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Lessons Learned from
East Timor and Kosovo

A Term Paper Submitted to

Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines Diliman

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements in

Political Science 333
Seminar in International Organizations

Celito Felizardo Arlegue

Ph.D in Political Science
In the post-Cold War era, international peace operations have become the
operational face of the United Nations (UN). The number and nature of UN-led peace
missions have changed dramatically since the late 1980s, leading scholars and
observers to make a distinction between traditional and contemporary peace
operations. Traditional peace missions, launched between 1948 and 1988, were limited
to the tasks of maintaining ceasefires, establishing buffer zones and stabilizing
situations on the ground in order to assist in the diffusion, stabilization and in rare
circumstances, resolution of conflicts. These missions were characterized by the
principle of non-coercion, limited military capability and neutrality of peacekeeping
forces, and consent of host countries. Contemporary peace operations, on the other
hand, have been marked by both military and civil tasks aimed at ensuring sustainable
peace. These functions include electoral support, governmental institution-building,
humanitarian assistance, human rights monitoring, observation and verification of
ceasefire agreements and buffer zones, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
(DDR) of former combatants, among others. The multifaceted tasks involved in
contemporary peace operations, combined with an altered international terrain
dominated by intrastate conflicts, pose significant challenges to the UN as the foremost
international organization responsible for the maintenance of international peace and
Two of the contemporary UN peace missions which manifest the complexity of
progressively undertaking peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building functions
are those deployed at East Timor and Kosovo 5. The peace operations in these
countries have been two of the longest UN missions in the post-Cold War period,
starting in 1999 and continuing up to the present. Both missions also are
comprehensive peace operations involving military and civil components. These
operations were generally judged as UN success stories, although the current political

Mats Berdal, Whither UN Peacekeeping?, Adelphi Paper 281. London: IISS, 1993, p. 6.
Paul Diehl, International Peacekeeping. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), pp. 4-9.
United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/index.asp.
East Timor formally changed its name into Democratic Republic of Timor Leste when it declared independence
in May 2002. In this paper, the conventional name East Timor is used all throughout.

conditions in the two countries show that much more needs to be done to ensure lasting
peace. In the case of East Timor, the assassination attempts against President Jose
Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on 11 February 2008 demonstrate
that the security situation remains to be volatile, despite the establishment of an
indigenous police and defense forces and the presence of an international stabilization
team. The same can be said with regard to Kosovo, which recently declared its
independence on 17 February 2008. The declaration was criticized by Serbia as illegal,
saying that the act represents a forceful and unilateral secession of a part of the
territory of the Republic of Serbia and does not produce any legal effect either in the
Republic of Serbia or in the international legal order. Such statement reflects that
tension remains to be high in the Balkans, and that peace in Kosovo continues to be
This essay argues that the cases of East Timor and Kosovo typify the crises that
the UN is increasingly confronting at present, and most probably, will continue to
confront in the future. The situation in these countries entailed the deployment of
comprehensive operations involving military and civil components. In both cases,
however, the UN achieved far greater success in its military functions compared to its
civil tasks. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the UN operations in these two
countries in order to draw some lessons which could improve comparable missions in
the future. While it may be argued that each peace operation is unique and may entail
distinctive analysis, the author believes that it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel
over and over again with every new peace mission. Lessons can be (and should be)
learned from previous experiences so that the wheel can become better and more
efficient with each try. To this end, the essay is divided into three parts. The first part
provides a historical background about the origins of the conflicts in East Timor and
Kosovo. This would serve as the take-off point for the second part of the essay, which
scrutinizes the UN peace missions in these two countries by focusing on the operations
mandate, their successes and failures, as well as lessons that could be drawn from
such operations. The third and final part summarizes the main findings of the essay

Kosovo is now officially known as the Republic of Kosovo upon its declaration of independence in February
2008. The short-form Kosovo is used throughout this paper.
Security Council holds Emergency Talks over Kosovo, http://www.unmikonline.org/news.htm#1802.

