The United Nations and East Timor - A Chronology

1999- 2000- 2001-2002


The United Nations General Assembly adds "Timor and dependencies" to the list of non-self-governing territories. East Timor is administered by Portugal as an overseas province.


Following a change of Government, 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.


After violent clashes erupt between groups favoring independence and those favoring integration into Indonesia, Portugal withdraws and Indonesia invades East Timor.


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


The UN Secretary-General begins informal consultations with the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in the Territory and resolving its status.


The Secretary-General initiates a process to promote a dialogue among East Timorese which provides a forum for East Timorese of all shades of political opinion to explore ideas for improving the situation.


In June, Indonesia's President B.J. Habibie proposes autonomy for East Timor on condition that the territory accepts integration into Indonesia. The proposal is rejected by East Timorese resistance leaders.

From August to October, 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 a wide ranging autonomy for East Timor.


27 January 
President Habibie indicates in a public statement that his Government might be prepared to consider independence for East Timor. Talks begin in New York between the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, Jamsheed Marker, and the Directors-General of the Indonesian and Portuguese Foreign Ministries.
11 March
At ministerial-level tripartite talks in New York, agreement is reached on use of a direct ballot to consult East Timor's people about whether they accept or reject the autonomy proposal.
21 April
Secretary-General Annan welcomes the signing of an agreement, initiated by Indonesia's national Human Rights Commission, which commits all the parties in East Timor to end violence in the Territory.
5 May
The talks in New York result in a set of agreements between Indonesia and Portugal. The two Governments entrust the Secretary-General with organizing and conducting a "popular consultation" in order to ascertain whether the East Timorese people accept or reject a special autonomy for East Timor within the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
1 June
The newly-appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in East Timor, Ian Martin, arrives in Dili, East Timor.
11 June
The Security Council formally establishes UNAMET through the end of August 1999. In resolution 1246 (1999) adopted unanimously, the Council endorses the Secretary-General's proposal for a mission including up to 280 civilian police officers to advise the Indonesian Police, as well as 50 military liaison officers to maintain contact with the Indonesian Armed Forces. The Council stresses again the responsibility of the Indonesian Government in the maintenance of peace and security in East Timor to ensure the integrity of the ballot and the security of international staff and observers.
18 June
At a press conference in Dili, SRSG Martin says that continuing violence has forced tens of thousands of East Timorese from their homes, creating a "serious obstacle" to preparations for the vote on the future of the Territory.
23 June
Secretary-General Annan decides to delay the East Timor vote by two weeks, citing unabated violence and logistical problems. Reporting to the Security Council, the Secretary-General says that security conditions and the lack of a level playing field do not allow for the consultation process to go forward. Registration is delayed to 13 July to allow time for the deployment of UN staff throughout the Territory and to give Indonesian authorities time to address the pending security concerns.
6 July
Following attacks on UN personnel in Maliana and Liquica, Security Council members demand an immediate halt to the violence and intimidation carried out by militia in the territory.
16 July
Voter registration begins after a three-day delay to allow time for Indonesian authorities to resolve remaining security problems.
5 August
Voter registration closes. UNAMET has registered 451,792 potential voters among the population of over 800,000 in East Timor and abroad.
9 August
Supporters and opponents of the autonomy proposal for East Timor sign a code of conduct for the campaign period leading up to the ballot on 30 August.
14 August
Campaigning for the popular consultation begins.
18 August
In response to an upsurge in militia activity, SRSG Martin, Ambassador Agus Tarmidzi, Chairman of the Indonesian Task Force, and senior Indonesian police officials visit Viqueque, Suai and Maliana, where they discuss additional security measures with local police, military and administration.
19 August
East Timorese leaders from pro-independence and pro-autonomy groups agree to establish a 25-person commission to foster reconciliation and cooperation in the Territory until the results of the UN-run autonomy ballot are implemented.
20 August
Violence mars campaigning in East Timor as pro-integration militia harass people attending a pro-independence rally in Suai. In Manatuto, military liaison officers serving with UNAMET are threatened by militia.
24 August
Indonesian authorities assure UNAMET that they will try to create a secure environment. Members of the Security Council express strong concern at the continuing campaign of intimidation and violence in East Timor and call on the parties to fulfill their commitments to disarm and store their weapons.
  26 August
SRSG Martin tells a press conference in Dili that the UN intends to proceed with the vote despite the recent spate of deadly violence. In New York, Indonesia's representative, in a meeting of the Security Council, pledges his country's commitment to ensuring that there is a safe environment, as called for in the 5 May agreements.

