Indonesia's war for independence and the birth of UN peacekeeping by Peter Londey

Seventy years ago this month, on 27 December 1949, Indonesia became an independent state. Australia had played a notable diplomatic role in helping the Indonesians achieve independence from the Dutch colonialists, including in September 1947 despatching the very first United Nations (UN) peacekeepers to Java. This seminar will focus on the part played in the development of UN multinational peacekeeping by the peacekeepers themselves on the ground in Indonesia. Dr Peter Londey argues that, although often ignored by peacekeeping historians, the Indonesian operation was the true inception of UN peacekeeping, and that it is a good example of how change often develops organically from the periphery rather than managerially from the centre.

Until recently Dr Peter Londey taught in The Australian National University’s Centre for Classical Studies. Previously he worked as a historian at the Australian War Memorial, where he wrote the first history of Australian peacekeeping, Other People’s Wars (2004). He is also one of the authors of the recently published The Long Search for Peace, Volume 1 of The Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations.

Photograph courtesy of the Australian War Memorial: The Consular Commission meeting with Dutch officials in September 1947. Australian peacekeepers Chesterman and Dyke are at the rear, right. (AWM: P03531.003)

This War Studies Seminar (WSS) was held on 2 December 2019 at ANU. It was chaired by Dr Jean Bou, WSS series convenor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Coral Bell School, ANU.

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