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Dr. Frank Porter Graham, former president of the University of North Carolina, made this statement at the opening session of the Committee of Good Offices on the Indonesian Question aboard the U.S.S. Renville, December 8, 1947.

The statement is presented here as part of a virtual exhibition on Frank Porter Graham’s role in negotiations for the recognition of Indonesian independence. See the homepage for the exhibition here. This statement has been pulled from the papers of Frank Porter Graham in the collection of Wilson Library, UNC, folder number 1983. It has been rendered here in searchable text to make it more accessible.


Mr. Chairman:

Our Committee at this first meeting together with the two delegations wishes to assure both governments that we are here to cooperate with both to the best of our limited function and ability. We are here to serve both parties. Good officers can fairly serve neither party unless they fairly sere the best interests of both parties. Gentlemen of the two delegations, the high responsibility to which you are called is mainly yours to make or not to make into a great opportunity for your peoples. We of the Committee bring no magic from Lake Success. We are not miracle workers. We are simple men. Yet we have faith in the miracles of the human spirit. Even in cynical times we have faith in men of faith, of goodwill, and of the staunch will not to fail in the high mission to which you are now called by the people of the world.

We gather with you here this morning on this neutral ship under the flags of Australia, Belgium, and the United States, with the acceptance of our good offices by the Governments of the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia, and under the auspices of the Security Council of the United Nations.

In the world today are several different areas of high tension between peoples which are the concern of the Security Council. The United Nations is concerned with these hot spots on the earth because they have a high potential for conflict which may transcend the tension of a region and threaten the peace of the world.

The dynamic economic interdependent framework, flung around this earth, which holds up the structure of the modern world catches up a local high tension, a national depression, or a regional conflict anywhere and involves human beings everywhere. The United Nations is organizing around this earth a corresponding political framework for conciliation, good offices and reconciliation, peaceful settlement of disputes, and insulation of the high potentials of the dynamic society of our modern world.

Not the least important of the areas of high potential is Indonesia, whose political aspirations for national freedom are caught up in the trends of an age, whose spiritual ties interconnect with two continents, and whose economic resources are desperately needed in a world of hunger and fear.

To transform this area of high potential for conflict, disorganization and destruction of life and property, into an area of high potential for peace themselves and the people of the world, is the responsibility of the delegations of the Government of the Netherlands and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, in which the Committee of Good Offices of the United Nations and the good ship Renville may have a hopeful and helpful part.

We are grateful to you, Captain Tyree, your gallant officers and men for bringing so promptly here the best available ship of the United States Navy in Asiatic waters. We know that for three weeks, Captain, you and your men have worked day and night to make this ship livable and serviceable for its new mission.

We welcome the Naval Attack Transport Renville, its officers and seamen, who in terrific and decisive battle carried the hard fighting the United States Marines ashore on the islands of the far Pacific. Less than three years ago this ship was breasting the hazards of the sores of Okinawa where brave men of the Navy, the Marines, the Army and the Air Forces combined in taking from brave men the last mighty stronghold, which guarded the gateway to Japan.

The Renville, now in another one of the hot spots of this earth, is on a mission of healing and good will among a great people on three historic islands between the seas with their faces lifted to the sun of a new day of freedom and cooperation in the relations of the people of Indonesia and the people of the Netherlands, we humbly pray to the God of us al, who “made of one blood all the peoples to dwell on the earth.”