Public Release: 

Book about Papuans' right to self-determination

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

On 15 November 2005, the Institute of Netherlands History will present a study about the right to self-determination of the Papuans from western New Guinea. The book, written by Dr P.J. Drooglever and published by Uitgeverij Boom, is about the New Guinea conflict and the 'Act of Free Choice'.

The book presentation will be held in the afternoon at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague. The programme includes film clips and a forum discussion. Speakers are the author, other researchers and Papuans. The book is the result of a study carried out by the Institute of Netherlands History on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A scientific meeting will be held in the morning.

'Act of Free Choice'

At the end of 1949 West New Guinea was not included in the sovereignty agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Following international pressure, the two countries signed an agreement in 1962 which placed New Guinea under UN control. Six months later the UN transferred control to Indonesia.

It was agreed that after a number of years the Papuans would be allowed to vote about continuing the link with Indonesia. This referendum, the 'Act of Free Choice', took place in 1969 under dubious circumstances.

In his book, historian Pieter Drooglever shows how the New Guinea conflict arose, developed and was resolved. Information was obtained from interviews and archival research. The book closes with the referendum and the reactions from the Netherlands and the UN.


For further information, review copies and registration for the press please contact:
David Redeker
Institute of Netherlands History and NWO
t: 3-170-315-6436 (ING, Monday) and t: 3-170-344-0714 (NWO, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)

Book data:
Een Daad van Vrije Keuze. De Papoea's van westelijk Nieuw-Guinea en de grenzen van het zelfbeschikkingsrecht [An Act of Free Choice. The Papuans of western New Guinea and the boundaries of their right to self-determination, in Dutch] by P.J. Drooglever (Amsterdam, Uitgeverij Boom, 2005) circa 800 pages, ISBN 9085061784, bound, illustrated. Price about EUR 45.

Further information about the research can be obtained from:
Project leader Dutch-Indonesian relations:
Dr Pieter Drooglever (ING)
t: 3-170-315-6409

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