and offers some recommendations on how UN peace operations could be further


East Timor: From Portuguese Colonization to Indonesian Annexation
Apart from the brief Japanese occupation during the Second World War, East
Timor had been a Portuguese colony since the 16th century. In the mid-1970s, political
instability in Portugal led to the institution of a new Portuguese government and the
passage of a new constitutional law on decolonization. As regards East Timor, the new
government wanted to establish a provisional government and a popular assembly that
would determine the future status of the territory. Subsequently, three political parties
were formed in East Timor which forwarded distinctive views as regards the colonys
future. The Uniao Democratica Timorense (UDT) and Associacao Popular Democratica
Timorense (APODETI) advocated integration of East Timor with Portugal and Indonesia
respectively. The left-wing Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente
(FRETILIN), on the other hand, supported the call for an independent East Timor.
These differences eventually led to a civil war with the FRETILIN having the
upper hand. Consequently, Indonesia, with the aid of the UDT, launched an invasion of
East Timor in December 1975 although Indonesia never had any territorial claims to
East Timor prior to this period. The conflict resulted in the immediate departure of the
Portuguese colonial masters, paving the way for East Timors integration as Indonesias
27th province in 1976. The Indonesian occupation of East Timor lasted for more than
two decades. It was marked by brutality with an estimated 100,000 East Timorese
civilians killed in the civil struggle. For this reason, the occupation was internationally
condemned, although more tacitly than explicitly so. The UN refused to recognize
Indonesias forced annexation of East Timor and called for the formers immediate
withdrawal. Since 1982, the UN had sponsored talks between Indonesia and Portugal

This intervention had the blessings of the United States because it was concerned about containing communism in
Southeast Asia.
Thomas Rippon, Roger Girouard, and Eliot Lowey, Leadership for a Sustainable Culture of Peace: The UN
Mission in East Timor, Canadian Military Journal, Autumn 2004, p. 57.
Susanne Allden and Ramses Amer, The United Nations and Peacekeeping: Lessons Learned from Cambodia and
East Timor, www.jus.umu.se/RoLconf/AlldenAmerabsbio.1.pdf , p. 5

to resolve the final status of East Timor. Time and again, however, the UN General
Assembly deferred a ruling on the matter. In the late 1990s, a change in the Indonesian
political regime resulted in a breakthrough. A set of agreements between the two
countries were signed in New York on 5 May 1999, noting that popular consultation
would be conducted to determine whether the East Timorese wanted autonomy or
complete separation from Indonesia. The UN was tasked to facilitate the popular
consultation to know the sentiments of East Timorese people as regards this issue.
Thus began the UN peace operations in East Timor which continues to this day.
Kosovo: Serbian Domination and the Albanian Response
The origins of ethnic conflicts in Kosovo dated back hundreds of years, although
the most recent crisis in the territory can be traced to the rise of Slobodan Milosevic and
the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Kosovo was one of
the constituent units of FRY, which was composed of six republics (Serbia, Croatia,
Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia Herzegovina) and two autonomous
provinces in Serbia (Kosovo and Vojvodina). The province is composed of an ethnically
mixed population of Albanians, Serbs. Romas, Turks and Gypsies, although about 90
percent of the population are ethnic Albanians. In 1989, Serbian leader Slobodan
Milosovic forcibly altered the autonomous status of Kosovo and Vojvodina, bringing
them under the direct control of the Serbian capital Belgrade.
Prior to 1989, majority of the Kosovar Albanians supported the provinces
membership in the Yugoslav federation, although they were pressing for the elevation of
the status of Kosovo to a republic. With the lost of Kosovos autonomy, however, they
organized themselves into League for a Democratic Kosovo (LDK) and conducted a
non-violent campaign for independence. Under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova,
this political organization also set up a parallel state apparatus that collected taxes and
provided education, healthcare, among others. Milosovic responded to this move with
more repressive measures. The further deterioration of the situation in the mid-1990s
led to the emergence of a guerilla movement, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which
claimed responsibility for the series of attacks against Serbian authorities in Kosovo. In

Independent International Commission on Kosovo, Kosovo Report: Conflict, International Response, Lessons
Learned (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 33-42.

