Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Introduction

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Introduction

Article excerpt

Every U.N. operation brings with it unique challenges, and East Timor is no exception. The United Nations has never been in a position where it has had to build a government structure from the lowest level imaginable. The 30 August 1999 Popular Consultation, which saw overwhelming support for independence (78.5 per cent) from Indonesia, resulted in pro-Indonesian militia elements, aided and abetted by sections of the military, destroying around 70 per cent of the infrastructure, murdering opponents, and shifting a large section of the population to West Timor. José Ramos Horta, East Timor's Foreign Minister and Nobel laureate, has likened the infrastructural destruction to that of Hiroshima or Dresden during World War II. After the Australian-led Interfet (International Force for East Timor) operation in September 1999 to re-establish security, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) moved in to re-establish governance. UNTAET, in conjunction with its East Timorese interlocutors, has had to guide a country without a functioning Constitution, or political and legal system, with even the most basic aspects of government having to be created. …

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