Would An Independent West Papua Be A Failing State? :: JapanFocus

Would An Independent West Papua Be A Failing State? :: JapanFocus

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Would An Independent West Papua Be A Failing State?

David Adam Stott

“Where it cuts across the island of New Guinea, the 141st meridian east remains one of colonial cartography’s more arbitrary yet effective of boundaries.”1

On July 9, 2011 another irrational colonial border that demarcated Sudan was consigned to history when South Sudan achieved independence. In the process an often seemingly irrevocable principle of decolonisation, that boundaries inherited from colonial entities should remain sacrosanct, has been challenged once again. Indeed, a cautious trend in international relations has been to support greater self-determination for ‘nations’ without awarding full statehood. Yet Kosovo is another state whose recent independence has been recognised by most major players in the international community.2 In West Papua’s case, the territory’s small but growing elite had been preparing for independence from the Netherlands in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and Dutch plans envisaged full independence by 1970. However, in 1962 Cold War realpolitik intervened and the United States engineered a transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia under the auspices of the United Nations. To Indonesian nationalists their revolution became complete since West New Guinea had previously been part of the larger colonial unit of the Netherlands East Indies, which had realised its independence as Indonesia in 1949. In West New Guinea, most Papuans felt betrayed by the international community and have been campaigning for a proper referendum on independence ever since.

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