Netherlands New Guinea

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Hai Tanahku Papua
"Oh My Land Papua" (Proposed)

Netherlands New Guinea (Dutch: Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea) refers to the West Papua region while it was an overseas territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1949 to 1962. Until 1949 it was a part of the Netherlands Indies. It was commonly known as Dutch New Guinea. It is currently Indonesia's two easternmost provinces, Papua and West Papua (administered as one single unit prior to 2003 under the name Irian Jaya).

The Netherlands retained New Guinea when Indonesia became independent in 1949. The arguments of the Dutch government for this changed repeatedly over time. At any rate the Dutch policy with regard to New Guinea was strongly influenced by the Dutch position towards Indonesia. On the one hand the Netherlands wanted to use New Guinea as a Dutch sphere of influence in the region. On the other hand by developing New Guinea and emancipating the Papuan population the Netherlands wanted to vindicate itself as a responsible colonial power.

Indonesia claimed New Guinea as part of its territory. The dispute over New Guinea was an important factor in the quick decline in bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia after Indonesian independence. Starting in 1962, under pressure from the international community and under threat of armed conflict with Indonesia, the Netherlands relinquished control and a series of events led to the eventual official annexation of New Guinea in 1969 to Indonesia. (See below.)


New Guinea until WW II

Until after the Second World War the western part of the island of New Guinea was part of the Dutch colony of the Netherlands Indies. The Netherlands claimed sovereignty over New Guinea within the Netherlands Indies through its protection over Tidore, a sultanate on a Moluccan island west of Halmahera. In a 1660 treaty the Dutch East India Company (VOC) recognised Tidore's supremacy over the Papuans, the inhabitants of New Guinea. Probably this referred to some Papuan islands near the Moluccas, although Tidore never exercised actual control over New Guinea. In 1872 Tidore recognised Dutch sovereignty and granted permission to the Kingdom of the Netherlands to establish administration in its territories whenever the Netherlands Indies authorities would want to do so. This allowed the Netherlands to legitimise a claim to the New Guinea area.

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