United Nations emblem

How do you build a nation from the ashes of conflict?
You make a safe space

A safe space
in which to build institutions

After the Popular Consultation of 1999, the people of East Timor, still suffering from a quarter century of conflict, set out to build their nation from a ravaged infrastructure.

UN peacekeepers helped Timor-Leste undertake this daunting task by first securing the space. In this space, the fledgling country could hold elections, build institutions, provide public services, improve quality of life and protect human rights.

The UN and the international community helped establish and train the National Police of Timor-Leste and supported the state entities that provide civilian oversight of security forces.

Over time, and despite setbacks, Timor-Leste’s police assumed full responsibility for policing as the UN moved toward an advisory role. Today, the women and men who form the police of Timor-Leste are on the frontlines of maintaining peace and stability. Timor-Leste has also built fire-fighting, emergency, immigration and other services that keep people safe.

Timor-Leste’s momentum in creating a safe space is exemplified by the Tour de Timor. Once a year, Timorese and international cyclists race safely through the county’s most remote locations, hosted and cheered on by villagers. The 2012 international Tour de Timor took racers for the first time across the Indonesian border through the Indonesian territory of West Timor to Timor-Leste’s exclave of Oecusse. This remarkable achievement is a sign of the growing cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia.