United Nations Peacekeeping Success Story: East Timor Celebrates First Independence Day

The United Nations Foundation And The Fund For East Timor Enable People Worldwide To Support Newest Country

Washington, D.C.

May 31, 2002


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation, in partnership with the Fund for East Timor, will make it possible to watch the world’s newest democracy come into being via a live webcast of the East Timor Independence Day celebrations set for May 19th and 20th.

Widely regarded as a success story for the United Nations peacekeeping efforts, East Timor will officially become its own nation led by President-elect Xanana Gusmão on May 20, 2002. This comes almost three years after the August 1999 elections that resulted in 98 percent of East Timorese voters choosing independence from Indonesia. In response to the bloody civil strife that followed the vote, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established to provide an integrated, multidimensional peacekeeping operation fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence.

The Fund for East Timor was established to assist in building the infrastructure required for the new democracy to prosper. Donations collected by the Fund for East Timor will be used to sponsor pregnant women waiting for the care they need, fund a malaria control program, and even help villagers purchase water buffalo to replace those that were killed before and after the violence that accompanied the election. For the majority of East Timorese, livestock are the principle economic assets, accumulated and handed down over generations.

“Many of our people in 1999 did not have time to save their belongings. Animals, housing, even tools – everything was lost and now everyone is in the process of rebuilding. Programs such as the Fund for East Timor send the right message, that independence is not just about waving flags and building institutions, but also about building a new future for their own villages. The relationship between people in villages in East Timor and people in towns and cities across the world can help create that future,” said President-elect Gusma~o.

The United Nations Foundation is working with the Fund for East Timor to make it possible for Americans to “participate” in the festivities via a live webcast and to donate online. Additionally, viewers can watch a music video produced by music artist Sting who has dedicated a song for this celebration. Also available will be video clips of interviews with key people in the new East Timorese government, such as President-elect Gusmao.

“The United Nations Foundation is proud to be a part of this historic event,” said President of the United Nations Foundation, Timothy E. Wirth.


The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist R.E. Turner’s historic gift to support UN causes. The United Nations Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations and its Charter. Through its grantmaking and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the United Nations Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.