Timeline of UN Presence in Timor-Leste

As peace is back in Timor-Leste, its’ people have more chances in their lives. Some start new businesses, others decide to rely on themselves only and choose the Brit Method. Either way we’re happy that the country is back on the right track.

1960 – “Timor and dependencies” are added to the United Nations’ list of non-self-governing territories. East Timor is administered by Portugal as an overseas province.

1974 – Portugal acknowledges the applicability of the United Nations Charter provisions regarding non-self-governing territories and the right of the colonial territories under its administration, including East Timor, to self-determination, including independence.

1975 – Violent clashes erupt between groups favouring independence and those favouring integration with Indonesia. Portugal withdraws from East Timor and Indonesia invades.

1976 – Indonesia annexes East Timor as its 27th province. The United Nations never recognizes this integration.

1982 – The UN Secretary-General begins informal consultations with the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal in an attempt to resolve East Timor’s status.

June 1998 – Indonesia’s President BJ Habibie proposes autonomy for East Timor on condition that the territory accepts integration into Indonesia. The proposal is rejected by East Timorese resistance leaders.

August to October 1998 – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Portugal hold in-depth discussions on Indonesia’s proposals for a special status based on wide ranging autonomy for East Timor.

27 January 1999 – In a public statement, Indonesia’s President Habibie indicates that his Government might be prepared to consider independence for East Timor. Talks begin at UN Headquarters in New York.

11 March 1999 – In tripartite talks between the UN, Indonesia and Portugal in New York, agreement is reached on the use of a direct ballot, which would allow East Timorese to either accept or reject the autonomy proposal.

5 May 1999 – Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations concluded a historic set of agreements intended to resolve the long-standing issue of Timor-Leste. Under the 5 May Agreements, the UN Secretary-General was requested to determine, through a Popular Consultation, whether the people of this territory would accept or reject a proposed special autonomy for Timor-Leste within the unitary of Indonesia.

1 June 1999 – The newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor, Ian Martin, arrives in Dili.

11 June 1999 – The UN Security Council established the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), which was charged with organizing and conducting the Popular Consultation. It registered 451,792 voters in the country and abroad, in a registration process which the Electoral Commission, a body composed of three independent commissioners, deemed to be a sound basis for conducting the consultation.

23 June 1999 – Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, decides to delay the vote in Timor by two weeks because of unabated violence and logistical problems. As a result, the registration process is delayed until 13 July to allow more time for the deployment of UN staff throughout the Territory as well as to give Indonesia extra time to address the pending security concerns.

5 August 1999 – Voter registration closes.

26 August 1999 – The Security Council extends the mandate of UNAMET until 30 November 1999.

29 August 1999 – One the eve of the Popular Consultation, the Secretary-General issues an appeal to the people of East Timor, calling on all sides to “live up to their responsibilities before history”.

30 August 1999 – Labelled a “show of courage and determination”, the people of Timor-Leste turned out in massive numbers to vote in the Popular Consultation. UNAMET announces that at least 95 per cent of registered voters – a total of more than 430,000 – cast their ballots in the Popular Consultation.

3 September 1999 – The result of the vote of the Popular Consultation in Timor-Leste is announced. An overwhelming 78.5 per cent (344,580) of the population voted in favour of independence, whilst 21.5 per cent (94,388) preferring autonomy. Following the announcement of the result, pro-integration militias launch a campaign of violence, looting and arson throughout the Territory.

The UN Security Council calls on the Government of Indonesia to take urgent steps and prevent further violence in accordance with its responsibility for maintaining peace and security under the Agreements of 5 May. Many East Timorese were killed in the violence and an estimated 500,000 of the Territory’s 800,000 population were forced from their homes. Nearly all infrastructure was either damaged or completely destroyed. UNAMET undertook a partial evacuation of both its international local staff, including their immediate families, to Australia.

5 September 1999 – The UN Secretary-General seeks urgent action by Indonesia to quell the violence within a certain time frame or secure the Indonesian Government’s agreement to urgently deploy an international security force.

10 September 1999 – As lawlessness increases in East Timor, militia members threaten to invade the UN compound in the capital Dili. Again, the Secretary-General urges the Indonesian Government to accept the offer of assistance from several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Malaysia, “without further delay”. Kofi Annan stated that if the Government of Indonesia refuses to act, it cannot escape the responsibility for “what could amount, according to reports reaching us, to crimes against humanity”.

12 September 1999 – Following the visit by a Security Council mission dispatched to Jakarta and Dili, the Government of Indonesia agreed to accept the offer of assistance from the international community. The Security Council authorizes a multinational force (INTERFET) to be sent to East Timor, under a unified command structure headed by Australia.

