501.BC Indonesia/1–649: Telegram

The Consul General at Batavia (Livengood) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

44. Gocus 530. Following letter dated today addressed Schuurman by GOC chairman:

“I have honor refer your letter 3 January1 in which you advised that you were in receipt of instructions under which committees military observers could return to field for implementation of duties conferred on Committee Good Offices by resolution of Security Council of 24 December. In your reply dated 4 January to our letter of 3 January which emphasized committee’s desire to complete all necessary arrangements immediately, so that redeployment could be begun afternoon of 4 January, you confirmed that representative of Royal Netherlands Indonesian Army Chief of Staff would receive representatives of committee’s military assistants at 17 hours 4 January to discuss plans.

Our military representatives have advised us that no concrete progress was made in this meeting towards return of military observers to field. Representative of Chief of Staff had no authority to decide on arrangements and insisted that matter would have to be referred to Commander in Chief and Chief of General Staff neither of whom was in Batavia at time. Representative of Chief of Staff undertook to advise chairman of committee’s MilEx Board when a decision was made by Commander in Chief so that further meeting could be held. Up to 16 hours today, 46 hours later, nothing has been received from him.

Committee had studied Van Royen’s statements in Security Council on 27 and 29 December appended to your letter 3 January, texts of your letters and transcript of meeting with representative of Chief of your General Staff. It wishes to make sure that no misunderstanding exists as to its position.

In your letter 4 January you state that as no reply had yet been received from Consular Commission to letter similar to that of 3 January addressed to committee ‘discussions can only bear provisional character and cannot prejudice performance of task entrusted to Consular Commission’. You further state that coordination of plan of committee and of Consular Commission will be necessary as far as Netherlands and Indonesian authorities are concerned’. Similarly, Colonel Thomson, representative of your Chief of Staff, after querying at some length status of military observers in relationship to Committee Good Offices and to Consular Commission, stated: ‘But still there is this confusion about existence of two committees; if Security Council will notify us or either of committees about exact position that will then help us greatly in going ahead with our part of task’. Again he stated, ‘We consider clarification of confusion regarding functions of GOC and Consular Commission as very important’. This is one of matters to be referred to decision of Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff before arrangements can be begun.

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In view of committee, there is no confusion of type which should delay it in performance of its urgent duty to report. Any position on part of your government preventing early return of military observers to field until ‘confusion’ has been clarified would in effect paralyze both organs of Security Council at crucial time.

What is important is timely resumption by military observers of their functions already in suspension over entire period in which their reporting would have been of greatest value and not irrelevant debate as to manner in which their reports will be channeled to Security Council whether through committee or through Consular Commission.

We wish further to correct tendency seen in meeting held with representative of Chief of Staff to limit unduly scope of work to be done by military observers. There were many references to military observers as having only function of observing ‘cessation of hostilities’ now that, as Colonel Thomson put it, ‘there is no longer any truce, there is no longer any TNI, and there is no longer long list of truce infringements’. Broad scope of observations to be carried on by military observers is very clearly expressed in paragraph six of statement made on 27 December in Security Council by Van Royen, Netherlands representative:

‘In order enable Committee to carry out its instructions to report on situation after December 12, Netherlands Government has issued instructions that military experts at disposal of committee and their staff be given opportunity to study course of events. I am authorized to add that this last provision means in practice that to use words of Committee Good Offices itself, military observers can again be dispatched to field’. It is feared that position of your government is not fully understood at all levels by those who are charged with making of arrangements.

It is obvious, of course, that military observers can in practice return to field only if your government permits them to do so. Further, as they are dependent to very great extent on facilities and opportunities provided by your field commanders, they must operate if at all in accordance with limitations you see fit to impose. However, you will appreciate that committee must comply with instructions given to it by Security Council. It cannot in any way consent to or tacitly condone by acceptance any limitation on activities of military observers, which would prevent them from performing fully obligations imposed on them.

Ten days have passed since statement of Van Royen quoted above; almost two weeks since adoption by Security Council of resolution of 24 December. Not one military observer is yet in process of returning to field from which, as set forth in our letter of 23 December, military observers were excluded by Netherlands Army officials soon after hostilities were begun. Committee must emphasize that passing of time and progress of military action may well destroy value to committee and to Security Council of direct observations of military observers by whom alone in many cases can committee procure first-hand information needed for reports called for by resolution of Security Council of 24 December.

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Committee awaits further word from you or other appropriate Netherlands officials as to whether and under what conditions military observers will be permitted to return to field”. Signed Cochran.

  1. See telegram 9, January 3, p. 121.