To Avoid Deadly Violence in Papua, Council Commission Urges Immediate implementation of Special Autonomy Plan by Indonesian Government
from Center for Preventive Action and Indonesia Commission: Peace and Progress in Papua

To Avoid Deadly Violence in Papua, Council Commission Urges Immediate implementation of Special Autonomy Plan by Indonesian Government

May 7, 2003 11:15 am (EST)

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New York, May 7, 2003 - There is only one way to avoid conflict in the remote and impoverished, yet resource-rich, Indonesian province of Papua: Give it greater self-governance and a stake in the development of its vast natural wealth. Failure to prevent conflict in Papua would likely cause a spiral of deadly violence destabilizing Indonesia.

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This is the central conclusion of the Council’s Indonesia Commission: Peace and Progress in Papua. Chaired by Admiral Dennis C. Blair, former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Command, the Commission recommends concrete steps international stakeholders can take to encourage full and effective implementation of the Special Autonomy Law.

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The key to peace and progress in Papua, the Commission argues, is immediate implementation of the “Special Autonomy Law,” which promises substantial portions of the province’s wealth to Papuans. Enacted by the Indonesian authorities, it was never put into force.

“Worsening conditions in Papua could catalyze bloody ethnic, religious, and separatist conflict across the country and beyond,” said Council President Leslie H. Gelb. “Nobody wants events to result in a military crackdown and demands for humanitarian intervention. The Commission’s report goes a long way toward preventing that kind of conflict.”

“Power-sharing represents a win-win situation. Special Autonomy preserves Indonesia’s territorial integrity while advancing the needs of Papuans,” asserts David L. Phillips, director of the Commission. “The report identifies a pro-active role for the international community via new mechanisms for donor and policy coordination.”

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In particular, the Commission recommends that:

  • The Indonesian government accelerate full implementation of the Special Autonomy Law instead of dividing Papua into three provinces, as is currently being discussed.

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  • International stakeholders, including the World Bank, UN Development Program, and the Japanese government launch a “Preventive Development Program” for Papua linking donor contributions with conflict prevention strategies.

  • International businesses profiting from the development of Papua’s energy and mineral resources engage more ethnic Papuans and help combat corruption by disclosing payments to the government.

The Indonesia Commission is an initiative of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA), a conflict prevention program that promotes measures to avert deadly conflicts.

Established in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank, dedicated to increasing America’s understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy. The Council accomplishes this mainly by promoting constructive debates and discussions, clarifying world issues, and publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on global issues.


Dennis C. Blair, Chairman of the Indonesia Commission, is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses and an adjunct Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a retired Admiral, United States Navy, and the former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Command.

Patrick M. Byrne is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of He is also the owner of High Plains Investments LLC.

Nat J. Colletta teaches at the Elliot School for International Affairs at George Washington. He was the Founding Manager of the World Bank’s post conflict unit and senior spokesperson for the World Bank on reconstruction and peace-building in post conflict societies.

Rauf Diwan is a Managing Director of Emerging Markets Partnership (EMP) and CEO of AIG Asian Infrastructure Fund (May 2003). Diwan previously served as Director of the Global Power Department, and headed the East Asia Division of the International Finance Corporation.

Bennett Freeman is Principal of Sustainable Investment Strategies. Previously he served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (1999-2001).

Joachim Gfoeller Jr. co-founded GMG’s predecessor fund, GMS Capital Partners LP, in 1997 and serves as its Managing General Partner.

Brigham M. Golden is currently completing a doctoral thesis about Freeport Indonesia in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. He spent six of the last eleven years in Indonesia, much of that time in Papua.

Robert F. Grealy is the Director of International Relations Asia-Pacific at J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. Mr. Grealy serves on the Board of Directors of the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.

Charles Gregory is Director of Schools Management at International Schools Services, a Princeton-based nonprofit provider of educational services to international schools and multinational corporations.

Janine W. Hill is Associate Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sidney R. Jones, before joining the International Crisis Group as its Indonesia Project Director, was Executive Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch from 1989 to 2002.

Jonathan E. Levitsky is an attorney with the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City. He previously served as Counselor to Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke at the U.S. Mission to the UN, as a Member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff.

Randolph Martin is a former Senior Director for Operations for the International Rescue Committee and Coordinator for CARDI, a four-member Euro-American NGO consortium providing humanitarian and re-integration programming in Indonesia.

Ann Marie Murphy is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and a Research Scholar at the East Asian Institute of Columbia University.

William L. Nash is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Martin D. Peatross is a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and currently a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

David L. Phillips is a Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Joseph Saunders is the Deputy Program Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Adam Schwarz is a Consultant with McKinsey & Company and is currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Calvin G. Sims is a Foreign Correspondent for The New York Times Television Documentaries and a visiting professor of journalism at Princeton University.

Nancy Soderberg is Vice-President for Multilateral Affairs of the International Crisis Group. She previously served as Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and as U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations.

Gordon R. Sullivan is the President of the Association of the United States Army. He is formerly Army Chief of Staff (1991-1995).

Paul Van Zyl is Director of the Country Programs Unit at the International Center for Transitional Justice and teaches law at the law schools of both Columbia University and New York University.

Contact: Marie X. Strauss, Communications, (212) 434-9536


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