The Security Council extends UNAMET's mandate until 30 November. In a unanimous vote, the Council adopts resolution 126 (1999), endorsing the Secretary-General's proposal to restructure the UN Mission in East Timor for the interim phase after the 30 August vote.

27 August
UNAMET facilitates an historic meeting between the pro-independence fighters of FALINTIL and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) at the main FALINTIL cantonment site in East Timor.
  29 August
On 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
UNAMET announces that at least 95 per cent of registered voters cast their ballots in the popular consultation; a total of more than 430,000.
  31 August
Members of the East Timorese Consultative Commission meet for the first time. The group is composed of ten members each from the pro-independence and pro-autonomy camps, as well as five members appointed by the UN Secretary-General.
  1 September
Violence erupts outside the UNAMET compound in Dili as militia members attack pro-independence supporters.
  2 September
Pro-integration militias, at times with the support of elements of the Indonesian security forces, launch a campaign of violence, looting and arson throughout the entire Territory.
  4 September
UNAMET announces the result of the vote: 94,388 or 21.5 per cent of East Timorese voted in favor of the special autonomy proposal and 344,580 or 78.5 per cent voted against. A total of 446,953 East Timorese cast their ballots within and outside the Territory.
  5 September
The Secretary-General intensifies his efforts to secure urgent action by Indonesia to bring the situation under control within a specifically limited time frame, or to secure Indonesia's agreement to urgent deployment of an international security force.
  8 September
A delegation of five members of the Security Council is dispatched to Jakarta and East Timor to discuss with the Government of Indonesia concrete steps for the peaceful implementation of the 5 May agreement. In New York, Council members back the Secretary-General's view that if the security situation in East Timor does not improve "within a very short period of time," they will have to consider further action to help the Indonesian Government resolve the present crisis in the Territory.
  10 September
As lawlessness in the Territory increases and militia members threaten to invade the UN compound in Dili, the Secretary-General publicly urges the Indonesian Government to accept the offer of assistance from several Governments, including Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Malaysia, "without further delay." If the Indonesian Government refuses to do so, he tells a press conference, it cannot escape the responsibility "for what could amount, according to reports reaching us, to crimes against humanity."
  12 September
As the five member delegation concludes its visit to Jakarta, the Government of Indonesia agrees to accept the offer of assistance from the international community. The Security Council authorizes a multinational force (INTERFET) under a unified command structure headed by Australia. 

The United Nations begins a large-scale emergency humanitarian relief effort. At the same time, increasing attention is paid to the voluntary repatriation of some 250,000 East Timorese from West Timor and other areas in Indonesia and the region.

The Indonesian Armed Forces and police begin a draw-down in the Territory.

  28 September
Indonesia and Portugal, at a meeting with the United Nations, reiterate their agreement 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 Indonesian civil authorities. 

UNAMET re-establishes its headquarters in Dili and immediately begins efforts to restore the mission's logistical capacity and redeploy UNAMET personnel as conditions allow.

  19 October
The Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly formally recognizes the result of the popular consultation.
  25 October
The United Nations Security Council, by resolution 1272 (1999), establishes the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). The Mission comprises three main components: governance and public administration; humanitarian assistance and emergency rehabilitation; and a military component with an authorized strength of up to 8,950 troops and 200 military observers.
  27 October
The Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for East Timor, led by the World Bank, is launched in Geneva to request $199 million to meet urgent humanitarian needs through June 2000.
  1 November
The last Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) leave East Timor. The end of the 24-year presence is marked by a farewell ceremony attended by members of the Indonesian Task Force on East Timor, TNI, United Nations officials and Timorese resistance leader and President of the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Xanana Gusmão. 

The interagency assessment mission led by the World Bank arrives in Dili and meets at UNTAET headquarters with Xanana Gusmão and Acting SRSG Ian Martin.

  2 November
Hostile militia impede UNHCR efforts in West Timor refugee camps in the Atambua area requiring police intervention.
  8 November
Three United Nations Special Rapporteurs begin initial investigations on alleged human rights abuses in East Timor.
  15 November
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) endorses an international inquiry into alleged human rights violations in East Timor. The Council votes 27-10, with 11 abstentions, in support of a resolution by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to send experts to gather information on possible violations committed in East Timor since January 1999.
  17 November
The newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, takes up duties in East Timor.
  21 November
A five-member international commission of inquiry on human rights violations in East Timor arrives in Dili. The commission is led by Sonia Picado.
  22 November
The SRSG travels to West Timor where he and US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke witness the signing of an agreement between INTERFET and the Indonesian Armed Forces designed to speed up the return of refugees from West Timor. 

