25 Jun 2010

UN backing weakens Papua status challenge

8:46 am on 25 June 2010

An academic in Indonesian politics says the United Nations approval of the referendum which incorporated Papua region into the republic makes it difficult to have it revised.

This comes as Vanuatu is seeking the UN General Assembly's support for the International Court of Justice to give an opinion on the legality of the way the former Dutch New Guinea was ceded to Indonesia.

Under 1969's Act of Free Choice a group of West Papuans voted for integration into Indonesia rather than independence.

The referendum is widely regarded as having been stage-managed by Indonesia but Damien Kingsbury of Australia's Deakin University says the UN backing of the referendum will be hard to change.

"Basically what they would have to do is establish a committee of investigation to go back and look at whether the Act of Free Choice was in fact a legitimate act and whether the United Nations made a mistake. Now that's possible. but whether or not it happens again is an open point but if they don't try to pursue it then they're not going to get anywhere."