The Renville Political Principles

A The Principles Proposed by the Netherlands and accepted by the Parties on January 17, 1948:

1. That the assistance of the Committee of Good Offices be continued in the working out and signing of an agreement for the settlement of the political dispute in the islands of Java, Sumatra and Madura, based upon the principles underlying the Linggadjati Agreement.

2. It is understood that neither party has the right to prevent the free expression of popular movements looking toward political organizations which are in accord with the principles of the Linggadjati Agreement, It is further understood that each party will guarantee the freedom of assembly, speech and publication at all times, provided that this guarantee is not construed so as to include the advocacy of violence of reprisals.

3. It is understood that decisions concerning changes in administration of territory should be made only with the full and free consent of the populations of those territories and at a time when the security and freedom from coercion of such populations will have been ensured.

4. That on the signing of the political agreement provision be made for the gradual reduction of the armed forces of both parties.

5. That as soon as practicable after the signing of the truce agreement, economic activity, trade, transportation and communications be restored through the co-operation of both parties, taking into consideration the interests of all the constituent parts of Indonesia.

6. That provision be made for a suitable period of not less than six months nor more than one year after the signing of the agreement during which time uncoerced and free discussion and consideration of vital issues will proceed; at the end of this period free elections will be held for self-determination by the people of their political relationship to the United States of Indonesia.

7. That a constitutional convention be chosen according to democratic procedure to draft a constitution for the United States of Indonesia.

8. It is understood that if, after signing the agreement referred to in item 1, either party should ask the United Nations to provide an agency to observe conditions at any time up to the point at which sovereignty is transferred from the Government of the Netherlands to the Government of the United States of Indonesia, the other party will take this request in serious consideration. The following four principles are taken from the Linggadjati Agreement:

9.Independence for the Indonesian peoples.

10. Co-operation between the peoples of the Netherlands and Indonesia.

11. A sovereign State on a federal basis under a constitution which will be arrived at by democratic processes.

12. A union between the United States of Indonesia and other parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands under the King of the Netherlands.

B Six Additional Principles Submitted by the Committee of Good Offices and accepted by the Parties on January 19, 1948:

1. Sovereignty throughout the Netherlands Indies is and shall remain with the Kingdom of the Netherlands until, after a stated interval, the Kingdom of the Netherlands transfers its sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia. Prior to the termination of such stated interval the Kingdom of the Netherlands may confer appropriate rights, duties and responsibilities on a provisional federal Government of the territories of the future United States of Indonesia. The United States of Indonesia, when created, will be a sovereign and independent State in equal partnership with the Kingdom of the Netherlands in a Netherlands Indonesian Union, at the head of which shall be the King of the Netherlands. The status of the Republic of Indonesia will be that of a State within the United States of Indonesia.

2. In any provisional federal Government created prior to the ratification of the constitution of the future United States of Indonesia, all States will be offered fair representation.

3. Prior to the dissolution of the Committee of Good Offices, either party may request that the services of the Committee be continued to assist in adjusting differences between the parties which relate to the political agreement and which may arise during the interim period. The other party will interpose no objection to such a request. This request would be brought to the attention of the Security Council of the United Nations by the Government of the Netherlands.

4. Within a period of not less than six months or more than one year from the signing of this agreement, a plebiscite will be held to determine whether the populations of the various territories of Java, Madura and Sumatra wish their territory to form part of the Republic of Indonesia or another State within the United States of Indonesia, such plebiscite to be conducted under observation by the Committee of Good Offices, should either party in accordance with the procedure set forth in paragraph 3 above request the services of the Committee in this capacity. The parties may agree that another method for ascertaining the will of the populations may be employed in place of a plebiscite.

5. Following the delineation of the States in accordance with the procedure set forth in paragraph 4 above, a constitutional convention will be convened through democratic procedures to draft a constitution for the United States of Indonesia. The representation of the various States in the convention will be in proportion to their populations.

