10/05/2004
Press Release
SC/8088



Security Council                                           

4965th Meeting (AM)                                         


SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL VOICE BROAD SUPPORT


FOR EXTENSION OF UN MISSION IN TIMOR-LESTE


Before debating a proposal to extend and reform the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste for another year, the Security Council was briefed by Special Representative Kamalesh Sharma, who indicated his support for continuing the “exceptional association” of the United Nations with that newly independent State.


The Secretary-General, in his latest report on Timor-Leste, had recommended that the Mission (UNMISET), which is due to expire on 20 May, be extended, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate, for a further one-year consolidation phase.  He suggested three main programmes of support in the areas of public administration and justice, law enforcement development, and security and stability. 


Mr. Sharma said a United Nations mission could not show consistently positive results unless there was close, constructive and continuous consultation and exchange, based on trust, between a United Nations mission and a country’s leadership. The exchange between the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) had been a model of collaboration.  To ensure the irreversibility of the national accomplishment, the leadership must dedicate itself to building and respecting institutions that reflected the rule of law and principles of transparency and accountability.


The independent and confident State of Timor-Leste had emerged from the debris of disorder and desperation that was so fresh in everybody’s minds, that country’s Minister of State and Minister in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Timor-Leste, Ana Pessoa Pinto, said.  Timor-Leste’s association with the United Nations had been a unique and inspiring chapter in its history.  There had been no road map, in historical terms, but, together, the international community had managed to rebuild a nation. 


Broad support was expressed by Council members and by all participating delegations for extending UNMISET and appropriately adjusting its size and mandate.  Pakistan’s representative, who is serving as the Council president for the month, said Timor-Leste was a success story for United Nations peacekeeping, but real success would be measured in the years and, perhaps, decades to come.  Expressing support for extending the Mission’s presence for one year, he stressed that the most important long-term challenge was the promotion of economic prosperity, for which international assistance was crucial.


Also during the discussion, Indonesia’s representative said that the visionary and realistic approach of his own country and Timor-Leste had served both nations well.  But, he called “inaccurate and one-sided” the Secretary-General’s reference that further input was required from Indonesia on the elusive agreement on a border.  Indonesia had always been supportive of activities aimed at determining the land border, as well as community activities such as a cross-border trade and traditional and cultural movements.


On refugees, he said there had been no Timor-Leste refugees in Indonesia since December 2002.  Continued use of the term East Timorese “former refugees” conveyed the wrong notion that there were still problems related to security.  His Government had taken important measures to address security matters, including the confiscation of weapons in the border area by Indonesian police and armed forces.


At the outset of the meeting, the Council President expressed outrage at the terrorist attack that had occurred on Sunday in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya in the Russian Federation, killing President Akhmad Kadyrov and others, and wounding many more.  The Council condemned that act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms.  It expressed its sympathy and condolences to the Government of the Russian Federation.  He asked the representative of the Russian Federation to convey those sentiments to his Government and to its people.


As today was the last time the Council would be welcoming Special Representative Sharma in his present capacity, Mr. Akram thanked him, on the Council’s behalf, for effectively overseeing and managing a complex operation that had adjusted and adapted responsively to changing situations on the ground.  The Mission had successfully launched important peacekeeping innovations, such as the United Nations executive role in policing and the provision of civilian advisers to the Government.  He wished him every success in the future. 


Council members speaking today included the representatives of the Russian Federation, Angola, France, United Kingdom, Algeria, Germany, China, Chile, United States, Philippines, Benin, Romania, Spain and Brazil.


Also speaking were the representatives of Singapore, Ireland (on behalf of the European Union), Japan, India, New Zealand, Portugal, Australia and Norway.


The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and was adjourned at 1:16 p.m.


Background


As the Security Council met to consider the situation in East Timor (Timor-Leste) this morning, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (document S/2004/333) of 29 April, in which the Secretary-General recommends that the Mission, which was to expire on 20 May, be extended, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate, for a further one-year consolidation phase.


The Secretary-General states that since his last report, dated 13 February (document S/2004/177), significant progress has been made by Timor-Leste to reach a threshold of self-sufficiency, but that the country would continue to need international support in a number of areas.  The Mission’s mandate could comprise three elements:  to provide assistance to core administrative structures critical to the viability and political stability of Timor-Leste, and to the justice system; to contribute to the continuing development of the national police; and to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in the country.  Internationally accepted human rights principles would continue to form an integral part of all activities.


The Secretary-General recommends the retention of a component of 58 civilian advisers to provide support to the public administration and judicial systems; the continuing provision of support to prosecutions and trials related to the serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999; the retention of 157 civilian police advisers, and the deployment of 42 military liaison officers.  He also recommends retention of a security force of 310 military personnel, including infantry, aviation and support.  Deployment of an international response unit of 125-member gendarmerie could undertake preventive and response operations in exceptional circumstances.


