28 November 2000


Press Release
SC/6961



SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR EAST TIMOR BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL, SAYS TERRITORY’S TRANSITION TO INDEPENDENCE WELL ADVANCED

20001128

The security situation in East Timor was stable and the territory was well advanced on the transition to independence with the start of an avowedly political climate, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator for East Timor told the Security Council this morning.

Briefing the Council on the situation in East Timor, he said the availability of resources was a key constraint. The justice sector had been struggling with a serious lack of resources and infrastructure development, especially outside Dili, was another major challenge. The extent of East Timor’s destruction meant that reconstruction would remain an urgent need well beyond independence. He supported the call for increased flexibility in UNTAET’s use of assessed resources. It was absurd to preside over a mission that spent 10 assessed dollars on itself for every voluntary dollar spent on administering the territory.

He expressed concern about the existence and impunity of those among the militias who were incorrigibly committed to a violent path, but said there had been some progress in the repatriation of refugees and reconciliation talks. He went on to say that the objective of having a fully trained first battalion of the defence force by late 2001 was well on track. A United Nations peacekeeping presence would be required in some form until 2003, when the East Timor Defence Force was expected to be at full strength.

Responding to Mr. Vieira de Mello’s briefing, the representative of the United States said a key issue was the need to formulate a new plan for the role of the international community in post-independence East Timor. The parameters of that presence needed to be defined. The process of justice and reconciliation was also important. Without a process of justice, there would be no reconciliation, which was needed to solve the current problems in the territory. Those responsible for killing United Nations staff members must be brought to justice. Another crucial issue was the disbanding of militias.


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* Press Release SC/6960 of 27 November covered the 4235th Meeting of the Security Council and not the 4234th Meeting, as stated. The 4234th Meeting of the Security Council, also held on 27 November, was a closed meeting.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6961 4236th Meeting (AM) 28 November 2000

The representative of Jamaica said that last week the Council had held an open debate on exit strategies, with regard to peacekeeping operations. As UNTAET moved forward, it must ensure that the institutional structures it helped to create could withstand the test of time. It was important for all the relevant organs and agencies of the United Nations to be fully engaged in the process in East Timor and that the eventual withdrawal from East Timor stand as an example of the United Nations "getting peacekeeping right", he said.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Namibia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Argentina, Canada, China, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Tunisia, Mali, France and the Netherlands.

The meeting, which began at 11:04 a.m., was adjourned at 1:25 p.m.



Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6961 4236th Meeting (AM) 28 November 2000

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator for East Timor.

Statement by Special Representative

SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator for East Timor, said East Timor was now well advanced on the transition to independence and the beginnings of a more avowedly political climate existed. The security situation was stable. There were concerns about the existence and impunity of those among the militias who remained incorrigibly committed to a violent path, but there had been some progress in the repatriation of refugees and reconciliation talks.

He hoped that high-level cooperation among the Indonesian authorities, East Timorese leadership, the local community and humanitarian agencies would encourage an increase in overall returns, both organized and spontaneous. Since 6 September there had been over 2,200 spontaneous returns. At the same time, there had been a number of encouraging meetings and contacts in the cause of reconciliation. While there had been no definitive results, there were signs that three militia leaders would be able and willing to facilitate the return of a large number of refugees.

Regarding the Joint Border Committee, a mechanism intended to provide a forum for the discussion and resolution of all cross-border issues, it had not met because of scheduling difficulties in Jakarta, he said. The latest information from Dili was that the first meeting of the Committee would take place on Thursday in Jakarta.

The availability of resources remained a key constraint, he continued. He was pleased that the Security Council Mission had called for increased flexibility in the use of assessed resources. It was absurd to preside over a mission that spent 10 assessed dollars on itself for every voluntary dollar spent on administering the country.

He said the justice sector had been struggling with a serious lack of resources. Progress on bringing to justice those responsible for serious violations in 1999 was slower than had been hoped. A comprehensive strategy had been developed to step up the investigation of serious crimes. The challenge was to provide resources. He had prepared a list of additional resources needed to realize the strategy. He welcomed the suggestion that a short-term SWAT team be deployed to bridge the gap. Such teams would be welcomed in Dili sooner, rather than later.