6. Should any State decide not to ratify the constitution and desire, in accordance with the principles of Articles 3 and 4 of the Linggadjati Agreement, to negotiate a special relationship with the United States of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, neither party will object.

Context and Outcome

To understand the Dutch stand adopted during the Renville and other subsequent discussions, it would also be useful to examine the position of the United States on the Indonesia Question. As the leading power at that time and certainly the most important member of the GOC (UN Good Offices Committee), the views of the United States were eagerly sought by the Dutch (and also the Republicans). Given a choice between the United Nations and the United States, Van Mook would certainly have chosen the latter. Reference has already been made to Van Mook’s preparedness to accept American intervention before the First Police Action. The policy pursued by the United States, however, was ambivalent in some respects. It did not want to support a colonial restoration in Indonesia…. At the same time … the United States gave the impression that it did not want to see the Dutch position in Europe weakened through the loss of political control over Indonesia. It also did not want to see the Netherlands condemned in the United Nations for failing to cooperate with the GOC. Indeed the United States wanted to keep the Indonesia dispute out of the Security Council …. [T]he basically pro-Dutch stand of the United States must be kept in the background as a possible explanation of the Dutch intransigence in acceding to the GOC proposals in negotiations.

Van Mook’s negotiating strategy at the Renville talks was to separate the ceasefire problems from the political discussions. The former should be settled first before political negotiations could begin. This was in keeping with Van Mook’s long-held view that insecurity was not conducive to political talks. However this position was unacceptable to the Republic which wanted simultaneous discussions on the two issues.

The negotiations on the Renville were also not helped by the [Netherlands’] delegation’s attitude that the Security Council’s resolutions of 1 August 1947 (calling for a ceasefire) and of 1 November 1947 (calling for no further extension of control of territory) only imposed a moral obligation on the parties to obey. The Netherlands delegation felt the Dutch also had a moral obligation to provide security to the inhabitants of Indonesia in the course of which certain military operations were essential. If a choice was to he made, the latter obligation was more important…. When the GOC made ceasefire proposals, these were invariably accepted by the Republican delegation without reservation. The Netherlands delegation too did not reject the proposals but would call for clarifications over “vague terminology .”…However, even the Netherlands delegation admitted that the acceptance by the Republic of some GOC ceasefire proposals without comment resulted in the awkward position that the Netherlands delegation was in fact not negotiating with the Republic but with the GOC.

When political discussions began, the GOC adopted the method of trying to solve the dispute arising over the interpretations of the Linggadjati Agreement. As the Dutch delegation gave an article by article explanation of the agreement, it became clear that there was little point in going further in the discussions for the differences between the Republican and Netherlands interpretations were just as wide as before….

In contrast to the Dutch, the Republican delegation appeared to be very certain of what it wanted out of the Renville talks: (a) de jure recognition of the Republic’s control over Java, Sumatra and Madoera (b) withdrawal of Dutch troops and (c) any eventual agreement to be subject to international control….

The result of the deadlock in negotiations prompted the GOC to initiate fresh proposals. This was the genesis of the “Christmas message” of 25 December 1947. The contents of the message were in two parts. The first part dealt with the ceasefire proposals: there was to be an immediate stand fast and ceasefire order along the Van Mook line which was the extreme limit to which Dutch forces had advanced on 4 August 1947 when the ceasefire came into effect. It also came to be called the Status Quo Line (or SQL). Demilitarised zones would then be established with the help of the GOC. Trade and intercourse between all areas should resume as soon as possible. All forces on the other party’s side of the demilitarised zone or in the zone itself should move peacefully back to their own side of the zone.

The political principles (listed in Annex 11 of the “Christmas message) consisted of eight points:

1.The GOC would assist in reaching a political settlement for Java, Madoera and Sumatra.

2.The process of state organization then going on was to cease forthwith.

