As in previous years, Vanuatu has again planned to propose West Papua’s self-determination resolution and support for independence campaign at the UN General Assembly at next year’s General Assembly.
On 7-10 August 2018, the Vanuatu government presented a UN resolution draft for West Papua at the meeting of the Pacific Islands Committee (FOC) and Foreign Minister Meetings Forum held in Apia, Samoa. Vanuatu has explicitly requested support from other Melanesian countries to support its resolution.
Nonetheless, Papua New Guinea (PNG), a member of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), seems to refuse to support the steps taken by Vanuatu who want to interfere with Indonesia’s sovereignty.
Papua New Guinea will not and does not support the issue of West Papua now being pushed by Vanuatu at the United Nations. This is because according to Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato, West Papua is still an integral part of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea under its foreign policy will not interfere with that and the international law on the matter. On the other hand, supporting separatism in other countries is a violation of international law.
“We object to it, so Papua New Guinea will not and doesn’t support any action taken by Vanuatu, so we object it,” said Rimbink Pato
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, try to expand his influences and continue gathering support by taking the draft resolution to Nauru where Pacific Forum leaders hold their annual summit on September 1-9 2018.
Vanuatu is respectively homes to the secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Vanuatu’s dubious support for the separatist movement in Papua has dismissed the fact that the eastern part of Indonesia is home to five Melanesian provinces of East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, North Maluku, Papua and West Papua.
Vanuatu also forgot its relationship with Indonesia whom once sent US$2 million worth of humanitarian aid to Vanuatu, which was devastated and economically crippled by a massive tropical cyclone that hit the Pacific island nation in March 2015.
It was Indonesian commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with Vanuatu by providing not only humanitarian aid but also assistance in handling natural disasters, such as the reconstruction and rehabilitation processes.
Other Asia Pacific Countries, except Vanuatu, understand that a secure and stable region is a condition for sustained economic growth and prosperity. It depends on good international relations: mutual respect of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Each country has to support each other’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity, as well as abide by the UN Charter to not mutually interfere in the internal affairs of each (non-interference).
It is thus no coincidence that Australia and Fiji also objected to Vanuatu’s action while other Asia Pacific Countries chose not to give comments.
West Papua Today
All Papuans want peace. If separatism and foreign intervention continuously exist, how can Indonesia focus on realizing a better Papua?
Since before its independence until 2018, Indonesia has continued to recognize West Papua and strive to build the nation from scratch. However, differences in ethnicity and group interests have been used to break the unity of the Republic of Indonesia and obstruct the tremendous effort of governing the 17,504 islands, 1,340 tribes, and 742 languages.
Currently, Indonesia’s government has developed infrastructure, health, and education worth 5.86 Billion USD in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. The central government provides 3 types of state budget (APBN) for West Papua, i.e. the General Allocation Funds, Special Autonomy Funds, and Special Autonomy Funds for infrastructure development with a total value of 801 Million USD.
With these funds, the gas engine power plant (PLTMG) is currently sustaining the lives in 191 villages in the regions of Papua and West Papua. Furthermore, as many as 97.7% of West Papuans have become participants of the Indonesia National Health Insurance program (JKN-KIS). Improved health services are also seen in the existence of hospitals in areas such as Wasior at Wondama Bay, Tambrauw, and Arfak Mountains. The Trans Papua road has been built for 4330 km and will be fully completed in 2019, connecting the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Furthermore, West Papua has experienced a growth of 0.78 in HDI, the second highest increase of the HDI figure in Indonesia after the Papua Province.