|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6405th Meeting (AM)
Crucial Period Ahead Will Determine if Timor-Leste Has Overcome Weaknesses That
Led to 2006 Violence, Top United Nations Official Tells Security Council
Members Hail Progress Made in Security, Socio-Economic Spheres
While Warning of Dangers Posed by High Youth Unemployment Rates
Timor-Leste was entering a crucial period that would help determine whether the country had overcome the political and institutional weaknesses that had contributed to the violent events of 2006, the Head of the United Nations Mission there told the Security Council today.
“Given progress to date and the steadfastness demonstrated by the national leaders of Timor-Leste, in particular the President and Prime Minister, I believe that work is under way which will contribute to Timor-Leste’s stability,” Ameerah Haq, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), said in a briefing to the Council.
She described the progress that the country had made in several areas, noting also the longer-term challenges it faced, but stressed that the political debate had moved beyond “backward” discussions about the events of 2006. Many plans, strategies and institutions had been developed, including the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Justice Sector Strategic Plan for Timor-Leste, the package of national security laws and the draft National Strategic Development Plan.
UNMIT and the Timor-Leste National Police deserved much of the credit for the country’s current security and stability, she said, noting that the latter had resumed primary policing responsibilities in all but three districts and six units. There had also been noted progress in strengthening the justice sector, gender mainstreaming and national reconciliation. As for the Millennium Development Goals, Timor-Leste’s gains were underpinned by economic stability and high growth rates. The Strategic Development Plan would further promote human development and pro-poor growth, as well as minimize inequalities between urban and rural areas, she said, emphasizing, however, the importance of addressing high youth unemployment.
She said agreement had been reached with the Government on establishing a joint mechanism to guide UNMIT’s transition planning. The transition would be a reconfiguration of the Mission’s activities within its mandated areas to ensure that, when UNMIT eventually withdrew, it would have done everything possible to ensure the future success of State institutions. That would include a growing emphasis on capacity-building.
The representative of Timor-Leste said her country continued on the path to consolidating the gains of the past and ensuring a smooth transition to the recovery and development phase. Since many challenges remained, however, Timor-Leste required the support and continuing engagement of the international community, she said, noting that “the events of 2006 are a stark and unfortunate reminder of the fragility of peace when the institutions of State are nascent and capacities need to be developed and further strengthened”.
She affirmed that peace and stability, economic growth and poverty reduction, justice and the promotion of human rights were the main tenets of the current phase of the nation-building agenda. In the area of security, calm had been provided by the increasing capacities of the National Police, the continuing UNMIT presence and the assistance provided by international forces from Australia and New Zealand. The National Strategic Development Plan provided the Government with a blueprint for the next 20 years and would enable development partners to align their programmes with identified national priorities, she said.
Highlighting the pragmatic and proactive approach taken to regional engagement, she cited cross-border cooperation with Indonesia and strong relations with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal on issues of security and economic development, particularly in the petroleum sector. In conclusion, she asked for continued assistance “in building a stable and prosperous Timor-Leste — a predictable partner in international relations, firmly embedded in the partnerships in its region and a beacon of human rights, at peace with itself”.
During the ensuing debate, speakers welcomed Timor-Leste’s continuing security and stability as well as its continuing efforts for national reconciliation and economic development. They expressed satisfaction that UNMIT’s gradual hand over of policing responsibilities the National Police had not led to an increase in crime, and urged the provision to the force of the right equipment and the necessary logistical support so it could fulfil its tasks during the 2012 elections.
Some speakers, however, expressed concern that President José Ramos-Horta’s commutation of the sentences imposed on those convicted of the 2008 attacks on himself and the Prime Minister sent the wrong message about impunity. Austria’s representative noted that, while certain steps had been taken towards accountability for the crimes committed during the 2006 crisis, only a limited number of cases had been brought to trial. Additionally, accountability for gross human rights violations committed during and prior to 1999 remained an area of concern, he said, emphasizing that impunity for those crimes could destabilize Timorese society in the long term.
Many speakers stressed the need to delineate the responsibilities of the Armed Forces and the National Police, with Turkey’s representative also underlining the need to define a meaningful role for the Timorese army in a peaceful setting, and suggesting its possible orientation towards peacekeeping operations. As for economic development, he echoed other speakers in saying that, although projected economic growth was impressive, the Government should be aware that the political, social and economic challenges that had led to the events of 2006 must be overcome. That applied especially to the high youth unemployment rate, which was a possible security risk.
On development, speakers welcomed the draft Strategic Development Plan, with the representative of the United Kingdom emphasizing that the country’s longer-term needs must be addressed now. Many others welcomed the agreement between UNMIT and the Government on establishing a joint mechanism to guide the transition following the Mission’s withdrawal. However, other speakers warned against rushing the process, stressing that UNMIT’s mandate and force composition should not be altered further until the 2012 elections. Its efforts must be focused on building the capacity of the police and other State institutions.
Brazil’s representative said in that regard that the political and socio-economic progress made by the Timorese and the smooth resumption of policing responsibilities by the National Police so far showed that UNMIT was close to becoming a success story. However, it would be important to consider the format of an international presence that would be commensurate with the remaining challenges, including the forthcoming elections, by drawing on lessons from 2006.