3.Within three months of the signing of the political agreement, the civil administrations existing on 20 July 1947 should be restored. Dutch troops would be withdrawn to positions held on that date.

4.Both sides would reduce their armed forces after the signing of the political agreement.

5.Normal economic activity and relationship would be resumed.

6.Provision would be made for a suitable period (six to twelve months after the signing of the political agreement) for uncoerced discussions of vital issues, after which free elections would be held to enable the people to determine their political relationship to the Republic and the USI.

7.A constitutional convention chosen by democratic means would be called to draft a constitution for the USI.

8.A United Nations agency would continue to supervise matters in Indonesia till the formation of the USI.

Both the Republican and Netherlands delegations were not pleased with the “Christmas message”. The Republic was unhappy that the ceasefire would be based on the Van Mook line. There were fears that the political agreement would only be concluded long after the ceasefire was accepted which would mean that the Dutch would not be required to withdraw their troops to positions held on 20 July yet.

The Dutch objections centred on the second and third points in Annex II: the prohibition to form states was certainly not acceptable while the prospect of having to withdraw to the positions held on 20 July was not calculated to win Dutch support for the “Christmas message”. The ceasefire proposals were generally acceptable.

The effect of the “Christmas message” was to cause the Netherlands delegation to issue a set of counterproposals of twelve points on New Year’s Day 1948 at a meeting of the GOC, Van Mook and the Netherlands delegation. These twelve points included the eight political principles of Annex II of the “Christmas message” plus four other principles. However, of the original eight political principles, four were significantly revised. They were the second, third, sixth and eighth principles. The second was rewritten to permit the continued establishment of federal states. The third was redrafted to include the proviso that any changes in the administration would be made only when security was ensured. The original sixth principle of Annex II had provided for free elections to enable the people to determine their relationship to the Republic and the USI. This was revised to read that the people could determine their relationship to the USI but no reference was made to the Republic. Obviously the Dutch were not willing to allow the people to decide whether they wanted to join the Republic. The original eighth principle in Annex II provided for the acceptance of an agency of supervision from the United Nations. In the revised form submitted on 1 January 1948, the Netherlands delegation merely stated that a request for such an agency by the other party would be taken into “serious consideration” by the Dutch.

The remaining four principles were drawn from the Linggadjati Agreement. They were:

9.Independence for the Indonesian peoples.

10. Cooperation between the peoples of the Netherlands and Indonesia.

11.A sovereign state on a federal basis under a constitution which would be arrived at by democratic processes.

12. An union between the USI and other parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands under the Crown of the Netherlands.

Nowhere in the twelve principles was there any explicit mention of the Republic of Indonesia. Beel who was present when the twelve principles were handed over also informed Van Zeeland that the principles could not be further discussed and the Republic could “take it or leave it”.

The twelve principles were then forwarded to the Republic for its consideration. While that was taking place, other events were occurring that had an effect on the final outcome of the Renville discussions. For one, the United States Government was keen to moderate the twelve principles to make their acceptance easier for the Republic….

To help the Republic accept the twelve principles that the Netherlands delegation handed to the Republic on 1 January 1948, the State Department drew up seven additional points that were of considerable advantage to the Dutch and yet met Republican demands to some extent.

In the first additional point, it was clearly stated that the Republic would be a negara in the proposed USI. Sovereignty in the Netherlands East Indies would remain with the Netherlands until it was transferred to the USI after a specified interval. The Netherlands would retain the right to confer responsibilities on a provisional interim government as it deemed fit. When created, the USI would be sovereign and equal to the Netherlands. Never before had the position of Netherlands sovereignty been so clearly stated. This was the clause that sold all the other six points to the Netherlands.

The second additional point favoured the Republic vaguely. It provided for “fair representation” of all states within the future USI in the provisional interim government.

