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UNTEA and UNRWI : United Nations involvement in West New Guinea during the 1960's

Saltford, John Francis


John Francis Saltford


Tim Huxley


This thesis examines the role played by the United Nations in the implementation of the August 1962 New York Agreement. The Agreement ended a thirteen year dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesia concerning the future of West New Guinea and its Papuan inhabitants (or Irianese as they were known by Indonesia).

Under the terms of the Agreement, the territory's administration was transferred to a temporary UN authority (UNTEA) which remained from 1 October 1962 until 1 May 1963. Following this, control of West New Guinea was handed over to Indonesia which renamed it West Irian (later Irian Jaya, now Papua).

In 1968, a small UN team returned, led by Fernando Ortiz Sanz, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Irian (UNRWI). The team's responsibility was to "advise, assist and participate" in Indonesian preparations for an act of Papuan self-determination planned for 1969. This 'Act of Free Choice' (or Pepera as it was known by Indonesia), and the UN's involvement, were central to the Agreement and its fulfillment.

Following the Introduction and a short chapter on the background to the dispute, chapters two to four look at the UNTEA administration. Chapter five examines briefly the first years of Indonesian rule in West Irian between 1963 and 1967. The arrival of the UN team in 1968 and Ortiz Sanz's first two tours of the territory are discussed in Chapters Six and Seven. Preparations for the Act in 1969, including the selection of the 1022 Papuan representatives who took part in it, are examined in Chapters Eight and Nine. Chapter Ten looks at the conduct of the Act itself and international reaction culminating in the UNGA vote of November 1969. The thesis ends with a conclusion in Chapter Eleven.


Saltford, J. F. (2000). UNTEA and UNRWI : United Nations involvement in West New Guinea during the 1960's. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Southeast Asian studies
Public URL
Additional Information Department of South East Asian Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Apr 1, 2000


Thesis (14.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2000 Saltford, John Francis. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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