployment of UN military observers to the Middle East, United Nations Peacekeeping Missions continue to work on creating conditions for lasting peace in countries torned by conflicts. To date, 66 peacekeeping operations have been conducted to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. The humanitarian nature of peacekeeping operations thus bond the partnership between UNHCR and the Peacekeeping Forces as the two often work along side each other in carrying out humanitarian activities in an insecure environment. According to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia is among the top 20 contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. In 2010 alone, Indonesia sent 1,785 officers to various UN peacekeeping missions. To support the deployment of Indonesian Defence Forces’ personnel to various UN Peacekeeping Operations, UNHCR Representation for Indonesia has been regularly invited by Indonesian National Defense Forces Peacekeeping Centre to conduct presentations on the role of UNHCR in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. The presentations are delivered as part of pre-deployment training for the Military Personnel. UNHCR presentations are conducted before various units of Indonesian Peacekeeping Forces, including the Mechanized Battalion, the Force Protection Company, the Maritime Task Force and the Unit of Military Observers. In these presentations, UNHCR Indonesia provides information on the refugee situation in areas where Peacekeeping forces will be deployed, like in Haiti, Lebanon, or Kongo with additional information on how the various units within the Peacekeeping operations, such as the engineering unit, maritime task force, military staff and military observer, will be working with UNHCR in dealing with refugee issues in the countries. These training sessions are expected to promote a stronger and more effective co-operation between Indonesian Peace-Keepers and the staff of both UNHCR and its partners engaged in various field operations.


Refugee Status Determination

As of end of December 2011 there are 1,066 recognized refugees and 3,233 asylum seekers in Indonesia.

Government Relations & Capacity Building

In 2011, UNHCR has held 6 training and workshops for 146 government officials, 1 Focus Group Discussion for 20 members of NGOs, and three general lectures on UNHCR which was attended by 445 students.

Partnership & Community Service

All services provided to asylum seekers and refugees by UNHCR and its partners are entirely free of charge.

Durable Solution

Our ultimate goal is to help find durable solutions that will allow the people we're helping to rebuild their lives in dignity and peace.


Indonesia has made significant progress in reforming its nationality law and policy.


UNHCR is mandated to provide protection and to resolve refugee problems.