Political Impasse vs Economic Development: A History and Analysis of the West Papua Conflict in Indonesia

  • Stephen C. DruceEmail author


The Republic of Indonesia has administered West Papua since 1963, following a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) agreement of 1962. Six years later, the Indonesian government held the controversial “Act of Free Choice” that led to the territory’s official integration into the Republic of Indonesia. While West Papuan nationalists argue that the “Act of Free Choice” was a fraudulent process undertaken with the tacit agreement of the international community that denied them the right to self-determination, successive Indonesian governments have considered the Act binding and legal and rejected any possibility of West Papuan self-determination. The chapter begins with an overview of West Papua’s integration into the Dutch East Indies and early Dutch policy in relation to the territory. This is followed by a discussion on the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands over the future and status of West Papua. The chapter then turns to West Papua’s integration into the Republic of Indonesia, which represents the first major incompatibility in the conflict. The remaining parts of the chapter focus on the post integration period and examines how successive Indonesian governments have attempted to manage the conflict, and various West Papuan initiatives, up to the present day.


Act of Free Choice Resource exploitation Transmigration Human rights Special autonomy (OTSUS) Papua Road Map 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universiti Brunei DarussalamBandar Seri BegawanBrunei

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