He said coordination and cooperation between the leadership of Timor-Leste and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative will be essential to derive full benefit from an additional year of peacekeeping assistance.  Immediate steps, including agreement on arrangements to permit civilian advisers to assume their functions and selection of Timorese counterparts, and clarification of the precise responsibilities of Timorese security agencies on an interim basis, were crucial for success.


The statesmanlike vision of cooperation that has been shown by the political leadership of Timor-Leste and Indonesia must find practical expression through such steps as completion of agreement upon the land border and resolution of the refugee problems.  Progress towards agreement between Australia and Timor-Leste for development of the mineral resources in the Timor Sea would make an essential contribution to Timor-Leste’s economic prospects, which were indissolubly linked with its future political development and social progress.


In conclusion, the Secretary-General states that the extraordinary distance covered by Timor-Leste during the past five years offers occasion for pride for the Timorese people and the international community.  It also gives grounds for hope, he says, that, where so much has been achieved so quickly, a further joint effort by the leadership of Timor-Leste and the international community will enable the Timorese people to reach the objective of a truly self-sufficient State.


Statement by Special Representative of Secretary-General


KAMALESH SHARMA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, noted the proposal before the Council for the continued contribution, for an additional year, of some on the UNMISET team in the consolidation phase, before the exceptional association of the United Nations with the newly independent State in the form of peacekeeping missions drew to a close.  Should the Council endorse that proposal, he was confident that the team would show the necessary dedication to that phase.


He said it was the plain truth that a United Nations mission could not show consistently positive results unless there was close, constructive and continuous consultation and exchange based on trust with a United Nations mission and the country’s leadership.  Work with the Government of Timor-Leste and UNMISET had been a model of collaboration.


The engagement of peacekeeping missions in Timor-Leste had been widely described as successful, he said.  He would characterize that as encouraging, not because he had any reservations about its success, but because, in order for success to be embedded and durable, unremitting effort and belief in the highest values of democratic and participatory governance had to be demonstrated over a long period.  All too often, what had appeared to be a success story had turned sour.  To ensure that the national accomplishment was irreversible, the primary imperative was the dedication of the leadership to building and respecting institutions that reflected the rule of law and principles of transparency and accountability.


Also, the strength of supportive partnerships must be ensured in the context of the progressively interdependent world, he said.  Hopefully, the nascent State of Timor-Leste, burdened by the trauma of history, among the highest poverty levels in the world, and depressed social indicators, would benefit from a supportive world.  “This is a challenge which we cannot fail”, he stressed.  No lasting political or social gain could accrue without economic growth and social development.  The main developments of interest in the last half year had been reflected in the Secretary-General’s report, so he provided only a compressed review.


In his description of recent events, he highlighted, among other developments, that the national police now bore responsibility for policing in all 13 districts and the vast majority of headquarters functions.  He was confident about transferring executive responsibility for policing to Timor-Leste at a minute past midnight on 19 May.  The military component of UNMISET had continued to downsize according to the revised schedule approved by the Council in resolution 1473.  The efforts of both Indonesia and Timor-Leste had been detailed in the report, but not all aspects of a developing bilateral relationship were amenable to speedy resolution within a couple of years of the emergence of Timor-Leste as an independent State.


Notwithstanding that fact, he said there had been considerable advances in many directions.  The structures of constructive cooperation had been created and employed, and the political signals at the highest levels from both States had reflected friendship, good will and cooperation, unburdened by history.  Nevertheless, reports of problems, although unconfirmed, continued to be received.  Indonesia’s commitment to control such elements, however, had been encouraging.  So were the continuing efforts by Timor-Leste to develop the capabilities of its security agencies to deal with such criminal elements, including through the establishment of a rapid deployment service of the national police, which would operate in rural border areas.


Noting the significant contributions of UNMISET to the viability and political stability of the State institutions, the requirements for human and institutional capacity development had been far more demanding than originally envisaged, requiring the presence of most critically important adviser positions beyond May 2004.  A robust exit strategy to ensure sustainability would be the major challenge during the consolidation phase of the Mission.  Likewise, the assistance provided through the serious crimes programme of UNMISET offered crucial reinforcement to the Council’s commitment that perpetrators of such crimes should be brought to justice.


He said that a healthy and functioning justice sector was crucial for the overall functioning of the democratic institutions.  The recruitment of international judges to fill the current gaps should be accorded priority attention.  The sustainability of the justice sector, however, could only be achieved through the direct support of bilateral and multilateral development partners.  That must not only be an immediate priority, but also a much needed long-term strategy.  Social peace, security and stability were another prerequisite for sustainable gains in the areas of governance and economic development, to which enhanced transparency and accountability would contribute.