He said infrastructure development, especially outside Dili, was another major challenge. The extent of East Timor’s destruction meant that reconstruction would remain an urgent need well beyond independence. He asked that UNTAET's assets be allowed to remain in East Timor after the mission was over. Plans for the creation of an East Timor Defence Force took a major step forward with the convening of a defence donors' conference last week in Dili. The objective of having a fully trained first battalion of the defence force by late 2001 was well on track. A United Nations peacekeeping presence would be required in some form until 2003, when the East Timor Defence Force was expected to be at full strength.

He said he would meet with donors in Brussels next week to review progress to date. A key issue would be the recruitment and development of senior managers. It had been difficult to encourage the skilled diaspora to return, given the drop in the standard of living. Transition would mean replacement of international staff with East Timorese and the development of a cadre of technical advisers.

The process of transition towards independence entered a new phase on 23 October with the inauguration of the 36-member all-Timorese National Council, he said. The Transitional Cabinet and the National Cabinet represented a new phase in the transition towards East Timorese rule. Executive and legislative power must be gradually put into the hands of the East Timorese, so that the day of independence marked the culmination of a smooth transition.

He said the key event of next year would be a general election of a Constituent Assembly, which would have as its task the final drafting and adoption of a constitution. Once the constitution was adopted, the Constituent Assembly would be sworn in as the first parliament. Elections for a President, the appointment of a government and the declaration of independence would take place in the last quarter of 2001. The Cabinet would soon deliberate on a draft regulation governing political parties. Civil registry, electoral registration and civic education would begin implementation in the new year. The success of the “Timorization” of the administration was closely linked to the ability to build, in the most qualified East Timorese candidates, the capacities they required. The role of the United Nations in East Timor would not end with the last date of the mandate of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

Statements

NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said one of the key issues, which must be highlighted, was the need to formulate a new plan for the role of the international community in post-independence East Timor. While the international community would have to remain engaged in the territory, the parameters of that presence needed to be defined.

She said another important issue was the process of justice and reconciliation. The key to ensuring UNTAET’s success, as well as the success of independence, was to put the dual track of justice on a progressive path that achieved its aims in a symbiotic fashion. Without a process of justice, there would be no reconciliation, which was needed to solve the current problems in the territory. Crimes needed to be investigated and prosecutions needed to be carried out. It was equally fundamental that the Government of Indonesia fulfilled its responsibilities, as underlined in Security Council resolution 1319 (1999).

Those responsible for killing United Nations staff members must be brought to justice, she said. The international community was also responsible for ensuring that justice was done. Another crucial issue was the disbanding of militias. The Government of Indonesia must do its best to ensure that it was carried out, including the expeditious prosecution of crimes committed by militia members. The issue of returns must also command the attention of the international community. There must be a credible, apolitical refugee return programme. The Border Commission and Joint Commission were two areas in which she wanted further clarification from Mr. Vieira de Mello.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said UNTAET had made significant progress so far and should receive continuing support from the Council. An ideal opportunity to address some of the concerns raised in the report of the Council’s mission to East Timor would be at the renewal of UNTAET’s mandate in January. Similarly, it was hoped that progress could be made by other bodies of the United Nations in removing the procedural impediments that were hampering the work of the Transitional Authority.

He said East Timor’s National Council and Cabinet, together with the Transitional Administration, were now charged with preparing for the electoral process. Mr. Vieira de Mello deserved credit for most of that. The full results of the process would, however, be more visible after the transition process, when a new government would have to function immediately and fully while coping with many different challenges. He supported an international presence in the territory after independence, particularly in the areas of development, security and law and order. It was, therefore, important that specific planning be started as soon as possible.

He said the situations with regard to refugees in West Timor, and justice and reconciliation, were still of critical concern. He hoped the recommendations in the report, as well as the undertakings expressed during the mission’s visit, could be taken forward with the urgency they deserved. It was particularly important to create security for returning refugees and humanitarian agencies. The Indonesian Government should be assisted in its efforts to resettle refugees wishing to stay in Indonesia, since that was a key element in solving the overall refugee problem.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that now was a pivotal moment in East Timor’s history and it was, therefore, appropriate that the Council was spending this time on the territory today. One of his lasting impressions from the recent Council mission was just how much East Timor and Indonesia depended on each other. It was vitally important that their relationship became full-blooded, comprehensive, fruitful and productive. Many mechanisms already existed to facilitate that exchange.

