Humanitarian Intervention and the Legacies of Security Council (In)action: East Pakistan (1971) and East Timor (1975-1979)
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Throughout the Cold War, the United Nations (UN) Security Council was perceived as powerless to prevent genocides, mass atrocities and deliberate displacement by the state. This is echoed by two crises in the Asia-Pacific. In 1971, when the government of Pakistan killed at least 300,000 of its citizens in East Pakistan and caused an estimated 8 to 10 million refugees to flee into India, the issue never reached the Council's agenda. Following the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, which displaced 300,000 East Timorese over the next four years, the Council met twice over the incident, but took no formal action. In both cases, these states used violence, coercion and mass displacement as tools in an attempt to vanquish locally based independence movements. In both cases, neither state appeared to be concerned by the international response.