Prof. A. Teeuw, a distinguished Dutch scholar on Indonesia, once stated that he could not understand why people could deny the fact that West Guinea is part of Indonesia’s territory. He said that, the argument of historical continuity is there the first relevant. He further argued that the Netherlands should have been proud to deliver to the world and world history about it.
The final transfer of sovereignty of West Papua to Indonesia took place in Amsterdam on December 29, 1949, under the provisions of the Round Table Conference. Nine months later, on September 28, 1950, Indonesia was admitted to membership of the United Nations.
In that process, Indonesia became the first country in the history of the United Nations to use the Charter of the United Nations in its fight against colonialism, and largely through it, gain international recognition for its sovereignty and independence. In addition, the Security Council had been the principal link between the struggling republic and the outside world. As a result, it seems clear that it was international pressure, largely through the Council, that eventually compelled the Netherlands to accede to Indonesia’s wishes.
Indonesia had always believed that Papua was an integral part of its territory and territorial integrity. Indeed, Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno once declared that Indonesia was incomplete without Papua. In his words: “West Irian must, can, and certainly will return to the Indonesian fold so long as West Irian is not back in our fold, our national aspirations will not have been fulfilled.” He further emphasized that: “according to our Constitution, Irian is also Indonesian territory… not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but now at this very moment. The Dutch de facto authority over Irian is recognized for this year only.”
It was clear that Indonesia considered that the struggle for Indonesia’s independence did not end in 1945 or even in 1949, but would wait until the whole territory of former Dutch colony returned into the realm of the Republic of Indonesia. Reinforcing that conviction, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio declared: “Let us not forget that the West Irian issue is not a territorial dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands but a struggle for freedom against colonialism.” In addition, authoritative observers of the time thought that on the historical-legal question, the Indonesian case was considered much stronger.
When one seeks to define Indonesia, one must also look at the national and political connotations as they were used during the national struggle for independence and the efforts to interpret the term, “the Netherlands Indies”. In 1922, the Constitution of the Netherlands contained a reference to “Indonesia” identified as the Netherlands East Indies. Article 1 of that Constitution provided that “the Kingdom of the Netherlands consisted of the territories of the Netherlands, Indonesia, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.” Such a clear demarcation was also contained in the Constitution of Indonesia in 1945 and 1950, signifying that the separation of Indonesia from Papua was only a temporary measure pending negotiations between the concerned parties. Papua was thus never mentioned apart from its being an integral part of the Netherlands East Indies.
Source of the West Guinea article: Indonesian Embassy Vienna, Austria