25 Statement by Kirby

USS RENVILLE, 17 January 1948

It is some four months since the Government of the Netherlands and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia accepted the help and cooperation of the United Nations in settling the Indonesian dispute. That help and cooperation were sent to the parties by the Security Council in a resolution which described the Committee in these words:

'The Council expressed its readiness, if the parties so request, to assist in the settlement through a Committee of the Council consisting of three members of the Council, each party to name one member, the third to be designated by the two members named by the parties.'

From the method of the selection of the Committee, it might have been expected that the members chosen by the parties would have been in continual and serious disagreement. At the outset, however, the three of us resolved that:

'the three members of the Committee met with equal rights and responsibilities, not representing either of the contending parties but acting as a body in the spirit of the purposes and principles of the United Nations'.

I can assure you that our spirit has been one of impartiality, and that with devotion to the principles of the United Nations the Committee has striven to perform its task and to do justice as between the parties without fear of favour, affection or ill-will.

Progress has been slow and the Committee's powers severely restricted, but today the parties have shown by their truce agreement that the assistance of the United Nations has not been in vain. Moreover, they have shown their trust in continued help from the United Nations by agreeing today on provisions which make available a continuation of the assistance of the Good Offices Committee, not only until a political agreement has been reached, but until the United States of Indonesia actually comes into being.

Today we have recorded an initial agreement between the parties on the U.S.S. Renville. It is befitting that the generous action of the United States which, by sending their ship to Java waters enabled the Committee to overcome the first difficulties of bringing the parties together, should provide a meeting place for the signing of the first agreement reached with the good offices of the Committee. Thanks must also be expressed for the valuable help and work which has been performed so unobtrusively that we have come to take it for granted. I refer to the tasks performed by the Secretariat of the United Nations and, often under difficult and trying conditions, by the crews of the American and Australian planes.

There is to be a cessation of fighting, an agreement has been reached on twelve important political principles which we hope will soon become eighteen important principles, and above all is the implicit agreement by the two parties to do everything possible to reach a just, full and lasting political agreement. To my mind the latter is the dominant factor for success, because, without goodwill and a sincere endeavour on the part of the parties to obtain a political settlement, the understandings reached today would be meaningless and the prospects of real peace and order in these islands would be remote indeed.

Bold signatures on impressive documents cannot alone dispel the troubles of this archipelago. Even the limited objectives and understandings of today's agreement will be impossible of performance unless the two parties approach the problem of implementation and the political discussions which will shortly commence, in a spirit of cooperation and tolerance. More important than the words of today's documents is the spirit behind the intentions of the parties. I take heart in the good intentions which the parties have expressed and in the knowledge that the continued help of the United Nations remains available to them.

Today would appear to mark the close of a stage of the Committee's work but it would be more correct to note that tomorrow provides no new task, for the Committee or the parties. We must now continue to perform the real task we came to these islands to perform-to assist in reaching a political settlement. Only after our arrival here were we entrusted with the task of assisting to obtain a truce. Our work of the past few weeks is no digression, for the Committee has always taken the position that a cessation of fighting and killing and a political settlement are closely related problems. Tomorrow the Committee will be discussing matters which are at the heart of the dispute in Indonesia.

Today's agreement provides an opportunity for these discussions to go forward in a spirit of better understanding and cooperation on the basis of principles of the United Nations. I hope that the efforts of the parties will soon attain a second but far more important agreement, an agreement which will bring credit on the Netherlands, the Republic and the United Nations.

[AA:A4355/3, 7/1/7/4]