Since he last addressed the Council in October 2003, considerable progress had been made in the orderly downsizing of the Mission, he went on.  In addition, the downsizing of the national staff had not caused any appreciable difficulty.  Training courses had been given concerning software programmes, computer hardware, web design, language training, administration, small business development, proposal writing, and the establishment of cooperatives and microfinance.  The return of the local staff’s pension contributions within one month of the end of their contracts by the United Nations Joint Pension Fund had also contributed positively to staff morale.


Statements


ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) recalled that 9 May was a sacred day to the peoples of the Russian Federation and the entire former Soviet Union on which they commemorated the end of the Second World War.  Yesterday, a monstrous terrorist explosion committed in the ChechenRepublic capital of Grozny had resulted in the death of the legally elected President, Akhmad Kadyrov, and those of many other people.  That tragedy had occurred at a time when efforts were continuing to restore a normal way of life in Chechnya.  The bloody trail of terrorism could be seen all over the world and could be countered only by the front of an anti-terrorist coalition.  The Russian Federation would request the convening of consultations with a view to the tabling of a draft resolution towards that end.


Turning to Timor-Leste, he expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s recommendation on an international response unit for the country comprising a 125-member gendarmerie.  It was expected that the Government of Timor-Leste would soon adopt key legislation on a police service and national defence force in order to provide internal and external security.  It would also be necessary to provide external assistance for Timor-Leste’s upcoming elections


Welcoming the development of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, he expressed the hope that there would soon be grounds for both countries to settle the outstanding matters between them, including the demarcation of a land border.  The Russian Federation also hoped Timor-Leste would soon reach agreement with Australia on the issue of the maritime oil-and-gas reserves in the Timor Sea.


JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the representative of Brazil on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, said his country was encouraged by the important development of nation-building efforts in Timor-Leste.  The significant progress achieved in the last few years was impressive.  However, that country needed more international assistance to help it gain the rule of law and to strengthen its fragile national police service.


He said this was a crucial moment for Timor-Leste, and the international community should be prepared to continue with the efforts it had been making in support of the country.  Regarding relations between Timor-Leste and its neighbours, he stressed their importance and praised the commitments made in that respect.  Angola encouraged bilateral donors to continue to provide assistance for the continued growth and development of Timor-Leste.


MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that significant progress had been achieved in Timor-Leste, but there was a clear need to further advance that process.  In that regard, special attention should be given to combating impunity for serious crimes.  He supported the extension of UNMISET for a one-year period with a modified mandate and reduced personnel.  It was now very important to succeed in the exit strategy, which should be defined well in advance.


He called for a number of elements to be included in the next resolution on the subject.  Among them was the need to fix a deadline for the forces’ withdrawal.  Also, the mandate for the follow-on mission should be refocused on assistance to the Timorese authorities, so they could complete the reforms.  A system should be put in place to re-staff personnel by the end of the year and to ensure a smooth handover to the development partners in the transition.


ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said that the Secretary-General had made a compelling case for extending the Mission’s mandate for another year.  It was important to ensure that the investment of the international community and the achievements of the Timorese people and Government were not undermined.  He looked forward to negotiations this week on a resolution to extend the Mission in a reduced form with a modified mandate that reflected a coherent exit strategy.  The make-up of the security component of the follow-up mission seemed to have been resolved, thanks to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  The Secretary-General’s report set out areas of progress, and drew attention to those requiring continued international support.  A smooth drawdown of UNMISET required a smooth build-up of the Government.


In that regard, he welcomed, in particular, the adoption of the civil service act and organic law on the Office of the Presidency, as well as the positive steps towards elections later this year.  The latter had included the establishment of a national election commission and the elaboration of a legal framework in which those could take place.  He sought further progress in establishing the necessary legal and institutional frameworks, such as the defence act and prison legislation.  He also called for a clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the Timorese police and armed forces, as well as improvements in the administration of justice.


Also welcome had been the continued constructive cooperation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, which should facilitate the early resolution of outstanding issues, including agreement on land borders and the provision of justice for those responsible for serious crimes, he concluded.


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said Timor-Leste faced major challenges, including national elections to be organized even at the village level.  Algeria welcomed the timely and appropriate preparations for those elections.


He said the development of relations between Timor-Leste and its neighbours would benefit the young republic economically, as well as politically.  It was hoped that the country would soon agree on the demarcation of its land border with Indonesia for the sake of the security of both nations.  An improvement in bilateral relations would contribute considerably to the security and stability of Timor-Leste.  Similarly, Algeria hoped that agreement would soon be reached on a maritime border with Australia.