UNHCR reports that despite continued harassment by militia, over 90,000 people have returned to East Timor.

  27 November
The SRSG signs the first of a series of legal instruments setting out the terms of UNTAET's administration of the territory. Regulation 1999/1 establishes the authority of the Transitional Administrator and the legal regime for the Territory.
  01 December
José Ramos Horta, the Nobel Laureate, returns to East Timor after 24 years in exile. He is accompanied by the SRSG.
  2 December
The SRSG signs Regulation 1999/2 on the establishment of the National Consultative Council (NCC), a 15-member joint East Timorese-UNTAET body, through which the representatives of the people of East Timor can actively participate in the decision-making process during the transition period.
  3 December
UNTAET establishes, by regulation 1999/3, a Transitional Judicial Service Commission comprising five individuals, namely, three East Timorese and 2 internationals.
  17 December
A United Nations donor conference held in Tokyo results in over $500 million in pledges to rebuild East Timor.
  20 December
UN military observers find a mass grave in the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi. Eighteen burial sites are uncovered, some containing more than one body.


3 January 
UNTAET formally takes control of Dili Airport. An Australian airline will begin flying three times a week to Darwin beginning 18 January.
  12 January
UNTAET, INTERFET and Indonesian military officials sign a Memorandum of understanding intended to improve cooperation at the border between East and West Timor.
  19 January
UNTAET, acting on behalf of the Territory, signs a Memorandum of understanding extending the terms of the East Timor Gap Treaty with the Government of Australia.
  21 January
The Secretary-General appoints Lieutenant General Jaime de los Santos of the Philippines as Force Commander of UNTAET's military component.
  31 January
The Secretary-General submits his first report on the work of UNTAET. He says that the humanitarian disaster which resulted from the violence after the popular consultation has been the most pressing crisis facing UNTAET.
  15 February
The Secretary-General begins a two-day official visit to Jakarta, his first since taking office, and meets with Indonesian officials.
  17 February
The Secretary-General arrives in East Timor for a two-day visit. He meets in Dili with the independence leader Xanana Gusmão, Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, and Bishop Basilio Nascimento.
  21 February
World Bank President James Wolfensohn, Xanana Gusmão, and the SRSG sign a grant agreement for the disbursement of $21.5 million over two and a half years for community empowerment and local government projects.
  23 February
INTERFET officially transfers its military command of the Territory to UNTAET. 

A $1.4 billion gas exploitation plan in the Timor Gap is approved.

  28 February
UNTAET and INTERFET finalize administrative arrangements for the takeover of security responsibilities.
  29 February
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid visits East Timor. The President signs a communiqué with the SRSG, establishing, among other things, a border regime for the passage of people and goods between East Timor and Indonesia, cooperation on legal matters and continued support for East Timorese students wanting to study in Indonesian universities.
  3 March
A series of armed attacks against United Nations troops and East Timorese people leads UNTAET to declare western zones to be "high threat" areas.
  27 March
A police training college supported by UNTAET opens in Dili.
  29 March
The SRSG and the Indonesian Attorney General, Marzuki Darusman, conclude an eight-week interim agreement on the provision of mutual assistance in legal, judicial and human rights matters.
  31 March
The Indonesian Government extends for three months the deadline for the return of refugees and rescinds its decision to cut off humanitarian aid to the refugees, noting that it would instead request assistance from the international community. 

The SRSG asks the Indonesian Defence Minister, Admiral Sudarsono, to control any "extremists" and stop the militia incursions into East Timor by Indonesian-based militia. The Defence Minister says that neither the Indonesian army nor the police are involved in supporting the militia groups in West Timor.