INTERFET was charged with restoring peace and security in East Timor, to protect and support UNAMET in carrying out its tasks, and within force capabilities, facilitate humanitarian assistance operations. At this time, the organizations of the United Nations system began a large-scale emergency humanitarian relief effort, including air-drops of food, aid convoys and the provision of shelter and other basic services. Increased attention was also being given to the voluntary repatriation of an estimated 250,000 East Timorese from West Timor and other areas in Indonesia and the region.

28 September 1999 – At a meeting at UN Headquarters, Indonesia and Portugal reiterate their commitment for the transfer of authority in East Timor to the United Nations. They also agree that ad hoc measures are required to fill the gap created by the early departure of the 8,000 Indonesian civil servants, who occupied all senior and middle management positions in East Timor.

19 October 1999 – The Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly formally recognizes the result of the Popular Consultation.

25 October 1999 – Through resolution 1272, the UN Security Council establishes the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) as an integrated, multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence.

UNTAET consisted of three main components: governance and public administration; civilian police of up to 1,640 officers and an armed UN peacekeeping force of 8,950 troops and 200 military observers; and humanitarian assistance and emergency rehabilitation.

27 October 1999 – To finance the relief effort, a Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for US$199-million was launched.

1 November 1999 – The last Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) leave East Timor.

17 November 1999 – The newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor and Transitional Administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, takes his duties.

22 November 1999 – SRSG Vieira de Mello travels to West Timor to witness the signing of an agreement between INTERFET and the Indonesian Armed Forces aimed at fast tracking the return of refugees from West Timor. UNHCR reports that despite continued threat and harassment by the militia, more than 90,000 refugees have returned home to East Timor.

2 December 1999 – The SRSG establishes the National Consultative Council (NCC), a political body consisting of 11 East Timorese and four UNTAET members charged with overseeing the decision-making process during the transition period leading to independence.

17 December 1999 – A United Nations donor conference is held in Tokyo and some US$500 is pledged by Member States to help rebuild East Timor.

17 February 2000 – The UN Secretary-General arrives in East Timor for a two-day visit.

23 February 2000 – Marking the complete deployment of UNTAET, command of military operations is transferred from INTERFET to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.

29 February 2000 – Indonesia’s President, Abdurrahman Wahid, visits East Timor.

11 April 2000 – UNTAET and the Commander of the Indonesian army in West Timor sign a Memorandum of Understanding covering security, boundary crossing, the passage of refugees and the provision of humanitarian assistance along the border between East and West Timor.

20 June 2000 – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other aid organizations suspend activities in three camps in West Timor following threats and intimidation against staff by militia groups.

21 June 2000 – UNTAET and the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT) reach agreement on a new composition and structure for the NCC. The newly expanded NCC will have 33 members. The members include 13 representatives from the districts, seven from CNRT and three representatives from other political parties.

12 July 2000 – The NCC adopts a regulation establishing a Transitional Cabinet comprised of four East Timorese and four UNTAET representatives.

12 July 2000 – The first 50 graduates of East Timor’s Police Training College officially take up their functions as police officers.

27 July 2000 – The UN suffers its first combat-related death of a UN peacekeeper in East Timor. A soldier from UNTAET’s New Zealand contingent is killed during an exchange of gunfire with an armed group near the border of West Timor.

10 August 2000 – A second UN peacekeeper is killed. A soldier from UNTAET’s Nepalese contingent is killed during an exchange of fire with militia in Suai, close to the border with West Timor.

6 September 2000 – Three employees of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) are killed by pro-Indonesian militia gangs in Atambua, West Timor. Following the attack, the UN decides to evacuate all staff from West Timor and suspends all humanitarian efforts in the region.

8 September 2000 – The UN Security Council responds to the deteriorating security situation in West Timor by adopting resolution 1319 and calling on Indonesia to take immediate steps to disarm and disband militia immediately.

12 September 2000 – The East Timor Transitional Cabinet approves the creation of an East Timor Defence Force consisting of 1500 troops drawn from the ranks for the former pro-independence guerilla force FALINTIL and supplemented by a reserve of equal number.

11 December 2000 – The first indictment containing charges of “crimes against humanity” committed in East Timor is filed.

13 December 2000 – The East Timor Transitional Cabinet agrees to a proposal to establish a Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation.

31 January 2001 – The UN Security Council extends of the mandate of UNTAET until 31 January 2002.

16 March 2001 – The SRSG announces that the first democratic election in East Timor will be held on 30 August 2001 after the signing the Regulation on the Election of a Constituent Assembly.

4 May 2001 – The North Jakarta District Court sentences six men to between 10 and 20 months in jail for their roles in the killings of three UNHCR staff in Atambua, West Timor in September 2000. Kofi Annan is angered by the light sentences handed out and calls them “a wholly unacceptable response”.

