One of the key experiments of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), was the decentralisation of political authority to district administrators. In the longer term evolution of peace operations in the 1990s, it was accepted that interventions had to achieve a political solution in complex emergencies. Various components – including military security, civilian policing, humanitarian assistance, human rights protection, judicial re-establishment and development coordination – were to be centrally uniﬁed and operationally harmonised under civilian command.
The international political authority needed to administer a territory and its population – and not merely its own organisation – if it was to restore a domestic body politic that had collapsed or was contested. The aim of peace- maintenance was the obsolescence of the intervenor and the transfer of power to the indigenous community as soon as possible.