For many years, a central forum for Timorese activism was the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization. Timor-Leste (East Timor) was listed on the committee's agenda as a Non-Self Governing Territory, under Portuguese rule. After the Indonesian invasion, it remained on the agenda, providing a crucial annual opportunity for Timorese activists and their supporters to speak about self-determination for Timor-Leste at the UN in New York.
After the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize went to Bishop Carlos Belo and Jose Ramos Horta, the Decolonization committee's annual hearings began to receive more attention. ETAN/Canada had been presenting at the sessions for some years, but along with other groups ramped up its profile at the Decolonization Commitee in 1997. ETAN's presentation was made by Isabel Galhos, then a Timorese refugee (one of three in Canada) living in Ottawa.