Skip to main content


Reforming Ulayat Communal Rights Assets and Access for the Wellbeing of Customary Law Communities in the Bomberai, Domberai dan Saireri Customary Regions – West Papua Province


Posting Date
Reforming Ulayat Communal Rights Assets and Access for the Wellbeing of Customary Law Communities

A Study for Submission to the Governor of West Papua Province
By: Nicolas Wanenda, S.Si*, Yunus Yumte, S.Hut**


Customary land or ulayat communal rights in Papua should deliver prosperity to the customary communities. With this thought in mind; through the study, policy review and stock-taking discussions we conducted during 2018–2019, we recommend the West Papua Provincial Government to immediately develop a administrative governance and services to provide recognition, protection, organization and management of customary law community communal land. The provincial government could do this through two considerable tasks: (1) customary community communal rights asset reform; and (2) access reform. Asset reform covers the provision of regional regulations, facilitation of customary land right mapping, and legal designation of district heads and governors establishing ulayat communal rights. And administering communal land ownership through the registration of customary law community communal rights. Communal rights access reform covers: establishment of customary community-owned business institutions; capacity building for communities; data collection and inventorying of potential; and provision of financial and non-financial capital, market access facilitation, and a framework for collaborative investment with third parties. 

The division of authority over agrarian affairs between central and regional government under Law No. 23/2014 makes subnational governments responsible for communal land right affair. This task aligns with Papua/West Papua government responsibilities as stipulated under Article 43 paragraph 1 of Law No. 21/2001 on Papua Special Autonomy. Accordingly, we recommend the West Papua Provincial Government immediately facilitate the formulation of regional regulations, participatory mapping, verification of customary communities and communal land, and their legal determination by district head or gubernatorial decree. Following that, the customary ulayat land should be registered to secure formal judicial legality in accordance with agrarian law as mandated by Minister of Agrarian Affairs Regulation No. 18/2019. To carry out these tasks, we endorse the West Papua Provincial Government set up a task force to work under West Papua Provincial Environment and Agrarian Office, Special Autonomy Bureau, and National Land Agency (BPN) Regional Office coordination in carrying out communal rights asset and access reform for the wellbeing of customary community as the ulayat communal rights holders.

Full paper (Bahasa Indonesia)

Published: October 2020

Copyright: The Samdhana Institute 

*West Papua Gubernatorial Expert on Agrarian Affairs. E-mail: 
**Staff member of the Samdhana Institute’s Papua Program:  E-mail: 


Festival PARARA 2023: Celebrating Local Entrepreneurship and Indigenous Products

Partners' solidarity for World's Indigenous Peoples Day

Grant Advisers Meeting in Chiang Mai

Press Release: Bali to Host Regional Learning Exchange on Tenure Reform Processes with Civil Society Organisations across Asia