He expressed support for the training of a national police service, since the establishment of public administration and security were fundamental for the stability of Timor-Leste.  The maintenance of external security also required the presence of UNMISET.  The Secretary-General’s recommendation in that regard deserved support.  The support of United Nations funds and programmes, as well as bilateral donors, would continue to be important.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said that Timor-Leste could be described as a success story and a true model for nation-building.  Whereas the security situation had generally been calm and peaceful, there were certain deficits.  Reports of the presence of armed groups were still a matter of concern, and the country’s capabilities were still at an early stage.  The withdrawal of UNMISET could result in a deterioration of the situation, and it was necessary to ensure that progress made so far did not suffer a setback.  Germany, therefore, supported an extension of the Mission, including its military component.


Some problems remained in relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, including the demarcation of their land border, he said.  In addition, despite considerable efforts, cases of Timorese children separated from their families in 1999 remained unresolved.  National reconciliation was a key factor of nation-building, and Germany supported the development of transitional justice institutions.  Timor-Leste and Indonesia should take the opportunity to resolve all outstanding issues between them.


WANG GUANGYA (China) said the people of East Timor would soon celebrate the second anniversary of their independence.  With international support, they had achieved considerable progress in all areas of nation-building through their own creative work.  The Government had been successful in building institutions and furthering the development of relationships with its neighbours, and the Government and people should be proud of their remarkable achievements.  The Government was now actively preparing for local elections and would further refine its law enforcement systems, among others. 


He said, however, that given that East Timor was a nascent State, it was still facing a host of challenges.  The functioning of the Government should be further strengthened.  The construction of governmental structures and preparations for the elections were facing financial difficulties.  Administrative and judicial capacity in certain areas of the country remained weak, and the Government and the Timorese people should make even greater efforts in those areas, for which the continued support of the international community was indispensable.  He endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the Mission and appropriately adjust its size and mandate.


Echoing support for that proposal, HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he also fully supported further assistance for the justice system and administrative structures to ensure their viability and political stability.  He was concerned about the extensive delays in the administration of justice and the shortcomings in the area of human rights, for which increased capacity should be promoted.  He called for strengthening law and order, particularly through police training and the continued support and contributions of UNMISET and the international community.  He stressed the essential function of the rapid response unit and welcomed the fact that an adequate training level had been achieved.


Also crucial, he said, was the provision of training for the border control units.  Despite the progress in that regard, however, the national police must continue with their preparations, as the maintenance of security was a key element for achieving stability.  While the situation had been rather peaceful, all possible sources of instability should not be ignored.  Thus, the Secretary-General’s proposals were appropriate and reasonable.  Another essential element for progress was sustainable economic development.  In that regard, he hoped for greater progress and the elimination of the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources.


STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said that with further assistance from the international community, United Nations agencies and UNMISET, Timor-Leste could hopefully increase its public administration capacity, develop strong security institutions and establish a strong judicial tradition with emphasis on human rights and the rule of law.  Given the current limited capacity of public administration, further support from UNIMSET in the form of civilian advisers would be necessary for the development of an independent, functioning civil administration.  However, any such assistance to be provided beyond May 2005 would be provided through normal bilateral and multilateral donor support, rather than through a United Nations peacekeeping operation.


Encouraged that the Government of Timor-Leste had acted to promulgate an organic law and disciplinary code for the police and an organic law for the defence forces, he said the United States looked forward to hearing updates on the development of the police and defence forces.  The work of the serious crimes unit was useful in addressing the issue of accountability regarding the human rights violations and atrocities committed in 1999.  As with other elements within UNMISET, it should maintain close adherence to its completion strategy, ending investigations no later than November 2004 so that it could conclude all its trials no later than May 2005.


LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said the Timor-Leste authorities and people had always demonstrated their earnestness to do their utmost in fulfilling their responsibilities in nation-building, notwithstanding very limited capacities.  Thus, the Philippine delegation shared the international community’s confidence that the extension of UNMISET and the Secretary-General’s proposed plan would contribute substantially to bringing Timor-Leste closer to self-sufficiency and ensure sustainable peace and stability.  However, that optimism was tempered by the realistic assessment that even after a one-year extension of UNMISET for a consolidation phase, many areas would still need further support and assistance.


Peace in Timor-Leste, as in any country, was predicated on fair social and economic development, he said.  The Secretary-General’s report noted the limited revenue and widespread poverty in Timor-Leste that continued to pose severe constraints on the country’s social and economic development.  While the forthcoming Conference of Development Partners, to be held in Dili on 19 May, could provide some donor assistance, Timor-Leste’s development should be pursued by generating more revenues from its own natural resources and industries.  All the efforts achieved by UNMISET and the international community in nation-building and in ending the conflict would be for naught, if at the end of the road the country’s self-sufficiency could not be assured or sustained.


JOEL ADECHI (Benin) said he had been impressed with the progress made towards establishing democracy and building the institutions needed for a viable State.  He welcomed the adoption of the law establishing the Office of the Presidency, which paved the way to the creation of new constitutional bodies.  Recent progress by the national police augured well for the upcoming transfer of authority, despite the shortage of resources and capacity.  The instruments governing the police should be adopted soon, and special attention must be given to avoiding the excessive use of force and enhancing respect for human rights.


