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1940s: Pacific war and its aftermath

In 1942 the Dutch were driven out of the Dutch East Indies by Japan. Also West Papua suffered under brutal Japanese occupation. West Papua was re-occupied by Allied Forces in April 1944, the Dutch East Indies remained under Japanese occupation for three-and-a-half years. On 17 August 1945, two days after the defeat of Japan but prior to its formal surrender to the Allies in September, the Indonesian nationalists unilaterally proclaimed independence. The proclamation defined the new Indonesian state as stretching from the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern island of Ambon. New Guinea was not mentioned, although later observers have said that, being a part of the Netherlands Indies, its inclusion was taken for granted.

By July 1946 all islands east of Java had been transformed from Allied control to the Dutch who were engaged in a war against the Indonesian nationalists. Late that month, the head of the Netherlands administration, Van Mook, organised a conference of delegates from the eastern archipelago. During this so-called Malino-conference, Van Mook was confronted with some strong demands for an Indonesian republic. But an even stronger plea was voiced by a delegate from New Guinea, Franz KaisiŽpo, who had arrived at the conference site in Malino, South Sulawesi, determined to press his peopleís views. During the talks KaisiŽpo made it clear to both the Dutch and the Indonesians present that Papuans wanted nothing to do with an Indonesian republic. They knew it would swallow them up. He requested that Holland rule West New Guinea separately from Indonesia. The Malino Conference, like others that would follow it, achieved nothing in the way of compromise. Armed conflict between the Indonesians and the Netherlands continued.

In early 1949 the Security Council formed the UN Commission on Indonesia which by June was preparing for a Round Table Conference. On 27 November 1949 the The Hague Agreement was signed. The Netherlands ceded sovereignty of the Netherlands East Indies to the Indonesian Republic, but kept West Papua. The Dutch were determined to prepare the Papuans for their own deed of self-determination; the Indonesian nationalists believed it to be an integral part of the coming republic. A West Papuan delegate to the conference, Johan Ariks, expressed the strongest opposition to any talk of surrendering his country to Indonesia. The Dutch delegation insisted on a provision excluding West Papua from the final agreement. The issue was left unresolved as the result of a compromise which stipulated that the disputed territory would be the subject of negotiations to be held within a year. But this didnít materialise.

Although The Netherlands did not negotiate the status of West Papua with Indonesia, it did fulfil its reporting requirement conform UNGA Resolution 1541 (XV) which reaffirms Article 73(e) of the UN Charter.

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Page last modified: 20-12-2016 19:41:50 ZULU