United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

East Timor

Timor-Leste  (Portuguese)
Timor Lorosa'e (Tetum)
Location of East Timor at the end of the Indonesian archipelago.
Location of East Timor at the end of the Indonesian archipelago.
StatusUnited Nations protectorate
Common languagesTetum
Transitional Administrator 
• 1999–2002
Sérgio Vieira de Mello
Chief Minister 
• 2001–2002
Mari Alkatiri
25 October 1999
20 May 2002
CurrencyUnited States dollar
ISO 3166 codeTL
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Timor Timur
East Timor
United Nations Mission of Support to East Timor

The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was a United Nations protectorate that aimed to solve the decades long East Timorese crisis in the area occupied by Indonesian military. UNTAET provided an interim civil administration and a peacekeeping mission in the territory of East Timor, from its establishment on 25 October 1999,[1] until its independence on 20 May 2002, following the outcome of the East Timor Special Autonomy Referendum. Security Council Resolution 1272 established the transitional administration in 1999, and its responsibilities included providing a peacekeeping force to maintain security and order; facilitating and co-ordinating relief assistance to the East Timorese; facilitating emergency rehabilitation of physical infrastructure; administering East Timor and creating structures for sustainable governance and the rule of law; and assisting in the drafting of a new constitution and conducting elections.[1] It was led by Sérgio Vieira de Mello of Brazil (Special Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor) and the Lieutenant General Jaime de los Santos of the Philippines (Supreme Commander of the United Nations' Peacekeeping Force (PKF)).

UNTAET was established on 25 October 1999, and was abolished on 20 May 2002, with most functions passed to the East Timor government. The military and police forces were transferred to the newly created United Nations Mission of Support to East Timor (UNMISET).

Transitional administrations[edit]

Initial administrative structures[edit]

A National Consultative Council was established in December 1999 by UNTAET REG 1999/2,[2] and served as a forum for East Timorese political and community leaders to advise the Transitional Administrator and discuss policy issues. The Council had eleven Timorese members and four international members. A Transitional Judicial Service Commission was also established to ensure representation of East Timorese leaders in decisions affecting the judiciary in East Timor. The Commission was made up of three Timorese representatives and two international experts.[3] Security was initially provided by the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) but was assumed by UNTAET Peace-Keeping Force (PKF) in February 2000. Law and order was maintained by a United Nations Civilian Police Force (CIVPOL) until an East Timorese Police Service was established in April 2000.

First transitional administration[edit]

In July 2000 the membership of the National Consultative Council was expanded to 36 members including, one representative from each of the 13 districts of East Timor, and the body was renamed the National Council.[4] All the members were now Timorese and represented the main political parties and religious communities of East Timor. The National Council became a legislature style body and had the right to debate any future regulations issued by UNTAET.

The following month an executive body, the Transitional Cabinet of East Timor, was formed comprising four Timorese members and four international members.[5]

Progress was made in the development of a judicial system with a Prosecutor General's Office and a Defender Service established. District Courts and Court of Appeal were also established.

In September 2000, the Transitional Cabinet approves the establishment of an East Timor Defence Force. The force was formally established in February 2001[6] and the guerrilla movement FALINTIL was officially disbanded with many of its members joining the new force.

A voter registration process was completed during this period and preparations were made for elections to a Constituent Assembly that would prepare East Timor for independence expected in 2002.

Second transitional administration[edit]

Elections for an 88-member Constituent Assembly[7] were held on 30 August 2001, the second anniversary of the autonomy referendum, which resulted in a plurality of seats for the FRETILIN party. The Assembly nominated a transitional Council of Ministers[8] the following month. The Council of Ministers had 24 members and was led by transitional Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri.

The Constituent Assembly completed work on a draft constitution and this was promulgated in March 2002,[9] the Assembly would serve as the parliament of East Timor following independence.

Presidential elections were held in April in which Xanana Gusmão was elected president of a future independent East Timor.

East Timor became an independent state on 20 May 2002.

Post independence[edit]

New Zealand armoured personnel carriers of UNTAET at the Gate Pā base in the southern Suai area, 2002

UNTAET was wound up upon East Timorese independence but a United Nations presence in East Timor would continue through a newly established United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).

Contributing nations[edit]

A coalition of nations sent troops to support the peace keeping mission. The forces were led by Australia, which provided the largest contingent and the out of theatre base for operations, supported by New Zealand, who sent the second largest contingent, and took responsibility for the more volatile southern half of the main border, France, whose special forces joined the ANZACs on the first day, as well as contingents from Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Fiji, Kenya, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. While the United States supported the transition authority, it did so mainly by underwriting contracts to replace destroyed infrastructure and thus avoided a direct military involvement, allowing the ANZAC led force to take the lead. The United States did, however, deploy a contingent of American police officers to serve with the International Police.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b United Nations Security Council Resolution 1272. S/RES/1272(1999) (1999) Retrieved 12 April 2008.
  2. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 1999/2 On the establishment of a National Consultative Council". Un.org.
  3. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 1999/3 On the establishment of a Transitional Judicial Service Commission". Un.org.
  4. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 2000/24 On the establishment of a National Council" (PDF). Un.org.
  5. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 2000/23 On the establishment of the Cabinet of the Transitional Government in East Timor" (PDF). Un.org.
  6. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 2001/01 On the establishment of a Defense Force for East Timor". Un.org.
  7. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 2001/02 On the election of a Constituent Assembly to prepare a Constitution for an independent and democratic East Timor" (PDF). Un.org.
  8. ^ "UNTAET - Regulation No. 2001/28 On the establishment of the Council of Ministers" (PDF). Un.org.
  9. ^ "constitution.org". constitution.org. Retrieved 27 December 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to UN-Missions in East Timor at Wikimedia Commons