1998, an open conflict between the Serbian and Kosovar Albanian forces resulted in
deaths of over 1,500 Kosovar Albanians and displacement of 400,000 people. The
threat of NATO air strikes compelled the Milosevic regime to enter into an agreement in
October to withdraw its forces from Kosovo. In early 1999, conflicts erupted again due
to acts of provocation of both sides and the excessive and disproportionate use of force
of the Serbian forces. The international community responded by facilitating a
political solution to the conflict through the Rambouillet peace agreement. The
agreement, however, failed because of the refusal of the Serbian delegation to sign it.
Instead, the Serbian forces stepped up its operations against ethnic Albanians in
Kosovo. This led to NATO attacks from 24 March to 9 June. The strikes were
successful in attaining NATOs political objectives, facilitating the deployment of
international civil and security presences in Kosovo under the auspices of the UN.


East Timor
Background on the East Timor Peace Operations

The UNs peace operations in East Timor follow the progression from
peacemaking, to peace enforcement, to peacekeeping, and finally, to peace-building.
The first mission deployed was a peacemaking effort the United Nations Mission in
East Timor (UNAMET) (JuneOctober 1999). Its primary mandate was to organize
and conduct an election to determine whether the East Timorese people wanted a
special autonomy within, or separation from, Indonesia. 13 After the votes were cast, the
results showed an overwhelming support for independence. This led to a rampage of
Indonesia-backed militia forces resulting in mass violence, numerous deaths,
destruction of infrastructure, and massive displacement of the population. The
abominable situation put pressure on Indonesia to agree to an Australian-led, UN-
mandated multinational peace enforcement force, International Force East Timor
(INTERFET). INTERFET was mandated to restore peace and order, protect and

Larry Wentz, Background in L. Wentz, ed., Lessons from Kosovo: the KFOR Experience (Washington: CCRP,
2002), p. 17.
Ibid, p. 18.
UN Security Council Resolution 1246.

support UNAMET, and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations. This was
eventually replaced by a UN peacekeeping force - the United Nations Transitional
Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) (October 1999May 2002). UNTAET
exercised administrative authority over East Timor during its transition to independence.
Specifically, it was tasked to provide security and maintain law and order (with authority
to make arrests); establish an effective public administration; support in the
development of social and civil services; coordinate and ensure the delivery of
humanitarian aid, rehabilitation and development assistance; strengthen institutional
capacity for self-government; and establish conditions for sustainable development.
In May 2002, East Timor declared independence and subsequently became the 191st
member of the United Nations. The United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor
(UNMISET) (May 2002May 2005) was then created to provide assistance to the
newly independent East Timor until all operational responsibilities were fully devolved to
the East Timor authorities. In particular, UNMISET was mandated to extend assistance
to core administrative structures; provide interim law enforcement and public security;
assist in the development of a national police force; and contribute to the maintenance
of external and internal security. Once peace became relatively stable, a new
political mission, the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) (May 2005
August 2006), was formed to support the development of critical state institutions and
the police and provided training in observance of democratic governance and human
rights. The new spate of violence in the spring of 2006 led to the deployment of the
current peace-building operation in East Timor, the United Nations Integrated Mission in
Timor-Leste (UNMIT), initially for six months with the possibility of renewal for further
periods. It was mandated to support the government and other relevant institutions with
a view of consolidating stability, enhancing a culture of democratic governance and
facilitating a political dialogue. Furthermore, the Mission was also tasked to provide
assistance in the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections through technical and
logistical support, electoral policy advise, among others. Finally, it was asked to help, in

UN Security Council Resolution 1264.
UN Security Council Resolution 1272.
UN Security Council Resolution 1243.

cooperation and coordination with other partners, in further building the capacity of state
and government institutions. In 2007, UN Security Council Resolution 1745 extended
UNMIT for another year.