  3 April
UNTAET, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sign a grant agreement for $499,000 towards a project to create employment for the poorest communities in Dili.
  5 April
UNTAET announces its decision to appoint East Timorese to top administrative positions within the new administration in Dili, namely as deputy district administrators and deputy heads of departments. The SRSG announces the establishment of new District Advisory Councils to allow East Timorese to voice their concerns on all key issues.
  11 April
The UNTAET Force Commander and the Commander of the Indonesian army in West Timor sign a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering security, boundary crossing, the passage of refugees and the provision of humanitarian assistance along the border between East and West Timor. The MOU confirms the previous Memorandum of 12 January, provides that neither side will be allowed to carry weapons across the border and specifies that both parties agree to cooperate in reporting and investigating boundary incidents.
  28 April
The East Timorese Postal Service begins operating.
  12 May
The Dili District Court opens its first public proceeding.
  19 May
Over eighty people are confirmed dead, most of them East Timorese refugees, in the intense flooding that continues to ravage West Timor. Some 21,000 people are estimated to have been displaced, 16,000 of whom are from 21 refugee camps for East Timorese in the Belu District of south-eastern West Timor.
  30 May
At the opening of the Conference on the Reconstruction of East Timor held in Dili, UNTAET suggests a period of co-government between UNTAET and the East Timorese prior to a full transfer of authority.
  7 June
UNTAET and the World Bank sign a $12.7 million grant to help revamp the country's health sector.
  8 June
The SRSG and Xanana Gusmão meet with the Governor of West Timor to discuss how to speed up repatriation and increase trade on the island.
  20 June
UNHCR and other aid organizations suspend activities in three West Timor camps near Kupang following what it describes as several serious security incidents of threats and intimidation against its staff.
  21 June
UNTAET and CNRT agree on a new composition and structure for the National Consultative Council (NCC). The newly expanded NCC will have 33 members. The members will include 13 representatives from the districts, seven representatives from CNRT and three representatives from other political parties. Its other members will represent youth, women's groups and non-governmental organisations, as well as the Catholic, Protestant and Muslim communities, professional and farmers' associations, the labour movement and the business community. All members, including the chairman of the NCC will be East Timorese.
  23 June
In Lisbon, the donor community pledges its continued support for the reconstruction of East Timor and the new East Timorese administration, and endorses a work programme for the Territory's development through December 2000. The donors indicate their support for closing the financing gap of $16 million for the next financial year.
  12 July
The NCC adopts a regulation establishing a Transitional Cabinet comprised of four East Timorese and four UNTAET representatives. 

The Secretary-General appoints Lieutenant-General Boonsrang Niumpradit of Thailand as Force Commander of UNTAET's military component, as of 19 July 2000.

The first 50 graduates of East Timor's Police Training College officially take up their functions as police officers.

  17 July
The Transitional Cabinet holds its first meeting in Dili.
  24 July
A soldier from UNTAET's New Zealand contingent is killed following an exchange of gunfire with an armed group near the border with West Timor. This is the first combat-related death of a United Nations peacekeeper in East Timor.
  27 July
At a meeting in Indonesia between the SRSG, the UNTAET Force Commander and West Timor Commander, Major General Kiki Syahnakri, it is agreed that an ad hoc committee, comprised jointly of the Indonesian army and the UN peacekeeping force, be set up to investigate the killing of the UNTAET soldier on 24 July.
  31 July
UNTAET inaugurates East Timor's first diplomatic training programme in Dili.
  3 August
The Security Council calls on the Government of Indonesia to cooperate closely with the United Nations to end cross-border incursions from West Timor and to disarm the militias still operating in the border area.
  10 August
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.
  23 August
A high-level Indonesian delegation briefs the SRSG on the Indonesian Government's new policy on refugees and says that the refugee camps in West Timor will be closed down within three to six months in coordination with the United Nations.
  25 August
The first criminal sentence in East Timor is imposed by the Dili District Court.
  6 September 
Three UNHCR staff are murdered in Atambua, West Timor, following an attack by armed militias on the UNHCR office.
  8 September
The Security Council adopts resolution 1319 which insists "that the Government of Indonesia take immediate additional steps, in fulfillment of its responsibilities, to disarm and disband the militia immediately, restore law and order in the affected areas in West Timor, ensure safety and security in the refugee camps and for humanitarian workers, and prevent cross-border incursions into East Timor".
  12 September
The East Timor Transitional Cabinet approves the establishment of a East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) with former Falintil soldiers representing the core of the 3,000 strong force.
  23 October 
CNRT President Xanana Gusmão is elected speaker of the East Timor National Council, a precursor of the nation's parliament.
  10 November
A Security Council delegation visits East and West Timor to review the implementation of resolution 1272, which gives the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) the mandate to prepare the territory for independence. In West Timor, the delegation reviews resolution 1319, in particular the need for disarming and disbanding militia groups and repatriating refugees to East Timor.
  15 November
The National University of East Timor is opened.
  1 December
The first indictments of persons suspected of committing serious crimes in East Timor are presented to the Dili District Court.
  11 December
The first indictment containing charges of "crimes against humanity" committed in East Timor is filed.
  13 December
The East Timor Transitional Cabinet agrees to a proposal to establish a Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation.


