Indonesia Center for Environmental Law (ICEL)
The Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) was founded in 1993 by its five founders, Mas Achmad Santosa, Mochamad Zaidun, Sandra Moniaga, Benny K. Harman and Wahyuni Bahar. Back then, the condition of economic development in Indonesia during the New Order era was very much oriented to the exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation, while the interests of the public who depended on those natural resources were set aside. On the other hand, government institutions, and its involvement in many international environmental conventions and bodies, have not yet been able to comprehend the environmental problems in Indonesia. Thus, this condition inspires the need to make a non-governmental institution that focuses on environmental law which can influence and pressurize the process of policy-making of the country at that time.
This inspiration was based on the experience of the founders, whom at that time were public-interest lawyers advocating environmental law issues. Mas Achmad Santosa, Mochamad Zaidun and Benny K. Harman were activists from the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) – which later on (Mas Achmad Santosa and Mochamad Zaidun) were the presidium of Indonesian Forum on the Environment (WALHI) in the national level. Meanwhile, Sandra Moniaga was an environmental activist from WALHI which pioneered the environmental law program in WALHI. Wahyuni Bahar, despite having no experience in the civil society sector, supports the founding of ICEL as a non-governmental organization which focuses on environmental law and can influence the government’s policies towards environmental protection professionally. Based on these reasons, ICEL hopes that its activities can synergize the two main powers at the time, legal aid and environmental advocacy.
At the time ICEL was founded, its mission includes policy reform and capacity building. ICEL was required to identify the needs of legal and policy reform, legal research, and the formulation of alternative legislations and policies that supports the public’s interests. Moreover, the capacity of government officials, the public and civil societies have to be strengthened to make environmental justice a reality.