3 July 2001 – A milestone was reached when representatives of the Transitional Administration and Australia initialed the Timor Sea Arrangement. The Agreement gives East Timor 90 per cent of the revenues from the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

30 August 2001 – A staggering 91 per cent of the electorate voted to elect a Constituent Assembly. Twenty seven per cent of the 88-member Constituent Assembly is made up of women. The Constituent Assembly was charged with producing a new Constitution.

6 September 2001– Fretilin is declared the winning party with 57.3 per cent of the vote in East Timor’s Constituent Assembly elections.

20 September 2001 – Twenty-four members of the new East Timorese Council of Ministers of the Second Transitional Government are sworn into office. The new Council replaces the Transitional Cabinet created in 2000.

31 January 2002 – The Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1392 extending the mandate of UNTAET until 20 May 2002.

22 March 2002 – East Timor’s Constituent Assembly signs into force the Territory’s first Constitution.

14 April 2002 – Former guerilla fighter and independence leader, Xanana Gusmão, becomes the first president-elect of Timor-Leste after a landslide victory. Mr Gusmão received 82.7 per cent of the 378,548 ballots cast in the election. His opponent, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, gained just 17.3 per cent of the votes.

17 May 2002 – The UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1410 calling for the United Missions in Support of East Timor (UNMISET) – a successor mission – to be deployed in Timor-Leste following the end of UNTAET’s mandate.

20 May 2002 – East Timor is independent. The United Nations formally handed over administration to the democratically elected government.

In a ceremony attended by tens of thousands of East Timorese as well as high-level representatives from some 90 countries, the United Nations, which helped to steer this small island nation to statehood, handed over administration to the newly democratically elected government. After more than 400 years of occupation, Timor-Leste finally became independent. Xanana Gusmão, the landslide winner of the 14 April Presidential election, would head this newly independent nation.

20 May 2002 – Timor-Leste swears in its first government and holds an inaugural session of Parliament. East Timor has an official change of name. This new country will now be known as Timor-Leste.

20 May 2002 – UNMISET was established for an initial period of 12-months with the mandate of providing assistance to core administrative structures critical to the viability and political stability of Timor-Leste; to provide interim law enforcement and public security as well as to assist in development Timor-Leste’s police service; and contribute to the maintenance of the new country’s external and internal security. UNMISET was to be headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste, Mr Kamalesh Sharma (India).

31 May 2002 – UNMISET hands over control of Timor’s public radio and television to the Government.

14 June 2002 – The UN Secretary-General appoints Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa as his Deputy Special Representative in Timor-Leste.

27 September 2002 – More than three years after the Timorese people voted to begin the process of independence from Indonesia, the United Nations General Assembly admits Timor-Leste as the youngest and 191st Member State of the UN.

4 December 2002 – UN troops and police called in to restore peace order in the capital Dili following a violent demonstration involving more than 600 people. One student died and stores and hotels were looted and burnt down.

9 May 2003 – The Security Council extends the mandate of UNMISET for another year until 20 May 2004.

20 May 2003 – Timor-Leste celebrates its first anniversary of independence.

23 June 2003 – Sandra Peisley – the first female UN Police Commissioner – assumes her functions in Timor-Leste.

16 September 2003 – UN Police (UNPOL) handover policing responsibilities to Timor-Leste’s national police force, Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL), in Baucau. Baucau is the 12th district to be handed over from UNPOL to PNTL. Only Dili District remains under UNPOL.

10 December 2003 – Human Rights Day and UNPOL handover responsibility for day-to-day policing in Dili District to PNTL. Dili District is the 13th and last district to be handed over to PNTL, who now have complete responsibility for general policing throughout the country.

14 May 2004 – The Security Council decides unanimously to extend the mandate of UNMISET for another six months. Security Council resolution 1453 also stipulates a reduction in the size of the mission, greater emphasis on training and advisory services, as well as a phasing of UNMISET by May 2005.

19 May 2004 – UNMISET hands over all policing and external security to the Government of Timor-Leste.

24 May 2004 – UN Secretary-General names Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Support of East Timor.

11 July 2004 – The first census of Timor-Leste is carried out under the guidance of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

23 August 2004 – UN Secretary-General calls on Member States to ensure that the 279 people, who were indicted for their involvement in the violence that struck Timor after the Popular Consultation and who are living outside of the country, are not given impunity.

23 August 2004 – UN Secretary-General commends Timor-Leste on significant progress made towards self-sufficiency in administration and security but tells international community that further assistance is needed.

September 2004 – The Governments of Timor-Leste and Australia to begin negotiations on delimiting a maritime border concerning oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea.

14 September 2004 – results from Timor-Leste’s first census are released. The country’s total population stands at 924,642.