Assessing the UN Operations in East Timor

The UN peace operations in East Timor can be considered a partial success.
Generally speaking, the UN performed well in traditional peacekeeping, including
electoral assistance, humanitarian assistance, and emergency rehabilitation, such as
the rebuilding the basic infrastructure. It did not do very well, however, in the peace-
building area of institution-building and governance-related tasks. 19
During the elections, the UN was able to register 451,792 potential voters in a
population of about 890,000 despite the tight timetable, the heightened level of tension,
the mountainous terrain and poor roads, and the difficult communication system. More
importantly, it was able to successfully administer a popular election where 98 percent
of registered voters went to the polls. This was done despite UNAMETs lack of military
component, which made the administration of elections in the territory extremely
difficult. 20
When the election results showed that an overwhelming majority (78.5 percent)
rejected the proposed autonomy under Indonesia, violence erupted resulting in virtual
destruction of East Timors infrastructure and displacement of a large part of the
population. Belatedly, the UN Security Council authorized the multinational force
INTERFET to restore peace and security in the territory. While the damage to persons
and property had already been done, the situation could have been worse if the UN did
not authorize this peacekeeping force. As what was observed by Rippon, Girouard and
While some killing had occurred notably in Suai where dozens were massacred as the
Indonesian army and the militias moved towards the nearby West Timor border there
were relatively few deaths in light of the opportunities presented. If the militias intention

UN Security Council Resolution 1599. UNOTIL was extended three times by subsequent UN Security Council
resolutions (1677, 1690, 1703). It was brought to a close in August 2007.
UN Security Council Resolution 1704.
Report of the 2002 Tokyo Conference. UNTAET: Debriefing and Lessons (Tokyo: UNITAR, IPS and JIIA, 2003),
p. xxvi.

was to go around again after the destruction of infrastructure was completed, the rapid
UN mandate and armed response interrupted those plans. 21
The immediate substitution of INTERFET by UNTAET was also commendable,
given the fact that the former was primarily composed of Western troops under the
leadership of Australia. The Asian component in UNTAET, particularly the appointment
of a Filipino as Commander of its peacekeeping force, enhanced the legitimacy of the
operation in the eyes of the East Timorese people. Furthermore, UNTAET was also
given a thorough mandate to guarantee the maintenance of peace, facilitate the
establishment of a government, and create conditions for sustainable development in
East Timor. Of critical importance here was the authority given to the UN civilian police
to make arrests since this allowed them to capture and arrest militia members who
committed atrocities in the aftermath of the elections.
The attempt of the UN to involve the East Timorese people in the process of
nation-building was also laudable as it gave the people ownership of the process. It
also preempted possible allegations that nation-building efforts were nothing but
impositions from the Western countries. The cases of Afghanistan and Iraq at
present highlight the importance of involving the local population in post-conflict
reconstruction, not to mention the significance of undertaking such process under the
auspices of the UN.
In an article of former Deputy Force Commander of UNTAET, he cited a number
of reasons for the success of UN peace operations in East Timor. First, the referendum
as regards the final status of East Timor was initiated and approved by the governing
power Indonesia. Second, Indonesia also agreed to the deployment of the international
peace enforcement force, INTERFET. Third, the East Timorese have been generally
supportive of the UN. Fourth, the relatively more secure environment in East Timor
compared to other post-conflict situations. Fifth, the international community has
remained to be very supportive of East Timor. He summarized this by saying that the

Amira Ghoniem, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Improvements for Mission Success,
stanford.edu/class/e297a/United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.pdf, p. 21.
Rippon, Girouard, and Lowey, Leadership, p. 60.
Amira Ghoniem, United Nations, p. 20.
Michael Smith, East Timor: Some Peace-building Lessons, A paper presented to the JIIA-UNU Symposium,
Peace-Building: Towards Rehabilitation of East Timor and Afghanistan, 24-25 February 2004, UN University
Centre, Tokyo, Japan, p. 5.

success in East Timor is due to legitimacy legitimacy based on the justness of the
struggle; legitimacy based on the morality underpinning each of the UN-mandated
missions; and legitimacy of the basic right of a small population of under one million
people to determine their future and to break free from the poverty cycle. 24
Notwithstanding these successes, the UN peace operations in East Timor also
have their share of failures. One of these was the inability of the UN Security Council to
foresee the consequences of a rejection of autonomy by the East Timorese, resulting in
a humanitarian catastrophe. Furthermore, the UN also failed to recognize the necessity
of immediately setting up a transitional administration after the election. As what Martin
and Mayer-Rieckh observed, (t)he UN was prepared neither to respond to the violence
and devastation that followed the ballot, nor for the need to rapidly establish a
transitional administration. Hence, almost 70 percent of East Timors infrastructure
in the capital Dili were either destroyed or damaged in the aftermath of the elections.
Moreover, about 500,000 East Timorese were displaced from their homes by force. 26
Another problem was with regard to the administration of elections. In the
UNTAET-sponsored elections for the Constituent Assembly in 2001, for example, it was
pointed out that the timetable for the transition process was short, civic education was
limited, and new political parties had little time to establish themselves. There were
also allegations that instead of ensuring a level playing field in the 2001 elections, the
UNTAET supported the pre-determined victory of the dominant party, the FRETILIN.
For this reason, it was observed that (w)hile UNTAET secured independence in a short
period, its contribution to sustainable self-government and democratic political
environment was limited. 28
As regards institution-building, UNTAET in particular, failed to provide law and
order as it was given a broad mandate without the corresponding monetary and human
resource support. The East Timor Police Force (ETPS) and the Defense Force

Ian Martin and Alexander Mayer-Rieckh, The United Nations and East Timor: From Self-Determination to
State-Building in M. Caballero-Anthony and A. Acharya, eds., UN Peace Operations and Asian Security (London,
Routledge, 2005), p. 110.
Jaime De los Santos and Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr. Restoring Hope: Peacekeeping The East Timor
Experience (Quezon City, AM Cleofe Prints, 2001), p. 23.
Ian Martin and Alexander Mayer-Rieckh, The United Nations and East Timor: From Self-Determination to
State-Building, International Peacekeeping, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 2005): p. 136.

(FDTL), for example, were still not prepared to take over full responsibility for public
security and external defense even after the declaration of independence in 2002.
Questions linger on whether they could counter the resurgence of militia activity, or
effectively patrol and police the coastal waters of East Timor. 30
Finally, the slow arrival and variable quality of military and civil administrators
were also observed. Citing his experience as Force Commander of the Peacekeeping
Force of UNTAET, Lt. Gen De los Santos pointed out that some deployed troops were
inadequately trained for peacekeeping jobs. This actually reduced the overall
effectiveness of the Force in performing its mission. Addressing the same through
training was too late. Hence, the employment of inadequately trained personnel
became an added disadvantage 31
Lessons Learned from the East Timor Operations
The proper relationship between peacekeeping and peace enforcement is one of
the lessons that could be drawn from the UN operations in East Timor. Scholars and
policy analysts are divided on whether peacekeeping should be distinguished from
peace enforcement or whether these two should go together. The experience of East
Timor clearly showed that peacekeeping must be accompanied by peace enforcement,
if necessary. The case of INTERFET manifested the importance of having a peace
enforcement force which was prepared for combat action when the situation calls for it.
Such force, however, should also be given the necessary mandate, troops, equipment,
and robust rules of engagement in order for it to successfully fulfill its mission.
INTERFET, without doubt, was a successful mission that could serve as a model for
future collective forms of interventions under Chapter VII of the Charter of the UN. 33
UN operations in East Timor also highlighted the requisites in undertaking
comprehensive, multifunctional peace-building tasks. As what was pointed out above,
the UN efforts in East Timor was not very successful in building and strengthening

Allden and Amer, The United Nations, p. 7.
Smith, East Timor, p. 7.
De los Santos and Burgos, Jr. Restoring Hope, p. 46.
Albrecht Schnabel and Thakur Ramesh, Cascading Generations of Peacekeeping: Across the Mogadishu line to
Kosovo and Timor in A. Schnabel and R. Thakur, eds., United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (Tokyo, United
Nations University Press, 2001), p. 24..
Allden and Amer, The United Nations, p. 8.

institutions of governance in the territory. UNs experience made it clear that there must
be adequate financial and human resources, and sufficient time, to engage in
comprehensive multifunctional peace-building tasks. The failure of the UN to
strengthen East Timors police and defense forces seemed to be largely due to the
absence of these requisites.
Background on the Kosovo Peace Operations

The UNs direct involvement in Kosovos affairs began when the Security Council
issued Resolution No. 1244 in June 1999 creating the United Nations Mission in Kosovo
(UNMIK). The resolution authorized the UN Secretary-General to deploy in the war-
ravaged province of Kosovo international security and civil presences in order to
facilitate the establishment of an interim administration where the people of Kosovo can
enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and which will
provide transitional administration while establishing and overseeing the development of
provisional democratic self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful
and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo.

The responsibilities of the international security component include the following:

maintain and enforce a ceasefire; ensure the withdrawal and prevent the return in
Kosovo of Yugoslavia and Serbias forces; demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA) and other Albanian groups; establish a secure environment for return of refugees
and displaced persons, for operation of international civil presence, for establishment of
transitional administration, and for delivery of humanitarian aid; ensure freedom of
movement; and perform other tasks until the international civil presence can. In order to
perform these functions, the Kosovo [International Security] Force (KFOR), was
deployed with substantial NATO participation.

The international civil component, on the other hand, are tasked to: perform basic
civilian administrative functions; promote the establishment of substantial autonomy and
self-government in Kosovo; facilitate a political process to determine Kosovo's future
status; coordinate humanitarian and disaster relief of all international agencies; support


the reconstruction of key infrastructure; maintain civil law and order; promote human
rights; and assure the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons
to their homes in Kosovo.

In order to implement its mandate, UNMIK initially brought together four "pillars"
under its leadership. At the end of the emergency stage, Pillar I (humanitarian
assistance), led by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), was phased out in June 2000. In May 2001, a new Pillar I was established.
Currently, the pillars are:

Pillar I: Police and Justice, under the direct leadership of the United Nations;
Pillar II: Civil Administration, under the direct leadership of the United Nations;
Pillar III: Democratization and Institution Building, led by the Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE);
Pillar IV: Reconstruction and Economic Development, led by the European Union
(EU). 35

Under UNMIK, Joint Interim Administrative Departments were created in January

2000, followed by local elections in Kosovo's 30 Municipalities in October 2000. In May
2001, the new Constitutional Framework of Kosovo was adopted. Province-wide
elections also took place in November 2001. In February 2008, Kosovo declared its
independence from Serbia.

Assessing the UN Operations in Kosovo

Similar with the case of East Timor, the UN operation in Kosovo was also a
mixture of success and failure. On the one hand, the mission can be considered as a
success because of its containment of Kosovo-wide violence in the aftermath of the
1988-1999 war. On the other hand, it can also be considered as a failure because of
the unsatisfactory democratic institutionalization and the lack of accountability of the
peace-builders under the jurisdiction of the UN.
As regards the problems of UN operations in Kosovo, it must be emphasized at
the outset that UNMIK appeared to be hastily formed. The UN Security Council

UNMIK at a Glance, http://www.unmikonline.org/intro.htm.

resolution which created the mission was adopted just hours after the conclusion of
NATOs military operation. As a result, the mandate given to UNMIK appeared to be
very vague, as it avoided taking a position on the key political question of Kosovos
relationship to Serbia. While it was already an open secret within the UN that Kosovo
would eventually be granted independence, the relevant resolutions and official
statements from the organization continued to emphasize respect for the territorial
integrity and political independence of FRY. For this reason, UNMIK devolved
increasing autonomy and self-government to Kosovo, while avoiding any actions that
would prejudge the outcome on (Kosovos) final status. 38 Because of the contradiction
in the mandate, difficulties were encountered by the UNMIK in its implementation of
state-building activities. This can be clearly seen in the course of the drafting of
Kosovos constitutional framework. In that particular instance, UNMIK officials resisted
Albanian attempts to include reference to the will of the people as this might be
interpreted as leaning towards an independent Kosovo. 39
UNMIK was criticized during the transition period for its unwillingness to take
responsibility for resurgence of violence, similar to what happened in March 2004 when
nineteen people were killed and thousands of minority ethnic groups were expelled from
their homes. Since UNMIK held all areas of state authority (executive, legislative and
judicial), and Kosovos Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) only had
limited authority, such denial of responsibility was unwarranted. As what was noted by
peace-builders, such as UNMIK and KFOR, need to accept full responsibility and
liability for guaranteeing the right to order and security for as long as they hold full state
authority. No one else carries the prime liability for human rights violations other than
actors with state authority, especially in a post-war environment under international
administration. By claiming that responsibility lies with the bodies of local self-
government, and at the same time, failing to effectively protect or provide remedy for

Simon Chesterman, Kosovo in Limbo: State-Building and Substantial Autonomy,
www.ipacademy.org/pdfs/KOSOVO_in_Limbo.pdf, p. 4.
Report of the Secretary General, No Exit without Strategy: Security Council decision-Making and the Closure or
Transition of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations,
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N01/343/62/PDF/N0134362.pdf?OpenElement, p. 8
Chesterman, Kosovo, p. 5.

victims of ethnic violence, international organizations should reflect on their own
potential complicity in allowing these violations to occur.
There were also criticisms against the UNMIK given the tension between its
personnel who regard respect for human rights and the rule of law as central to its
institution-building mandate, and those who see this as secondary to the over-riding
concerns of peace and security. This was a sensitive issue, as senior UNMIK
personnel have personal immunity, and could therefore not be persecuted for human
rights violations. Moreover, members of the KFOR are not even subject to UNMIK
scrutiny. For this reason, the Kosovars right to effective remedy and equal protection
of the law were said to be violated.
Another criticism of the UNMIK was its indecisiveness as regards which law
would apply in Kosovo. Initially, the UNMIK ruled that the law in force prior to 24 March
1999 (the day NATO air strikes started) would apply, as long as this law was consistent
with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and with international human rights
standards. This ruling was contested by the Albanian dominated judiciary put in place
by the UNMIK, as the law operating in 1999 was illegally imposed in Kosovo by Serbia.
They insisted that the law prior to Serbias abolition of Kosovos autonomy in March
1989 should be adopted instead. UNMIK eventually reversed its earlier ruling, resulting
in serious questions about its credibility. 42
Finally, similar with East Timor, the capabilities of the civilian police (CIVPOL) to
handle peace and order situations were also questioned. This resulted in situations
where the military increasingly assumed law and order functions. This is problematic
because the military are not trained for civil policing functions. 43 In the case of Kosovo,
the vacuum was quickly filled by informal arrangements that may undermine the
credibility of the international presence when eventually deployed. 44

Jens Narten, In Need of Self-Reflection: Peace-building in Post-War Kosovo from a Systems-Analytical
Perspective, The Whitehead Journal of International Diplomacy and International Relations, Winter/Spring 2007,
p. 130.
Chesterman, Kosovo, p. 11.
Anthony Miller, UNMIK: Lessons from the Early Institution-Building Phase,
http://www.nesl.edu/lawrev/VOL39/1/Miller.pdf, p.
Ibid., p. 12.

Lessons Learned from the Kosovo Operations

Cooperation with other international/regional organizations is important as the

tasks involved in contemporary peace operations are too varied and complex to be
undertaken by a single organization. In the case of Kosovo, UNMIK cooperated with
other international organizations such as NATO, OSCE and EU in establishing the
different pillars of its operations. Without doubt, the UN entered into a multifunctional
undertaking in Kosovo that was unprecedented in both its scope and structural
complexity. No other UN mission was implemented with considerable links to other
international/regional organizations. 45

Like any other peace operations, financial and technical support was critical for
satisfactory performance of functions. In the case of UNMIK, the peace-building
components under Pillar 1 (Police and Justice) and Pillar 2 (Civil Administration)
suffered from perennial lack of funds. For this reason, training and facilities for local
police were lacking. Civilian institutions such as the judiciary and a corrections system
were not immediately established, resulting in a situation where the peacekeeping force
performed law enforcement functions longer than what was desirable. The lack of funds
also prohibited the employment of international judges and prosecutors who could
provide training for local judges, and who could handle cases which were not amenable
to the impartial judgment of local judges. Due to these reasons, the civilian
institutions in Kosovo remain to be deficient to this day.


This essay attempted to analyze the UN peace operations in East Timor
with the expressed purpose of drawing some lessons which could be used in improving
comparable peace missions in the future. The author argued that the peace missions in
these two countries represent the type of operations that the UN must confront in the
post-Cold War era. These missions go beyond the principles and categories of action

UNMIK at a Glance, http://www.unmikonline.org/intro.htm.
Miller, UNMIK, pp. 21-23.

of traditional peace operations since they involve not only a military element but a
civilian component as well. In particular, the civilian functions center on peace-building,
or the creation, reform or strengthening of institutions of governance in order to lay the
foundations for lasting peace. In the cases of East Timor and Kosovo, the essay hinted
that the UN peace operations in these countries appeared to achieve greater success in
fulfilling their military and ancillary functions compared to their civilian tasks. In a way, it
may be argued that institution-building and governance responsibilities are inherently
more difficult to perform. Some scholars and analysts even argued that these functions
would take years or even decades to realize. While this was certainly a correct
observation, it cannot also be denied that past and recent attempts of peace-building
can provide insights on what should be done to increase the chances of success in
comparable operations in the future. It was in this light that this essay paid extra
attention on the peace-building aspects of the peace operations in East Timor and
With regard to East Timor, the paper highlighted the importance of peace
enforcement as a requisite before peace-building activities could be undertaken. The
peace enforcement mission INTERFET successfully put to a halt the mass atrocities
committed by the Indonesian-backed militia against the East Timorese population.
Once relative peace was achieved, the UN immediately constituted UNTAET, a
peacekeeping force with a thorough mandate and robust rules of engagement, which
had the authority to arrest and bring to justice individuals or groups who/which may
disrupt the peace. While the stage was set for successful peace-building, the case of
East Timor showed the difficulties involved in undertaking such efforts. For one, the
lack of adequate financial and human resources definitely impacted on East Timors
capacity to support institution-building and governance functions. Furthermore, the lack
of sufficient lead time to prepare for comprehensive and multifunctional peace
operations was also a factor which negatively affected UNs peace-building record in
East Timor.
As regards Kosovo, the complexity of undertaking comprehensive and
multifunctional peace operations was partially addressed by tapping the support of
regional organizations such as the NATO, the OSCE, and the EU, albeit, under UN

auspices. This division of labor allowed these organizations to concentrate in their
respective areas of responsibility, whether security, civil administration, democratic
institution-building, or economic development. UNMIK and these regional
organizations, however, were criticized for their lack of accountability. Given the length
of time that Kosovo was under the UN interim administration (1999-2008), such issue
impacted significantly on the credibility of UNMIK and its supporting organizations,
especially as they were engaged in building institutions based on the principles
democracy. Moreover, like the peace missions in East Timor, UNMIK also suffered
from the lack of financial and human resource support for its peace-building operations.
For this reason, critical institutions such as the judiciary, the police, and the bureaucracy
were belatedly instituted (if they were instituted at all) and of questionable capacity.
The continued presence of UN peace missions in East Timor and Kosovo is in
itself a proof of the difficulty of building institutions of governance which would ensure
lasting peace. For this reason, the commitment of the UN and the rest of the
international community to this goal should be strong enough to bring the peace-
building missions to their desired end. It is also important for the UN to safeguard its
legitimacy and credibility in the performance of its duties. For at the end of the day,
these characteristics may be the most important instrument of the UN as it engages in
its primary task of maintaining international peace and security.


United Nations Security Council Documents

UN Security Council Resolution 1246.
UN Security Council Resolution 1264.
UN Security Council Resolution 1272.
UN Security Council Resolution 1243.
UN Security Council Resolution 1599.
UN Security Council Resolution 1704.

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