Global Policy Forum

East Timor


Emerging States & Claims to Autonomy and Independence



picture credit: SIUE



Imagining East Timor (April-May, 1993)

Since an increasing number of national minorities are making demands for autonomy or independence, analysts must reconsider the criteria required to successfully create a new nation-state. In this article, Benedict Anderson, renowned for his writings on Imagined Communities, considers how national identity develops without traditional characteristics such as common language, common ethnicity and literacy. Anderson provides a historical backdrop by arguing that the inability of Indonesia to recognize the East Timorese as "native" stood as the primary barrier to breaking down the colonized-colonizer relationship. (Arena Publishing)

A Babel for East Timor as Language Shifts to Portuguese (July 23, 2007)

This International Herald Tribune article discusses how a new Constitution restored the Portuguese language in East Timor, a language that most of the population does not speak. In a 2002 report by the United Nations, only five percent of 800,000 people said they spoke Portuguese while most people speak Tetum, the country's official language. The imposition of Portuguese as the second official language and its mandatory use in courts, schools and government institutions will noticeably affect the day to day lives of the Timorese.

UN Haste Puts East Timor at Risk (February 24, 2003)

The UN Security Council should not focus so exclusively on Iraq that it loses sight of its important, and unfinished, commitment to East Timor. The nascent state needs more financial and technical support before it can fully function independently, and its success and failure will indicate the Security Council's willingness to see its resolutions through. (International Herald Tribune)

Riots Show Fragility of World's Newest Nation (December 13, 2002)

Violent riots broke out in the new nation of East Timor, exposing the deeply rooted social and economic problems the country faces in the process of nation-building. East Timor's government worries that donors will peg East Timor as a failed state, "doomed to aid dependency" from the international community. (Inter Press Service)

Euphoria Sweeps East Timor on First Day of Freedom (May 20, 2002)

Following three years of UN administration, East Timor became the first newly-independent nation of the millennium on May 20, 2002. The enormous economic hardship facing Asia's poorest country overshadows the excitement over independence. (Agence France-Presse)

Celebrating the Birth of a Nation (May 7, 2002)

Kofi Annan warns that the independence of East Timor "is just the beginning," and "daunting challenges" mean "the world must not abandon [the new nation] at this critical juncture." (Christian Science Monitor)

Gusmao's Win Another Step to Nationhood (April 16, 2002)

Former independence leader Xanana Gusmao's victory in East Timor's presidential election marks a major step in the country's path to nationhood. However, problems including widespread poverty, a devastated infrastructure, and the contentious issue of relations with Jakarta cloud the horizon. (Inter Press Service)

East Timor Chooses Political System (February 9, 2002)

In preparation for independence, East Timor's parliament voted to establish a political system based on the Portuguese model. Nobel peace prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, described the draft constitution as "one of the most progressive in the world." (BBC News)

UN sets East Timor Election Date (January 17, 2002)

The UN announces that East Timor will hold the first presidential election on April 14, 2002. The UN is also setting up a commission of truth and reconciliation to ease the country's transition to independence on May 20, 2002. (BBC News)

Funding for East Timor: Charity or Justice? (July 19, 2000)

In the short term, East Timor will need generous donations to begin reconstruction. Yet a high official of UNTAET's argues that East Timor will have to stand on its own feet, and not be sustained by permanent "charity." (La'o Hamutuk Bulletin)

Messy Land Disputes Hampering East Timor's Development (July 16, 2000)

"No one knows who owns what" in East Timor. With the lack of recorded land ownership or land laws, foreigners are reluctant to invest long-term. Without these much-needed foreign investments, how can the new nation sustain itself after independence? (Associated Press)

E Pluribus E. Timor (July 13, 2000)

How can East Timor, after years of Indonesian and Portuguese colonialism, find its own national identity? With the new official currency, the US dollar and the language is Portuguese. Arguments abound over the choices for basic elements of this new nation. (Washington Post)

Inventing East Timor (July/Aug 2000)

James Traub examines East Timor, the first test-tube baby of a nation built from scratch. UNTAET's competency as a "benevolent" colonial master remains a mystery. The feasibility of transition of administration from UNTAET to East Timor independence in a short-time frame is unknown. (Foreign Affairs)

Not Independent Yet: East Timor (June 9, 2000)

After rebuilding the infrastructure, the next challenge for East Timor is cultivating education and employment to build civil society. (Christian Science Monitor)




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