The third additional point stipulated that before the GOC was wound up, its services might be requested by either party to assist in adjusting difficulties during the interim period. Such a request would be placed by the Netherlands before the Security Council. This point met the insistence of the Republic for United Nations supervision but it was pointed out by the State Department that it also was a guarantee against possible truce violations by the Republic.

The fourth additional point was less favourable to the Netherlands. It provided for the holding of free elections and plebiscites not less than six months and not more than one year after signing the political agreement to determine the political affiliation of states and territories with regard to the Republic. Here the State Department was trying to restore (through the back door as it were) the sixth point of Annex II of the “Christmas message” which provided for the opportunity for the people of Indonesia to define their relationship with the Republic but which was ignored by the Netherlands when submitting its twelve political principles.

The fifth additional point provided for the calling of a constitutional convention to draft the constitution of the USI. The states would be represented in the convention in proportion to their population. This would still mean that the rump Republic with its 19 million population would have the largest delegation although Pasoendan with its 13.5 million would not be far behind.

The sixth additional point stipulated that the constitution was to provide for a bicameral legislature for the USI as in the United States. This point was later deleted as its adoption would have prejudiced the right of the convention (mentioned in the fifth additional point) to decide on a constitution of its own. The seventh then became the sixth point.

The seventh and last additional point provided the right for any state which did not wish to ratify the constitution and he a co-member of the USI to negotiate a special relationship with the Netherlands. This was simply a reaffirmation of Articles 3 and 4 of the Linggadjati Agreement.

The seven additional points were presented to the Dutch on 9 January 1948. [The] State Department officials applied a little arm twisting. Marshall Aid plans for the Netherlands would be discussed on 14 January and Netherlands acceptance of the seven points would strengthen the Dutch case. However, State Department officials also made clear that this was not to be considered as pressure on the Netherlands government. (Certainly the stakes involved in Marshall Aid were too important to make that financial assistance dependent on Dutch acceptance of the seven additional points.) Nevertheless, their non-acceptance would give rise to “further bickering”.

Consultations were held during 9-11 January. Van Mook suggested some changes. In the first additional point, he proposed the inclusion of the participation of the USI in a Netherlands-Indonesia Union under the Dutch crown. He had some reservations about the plebiscite and continued involvement of the United Nations. There was also no reference in all the seven points to defence, internal security and economic and financial matters. However, he recommended acceptance the seven additional points because the first point stated very clearly the sovereignty of the Netherlands over Indonesia…. It was understood that international supervision of the plebiscites (the fourth additional point) was not unconditionally mandatory but dependent on the request of one of the parties. The plebiscites were also to be limited to Java, Madoera and Sumatra. It was also made clear to Graham that the second additional point (providing for “fair representation” of all states within the future USI in the provisional interim government) would become operative after the signing of the political agreement envisaged in the additional points of the State Department. Also the Dutch made clear that the sixth additional point (formerly the seventh) would not prejudice the number of component states in the future USI.  With all these understandings, the Netherlands delegation accepted the six additional points….

On 11 January, the GOC flew to Kalioerang (near Djogjakarta) to meet Soekarno and Prime Minister Sjarifoeddin. Of the discussions held there, the most important was the meeting of 13 January at which the GOC interpreted the six additional points in such a way that it eliminated all the value that the Netherlands delegation had attached to them. The interpretation of the first additional point naturally attracted most attention. Sjarifoeddin asked what would be the status of the Republic prior to the ratification of the constitution of the USI. Graham replied that whatever the status possessed by the Republic, that status was not affected by its acceptance of the six additional points. This in effect meant that the Republic could continue as before. Van Zeeland was also reported to have said that acceptance by the Republic of the first additional point had no bearing “whatsoever” on the status of the Republic it already had.

On the third additional point (acceptance of United Nations supervision till the creation of the USI), the GOC noted that the Netherlands was committed before the world to accept the continuance of international good offices.

On the fourth additional point (the holding of plebiscites), Graham stated that there would be freedom of assembly, speech and the press because the GOC presumed that military forces would have been reduced and he personally hoped they would have been withdrawn.