Other speakers today were representatives of Japan, United States, Mexico, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Russian Federation, France, Nigeria, Gabon, Uganda, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, South Africa and Portugal.
Also delivering a statement was the Acting Head of the European Union delegation.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m.
Meeting this morning to consider the situation in Timor-Leste, the Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (for the period 21 January to 20 September). The report (document S/2010/522), dated 13 October, covers major developments in the country as well as implementation of the Mission’s mandate since his last report, dated 12 February (document S/2010/85).
According to the report, the overall situation remained calm, providing an enabling environment for the Government to address the country’s long-term challenges. With the development of the National Strategic Development Plan for 2011 to 2030, the Government aims to transform Timor-Leste from a low-income into an upper-middle-income country by 2030 by focusing on agriculture, natural resources and tourism as strategic sectors to trigger economic growth. After the incorporation of feedback from public consultations, the Plan will be submitted to Parliament for approval. The legislature approved the proposed supplementary budget on 2 July, after debating the Government’s request to withdraw funds from the Petroleum Fund beyond the 3 per cent estimated sustainable income, and the possibility of diversifying Petroleum Fund investments.
There has also been further progress in the resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste, the report states. Regarding dialogue and reconciliation, the President’s dialogue initiative under the theme “Road to peace and national unity” continued. Although the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) continues to deny the legitimacy of the three-year-old Alliance for a Parliamentary Majority (AMP) Government, it did not make public calls for elections and reiterated its commitment to overcoming past challenges. It called for 2010-2020 to be declared a decade of peace, stability and development. The Government and civil society organizations also held dialogues designed to give a greater voice to women and youth.
The report says positive developments were also registered in the anti-corruption architecture, including the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission. The Anti-Corruption Commissioner was sworn in on 22 February. Additionally, a law was drafted to establish the High Administrative, Tax and Audit Court. On 24 March, the Council of Ministers approved the national policy on social communications, which provides for the protection of local languages and cultures as well as support to community radio. It makes a firm commitment to a free, pluralistic and diverse media.
During the reporting period, the number of United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) police offices was reduced from 1,045 to 1,023, the report states, noting that while UNMIT police continued to perform interim law enforcement, they increasingly focused their efforts on the training, institutional development and strengthening of the national police. Progress was also made in the registration, screening and certification of national police, with 94 per cent of officers fully certified, as close cooperation with international security forces continued. Meanwhile, there were reports of alleged uncoordinated cross-border activities by the Indonesian military, as discussions continued on the demarcation of remaining unresolved border areas.
The report says the economy is projected to achieve 10.4 per cent growth in 2010, due to an increase in Government spending, including in the agriculture sector. Double-digit growth and low inflation are expected in the medium term. Poverty levels have decreased from 49 per cent to 41 per cent since 2007, and the Petroleum Fund continued to grow as a result of higher prices, reaching a value of $6.2 billion in March. The International Labour Organization (ILO) provided assistance to help the Secretary of State for Vocational Training and Employment address high unemployment rates, especially among youth. Food insecurity remained one of the Government’s top priorities, with a special emphasis on the expansion of domestic food production.
According to the report, the Secretary-General is encouraged that advances continued in all of UNMIT’s mandated priority areas, including dialogue initiatives on critical national issues, the resumption of primary policing by the national force and the promulgation of the national security package, the National Strategic Development Plan and the Justice Sector Strategic Plan. He is also heartened that all political parties continued to demonstrate their commitment to channelling political expression through democratically sanctioned arenas.
The report states that, in order to facilitate smooth and effective progress towards full reconstitution of the national police, a reinvigorated partnership between UNMIT police and the national police is required, with an increased focus on capacity-building. Reconfiguration of the UNMIT police should be approached cautiously, taking into account the need for a sufficient presence to provide monitoring, advising, training, mentoring and support. April saw the start of a gradual, phased drawdown of UNMIT police, and two platoons of formed police units will be withdrawn by March 2011. It is envisaged that by 30 June 2011, some 800 individual police officers will remain.
Welcoming the Strategic Development Plan as an important document to guide the future development of Timor-Leste, the Secretary-General urges a focus on redressing inequalities between rural and urban areas, and calls for development efforts to reflect Timor-Leste’s values and culture. It is not clear that present patterns of public expenditure are sustainable for long-term development, and the Government should therefore responsibly shift resources from the Petroleum Fund to investment in productive sectors, which will help generate multiplier effects in the economy. Continued donor commitment is essential to making the Strategic Development Plan operational.
ASMEERAH HAQ, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIT, said the country’s security and political situation remained stable, allowing State institutions to focus on longer-term challenges. The political debate had moved beyond “backward” discussions about the event of 2006, and many plans, strategies and institutions had been developed, including the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Justice Sector Strategic Plan for Timor-Leste, the package of national security laws and the draft Strategic Development Plan. Implementing those and sustaining the momentum of efforts to tackle systemic, institutional and political fragilities were the challenges currently facing Timor-Leste.