He said he fully supported UNMISET’s modification, which would enable the country to assume full responsibility for security and stability throughout the territory.  The Government’s capacity to govern also depended on good relations with its neighbours in such issues as completing demarcation and resettling refugees.  He urged Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia to further intensify their cooperation in those matters.  He welcomed efforts in the areas of public administration and justice, and called for greater international support for continued efforts to combat impunity and promote reconciliation.


MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania), noting that the Council, bilateral donors and the wider international community had invested enormous energy and expectations in Timor-Leste, said that further international assistance would be needed to consolidate and secure their irreversibility.  Ongoing international support was essential to allow Timor-Leste to reach a critical threshold of self-sufficiency.  That support could only be provided through a continued multi-sector United Nations presence in the country, including a limited military component.


He said the Mission’s extension for a further year, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate, would consolidate the momentum for the development of the country and confirm it as a fine example of United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building.  He was satisfied with the continued development of cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia.  Hopefully, the political commitment would be followed shortly by concrete results in the finalization of a border agreement and on the issue of former refugees remaining in West Timor.  He also encouraged the strengthening of bilateral cooperation for bringing to justice those responsible for serious crimes.


ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain), endorsing the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, also endorsed the recommendation to extend UNMISET for a further year to consolidate the progress made.  The additional efforts proposed were comparatively modest compared to the achievements made so far, but they were necessary to consolidate institutions and avoid setbacks.  The authorities could lay the groundwork for future progress through political dialogue based on the promotion of the rule of law and human rights.


Welcoming the developing relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, she expressed the hope that relations between the two countries would be borne out in the demarcation of a land border, the resettlement of refugees and the resolution of all other outstanding matters.


RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, noted that limited revenue and widespread poverty in Timor-Leste continued to pose severe constraints on reconstruction and development efforts.  The expected flow of revenue from exploration of oil and gas in the Timor Sea had not materialized.  Progress in that area was crucial to the provision of sustained means of income for the people of Timor-Leste.  In that regard, the convening of a Conference of Development Partners in Dili on 19 May was welcome.


He said that agreement between Australia and Timor-Leste on the mutually beneficial exploitation of mineral resources in the Timor Sea would be an essential contribution to that effort.  Brazil welcomed the steady improvement of relations between the Governments of Timor-Leste and IndonesiaBrazil had been actively supporting Jakarta and Dili in their efforts to build upon their recent achievements and strengthen new areas if cooperation.


Stability and improved economic and social conditions in Timor-Leste were extremely relevant, not only for the region, but also for Community of Portuguese–speaking Countries, he said.  Brazil expected the international community to continue providing support to Timor-Leste.  The decision to be taken by the Council concerning the extension of UNMISET could reflect such willingness.  Angola and Brazil would be circulating a draft resolution regarding the extension of UNMISET’s mandate.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said Timor-Leste had emerged in that exemplary exercise in the right of self-determination, a Charter principle to which Pakistan was deeply committed.  Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress in two years, owing to the efforts of its people and Government.  He particularly appreciated the bold efforts of the leadership to encourage national reconciliation and to strive to heal the deep wounds of the past and build the foundation for sustainable peace and progress.  He also appreciated UNMISET’s support of the country in consolidating peace and advancing international development.


He also expressed support for extending the Mission’s mandate for a further year, in connection with the downsizing of its structure and police units.  Outstanding tasks included the provision of support in such key areas as public administration and justice, the development of law enforcement, and the maintenance of security and stability.  The most imposing long-term challenge remained the promotion of economic prosperity, for which international assistance would continue to be indispensable, even after UNMISET’s departure.  The continued support of Timor-Leste’s neighbours was also vital in that context.


Timor-Leste was a success story for United Nations peacekeeping, he added, but, as Special Representative Sharma had stated, success was a retrospective judgement.  Real success would be measured in years and, perhaps, decades.


ANA PESSOA PINTO, Senior Minister in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Timor-Leste, said that her country’s association with the United Nations was a unique and inspiring chapter in the history of her people and would always be linked to the attainment of independence and the vision of self-reliance and social and economic fulfilment they were striving to achieve.  There had been no road map, in historical terms, but, together, the international community had managed to rebuild a nation.  The independent and confident State of Timor-Leste had emerged from the debris of disorder and desperation that was so fresh in everybody’s minds.


Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, she said it highlighted many important areas where progress had been made and had identified shortcomings, while pointing the way forward and stressing the need for concerted action, both by the Government and the people of Timor-Leste and its generous development partners.  However, it was appropriate to clarify that the investigations of a number of civil servants and police officers had been undertaken because the political rallies, referred to in the report, had taken place in two consecutive days, one of which was a working day, and had been conducted during work hours, while the police officers were in uniforms.


