UN Transitional Authority: Agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the Portuguese Republic on the question of East Timor

ANNEX I, 6

If the Secretary-General determines, on the basis of the result of the popular consultation and in accordance with this Agreement, that the proposed constitutional framework for special autonomy is not acceptable to the East Timorese people, the Government of Indonesia shall take the constitutional steps necessary to terminate its links with East Timor thus restoring under Indonesian law the status East Timor held prior to 17 July 1976, and the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal and the Secretary-General shall agree "on arrangements for a peaceful and orderly transfer of authority in East Timor to the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall, subject to the appropriate legislative mandate, initiate the procedure enabling East Timor to begin a process of transition towards independence.

Annex I, 7

During the interim period between the conclusion of the popular consultation and the start of the implementation of either option, the parties request the Secretary-General to maintain an adequate United Nations presence in East Timor.

Implementation History

1999

Full Implementation

After the popular consultation process rejected incorporation within Indonesia as an autonomous province, the UN established the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in UN Security Council resolution 1272 on 25 October 1999. UNTAET's mandate consisted of the following tasks: a) To provide security and maintain law and order throughout the territory of East Timor, b) To establish an effective administration, c) To assist in the development of civil and social services, d) To ensure the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and development assistance, e) To support capacity-building for self-government, and f) To assist in the establishment of conditions for sustainable development. UNTAET was authorized to contain up to 9,150 military troops and 1,640 civilian police. However, while authorized in 1999, UNTAET did not assume responsibility from INTERFET until February 2000.

2000

Full Implementation

UNTAET was deployed in the first months of 2000 and officially assumed military command of East Timor from INTERFET on 23 February 2000. UNTAET assumed responsibility for civilian administration in the territory until a competent civil administration staffed and administered by East Timorese could be established. Building a civil administration of East Timorese citizens was a challenge because the majority of qualified individuals in the territory fled the country before or during the violence surrounding the August 1999 popular consultation. In December 1999 after assuming responsibility in the territory, UNTAET established a National Consultative Council (NCC) composed of 11 East Timorese political leaders and 4 UNTAET members. The task of the NCC was to consult on and provide consent to regulations necessary to creating a state structure, including establishing a judiciary, setting an official currency, creating border controls, taxation, and other functions. (After critique, NCC was reformed into National Council in July 2000 and increased to 36 members – all Timorese) UNTAET also began a process of reorganizing itself to resemble more closely the future government of East Timor and to increase the direct participation of the East Timorese. Eight portfolios were created: internal administration, infrastructure, economic affairs, social affairs, finance, justice, police and emergency services, and political affairs. The first four were headed by East Timorese and the other four by senior UNTAET officials. The process of transformation and institution building would later lead to the establishment, in August 2000, of the East Timor Transitional Administration (ETTA) headed by the Transitional Administrator.1 

The process by which UNTAET established a Timorese-run civil administration was known as "Timorization" and consisted of gradually hiring East Timorese citizens for positions in the government and relinquishing control over the functioning of the administration from the bottom up. By the end of 2000 over 7,000 Timorese had been hired as civil servents by the ETTA out of a projected total of 10,554. The ETTA, with assistance from UNTAET, also trained over 1,500 people in courses on government, public participation, and management.2 This was far from a smooth process and there is much critique against it for not actually entailing “timorization.”

2001

Full Implementation

By July, UNTAET had begun devolving decision-making power to Timorese civil administrators at the district level. Hiring of civil servants from the local population continued throughout the year, with 9,633 posts (91.2%) filled by the end of the year. UN volunteers and staff in the ETTA were reduced by 35% from a total of 1148 at the beginning of the year. The East Timor Police Services were staffed with 1,453 officers with 250 more in training, but the UN still maintained operational responsibility for maintaining law and order.3 

  • 3. "Secretary General's Reports to the UN Security Council," United Nations Security Council  (S/2001/719), July 24, 2001); (S/2001/983), July 18, 2001; (S/2002/80), January 17, 2002.
2002

Full Implementation

Recruitment, training, and capacity building activities took longer than expected; by April only 11,000 of 15,000 posts in the transitional government were filled, including the police and defense force of East Timor. Most posts filled were at the lower levels of administration while management posts were hard to staff due to a lack of qualified candidates and high turnover within the ETTA. The role of UNTAET shifted largely to training, advising, and cross-sectoral planning and coordination. Both the police and defense force still reported to the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN through May. Full operational responsibility of the police force was not planned to be transferred to East Timor until 2004.4

While UNTAET did not perform its administrative tasks perfectly due to factors both inside and outside East Timor, the transition to East Timorese rule was completed relatively smoothly and ended when East Timor became formally independent on 20 May 2002. This marked the end of UNTAET's mandate, but it was replaced by the United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET), which continued to provide assistance in consolidating government institutions and providing security and the rule of law while East Timor's police and security forces could finish developing.

This completed UNTAET's transitional authority mandate. 

  • 4. "Secretary General's Report to the UN Security Council," United Nations Security Council (S/2002/432), April 17, 2002.
2004

Full Implementation

UNTAET's transitional authority mandate completed in 2003.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2008

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.