Paul Budde's History Archives

Renville Agreement

As a result of the UNGOC negotiations a new conference was organised which took place January 17th 1948 on the US ship Renville in the Bay of Batavia and the outcome became known as the Renville Agreement with rectified the collapsed Linggadjati Agreement.

The key element of the agreement was that Dutch sovereignty would continue until transferred to the United States of Indonesia, with the Republic of Indonesia a component of it; fair representation for each component of the provisional federal state in its government; a referendum within six months to ask people if they wanted their region to the Republic of Indonesia or the United States of Indonesia and a constitutional convention to draw up a constitution. Furthermore, any state would be free to not join the Republik.

It was ratified for the Netherlands by Colonel Abdulkadir Widjojoatmodjo, an Indonesian (Indo) civil service official, who later became the deputy of Jhr Heinrich van Vredenburch[1] who led further Dutch-Indonesian independence negotiations.

Mutual distrust between the Netherlands and the Republik continued. While the negotiations took place in the running up to the Renville conference,  a military action was launched on 9 December 1947 where Dutch troops massacred over 400 hundred civilians, mainly men, in the village of Rawagede in West Java[2].

There was strong opposition from the left – the Communist Party – in Indonesia, who saw the agreement as increased influence from the USA. In February 1948, shortly after the agreement was signed the Siliwangi Division (35,000 men) of the Republican Army, led by Nasution, broke the ceasefire line and marched from West Java to Central Java. The Dutch leadership saw itself increasingly losing control.

Further negotiations took place which led to the so-called Du Bois-Critchley Plan[3] (named after the US representative Coert du Bois and the Australian representative Tom Critchley[4] ). 

This plan offered further detailed suggestions for the principles of a political agreement between the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia which would provide the basis for the formation of a sovereign United States of Indonesia in equal partnership with the Kingdom of the Netherlands in a Netherlands-Indonesian Union.

However, six months after the Renville Agreement had been signed, the Committee reported that it had been unable to get the warring parties to agree on its implementation.

The main reason was for it was the great animosity in the Netherlands towards UNGOC as it supported a greater say for the ‘Indonesians’ in the development of their own future (full independence was at this stage still not on the agenda).

With lacklustre support from the Dutch its military command pressed on to continue the war in order to capture the rebel held city – and headquarters of the resistance –  Yogyakarta. The threat of communism was whipped up by the Dutch military as a key reason to continue the war against the Republik. It gained strong support from the ministers of the co-governing Catholic People’s Party (KVP) in the Netherlands. Their coalition partner, the Labour Party (PVDA) however, was opposed as it feared strong opposition from the UN Security Council. At the same time, they distrusted propaganda from the KNIL and the NEI government.


[1] Vredenburch, jhr. Heinrich Friedrich Ludwig Carl Rosarius Caspar Melchior Baltasar van (1905-1981) http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn2/vredenburch

[2] Rawagede massacre Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rawagede_massacre

[3] Du Bois and Critchley to Van Mook https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/historical-documents/Pages/volume-13/173-du-bois-and-critchley-to-van-mook.aspx

[4] Tom Critchley was an Australian public servant, diplomat, author and journalist. After World War II, Critchley joined the Department of External Affairs as the head of the economic relations section. His first diplomatic role with the department was assisting Australia’s representation of Indonesia against the Dutch during the Indonesian National Revolution. He was on the United Nations Commission for Indonesia between 1947 and 1950 and played a role securing Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch.