In post-conflict Timor-Leste, primordial leadership proved to be the key to building sustainable peace. It facilitated national ownership and accountability, helping national leaders to successfully turn the security crises of 2006 and 2008 into opportunities for fostering respect for democratic governance. This change in mindset and the ensuing spirit of national unity were instrumental in achieving peace and stability – rather than the externally induced, exclusive efforts in building institutional frameworks for the rule of law and democratic governance.
Indeed, while the application of democratic principles is necessary in the long term, it alone is not sufficient for building sustainable peace in an immediate post-conflict period. Timor-Leste was successful only because of its leaders’ commitment to national interest, identity and unity; ability to harmonize the universal ideals and principles of governance with local community values and customs; passion and courage to empower others; willingness to pursue the future rather than the past; and capability to transform the mindset and mentality of people.
Sukehiro Hasegawa is former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Timor-Leste (2004–2006) and professor of global politics in the faculty of law, Hosei University (2007–2013). He is currently a visiting professor of Hosei University and United Nations University.
Beginning of a peacebuilding mission in Timor-Leste
First acts of national governance (2002–2004)
Growing tensions in Timorese society
Internal conflicts, confrontations and clashes in 2006
Transitional justice: Primacy of truth or justice for reconciliation and peace
Premature withdrawal of peacekeepers and transition to a
sustainable development framework
UN mission management
Legacy of successful peacebuilding in Timor-Leste
Appendix I: Chronology
Appendix II: Government ministers and senior officials of the
Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
“This book is an insightful analytical presentation of developments that took place in Timor-Leste during the period of four years and three months Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa served first as Deputy Special Representative and then as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) and head of UN peace missions, UNMISET, UNOTIL and UNMIT from July 2002 to September 2006. It reflects not only his intimate knowledge of events that happened during this period but also his genuine care about Timorese people and their leaders who struggled to lay a foundation for a free, peaceful and democratic nation.
As Professor Hasegawa points out, the United Nations and other external supporters played a critically important role in Timor-Leste in facilitating the process of building the national capacity for self-governance based on the principles of democracy. But, it was the national leaders’ commitment to national interest that made it possible successful peace and state building.
I am grateful to the United Nations for having provided its assistance since 1999 through peacekeeping and peace building missions together with UN agencies. Along with other SRSGs and senior staff of UN missions and agencies assigned to Timor-Leste, Professor Hasegawa played a most valuable role in extending his advisory services and support to the Timorese leaders and people. As I said in my speech welcoming back Professor Hasegawa to Timor-Leste in September 2009, he is a good friend of Timor-Leste who has been with us through both difficult times and periods of progress set on the path to development.
I recommend highly this book to those who are interested in knowing how the Timorese people carried out peace and nation building efforts with the assistance of the international community. ”
— Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, President (2002–2007) and Prime Minister (since 2007), The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
“It is with much appreciation that I find in this book what I did together with Hasegawa as head of UN peacekeeping missions and UN agencies. He sat right next to me at a countless number of meetings that I chaired as the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister. When security crisis took place, as SRSG and Deputy SRSG, Hasegawa was always in touch with me and other Timorese leaders in search of immediate secession of hostility and sustainable solutions to security problems.
The central theme of his book is the commitment of national leaders to national interest rather than the establishment of perfect institutional mechanisms that determines the success of a post-conflict country in achieving its stability and the sustainability of democratic governance. Hasegawa re-enacts in detail how the Timorese leaders endeavoured to find their roles in their own areas of strength and struggled to serve the national interest of Timor-Leste sometimes at the expense of their personal gains.
Anyone who is interested in knowing how the leaders and people of this nascent country of Timor-Leste gained their self-confidence in building peace and stability should read this book. ”
— José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate, Foreign Minister (2002–2006), Prime Minister (2006–2007) and President (2007–2012), The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
“In order to achieve peace building in a post-conflict country like Timor-Leste, I consider as Professor Hasegawa points out, that it is the relationship of trust and confidence that UN mission leaders need to build with national leadership in order to bring about a change in the mind-set and mentality of both national leaders and people of a host country. For this to happen, UN and other international officers should not just find the shortcomings of any post-conflict society and merely insist on imposing a legal and institutional model of governance. The mission leaders need to develop a more productive approach that are culturally oriented to the society in which they work. The international community needs to find and support national leaders in post-conflict countries until the rule of law can be fully accepted and internalized by the people and society as a whole.
I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in knowing how the Timorese leaders and people have transcended old mentality and acquired new mind-set needed for making democracy work in the country.”
— Fernando La Sama de Araújo, President, National Parliament (2007– 2012) and Deputy Prime Minister (since 2012), The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
“This is a book you should read if you want to understand how Timorese struggled to establish our own judicial system after we regained our political independence. Professor Hasegawa helped us a lot. As he rightly highlights the complexity of factors such as judicial traditions and languages, we had to address conflicting demands in order to build a viable justice system in Timor-Leste. He also points out rightly the need to reconcile competing desires by international partners in installing their own judicial system and the need to establish a simple and coherent judicial national system.”
— Claudio Ximenes, President, Court of Appeal, The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
“I was honored, together with my wife Babli, to have the opportunity to serve the people of Timor-Leste as the first Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to independent Timor-Leste. We were present at the dawn of their first day as a new nation after long years of trial and tribulation for them. Such a moment comes but once in the history of a people and is worthy of being recorded in every way possible for posterity. Sukehiro Hasegawa, who was my Deputy and subsequently took over as the Special Representative himself, is therefore well suited to do so. All those with an interest in nation building in Timor-Leste are in debt to Suki for his having turned his hand to this valuable task with the dedication which we know from his service to the three UN peace missions.
Uniquely for the United Nations our team was made responsible for successive peace missions in Timor-Leste. The responsibility entrusted to us to serve the Timorese people was onerous, pioneering and uplifting at the same time. In our minds we will always be part of their journey as a nation. I congratulate Suki for capturing the onset of the journey.
What made it possible for us to be at the start with confidence and hope was the partnership with the leaders of Timor-Leste. The Timorese people are immensely fortunate in the leaders that guided their first steps as a nation. History will applaud the guidance they have given. We will always wear the distinction with pride that we were there in solidarity at the beginning.”
— Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Timor-Leste and Head of UNMISET (2002–2004)
“You hold in your hands a book that is remarkable, both in the story that it tells and in the analysis that it provides. Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa gives us a comprehensive look at the development of Timor-Leste during the period immediately following the restoration of independence in 2002 up to and including the crisis in 2006. In doing so, he highlights the achievements of the Timorese people and their leaders, which were often accomplished against considerable odds. He also describes the work of the UN and the international community, including lessons learned with respect to the challenges of peacekeeping and peace building in a postconflict society. His reflections on transitional justice are of particular interest, as is his discussion of the serious crimes process, on which he sheds some new light.
Professor Hasegawa has twice served the people of Timor-Leste: first,as Deputy Special Representative and then Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, and second, as the author of this book. With the publication of this volume, no future commentator will be able to discuss the recent history of Timor-Leste without referring to Professor Hasegawa’s narration of events there and his analysis of their significance both to that country and the international community.”
— Phillip Rapoza, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Former International Judge and Coordinator of the Special Panels for Serious Crimes (2003–2005)
“Dr. Hasegawa has written an encyclopaedic history of the first crucial years after the restoration of East Timor’s independence. He has all the advantages of having been a close observer, and often a participant, in the important events about which he writes, and yet he reports fairly and calmly about these events. The book reflects the commitment to principle and the scrupulous regard for the interests and feelings of others that Dr. Hasegawa managed to combine during his service as chief of the United Nations mission in Timor. We were all lucky to have him then, and now we are fortunate to have the benefit of his observations and reflections.”
— Grover Joseph Rees, United States Ambassador to Timor-Leste (2002– 2006)