West Papua’s return to the UN: fulfilling Hammarskjöld’s legacy


SUMMARY This memorial for Dag Hammarskjöld and his 1961 Decolonisation Program for West Papua explores a complex global story, of two UN peace-keeping undertakings by UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961 in the midst of overwhelming tension between the US and the USSR. The first inserted a UN peace-keeping military force into the Democratic Republic of Congo to de-escalate the brutal bloody conflict over the new state’s mineral resources. The second was designed to deliver the West Papuans their right of self-determination and to prevent Indonesia from illegally taking over the Non-Self-Governing Territory.

What was the outcome of these peace-keeping endeavours? First, the Secretary-General lost his life. Second, the new state of Congo nose-dived into chaos and then authoritarian state. Third, the UN Non-Self-Governing Territory of Nederlands Nieuw Guinea (Melanesian West Papua) was passed to Indonesia, a state on the verge of political and economic collapse with no capacity, or will, to uphold the international laws governing the administration of the Non-Self-Governing Territory. Indeed, the Republic of Indonesia did not then, and still doesn’t, recognise the principle of self-determination, which is mentioned eleven times in the New York Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands that was signed in UN Headquarters on 15 August 1962.

It is important to note that the General Assembly took note of the New York Agreement, and as it had a facilitatory role under its terms, passed a Resolution authorising the Secretary General to carry out that role. [However] the General Assembly at no time adopted the Agreement or adopted or validated its outcome (George Lambert, ICJ, 2001).

Below are the zoom presentations of the West Papua Womens Office webinar on 13 September 2020, as well as the Media Release, the Hammarskjold-West Papua exhibition prepared by the West Papua Womens Office in Docklands, and an extraordinary essay by UN staffer Yvette Rippplinger in New York on 18 September 1961.

FOR THE MEDIA: West Papua’s return to UN: fulfilling Hammarskjöld’s legacy
MEDIA RELEASE, West Papua’s return to the UN, fulfilling Dag Hammarskjold’s legacy


Babuan Mirino (President, FRWP West Papua Womens Office in Melbourne)


Pastor Edison Waromi (Chair of the ULMWP Legislative)

Pastor Edison Waromi is a former political prisoner (and still endures conditions of house arrest). As well as Chair of the Legislative of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, he is President of the Executive (West Papua National Authority). In this speech he asks the Australian government to abandon its Lombok Treaty with Indonesia, and to support West Papua’s independence struggle … “our land is in a state of emergency with the recent deployment of thousands of highly trained Indonesian troops.”


Herman Wainggai, ULMWP Special Mission to UN


Henning Melber, Emeritus Director, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation


Litiana Kalsrep, ‘Why Vanuatu is sponsoring West Papua at the UN’


Francine Ngoya, ‘Replanting Dag Hammarskjöld in the Congo’

Francine is from the Association of Women Teachers in Catholic Schools, DR Congo.


Mr Clovis Mwamba, ‘Dag Hammarskjöld, Hero of peace in the Congo’

This video-exhibition, prepared by the FRWP Womens Office in Docklands, documents UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld’s 1961 Decolonisation Program for West Papua (then the Non-Self-Governing-Territory of Nederlands-Nieuw Guinea). Hammarskjöld’s death, which is still being investigated, precluded him from presenting his motion the 1961 UN General Assembly, and without his influential and authoritative presence, the Assembly-torn by Cold War tension and manipulation-did not pass the motion. The UN’s denial of self-determination, its founding principle, in the context of West Papua, paved passage for an American-led agreement that facilitated the Indonesian occupation. Contrary to popular opinion there has never been an act of self-determination in West Papua.
DEATH OF A HERDSMAN This is an extraordinary poem by UN staffer Yvette Rippplinger written on the day, 18 September 1961, that her boss, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, was killed.
Death of a Herdsman, Yvette Ripplinger, 18 Sept 1961

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