Courageous Diplomacy: How Timor-Leste’s Diplomatic Front Fought for Independence During the Indonesian Occupation from 1975-1999
Ariel Mota Alves Department of Political Science - St. Olaf College, USA
Without the UN and responses from the international community, it would not have been possible for an independent Timor-Leste to exist. The Diplomatic Front (Frente Diplomata), a branch of the Resistance Movement during Indonesian occupation in Timor-Leste, played a crucial role in the process. How did they do it? Analyzing archives of eighty (N=80) state documents, press releases, and correspondence letters from 1975-1999, I argue that Timor-Leste diplomats, led by José Ramos-Horta, leveraged international conventions to raise awareness about the illegal Indonesian occupation and human rights atrocities in Timor-Leste.
Secondly, amplifying human rights atrocities was a popular strategy to call for international interventions. Finally, the regime type is significant as the Diplomatic Front engaged more with states with higher levels of democracy and shared historical pasts. Overall, master-framing, the use of peace as a bargaining tool, and resilience matter to the success of the resistance.
Keywords: courageous diplomacy, Diplomatic Front, FRETILIN, José Ramos-Horta, Indonesian invasion