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Timor-Leste: Not Just an Ordinary New Year

Flag in Timor-Leste, 2012 [U.S. Embassy photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Judith Fergin serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

When the people of Timor-Leste woke up this morning, their young nation had opened a new chapter in its history. Today is the first day since 1999 that there is no UN Security Council-mandated mission on the ground. 

From the passage of UNSC Resolution 384 on December 22, 1975 to 1999, Timor-Leste remained on the Council’s agenda as unfinished post-colonial business. In 1999, the Security Council supported the UN-administered popular consultation in which Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence instead of continued incorporation in Indonesia; it then sadly directed the dispatch of peacekeepers as a result of post-referendum violence. A series of peacekeeping and special political missions ensued. In 2011, the final peacekeeping mission — the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) — and the government established a joint transition plan to… more »

Timor-Leste: A Hopeful Look to the Future

A police officer gives a final briefing to a group of police before their departure to East Timor as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force, Oct. 14, 2006, at the police headquarters in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Williams S. Martin serves as Deputy Director for Peace Operations in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

After a trip to Beijing to support U.S.-Chinese talks on UN peacekeeping, I recently made my way via Guangzhou, China and Perth and Darwin, Australia to Dili, Timor-Leste. I went to Timor-Leste to see if this tiny country — roughly the size of Connecticut with a population of approximately one million — is on track to say goodbye to its UN peacekeeping mission at the end of this year.

I was the first person from the Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs to visit Timor-Leste in over a decade. That is largely because it is so far from Washington, D.C. — about 10,000 miles (16,000 km). As I flew in, I could see below me a tropical country with lush, wooded hills covered in low clouds and the small capital of Dili nestled between the hills and a… more »

International Day of UN Peacekeepers

Nigerian soldier with UNAMID in Darfur, March 14, 2008. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Victoria K. Holt serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.

As May 29 is International Day of UN Peacekeepers, it is an optimal moment to reflect on the work we support by peacekeeping missions, perhaps the best known symbol of the international community’s efforts for peace. As the UN has noted today, since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, more than 2,990 military, police, and civilian personnel have lost their lives serving in these missions. Certainly we see the challenge today, as missions try to address fresh violence in Syria, Sudan, and the eastern Congo. What is this about?

Like anyone who has visited some of the more than 100,000 people worldwide who serve in UN missions, I am struck by the effort involved. Civilians, police, and military personnel wake up every morning to… more »

International Day of UN Peacekeepers
Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 29, 2012

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the men and women who serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. I would also like to recognize the many American personnel who have participated in UN peacekeeping operations, including most recently, U.S. Army Brigadier General Hugh Van Roosen who will be the new Chief of Staff of the UN Mission in Liberia.

Since the first UN peacekeeping mission which was created on this day sixty-four years ago, civilian and military personnel have served under the UN flag in 67 operations around the world. Because of their work, the world is safer and more secure. The United States is committed to UN peacekeeping operations, and to a more peaceful world.