United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)


The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was established on 25 August 2006 by UN Security Council Resolution 1704 (2006), with its operations extended by further UN resolutions in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

UNMIT replaced previous UN operations in Timor, such as the UN Advance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET, 1999), the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET, 2000-2002) and United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMISET, 2002-2006).

At times, relations between the United Nations and Australia have been fraught, with debate between UNMIT and Australian authorities over command and control of troops and police serving in the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) and UN Police (UNPOL), especially in times of security crises in May 2006 and February 2008.

Government sources

Renewal of United Nations Mission Mandate in Timor?Leste, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, media release, 27 February 2009

I very much welcome the United Nations Security Council decision to renew the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste mandate until 26 February 2010. The United Nations continues to play a critical role in promoting stability, human rights, democracy and the rule of law in East Timor. Together with the United Nations, Australia will continue to support East Timor’s long-term development. The United Nations mandate authorises a phased hand-over of policing responsibilities from United Nations to East Timorese police. As this happens, a supporting UN Police presence will remain important. The UN mandate recognises this as a priority. Australia contributes 50 police to the United Nations Police in East Timor. The Australian-led International Stabilisation Force works closely with the United Nations presence in East Timor. East Timor continues to make progress in addressing its challenges, including building the capacity of its police force and resettling internally displaced persons.”

UN Security Council resolutions

The situation in Timor-Leste, Security Council resolution 1867 (2009), 26 February 2009.

The situation in Timor-Leste, Security Council resolution 1802 (2008), 25 February 2008.

The situation in Timor-Leste, Security Council Resolution 1745 (2007), 22 February 2007.

The situation in Timor-Leste, Security Council resolution 1704 (2006), 25 August 2006.

UNMIT operations

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, UNMIT website.

Official website for the UN mission in Timor

Timor-Leste – UNMIT – Background, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations

Memorandum of Understanding between the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the United Nations, and Australia on the provision of assistance to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, 26 January 2007. (courtesy La’o Hamutuk)

Key officers (2009):

Special Representative of the Secretary-General: Atul Khare (India)

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law: Takahisa Kawakami (Japan)

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Governance Support, Development and Humanitarian Coordination: Finn Reske-Nielsen (Denmark)

Police Commissioner: Luis Miguel Carrilho (Portugal)

Member countries contributing military liaison and staff officers

Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Fiji, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Sierra Leone and Singapore.

Commentary and analysis

Press Conference, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, United Nations, New York, 30 March 2008

“JOURNALIST: President Ramos Horta has been quoted as being somewhat critical of both the UN Police and separately of the Australian troops, in terms of the attempt on his life….are Australian troops under UN control there and what’s been learned from the events that took place?

“PM: …On the question of East Timor, the United Nations expressed its appreciation for the early action by Australia in deploying further troops and further police to East Timor within 24 hours of the attempted assassination of Jose Ramos Horta and on Xanana Gusmao. On the particular matter which you raise, which was statements attributed to Jose Ramos Horta concerning the attempted assassination on himself, the UN already has underway its own internal investigation into the security arrangements concerning him at the time.

“I have said before, and I have said again, that I have absolute, unqualified, confidence in the absolute professionalism of all Australian military personnel associated with the events of that day, including ensuring that Jose got to hospital in order to have his life saved by a hospital which was located on the Australian military base in Dili.

Why is Australia fighting in New York to keep control of the Peacekeeping Force in Timor-Leste? Helen Hill, Austral Policy Forum 06-29A, Nautilus Institute, 21 August 2006

“Why then is Australia, with the backing of some powerful friends, trying to sabotage the Secretary General’s proposal for a UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), a proposal which has the full support of the East Timorese Government and President? The original date of cessation of the current UN Mission in East Timor UNOTIL, was 20th May 2006; it was extended by one month, and then two more until 20th August 2006, as the UN grappled with how to deal with the current crisis while avoiding repeating their mistakes of the past.”

La’o Hamutuk Submission, Australian Joint Committee Inquiry into Human Rights Mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific, Parliament of Australia, November 2008.

“In 2006 many people in Timor-Leste expected that all international forces operating in Timor-Leste would be incorporated into a new UN mission (UNMIT), as was done in 2000. This time Australian, Portuguese and Malaysian police joined the UN force. However in August 2006 Australia refused to place its soldiers under UN command. This position was supported by the USA and UK, but opposed by the UN Secretary General, the Timor-Leste Government (which was pressured to reverse its position), the Timor-Leste Parliament, Portugal, Malaysia, NGOs in Timor-Leste and many others.

“A prolonged and confused process within the UN Security Council followed, with the Core Group leader Japan misrepresenting the Timorese Government’s position – the Timor-Leste government again reiterating that the ISF should be integrated into the UN. When Australia still did not allow its forces to be part of the UN, the then-Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta eventually accepted the ISF being outside the UN in late October 2006 (This position was not supported by the Timor-Leste Parliament). To avoid two separate foreign military forces operating simultaneously in Timor-Leste, New Zealand agreed to continue under Australian command. This debate occurred at a time in which the Timor-Leste Government faced many challenging domestic issues, and resources invested in this debate drew attention away from other areas.”

Suggestions for the Next United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste, Charles Scheiner, Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk), Austral Policy Forum 06-22A, Nautilus Institute, 13 July 2006

“The next UN mission is being designed in an emergency atmosphere. Although immediate humanitarian and security concerns must be dealt with, there are deeper-seated causes of the current problems, and crises will recur if they are not addressed. The millennium’s first new nation was a ‘poster child’ for successful (albeit belated) international intervention, but it has also been a guinea pig and training ground for experimental projects by the UN and other multilateral institutions.”

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, Wikipedia.

United Nations, La’o Hamutuk

Excellent collection of analytical reports and documents difficult to find elsewhere. 

The UNMIT mission in Timor-Leste: Military coordination with Australia, RDTL and others, La’o Hamutuk, August 2006.

Detailed account of  the evolution of legal arrangements of military aspects of UNMIT and the International Security Force, with links to many documents.

See also: