The New Guinea issue

Both the Netherlands and Indonesia claimed New Guinea, which had not been included in the transfer of sovereignty. The country’s population desired independence.

When sovereignty was handed over, the Netherlands had kept New Guinea. Indonesia also laid claim to New Guinea, and infiltrated the area from 1949 onwards. The population of West Papua wished for independence from both the Netherlands and Indonesia, however. Relations deteriorated, and in December 1957, the Indonesian government forced all Dutch citizens to leave the country. More than 70,000 people returned to the Netherlands. Under international pressure, the Netherlands handed the governance of New Guinea over to the United Nations (UN), which later handed it over again to Indonesia.