On 30 August 1999, the people of East Timor voted by means of a direct, secret and universal ballot to begin a process leading towards independence. UNTAET was established on 25 October 1999 to administer the Territory, exercise legislative and executive authority during the transition period and support capacity-building for self-government.
However, widespread violence perpetrated by armed Militia's provoked an International response, sanctioned by the United Nations, to provide a security environment in which UNTAET could operate. Indonesia's military failed to intervene to stop the violence.
On 15 September 1999, the United Nations Security Council expressed concern at the deteriorating situation in East Timor and issued United Nations Security Council Resolution 1264 calling for a multinational force to restore peace and security to East Timor, to protect and support the United Nations mission there, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations until such time as a United Nations peacekeeping force could be approved and deployed in the area. The resolution also welcomes Australia's letter to accept the leadership of a proposed multinational force in East Timor and to make a substantial contribution to the force itself.
Australia provided the largest contingent of troops, hardware and equipment for the INTERFET operation–5,500 personnel at its peak–followed by New Zealand. New Zealand's contribution peaked at 1,200 personnel. It was New Zealand's largest overseas military deployment since the Korean War. Eventually 22 nations contributed to INTERFET which grew to over 11,500 strong. Other countries to contribute include (in alphabetical order), Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America. (Wikipedia)
INTERFET was an Intervention Force with a "Peacemaking" mandate, charged with the task of restoring the security situation before handing over to UNTAET. AUstralia provided the bulk of the force with support, troopsand materiel from New Zealand and a range of other countries. The Force was commanded by an Australian, Major General Peter Cosgrove.
East Timor became an independent country on 20 May 2002. Also that day, UNTAET was succeeded by the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) established by Security Council resolution 1410 of 17 May 2002 to provide assistance to core administrative structures critical to the viability and political stability of East Timor.