Following the approval of the Civil Service Act, which embodied the code of conduct and disciplinary rules, forms and manuals had been finalized with the assistance of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) advisers, she continued.  A major dissemination programme was being prepared that would involve various institutions, including the Ministry of State Management to the Inspector General.


In connection with civil society issues, she focused on the cooperation of the Catholic Church and the Government to instil the culture of ethical and moral values, “where transparency and accountability are not only fashionable slogans”.  A programme launched by the Church on 2 May had the goal of attaining the participation of women, preventing HIV/AIDS and domestic violence and promoting responsible family planning, where education and moral values played a pivotal role.


Regarding the tensions in the Dili Mosque, she noted that it had been illegally occupied since “Black September” in 1999.  Today, there were close to 300 undocumented and illegal immigrants living within the confines of the mosque.  However, tensions had eased considerably thanks to the professionalism of the police working in conjunction with the Human Rights Adviser to the Prime Minister.


She said the Government had advised all illegal aliens occupying the mosque that they were required to present themselves to the Immigration Department and to provide their documentation to the authorities for verification.  Those without any identification papers were required to contact their respective embassies.  Those who did not have the required papers were at risk of being expelled, and applications for permanent visas would be processed on a case-by-case basis.  Resolution of that issue would further enable the Timor Muslims to exercise their constitutional and fundamental human right to freedom of religion, which until now had been jeopardized by the illegal immigrants occupying the mosque.


Much needed to be done to establish a society based on the respect for the rule of law, she said.  The creation and continued professionalism of an impartial, accountable and responsive police service was an important element, as was the development of the judiciary.  Those goals notwithstanding, work towards that end had taken place in a very compressed time frame and the results must be considered in that perspective.  The support of the United Nations through the deployment of police technical advisers and through the provision of judge-mentors, through the assistance programme to core administrative structures and to the justice system, would contribute to the advancement of those goals.


Noting that her country enjoyed the best of relations with its neighbours, she acknowledged the goodwill for Timor-Leste that existed in Indonesia, and particularly the efforts deployed by its leaders to resolve outstanding issues.  However, individuals and groups inimical to Timor-Leste’s interests still existed.  It was hoped that the support of the international community for the resettlement of refugees and for the promotion of reconciliation and economic and social development would produce concrete results and diminish those threats.


In addition, finalization of the land-border demarcation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste and early operationalization of agreements to facilitate cross-border links between residents of border areas on both sides would contribute significantly to that process, she said.  Despite political will on both sides, there had been no agreement through a lack of technical development to meet the deadlines.  Timor-Leste would enhance its efforts, in cooperation with Indonesia, so as to finalize an agreement before the end of June 2004.


She said that negotiations on the maritime border with Australia had begun, with the first formal round having been held in Dili.  The position of Timor-Leste’s Government was simple and clear:  it was entitled to a just and fair maritime boundary with Australia and Indonesia according to international law and practice.  Between Timor-Leste and Australia, in an area that was far closer to Timorese shores, lay vast reserves of oil and gas.  A just and fair resolution of that issue would mean better health care, education and economic independence for Timor-Leste with the eradication of poverty and the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.  International law was on the side of Timor-Leste, which believed that Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, as a neighbour and friend, would find its way to respect justice and democratic principles.


Emphasizing the need for substantial and continuing support from its development partners to overcome the formidable challenges, she said all efforts at enlightened governance could not succeed unless Timor-Leste could also advance economically and show visible improvements in the quality of life and creation of jobs.  The international community must assist in ensuring that the investments made in strengthening the country’s self-governing capability were a springboard to prosperity.


KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that, while some progress had been made in the three months since the Council’s last briefing on Timor-Leste, it was irrefutable that the country would still require assistance in several areas if the gains made to date were to be sustained.  Without the continued support of the United Nations and the international community, Timor-Leste’s course to self-sufficiency could very well be jeopardized.  The Secretary-General had again laid out a compelling case for extending the Mission.  He fully supported those recommendations and urged the Council to also endorse them.


He stressed the importance of providing the necessary resources for the three broad programmes proposed by the Secretary-General, in order to allow the country to reach a “critical threshold of self-sufficiency”.  That additional investment was relatively modest considering the scale of the task at hand and the difference that that would make.  He strongly supported the proposed deployment of an international response unit of 125-member gendarmerie, along with the earlier proposed military component of 310 formed troops to form a two-element security force.


Given the continued possibility of challenges across the security spectrum, that complementary deployment would enable UNMISET to assist the Government in dealing with a range of security challenges while it built up in its capacities in that area, he said.  The international community must be wary of being overconfident or hasty.  It should be mindful that it did not prematurely withdraw its support for Timor-Leste.  The fragility of the progress made so far could not be overstated.  The world should stay the course and consolidate those gains.


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), on behalf of the European Union, said he supported the Government’s efforts to consolidate the political institutions, promote social and economic development, and uphold the rule of law –- all the while building a new nation.  Yet, much remained to be done.  While the primary responsibility for a successful transition lay with the Timorese people themselves, it was incumbent upon the international community to help consolidate the progress.  In that regard, the Union looked forward to the planned conference of development partners in Dili on 19 May.


He said he recognized that a critical element of the success so far had been the hard work of the men and women of UNMISET.  Recalling Mr. Sharma’s advice, he agreed that the international community should consider carefully the completion of the Mission’s drawdown, while also taking stock of what had been achieved, reflecting on the remaining tasks, and deciding on the best way to fulfil the legitimate needs of Timor-Leste in the post-May period.  Notwithstanding the progress made, the Union shared the Secretary-General’s view that further assistance was needed, through a modified UNMISET presence.


KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that, as a nation belonging to the Asia-Pacific region, Japan attached importance to the stability and development of Timor-Leste.  While he was delighted at the progress made, he stressed that the international community must continue to extend its support to assure continued progress for peace and development there.  It was critically important to ensure that achievements in the areas of peace, the rule of law, respect for human rights and development took root and endured.  There was still an important role for the United Nations to play in reaching that objective.


He said he welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal, which deserved full support.  What had been achieved in Timor-Leste since the United Nations undertook the transitional administration there was a “striking success story”.  To achieve its natural conclusion, UNMISET must complete its activities and achieve its goals within that final one-year period.  The transition from peacekeeping to the next phase of development activities must be concluded through bilateral channels and the relevant international institutions.  Timor-Leste, in turn, must redouble its efforts to ensure that it would be able to stand on its own.  Also, downsizing UNMISET should be duly carried out.


In support of building a sustainable Timor-Leste, Japan had pledged and had been steadily implementing assistance of up to $60 million over the first three years after independence.  That assistance focused on peace-building and reconstruction in the three key areas of agriculture, infrastructure and human resources development.  He had been pleased that the road and bridges constructed and repaired by the Engineer Group of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces was benefiting the Timorese people.  Japan was also making efforts to educate government staff in the operation, maintenance and management of donated equipment and materiel.  The international community must continue its assistance through well-coordinated activities of the United Nations and bilateral channels.


VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said that the two-year period had seen rapid progress in the emergence of the country from “conflict to confidence” as a new member of the international community.  In an era increasingly characterized by global conflict and conflagration, the success of that peace-building exercise, spearheaded by the United Nations, represented optimism and hope for the future.  The comprehensive support of the international community had been instrumental in facilitating Timor-Leste’s emergence as a viable State.


He said that the three broad programmes to be facilitated by the extended United Nations mandate appeared to be fully justified, given the reduced size of the Mission and the imperative of ensuring a sound and logical conclusion to one of the most successful exercises in post-conflict peace-building that the Organization had undertaken in recent years.  He also agreed with the Secretary-General when he counselled the country and its sagacious leadership to further build on and consolidate the gains by taking full advance of the assistance and by making practical policy decisions in a timely manner.


The international community could not remain permanently engaged, he said.  The United Nations’ role and assistance would have to cede to the country’s growing capacity and confidence in governance.  Multilateral assistance would also have to be substituted progressively by bilateral and regional cooperation.  Continued cooperation between Timor-Leste and its neighbours, especially Indonesia, was important, not only for regional harmony, but also in the larger interest of South-South cooperation.  The commitment displayed by the leadership of those countries must find practical expression through the completion of agreement on the land border, resolution of the refugee problem, and the provision of socio-economic activities for people living on both sides of the border.


REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said that from the beginning, the leaderships of his own country and Timor-Leste had agreed to cooperate on the basis of forward-looking and reconciliatory policies, a visionary and realistic approach that had served both nations well.  It had led to peace in the area and had enabled both countries to focus on development and on the best interests of their peoples.  Whatever problems they faced now and in the future, the strong commitment of both national leaders to the forward-looking approach would be extremely useful in resolving them.


Regarding the Secretary-General’s reference to the elusive agreement on a border line for which further input was required from Indonesia, he said that was an inaccurate and one-sided view that reflected a lack of understanding.  The Technical Subcommittee on Border Demarcation and Regulation, as part of the Joint Border Committee, had held 11 meetings since December 2001, each followed by a joint field survey.  Indonesia had always been supportive of activities aimed at determining the land border, as well as community activities such as a cross-border trade and traditional and cultural movements.


There had been no Timor-Leste refugees in Indonesia since December 2002, when 200,000 refugees had returned home voluntarily, he reiterated.  Furthermore, the continued use of the term East Timorese “former refugees” conveyed the wrong notion that there were still problems related to security.  The Government of Indonesia had taken important measures to address security matters, including the confiscation of weapons in the border area by Indonesian police and armed forces.