3 January
The Indonesian Armed Forces and UN peacekeeping force agree to launch joint security operations along the border between East Timor and Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province, in West Timor.
  17 January
The East Timor Transitional Cabinet approves draft regulations establishing a defence force for East Timor and providing for the registration of political parties.
  31 January
By Resolution 1338 (2001), the Security Council extends the mandate of UNTAET until 31 January 2002.
  1 February
At a ceremony in Aileu marking the transition of Falintil into the East Timor Defence Force, Falintil Commander Taur Matan Ruak is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Force, with the rank of Brigadier-General.
  16 March
The SRSG announces that the first democratic election in East Timor will be held on 30 August 2001, after signing the Regulation on the Election of a Constituent Assembly.
  17 March
UNTAET begins civil registration of the East Timorese people population, an important step toward organizing East Timor's first Constituent Assembly elections.
  4 May
The North Jakarta District Court sentences six men to between 10 and 20 months in jail for their roles in connection with the killings on 6 September 2000 of three UNHCR staff members in Atambua, West Timor. Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls the light sentences "a wholly unacceptable response".
  7 May
Registration of political parties and independent candidates for the Constituent Assembly election commences.
  9 June
The East Timor resistance umbrella organization CNRT is dissolved to make way for a range of political parties to participate in the upcoming election.
  23 June
Civil registration ends with 778,989 East Timorese having being registered and issued temporary identity cards.
  28 June
The SRSG presents the first State of the Nation address to the East Timorese National Council, giving a detailed and in-depth overview of the work and progress to date, the challenges that lie ahead, and calling again for a Pact of National Unity.
  3 July
An Arrangement between the East Timor Transitional Administration and the Australian Government is approved giving East Timor 90 per cent of the revenues from the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.
  30 August
Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese head to the polls to elect members of a Constituent Assembly, in the Territory's first democratic elections.
  6 September
Fretilin is declared the winning party, with 57.3% of the vote, in East Timor's Constituent Assembly elections.
  20 September
24 members of the new all-East Timorese Council of Ministers of the Second Transitional Government are sworn-in before a large audience in Dili. The new Council replaces the Transitional Cabinet.
  22 October
Constituent Assembly President Francisco Guterres signs a resolution adopting an assembly recommendation that UNTAET hand over sovereignty to elected Timorese government institutions on 20 May 2002.
  26 October
The first East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) battalion is formally inaugurated.
  31 October
The Security Council endorses Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendations that the United Nations continue its role in East Timor after the territory's independence next year, stressing that a premature withdrawal of the international presence could have a destabilizing effect in a number of crucial areas.
  26 November
UNTAET begins scheduled military downsizing.

The SRSG welcomes UNTAET's new Civilian Police Commissioner, Canadian Peter Miller, to East Timor.

  30 November
The Constituent Assembly approves the overall structure of East Timor's first draft Constitution.
  11 December
The first convictions of crimes against humanity are handed down by the Dili Serious Crimes Panel.
  13 December
The Donor's Conference on East Timor held in Oslo, Norway, ends with participating countries expressing appreciation for East Timor's progress and of the need to sustain the momentum of the achievements realized thus far.


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

The Constituent Assembly votes to transform itself into East Timor's first legislature upon final approval of the Constitution.

  18 February
United Nations international prosecutors indict 17 militia and Indonesian Armed Forces members for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in 1999.
  7 March 
A pro-integration militia member is found guilty of murdering a United Nations peacekeeper on 24 July 2000 and sentenced to six years imprisonment by an Indonesian court.
  22 March
East Timor's Constituent Assembly signs into force the Territory's first Constitution.
  14 April
East Timorese presidential elections are held. Francisco da Amaral and Xanana Gusmao stand as the only two candidates.
  17 April
Xanana Gusmão is announced as President-elect of East Timor after capturing 82.7 per cent of the vote in the presidential elections.
  20 May
East Timor becomes an independent nation.
top of page  


Prepared for the Internet by the Information Technology Section/ Department of Public Information (DPI).
Maintained by the Peace and Security Section of DPI in cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
(c)United Nations 2000
  | Main Page.| UN Home Page