All three GOC members also agreed that there was nothing in the six additional points to suggest that the Republic could not continue its present foreign relations during the interim period.

Like the Linggadjati Agreement, an elucidation was needed. However this time, it was for the Republic. Given the GOC explanations, there could not have been strong objections to the ceasefire proposals and the twelve principles of the Netherlands delegation submitted on 1 January. According to … the military adviser to the Republican negotiating team, the Republic decided to come to an agreement with the Dutch because of the prevailing belief that the GOC would guarantee its implementation without violence or the threat of violence by the Dutch. Also there was the “psychological pressure” on the pro-Republican groups in Batavia and Djogjakarta that an impasse in the negotiations would mean war. On 14 January, the Republic declared its readiness to sign an agreement. On 17 January, on board the Renville, the ceasefire proposals (of the “Chrismas message”) and the twelve principles were signed. Two days later, on 19 January, the six additional principles were also accepted.

The Netherlands delegation did not know of the content of the Kalioerang discussions. The minutes of those meetings were only handed to the delegation on 20 January, after the Renville agreement had been signed. This led the Dutch to suspect some kind of chicanery and the Netherlands government instructed its delegation to ignore the Kalioerang minutes….

The only success of the Renville agreement was seen in the withdrawal of 35,000 Republican combatants who were evacuated in February 1948. Prisoners were also released by each side. In all other aspects, the Renville agreement was not realised. Trade and normal relations across the SQL were not resumed. Indeed the GOC had the impression that both governments were eyeing each other across the SQL with “reserve and suspicion”. The “fair representation” of the Republic in the interim government was problematic: how the Republic would be fairly represented would not be known before it was clear how many states there would be in the USI. This would in turn depend on the plebiscites. The Republic, of course, wanted to retain its attributes of de facto sovereignty during the interim period while the Netherlands denied it had any. There was also disagreement over the power of the Netherlands-Indonesia Union. Discussions in The Hague led to proposals that the Union could participate in international relations and even be represented diplomatically. Van Mook himself could not understand how diplomatic representation was possible. There would also be a Union court which would act as arbitrator between persons and between states. In defence matters, it was even suggested that the Netherlands would help the USI in the event of war. The reverse would not be required but the USI would provide military bases for the Netherlands. Therefore although the Union might not be a superstate in name, it in fact was quite close to that.

The Netherlands also did not remove its naval blockade on the Republic. There was a complete prohibition of import of goods considered suitable for military purposes. Permits were needed for other items like machinery, instruments, steel in various forms, steel and copper wire, steel and iron pipes, oxygen, sulphur, asphalt, alcohol, vehicles, aircraft, means of transport, railway, railway material, telegraph, radio-telegraph and telephone material, fuels and lubricants and uniforms – in short, a complete prohibition of all essential goods for the Republic. Similarly permits were needed for almost the whole range of prevent smuggling of exports…. Movement by sea was also severely hampered.

The lack of progress in the post-Renville negotiations was also complicated by various events that soured Dutch-Indonesian relations…. Ali Boediardjo formed a Plebiscite Movement in Batavia to prepare for the coming plebiscites promised in the Renville agreement. The Plebiscite Movement was in part prompted by the Dutch determination to go ahead and organise the Third West Java Conference…. Van Mook was against the preparations for the plebiscites. In his view, plebiscites could only be held when security was restored.” All over West Java, meetings of the Plebiscite Movement were therefore prohibited.”

Quoted from Djajadiningrat, Idrus Nasir, The beginnings of the Indonesian-Dutch negotiations and the Hoge Veluwe talks (Cornell University. Modern Indonesia Project. Monograph series), Modern Indonesia Project, Southeast Asia Program, Dept. of Far Eastern Studies, Cornell University (1958), ASIN: B0007EG4B8 pp. 168-177


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