He said that the outdated and unnecessary retention of the Phase 5 security situation rating in West Timor, unilaterally imposed since 2000, had prevented the access and operations of international agencies and non-governmental organizations and hampered their humanitarian programmes.  Regarding the Timorese children separated from their parents in 1999, the Governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste, in the absence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), were taking full charge through their continued cooperation to see the issue successfully concluded in the best interests of the children.  Indonesia reminded the Council that 53 Indonesians living in Timor-Leste were also separated from their parents and should not be forgotten.


DON MACKAY (New Zealand), expressing strong support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation that UNMISET be extended for a further 12 months, said his country was particularly satisfied with the emphasis placed on the work undertaken by Serious Crimes Unit, a critical component of the Mission.  New Zealand welcomed the Security Council’s continued support for the principle that those who had perpetrated serious crimes would not enjoy impunity.  Resolution of outstanding justice issues was being pursued by Timor-Leste’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which his country strongly supported, and to which it had contributed $1.2 million in the past year.


Regarding the Secretary-General’s report, he said the elaboration of the security and stability component of UNMISET provided a clear and meaningful picture of its composition and tasks.  New Zealand appreciated the careful matching of capabilities to practical requirements on the ground.  The attention of both parties to further developing that important relationship was to be welcomed by all.


GONÇALO AIRES DE SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said he welcomed the recommendation for a 12-month extension of UNMISET, in order to allow key tasks to be performed and to sustain, strengthen and build upon the gains made towards the country’s self-sufficiency.  It was also important to acknowledge the value of bilateral assistance and to underline the responsibility of the international community and of the Security Council with respect to Timor-Leste.


He said that in human resources, Portugal’s institutional presence had peaked in 2002 with 1,326 teachers, advisers and military and police personnel.  By the end of 2003, that figure had been estimated at 1,190.  Moreover, between 2002 and 2003, 316 Timorese had been the recipients of scholarships to study in Portugal at the university level.  He also noted with satisfaction the steady and significant developments in the relationship between Timor-Leste and its neighbours on such important issues as refugees and the determination of land and maritime borders.


JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress in its first few years as an independent nation, thanks primarily to the commitment and efforts of its people.  Nevertheless, UNMISET had played an important supporting role.  That contribution was a testament not only to UNMISET personnel, but also to the continued attention of the Security Council, the efforts of the Secretariat and the contributions of Member States.  The follow-on mission was a highly appropriate response to Timor-Leste’s ongoing needs, and it would help the country consolidate the many gains that had been made and address those gaps in capacity that were still evident.


He reiterated that his country would continue to provide strong support to UNMISET, including through the contribution of personnel to the peacekeeping, military liaison officer and police adviser contingents.  Australia would also continue to be a major provider of bilateral development assistance to Timor-Leste.  Currently, Australia was fulfilling the final year of its four-year $150 million development pledge.  Further generous assistance for coming years would shortly be announced.  Consistent with its commitment to assist Timor-Leste to develop strong and effective institutions, Australia, with assistance from the United Kingdom, would be providing a four-and-a-half-year $40 million programme of assistance to develop the capacity of Timor Leste’s police force and justice sector.  Australia’s significant defence cooperation programme would also continue.


Noting that many delegations had raised the matter of maritime delimitation between Australia and Timor-Leste, he said they had already negotiated valid and generous interim arrangements. 


JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said the United Nations had played a crucial role in the extraordinary political progress made by Timor-Leste, but setbacks must not be risked as a result of premature withdrawal from the country.  A modified, international presence, as suggested by the Secretary-General, was needed to consolidate the achievements.  He highlighted, among those gains, the enhanced role of women in that country.  According to a report from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Timor-Leste was number 22 in a ranking of countries with the highest percentage of women in national parliaments.  The United Nations’ work in promoting gender equality in that country had been impressive.


He said that, in addition to United Nations’ assistance, bilateral development assistance would be critical in the years ahead.  The overall goals for Norwegian support to Timor-Leste were to assist the new State in its efforts to establish sustainable democratic institutions, to promote human rights, and to combat poverty.  His country would attend the donors’ meeting in Dili, and it had also participated in the recent Government-led review of the Transitional Support Programme.


Taking the floor again following the debate, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Mr. SHARMA, said the Timorese Minister had provided important information and perspectives.  The delegations had raised several issues, including security concerns, the rule of law, national police and further requirements to professionalize it, human rights, serious crime, and advisers for public administration.  The UNMISET stood ready to shed further light on any of those issues, should the Council so desire.  He was convinced that the confidence and encouragement expressed by the Council in the work being done by the Mission would further galvanize it towards realizing the Council’s goals for Timor-Leste, particularly in the consolidation phase, should the proposal before it be approved.


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