Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Sovereignty, self-determination, and the catalyst for change in the political status of East Timor

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posted on 2022-03-07, 02:58 authored by Virginia Webb
Starting with the premise that a change in the political status of East Timor is inevitable, and imminent, this dissertation evaluates the potential catalysts for this change. Indonesia invaded East Timor following the initiation of a decolonisation process by the administering power, Portugal. In the twenty - odd years since the invasion, the decolonisation era has come to a close, which has led to reformulation of the principle of self-determination. This principle is crucial to an understanding of the Timor conflict and this dissertation establishes that there is still a firm basis in international law for application of the principle of self - determination to East Timor. Indonesia's role in the conflict is examined, as are internal political changes in Indonesia. It is the political dynamics of the Indonesian state which will, it is argued, open a window of opportunity for the establishment of an independent East Timor. The responses of members of the international community, especially Australia and New Zealand, to the conflict are examined and this dissertation concludes that their realist approach to regional relations precludes them from agitating for change in the political status of East Timor. Sources include government documents, non-governmental organisation publications, Church publications, personal interviews, public lectures, audio and video recordings and secondary sources.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains All Rights

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Alley, Roderic