He said he hoped that in the coming months both sides would strengthen the impetus for renewing cooperation. Regarding West Timor and the refugee situation, he welcomed the determination of the Indonesian Government to address intimidation in refugee camps and looked forward to further information on steps being taken in that regard. The return of relief agencies to West Timor, when security was stabilized in that area, was a decision that could only be taken by the United Nations. Once those agencies returned, however, it would be important to maintain a high level of vigilance on both sides to ensure that appropriate action could be taken if the situation deteriorated.

He said that given the crucial importance of justice and reconciliation to the whole process of refugee return, it was important that the justice process reflected the national consensus of the East Timorese people. It would, however, take more than just independence to sort out the question of responsibility and accountability for the events of 1999, he warned.

VALERI P. KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said he was encouraged by UNTAET’s success in laying the foundations for the future independence of East Timor. He was pleased by the number of East Timorese administrators that had already been appointed. It was important that UNTAET had established a close relationship with East Timorese political elite. There were still difficulties, in particular in the establishment of a fully functional judicial system. He commended the efforts of the Special Representative to find a way out of the predicament.

He was pleased that the security situation had become relatively stable. The return of refugees from West Timor to East Timor was still a serious problem, however, and the situation in the West Timor camps remained a cause for great concern. In the present situation it was important to ensure the safe return of international humanitarian workers to West Timor. That was complicated by the continued activities of the militias who continued to spread misinformation in the camps.

Under the circumstances, he said, the Security Council, UNTAET and the Government of Indonesia should coordinate and compliment each other’s efforts. He was encouraged by the Government of Indonesia’s measures to assist those who wished to return to East Timor and its efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of serious crimes. He welcomed the adoption of Indonesian legislation to establish a human rights tribunal. His Government remained a strong supporter of UNTAET's activities and would extend its participation in UNTAET.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that there would be a need for an international presence in East Timor for some time after the territory's independence. In other areas too, a strong international commitment of financial and technical assistance would be needed. His delegation supported the recommendation of the report about reallocating a part of the peacekeeping assessed budget to training a local police force. Delivering justice was also very important. In short, the whole issue of capacity-building required more attention and resources. That was a tall order for UNTAET.

The issue of slow disbursement of funds had been raised by Council members in the past, he said. Given the urgency with which reconstruction must be pursued, his delegation agreed that increased budgetary flexibility should be granted to facilitate execution of UNTAET's mandate. He was also happy that the robust and decisive action of the UNTAET peacekeepers had succeeded in reducing militia violence in East Timor. The refugee issue remained a great cause of concern. Although Indonesian Ministers had assured the mission of their Government's commitment to resolving the issue, militia intimidation and extortion of refugees in camps continued. Recent repatriation of Milsas -– militarized civil defence elements -- refugees was a move in the right direction.

Bangladesh, he said, supported the idea of reinvigorating bilateral talks between the Government of Indonesia and UNTAET. Cooperation between the Indonesian armed forces and police and their counterparts in UNTAET was essential in minimizing cross-border incidents. He welcomed the passage of recent Indonesian legislation for the establishment of a human rights tribunal, which would help in the process of delivering justice in cases of gross human rights abuses and the murder of United Nations personnel. The issue of justice had important implications for the future of the territory. His delegation felt strongly that the foundation of durable and peaceful relations between the territory and Indonesia lay in harmonious relations between the people of East Timor and West Timor.

LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said that neither the current problems in administration and in ensuring that justice was served in East Timor, nor future challenges, should be underestimated. The commitment of the international community to East Timor must remain, even beyond independence. Of paramount importance was the resolution of the problems faced by the refugees, as well as the difficulties presented by the militias.

The recent adoption of human rights legislation by the Indonesian Government was a positive step, he said. He welcomed those and other steps taken by the Government, but noted that additional measures must be taken. He hoped the positive attitude of the Indonesian Government would be reflected in concrete actions.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said while UNTAET had succeeded in reducing militia activity in East Timor, what role was foreseen for the international community in addressing the territory’s security needs once it was independent, given that it would also have a national police force and possibly a national defence force? He was encouraged by the return in recent weeks of some 400 refugees from West Timor. That was the first repatriation since the departure of humanitarian personnel in September.

