Around 190 countries gathered in
New York for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) from
Sept. 17 to 30. Its themes included galvanizing multilateral efforts for
poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion. As
sovereign nations, however, participating countries were free to touch upon any
issue pertinent to their supreme national interests.
United States President Donald
Trump, for example, used this event to promote his “America First” ideology,
stating that “The Future doesn’t belong to globalists. The future belongs to
patriots” (Politico, Sept. 24).
It is in this context that prior
to and during the UNGA session, the so-called leader of the United Liberations
Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, and his cohorts had moved around
to lobby countries, especially state parties to the Pacific Islands Forum and
Melanesian Spearhead Group, trying to convince them to pressure Indonesia to
organize a referendum in Papua.
And at the same time, banking on
the already tense politics in Papua, mainly due to the heinous killing of
around 20 construction workers in Nduga regency last December, Benny stands
accused of provoking a series of brutal acts in the restive province, in which
scores of innocent people perished in Jayapura and Wamena respectively, in an
attempt to attract the General Assembly’s attention.
More than 30 innocent people were
dastardly killed and around 10,000 have become displaced.
This tragedy has exposed the true
colors of Benny, defeating his claim of being a peaceful freedom fighter, as he
has tried desperately to portray during his recent interview with the BBC. The
recent killings, looting and burning of civilian property and public
infrastructure in Papua speak volumes of this man, who apparently will do
anything imaginable to justify his end. It is rather shameful that Vanuatu has
– all these years – failed to see this fact and was willingly manipulated by
Benny to become ULMWP’S mouthpiece, by constantly raising the Papuan issue at
The fact that only Vanuatu out of
196 participating countries in the General Assembly session pressed for Papuan
self-determination is clear evidence. Indeed, the question of Papua had long
been put to rest when the UNGA issued Resolution No. 2504/1969.
The 1969 resolution affirmed the
return of Papua from the colonial past to the realm of the Unitary State of the
Republic of Indonesia, based on the principle of utipossidetis juris, an
international maxim that states borders of the newly independent countries
conform to its colonial ones.
While regretting the ignorance of
Vanuatu on this well-established international principle, Indonesia should
welcome the constructive engagements by Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, which
briefly expressed their concerns over what happened recently in Papua, while
appreciating the intention of Indonesia’s government to invite the UN High
commissioner for human rights to visit the country.
It is to be expected that
Indonesia will take commensurate measures to rein in Vanuatu from meddling in
its domestic affairs, which may include breaking up diplomatic ties between the
Practically, Indonesia gains
nothing from its diplomatic relationship with this relatively less than US$1
billion economy, as compared to Indonesia, which has a gross domestic product
that surpasses $1 trillion, according to the World Bank. In terms of
socio-economic benefits, Vanuatu surely needs Indonesia more than Indonesia
needs Vanuatu. As the menacing global economy recession starts to manifest
itself, instead of engaging in confrontation, all UN members are required to
corporate closely to fend off this threat.
Accordingly, all countries have
to identify all obstructing elements in their quest to multilaterally confront
the approaching economic turbulence, amid UN failures to resolve recalcitrant conflicts
around the world, among others, in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Korea
Peninsula, apart from the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
As far as Vanuatu is concerned,
to continue raising the Papuan issue internationally will lead it nowhere. It
is just like barking up the wrong up the wrong tree, for no country will
support Vanuatu, as has been made crystal clear all these years. Hence, getting
rid of the Papuan issue from its international agenda is highly recommended to
build a more productive cooperation with Indonesia.
As for the Indonesia’s maturing democracy, we hope it is able to resolve its multifaceted challenges, including the Papua issue, in the near future. Soon after his inauguration this month and with his renewed mandate, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will be very well equipped to pull Indonesia out of this trying moment. Let us give him enough space and ample time to carry out his constitutional duties, resolving all pressing matters, chiefly among those the issue of Papua, once and for all.
Source: The JakartaPost