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The New York Agreements Signed
The Dutch accepted this new interpretation and nothing now stood
in the way of a final agreement, which was actually signed by Dutch and
Indonesian representatives at 6:30 p.m. on 15 August 1962 at the United
Nations in New York. Except for the addition of a body of details, the final
agreement is identical with the preliminary agreement reached on 31

Among these details was the stipulation that the costs of the UNTEA
administration would be shared equally between the Netherlands and
Indonesia. On the projected plebiscite in West Irian, the choice would be
simply (a) whether to remain with Indonesia and (b) whether to separate
from Indonesia.

The UN Secretary-General was authorized to send, at least
one year before the exercise of self-determination, a UN Representative
to West Irian who would supervise the preparations for the plebiscite.
The UN Representative and the Indonesian Government would
submit final reports to the Secretary-General who would, in turn, report the
conduct of self-determination to the UN General Assembly. A
supplementary agreement provided for a cease-fire effective 18 August
1962 and that the transfer of administrative authority to Indonesia would
be carried out as soon as possible after 1 May 1963.

The two Governments exchanged instruments of ratification on 20
September 1962, and the next day sponsored a General Assembly
resolution authorizing the UN Secretary-General to implement the
agreements. He appointed Brigadier Said Uddin Khan of Pakistan as
commander of the UN Security Force (UNSF) to maintain law and order
and supervise the cease-fire in West Irian.
UNSF troops started arriving in September until they reached a
personnel strength of some 1,600. On 22 October 1962, Djalal Abdoe, an
Iranian, was appointed UN Commissioner and he arrived in West Irian on
15 November 1962.

From there on, the assumption of administrative control by
Indonesia proceeded smoothly, rapidly and without incident. Hundreds of
Indonesians—teachers, scientists, doctors and nurses and administrators—
were sent to West Irian to serve with the UNTEA. The Indonesian
Government helped UNTEA open new schools and build infrastructures.
The formal turnover of administrative control took place earlier than
scheduled—by a few hours—at 12:30 p.m. on 1 May 1963. A native of
West Irian was immediately appointed Governor.

Act of Free Choice: the Objective Way Exercised
The New York Agreements of 15 August 1962 had left to the
Indonesian Government the method and procedure of the act of selfdetermination
by the people of West Irian. Since Indonesia had always
regarded the people of West Irian as part of the Indonesian nation and
merely agreed to the plebiscite as a compromise to make possible a
peaceful solution to the dispute with the Netherlands over the territory,
Indonesia did not deem it necessary that the exercise be carried out in a
way that followed Western traditions. In addition, the prevalent
demographic situation at that time did not allow plebiscite in Western
way to take place.

The exercise was carried out over a period of several months in 1969
in the form of a series of consultations with the tribal councils in the
territory. The process was based on the Indonesian tradition of reaching
consensus (mushawarah) through consultations (mufakat)1. It was done in
accordance with widely practiced methods of political representation in
various parts of the world where communities
choose their representatives and those representatives carry out a
political act on behalf of their respective communities.

The process was complicated by the activities of the so-called
Organization of Free Papua (OPM) but this was not strong enough nor did
it have enough popular support to frustrate the exercise of free choice. Of
course the Indonesian Government can not tolerate acts of terror and
intimidation by a few people who were acting against the majority of the
Irianese in forcing their own political goals. An example of these terror acts
was the kidnapping of a member of the local council of Jayapura.
Throughout that process, the Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General, Ambassador Fernando Ortiz-Sanz of Bolivia, was
present in a way that helped ensure the democratic character of the
exercise. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General was
mindful that he did not have any political or administrative authority while
in West Irian, but he did advise and assist the Indonesian authorities in
carrying out that exercise. The Indonesian authorities accepted many of
his proposals and recommendations.

The UN staff was in attendance during the consultations with the
representative councils, during the election of members of the
consultative assemblies and when the act of free choice was made.
In his report to the UN General Assembly, the Special Representative
of the UN Secretary General admitted that there were petitions submitted
to him opposing the transfer of West Irian administration to Indonesia. But
there were also a good number of petitions favoring integration with
Indonesia. In any case, the answer given by the Consultative Assemblies
to the question put to them was a unanimous consensus in favor of
remaining with Indonesia. Concluding the report, he wrote:
“Finally, on the basis of the facts presented in this report and
the documents referred to, it can be stated that with the
limitations imposed by geographical characteristics of the
territory and the general political situation in the area, an act
of free choice has taken place in West Papua in accordance
with the Indonesian practice, in which the representatives of
the population have expressed their wish to remain with

On 2 August 1969, Adam Malik, the then Foreign Minister of
Indonesia, officially informed the UN Secretary-General that the people of
West Irian had unanimously chosen to stay with Indonesia. On 19
November 1969, in response to the report of the UN Secretary-General on
the exercise of self-determination by the people of West Irian, the UN
General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it
“Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General and
acknowledges with appreciation the fulfillment by the
Secretary-General and his representative of the tasks
entrusted to them under Agreement of 15 August 1962
between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the
Netherlands concerning West New Guinea3”.
Thus, the return of Papua, then known as West Irian, to Indonesia as
one of its provinces was finally completed.
A UN Achievement

The restoration of West Irian to the fold of the Indonesian Republic
marked a high point in the cooperation between the United Nations and
Indonesia. It is often cited as one of the major achievements of the United
Nations in the settlement of international disputes. It certainly was a classic
instance of preventive diplomacy as it forestalled a war that would have
been disastrous to both sides and to the cause of global peace and

And it was once again an occasion in which the United States
stepped in and helped Indonesia in yet another struggle to defend its
sovereignty through negotiations. It also gave the Dutch a face-saving
way out of a quagmire that they had created by refusing to turn over
administrative authority over the territory to Indonesia at a time when
world opinion was exceedingly harsh against whatever appeared to be

It greatly helped that the United States had enormous credibility to
both the Netherlands and Indonesia. Ellsworth Bunker, who with his Bunker
Plan provided the framework for the solution of the dispute, was
particularly effective because he had the weight of the White House and
the US State Department behind him, although officially he was
throughout the process of negotiation a United Nations diplomat.
The wisdom and prestige of the UN Secretary-General, U Thant, was,
of course, a great stabilizing factor in a very volatile situation.
Great national rejoicing in Indonesia greeted the restoration of West Irian
to the Republic. It was of supreme importance to the Indonesian people
at a time when they were in a ferment for nation-building and national


4 Tanggapan

  1. You are mistaken, you only mention clause (c) of Article 18 of the New York Agreement:

    c. Formulations of the questions in such a way as to permit the inhabitants to decide (a) whether they wish to remain with Indonesia; or (b) whether they wish to sever ties with Indonesia.

    d. The eligibility of all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals to participate in the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice, who are resident at the time of the signing of the present Agreement, including those residents who departed after 1945 and who returned to the territory to resume residence after the termination of the Netherlands administration.

  2. Your coming is our hope to blow up the connection of You and Your Peoples (West Papua People’s Representative and OPM, OPM International Spokesperson Dr John Ondawame).

  3. Her bolgnya udo
    di liatin

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