This paper uses the concept of strategic partnership to analyse the co-operation between Australia and Thailand in the peacekeeping operations in East Timor from 1999 to 2001. A strategic partnership in this paper focuses on how to countries work together by sharing skills, information, resources and risks to advance their perceived mutual interests on security issues. Based on the data collected through document analysis and semi-structured interviews in Australia and Thailand, this paper argues that before 1999, Australia and Thailand had shared the same stance on the incorporation of East Timor by Indonesia as both countries supported Indonesia’s action. However, there had been no evidence which suggested that Australia and Thailand worked together. After the East Timorese people voted for independence from Indonesia in the referendum conducted by the United Nations in 1999 and violence erupted, Australia and Thailand worked together in East Timor as strategic partners to restore peace and stability. Thailand’s contributions legitimised Australia’s leading roles in East Timor because Thailand represented an ASEAN component in the Australia-led International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). Moreover, Thailand provided the second largest number of troops and the Deputy Commander. At the operational level, while Australia demonstrated leadership and discipline, Thailand’s military officers demonstrated at least three skills which complemented the roles of Australian officers, namely: (1) the ability to get along with local people; (2) agricultural development; and (3) understanding of the way of life of East Timorese.
Thosaphon Chieocharnpraphan, University of Canberra, Australia
Stream: Politics – International Governance
This paper is part of the ACBPP2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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