Dutch Historical Research 'Act of Free Choice' PDF Afdrukken E-mailadres
donderdag 29 juni 2000 01:00

Translated from Dutch and abridged by Foundation Papuan Peoples (PaVo) in Utrecht

Outline of Dutch Historical Research 'Act of Free Choice' (1969)

To: From:
The Chairman of the Lower House Ministry for Foreign Affairs
The Hague
Directorate Asia and Oceania
Department South-East Asia and Oceania
The Hague - Netherlands

Date: 29 June 2000

Dear Chairperson,

In reply to the request from your members Van Middelkoop and Van den Berg (Lower House, deliberation on the budget for the Foreign Ministry, 9 December 1999) you herewith find the terms of reference for the historical research into the (inter)national events surrounding the 'act of free choice'. The research will be contracted to the Institute for Dutch History.
From these terms of reference it appears that parallel to the main
research, an additional project will be carried out, "Governing New
Once again, I want to emphasise that the aim of the research mentioned is to give a historical overview of the events, not to discuss the territorial integrity of Indonesia.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs

J. Van Aartsen

Proposal for a further study of the events around the 'act of free
choice' as articulated in the motion-Van Middelkoop.

A. The Official Documents Regarding The Dutch-Indonesian Relationship:
Current and Finalised Projects
[almost 2 pages describe the on-going publication of sources regarding the post-war situation in relation to the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch-Indonesian Relationship - DIR]

B. Additional Project
Till so far the current and finalised parts of the DIR-project. By the
looks of it, it is likely that they answer to a high decree the issues
targeted by Van Middelkoop and others. They broadly document the
decolonisation-process in Indonesia and, as part of this, cover
developments in and relating to New Guinea.
A limitation of this approach is of course the fact that the
resource-publications and archive-guides have only a minor analytical content.
It maybe desirable for there to be a summarised overview which would come to some conclusion and, if desired, outline new policy-decisions.
From the conversation which took place between the Minister and the Lower House one may conclude that for the moment not only a documentary report but also a structured overview, and thereby a historical judgement, is required regarding the developments around the transfer of administration in New Guinea. Also, that it is hoped to obtain all this in a reasonable short period of time.
In the light of this request, it should be possible, in the course of
the research, to do a study into the theme The Netherlands, the UN and the right to self-determination of the Papuans.

description of basic assumptions
These basic assumptions lead to the following scheme:

The act of free choice: The Netherlands, the United Nations and the
right to self-determination of the Papuans.

I The Netherlands and the right to self-determination of the Papuans:
from Malino to the Bot-note.

II The role of America, Australia and the United Nations in the
Dutch-Indonesian conflict; the right to self-determination as bargaining
theme. The New York Agreement.

III The execution of the New York Agreement: the UNTEA administration,
mainly reconstructed form UN documents.

IV Reactions from the field: observations from Papuans and Dutch on the spot about the transfer of administration and the UNTEA-administration.
Dutch involvement with Western New Guinea afterwards (development relation).

V The 'Act of Free Choice': its implementation and the role of the UN and of other directly involved powers. Position Dutch government and parliament.

VI Conclusion. Analyses of the role of all involved parties during the
course of the conflict, with emphasis on their appreciation of the right to self-determination of the Papuans. The Netherlands, and the United Nations the guardians of the right to self-determination?


The right to self-determination of the Papuans is the guide-line for
this proposal, yet it is embedded in its historical context. The final
realisation in the form of the 'act of free choice' was the result of
Dutch efforts for the right to self-determination within the
decolonisation-process, the Indonesian pursuit of a maximum unity, and the attempts by the UN to come to a reconciliation of both positions within the framework of its own idealistic basic assumptions, as laid down in the Charter of the United Nations.
The framework for this 'act of free choice' is laid down in the New York Agreement of 1962. The negotiations are described in Chapter II on the basis of archive-research in the Netherlands, the United States/UN and Australia. The developments leading up to it (chapter I) can be dealt with rather roughly and are based upon the finalised
sources-publications and on the internal availability of data from the
current project (by the Institute of Dutch History) concerning the
Dutch-Indonesian relationship 1950-1963.
In this proposal the UNTEA administration (62/63) takes an important position, because through UNTEA the United Nations took the responsibility for the transfer of administration from the Dutch into Indonesian hands, and thereby also for the further implementation of the 'act of free choice'. The flow of events during this interim administration illustrates how far Indonesia and the UN were prepared (and able) to transform agreements reached in New York into realistic policy. In Chapter III this will be discussed from a UN-perspective. The main source for this will be the UN archive. Chapter IV will deal with the same question, but seen from the perspective of the Papuans and direct involved Dutch civil servants. Next to archive-research, interviews with those involved will present relevant source materials.
Chapter V deals with the way in which the Indonesian government in 1969 used the leeway given by the New York Agreement, the role of the UN in this and the reactions from the Netherlands.
Chapter VI (Conclusion) contains an evaluation of the meaning of the right to self-determination for the Papuans for all parties involved.

A study as indicated above should be written by one single researcher since in this way the unity of questioning and analyses will be best guaranteed.  Therefore, from the Institute for Dutch History, Dr. P.J. Drooglever is available on the basis of a half-time assignment for a period of 3 years. For the other part he will remain in charge of the supervision of the project resources-publication NIR 50-63 and the execution of other affairs of the institute. Within these secondary conditions it is possible to produce a summarised study, based on new facts or rarely used materials, with a volume of ca.250 pages.
For quality control, IDH will from its side establish a monitoring
commission. Furthermore, there will ofcourse be a check after the
finalisation of the manuscript. This can be advanced by organising a
seminar at the time of the publication, in which aspects of the work
will be critically discussed by a diverse group of researchers.
The majority of the budget for this project will be used to pay the
salary of the post (1 scientific researcher for three years on the basis of a half-time position). For archive research and the recording of interviews, visits to the United States (UN), Indonesia and Australia are necessary.