Noting that the Indonesian Government had created a task force to develop registration projects, he endorsed the Council mission’s conclusion that, to be credible, such exercises must be free from pro-integration influences and include international personnel. He also agreed that more could be done on the basis of assessed resources, given the scope of UNTAET’s mandate. Canada was also pleased that arrests had been made in relation to the murder of three Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) personnel in Atamua on 6 Septembe, and that Indonesia had recently adopted legislation in support of a national human rights tribunal.

He asked Mr. Vieira de Mello what security arrangements were necessary to make West Timor safe for the return of humanitarian personnel. He also asked the Special Representative about his assessment of prospects for an agreement between the Indonesian Government and UNTAET on transit arrangement between the Oecusi enclave and East Timor.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said the development of the situation in East Timor was impressive, but quite a number of problems remained and East Timor continued to need support. He supported the international community’s efforts to help East Timor achieve independence and self-governance according to its own wishes.

He hoped that UNTAET could continue to carry out in depth studies, fully respecting the opinions of the people of East Timor. He welcomed the progress in disarming and disbanding the militias. He hoped the international community could support and encourage the Indonesian Government. He expressed his sympathy for the tragic situation in the camps in West Timor. In view of the gradual improvement of the security situation, he hoped the humanitarian agencies would be able to return to West Timor.

He noted that the implementation of the recommendations of the mission would not be achieved without the cooperation of the Indonesian Government. He hoped UNTAET would further communications with the Government. He commended UNTAET on its work.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said he was impressed by the positive advances made so far by UNTAET. The administration was being "Timorized" and was also working with the East Timorese towards the creation of an independent State. Progress, however, had not always been smooth and current difficulties and challenges should not be underestimated. The plight of refugees in camps in West Timor was still a cause of great concern. He appreciated the commitment of Indonesia to work with the United Nations and the international community to facilitate the return of those persons.

He stressed that all stages of refugee return must be carried out in safety and security and that the process of registration should begin expeditiously. He said the future peace and stability of East Timor would depend on full reconciliation among the East Timorese people and with Indonesia. In the process of national reconciliation, he said the issue of justice must be appropriately addressed. Malaysia also shared the resolute stand by the Council in condemning crimes committed against United Nations personnel.

GENNADI M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said today’s meeting underlined an important stage in the development of events in East Timor. He was pleased with the basically successful activities of the first year of UNTAET’s work. It had made notable progress towards the achievement of its goals. The preparation for the forthcoming elections was very important, particularly consideration of when elections should take place.

Calling attention to the movement to prepare East Timorese defence forces, he said the prospects for developments in East Timor were optimistic. He was also satisfied with the successful visit of the mission, which had made a significant contribution to peace and security in the region.

Regarding the situation in West Timor, he said the militias continued to persecute and intimidate the refugees who, as a result, were not yet free to make choices. He was counting on the Indonesian Government to solve those problems. He hoped the trend towards repatriation would be strengthened. He also hoped that the trend towards cooperation with the Indonesian Government would continue. Constructive cooperation with that country was vital.

OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said the Council's recent mission to East Timor was successful on more than one count, in that it was able to start a successful dialogue and also discuss the future of the region. The Indonesian Government had been positive and he hoped that a smooth transition in the region could proceed. He also hoped that both Indonesia and East Timor would be able to turn a new page in their bilateral cooperation. On the ground, it was clear that the work of Mr. Vieira de Mello and his staff -- with limited resources -- had been done in record time and was now enabling East Timorese to take control of their own destiny.

He said the international community must continue to support UNTAET’s work. More human and financial resources were needed, as was flexibility. More of that flexibility should also be given to Mr. Vieira de Mello. Ending the activities of the militias must be addressed as a key issue as well. The international community must support cooperation between East Timor and Indonesia so that repatriation of refugees could be carried out comprehensively. Success in East Timor would require resources and time, as well.

CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said the findings of the recent Council mission had increased understanding of the realities of the situation in East Timor. His delegation continued to recognize the numerous challenges faced by UNTAET, as East Timor sought to take its place as an independent country. Mr. Vieira de Mello’s briefing today had reinforced the findings of the mission. Without internal and external security, all efforts to develop East Timor would be in vain. The future security of East Timor must not be left to chance. An international presence in the territory would be necessary in the post-independence era.

He said the trend of returning refugees must now be encouraged. The international humanitarian community was urged to deal expeditiously with the situation in West Timor's refugee camps. Also, obstacles that prevented bringing to justice those responsible for gross human rights violations in 1999 must be removed.

He said that last week the Council had held an open debate on exit strategies, with regard to peacekeeping operations. In that light, as UNTAET moved forward, it must ensure that the institutional structures it helped to create could withstand the test of time. It was, therefore, of the utmost importance for all the relevant organs and agencies of the United Nations to become fully engaged in the process in East Timor. It was essential that the eventual withdrawal stand as an example of the United Nations "getting peacekeeping right", he said.

CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali) said he welcomed the Special Representative’s efforts to back up the national police. Vigilance must be the rule of the day and must accompany East Timor even after independence. He welcomed the great progress towards independence and encouraged the international community to maintain its vigilance until independence was achieved. He expressed concern over the high number of refugees still in West Timor and, in that regard, supported the recommendations of the Council mission to Indonesia.

He paid tribute to the Special Representative and asked him to further stress the need for reconciliation in East Timor and the resolution of the several related issues.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said the progress made over last year was significant and should be warmly welcomed. The mMission’s recommendations were excellent and he called on all parties involved to implement them immediately. He endorsed the need to speed up “Timorization” of the administration and welcomed the National Council made up exclusively of East Timorese people. Having the Timorese people take control of their own business must be accompanied by UNTAET assistance and reflection on what assistance should be provided following independence.

He stressed the importance of having a Constituent Assembly, drafting a constitution and ensuring a smooth transition to independence. The UNTAET should help the Timorese to put into operation judicial system that would meet their expectations. It was particularly necessary that the repatriation of refugees from West Timor be implemented, so that they could be safe and secure as they exercised He urged the Indonesian Government to continue its efforts to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against international personnel. He hoped the meeting of the Joint Border Committee would be held in a good atmosphere. It was essential for the humanitarian workers to return to West Timor.

He said that in the Special Representative’s introductory statement, he had talked about easing administrative and financial procedures in order to free up resources to be used for infrastructure purposes. It would be helpful to the Fifth Committee if the Special Representative could detail the amount involved and whether it would be a budgetary redeployment within the entire budget.

ARNOLD PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands), President of the Council, speaking in his national capacity, said Mr. Vieira de Mello and his staff were doing a superb job in East Timor in the face of enormous challenges. The international community would have to sustain its commitment to East Timor for some time to come. This month, special attention had been devoted to exit strategies of missions after peace objectives had been realized. That theme was very relevant to East Timor. He welcomed the new atmosphere of realism in the territory. Only through realism and optimism could East Timor declare its independence.

Mr. VIEIRA DE MELLO, responding to the questions from Council members, said the question of refugees in West Timor, the need for proper registration, the exercise of free choice and refugees return were all key in the establishment of the free, fair and democratic electoral process in East Timor, which would take place next year.

Concerning the judiciary and the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes, he said he was grateful to the United States for its suggestion of more support in that area, especially in the area of investigative resources. He urged members to respond urgently to a further request for support that would be informally circulated. He wished to reiterate that he fully supported the hope expressed today that East Timor and Indonesia would establish an honest and friendly relationship.

With regard to a question on bilateral discussions and pensions, he said there had been no such negotiations with Indonesia since the last round in July. That was unsatisfactory. The question of pensions figured high on the agenda of the next discussions.

Addressing recommendations on the presence of the United Nations in an independent East Timor, he said he would share such recommendations with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and hopefully provide a blueprint on the Organization's presence in the territory after it achieved its independence.

He said the recruitment of senior civil servants was being discussed in the Cabinet. There were, however, two main challenges. Skilled and competent civil servants did not live in East Timor and it was difficult to provide them with incentives to return and fill the gaps. Also, the salary levels were not competitive, although certain partners, including the International Monetary Fund, felt that the salary scales were too high. Resolving those issues was something that the Cabinet would have to address.

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