Paul Budde's History Archives

Operation Product

With the diplomatic attempt now failed the Dutch Government decided to use military force to regain control over those parts of the archipelago that remained under the control of the Republik. The Dutch called this euphemistically ‘police actions’. As the KNIL estimated the resistance to be very limited they indicated that within a period of 3 to 6 months, they would be able to stop the guerrilla activities of ‘the enemy’. The first military operation known as ‘Operation Product” took place from 21nd July till the 5th of August 1947 – capturing rebel-held areas in Java and Sumatra, this was largely successful but resulted in a further radicalisation of the ’Indonesians’.

There was immediate international condemnation and on 30th of July, Australia referred the conflict to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), naming the Netherlands as the violators of the peace. Later, Australia raised the broader matter of Indonesia’s decolonisation in the United Nations. Two days later, the UNSC ordered a cease-fire and established a committee to broker a truce and a renewal of negotiations.

As a result, the Security Council passed a resolution proposed by the United States that it would tender its good offices to help resolve the Dutch-Indonesian dispute peacefully. This assistance would take the form of the United Nations Good Offices Committee Indonesia (UNGOC) made up of three representatives, one appointed by the Netherlands, one by Indonesia and a third agreed by both sides. The Dutch chose a representative from Belgium, Indonesia chose Australia, and both agreed on the US for the third member.

Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley offered to host the conference in Australia, which was accepted by the Republic, but declined by the Netherlands.

Dutch Colonial War