The Important Figures behind the New York Agreement

New York Agreement is a further official meeting between the Indonesian and the Dutch Government. This agreement is the follow-up action to the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference that concerned about the status of West New Guinea or West Irian after the Indonesian Declaration of Independence.

Taking place in the headquarters of the United Nations, New York Agreement was held on August 15, 1962, and resulted in 29 legal articles. The articles signed in this agreement discussed the essential things related to the territory of West Irian. One of them is the temporary transfer of administration from the Netherlands to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA).

Moreover, New York Agreement also discussed in details some concerns regarding the Indonesian administration and self-determination, the rights of West Irian inhabitants, the financial matters, the privileges, and immunities, as well as referring to the ratification and the previous treaty before this agreement was held. A month after the agreement was signed, on September 21, 1962, 29 articles of the New York Agreement were registered by the Secretariat of the United Nations to be implemented according to its purposes.

In accordance with the fact that the contents of the New York Agreement were crucial in determining the future of West Papua as the part of the Indonesian Republic, the following are several figures from both the Dutch and Indonesian parties that also played their own important roles behind this agreement.

Ellsworth Bunker

Ellsworth J. Bunker was an American diplomat and businessman, as well as the former ambassador for the United States to several countries, including Italy, India, Nepal, Argentina, and South Vietnam. He was born on May 11, 1894, and died at the age of 90 on September 27, 1984.

In addition to its political rules for several decades, Ellsworth Bunker was best known for being the party that supported the war force of political relationships in Vietnam and several parts of Southeast Asia between the 1960s and the 1970s. It was also during that time, or in 1962 to be exact, when he proposed a workable solution in the form of outlining plan to end West Papua dispute between the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia.

According to Ellsworth Bunker, there should be temporary transfer control over the West New Guinea from the Dutch government. He suggested that the power control should be transferred to a neutral party. In this case, the neutral party is the administrators of the United Nations. This world organization took over the administrative business of the island in question before it was given gradually, then completely, to the Indonesian government.

What Ellsworth Bunker proposed became the basic concept that led to the arrangement of New York Agreement. He also offered another possible plan to organize a democratic referendum in order to determine the future of West Papua, which was commonly known by the term Act of Free Choice.


An Indonesian politician and diplomat, Subandrio, was born in Malang, East Java, on September 15, 1915. After the Indonesian Declaration of Independence, Subandrio became the supporter of the Indonesian founding father, Sukarno. Under the reign of President Soekarno, he was appointed to be the secretary-general of the foreign ministry before positioned as the tenth Foreign Minister of Indonesia between 1957 and 1966.

Due to his position, Subandrio was officially chosen to represent Indonesia in the New York Agreement. Similar to the majority of nations who thought that the military aggression in West Papua did not resolve the conflict, Subandrio agreed that the dispute of West Papua should be assisted by the United Nations.

For that reason, he was the one who involved in the negotiation between the Netherland and Indonesia, as well as signed the treaty of New York Agreement. Subandrio was also appointed as one of the key speakers at the ceremony of West Papua transfer control to the Indonesian government on May 1, 1963.

Jan Herman van Roijen and C. W. A. Schurmann

Jan Herman van Roijen was the Dutch foreign minister in 1946. Born in Constantinople on April 10, 1905, he was also a Dutch diplomat and politician who took part in the New York Agreement as one of the delegations for the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Besides representing the Netherlands in the New York Agreement, van Roijen was also the negotiator in the former conference involving the Indonesian and the Dutch government, that is, the Roem-Roijen Agreement.

Another delegation from the Netherlands in this conference is C. W. A. Schurmann. He was the personal representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations as well as the Dutch representative who signed the agreement along with Jan Herman van Roijen.

Four figures that are particularly mentioned above played their own role in the New York Agreement until the decision of control transfer was reached and the status of West Papua in the present times was determined.