Proposal for the Resolution of the Dutch-Indonesian Dispute over West
It is agreed that the long-standing dispute between the Netherlands and
Indonesia over the ownership of West New Guinea is approaching a critical
phase. Both sides have maintained an intransigent attitude, although the
Dutch have given some indication that they would be prepared to
“internationalize” the problem on the condition that the natives be
guaranteed the right of self-determination. Indonesia considers the
territory hers and insists on its immediate transfer to Indonesian
jurisdiction. However, Indonesian officials have indicated a willingness to
agree to a “transitional trusteeship” which would assure the transfer of the
territory to Indonesia in one or two years. The increasing build-up of
Indonesian military potential and the prodding of the Communists makes more
likely the possibility of armed hostilities on a significant scale. Clearly
the US should attempt to achieve an acceptable solution to the problem
before hostilities break out. We have already informed the Dutch that we are
thinking of proposing a solution for the current dilemma.
As instructed, Mr. McGhee has discussed
the idea of a trusteeship as a possible solution with Senator Fulbright who
expressed his approval of this approach.
This matter has been studied in great detail over a period of months. The
consensus of the bureaus charged with responsibilities in this area favor a
trusteeship under UN aegis. The terms of
reference of this mandate should clearly state that its purpose is to move
the indigenous population promptly toward democratic political institutions
and ultimate self-determination of the territory’s political status.
Accordingly, I would propose that we undertake to obtain acceptance by the
interested parties of the following steps:
A. The establishment of a UN
trusteeship for WNG making the
government of Malaya trustee with full powers and authority to
administer the territory.
B. The arrangement of a consortium of states to support the Malayan
mandate with personnel and funds. This consortium might include those
interested and friendly states which have the personnel and means to
assist. Obviously it will be necessary to obtain the agreement of the
Dutch, Indonesians and Malayans in the first instance, as well as the
members of the proposed consortium.
In the event that we are unable to achieve sufficient agreement on the above
proposal to give reasonable assurance of success, we would then propose to
the interested parties, after discussion with SYG, a direct UN trusteeship,
fully realizing the problems of obtaining UN
*Source: Department of State, Central Files,
656.9813/4–661. Secret. Drafted by Beaudry and cleared by McGhee, Wallner,
and Jenkins. Also sent to Under Secretary Bowles.
1Not attached. Tab D was apparently a memorandum of
conversation, March 27, between Bowles and Netherlands Ambassador J.H. van Roijen. Bowles informed van Roijen that, contrary to previous
indications, the United States would not send a representative to the
inaugural ceremony of the first representative Council in West New
Guinea. Van Roijen considered
this appeasement of Indonesia. Bowles assured him that the United States would make no
proposals on West New Guinea without first consulting the Netherlands.
(Memorandum of conversation, March 27; ibid., 656.9813/3–2761)
initialed his approval of these recommendations on April 7.
3The talking paper was
attached but is not printed. The two telegrams, not attached, were sent
as 513 to Kuala Lumpur and 1600 to The Hague, both April 7. (Both in
Department of State, Central Files, 656.9813/4–761)