She said national leaders continued their efforts for inclusive consultations and dialogue on those long-term efforts. The Prime Minister, for instance, had reached out to the entire population on the draft Strategic Development Plan. She also highlighted a retreat on 21 and 22 August, organized by the Catholic Church, where seven national leaders had discussed current challenges, including sustainable development and how to nurture a new generation of future leaders.
The Timor-Leste National Police and UNMIT police deserved much of the credit for the country’s current security and stability, she said, adding that good cooperation with the international security forces from Australia and New Zealand continued. The National Police had resumed primary policing responsibilities in Aileu and Manufahi districts, as well as its duties in the Interpol Office, Immigration Department and Border Patrol Unit. Resumption was pending in only three districts and six units, with Dili remaining the most challenging area. One concern was the high number of uncertified officers, she said, adding that the Government had created a mechanism within the Secretariat of State for Security to address that problem. Municipal elections would not take place until after national elections, currently projected to take place by mid-2012. They would be the first significant test of the ability of the National Police to provide effective security around a large and multifaceted event.
Steady progress had been made in strengthening the justice sector, she continued, pointing out that the Justice Sector Strategic Plan provided an instrument to guide and coordinate the work of justice-sector institutions. Describing the adoption of the law against domestic violence as a milestone, she cautioned, however, that public confidence in the State’s willingness to support the rule of law and human rights could be adversely affected if the public perceived that individuals involved in high-profile cases were given favourable treatment, a concern raised by President José Ramos-Horta’s decision to commute the sentences of those involved in the February 2008 attacks against him, and of three soldiers involved in the shooting deaths of eight national police officers. It was troubling that the three soldiers appeared to have resumed work, she added.
Pointing to positive developments in gender mainstreaming, she cited the election of Maria Helena Pires as one of the 23 experts to serve on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In addition, Parliament had begun considering draft laws on reparations and on the institution to follow up on the work of the Commission of Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and the Truth and Friendship Commission on 21 September, but had postponed the debate. Hopefully, the consensus needed to expedite further consideration would be reached.
As for the Millennium Development Goals, she said, Timor-Leste’s gains were underpinned by economic stability and high growth rates. The Strategic Development Plan would be an instrument for the further promotion of human development and pro-poor growth, in addition to minimizing inequalities between urban and rural areas. There was a need to address high youth unemployment, including through their initial absorption in the public sector.
Recalling her September meeting with President Ramos-Horta and the Government, she said agreement had been was reached to establish a joint mechanism to guide UNMIT’s transition planning. Its first quarterly meeting would be held in late November. The transition would be a reconfiguration of the Mission’s activities within its mandated areas to ensure that, when it eventually withdrew, it would have done everything possible to ensure the future success of State institutions. That would include a growing emphasis on capacity-building, not only in policing, but in all areas of the Mission’s mandate. The high-level mechanism must also address the possible transfer of UNMIT assets to State institutions, and examine ways to mitigate any possible negative economic fallout from the Mission’s withdrawal.
“Timor-Leste is entering a crucial period, one which will help determine whether it has overcome in a sustainable manner the political and institutional weaknesses which contributed to the events of 2006,” she said in conclusion. “Given progress to date, and the steadfastness demonstrated by the national leaders of Timor-Leste, in particular the President and Prime Minister, I believe that work is under way which will contribute to Timor-Leste’s stability. UNMIT’s transition planning through 2012 will be an essential part of this.”
SOFIA MESQÍTA BORGES (Timor-Leste) paid tribute to the late Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Takahisa Kawakami, and said her country continued on its path of consolidating the gains of the past and ensuring a smooth transition to the recovery and development phase. Many challenges remained, however, and Timor-Leste required the support and continuing engagement of the international community, she said.
“The events of 2006 are a stark and unfortunate reminder of the fragility of peace when the institutions of State are nascent and capacities need to be developed and further strengthened,” she said. Recalling President Ramos-Horta’s statement to the General Assembly in September, she affirmed that peace and stability, economic growth and poverty reduction, justice and the promotion of human rights were the main tenets of the current phase of Timor-Leste’s nation-building agenda. “We need to consolidate gains and further improve opportunities.”
In the area of security, she pointed to the calm provided by the increasing capacities of the National Police, the continuing UNMIT presence and the assistance provided by international forces from Australia and New Zealand. The Secretary for State Security was committed to resolving, in a timely manner, the remaining cases of uncertified national police officers and to providing the necessary planning and budgetary support to ensure that the force’s logistical and capacity needs were met, in accordance with the country’s means, she emphasized. Beyond the resumption process, a new stage was planned in the creation of sustainable national police capacity, which would be greatly facilitated by a continuing UNMIT police presence, she said, expressing strong support for, and stressing the need to expedite, the addition of 19 civilian Mission posts.
The Government, in partnership with the international community, had been able to deliver on its commitments to ensure socio-economic growth and reduce poverty, she said. Committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, it was also developing policies and programmes to address the fact that Timor-Leste’s population was among the youngest in the world, and that youth were highly disaffected and disadvantaged. In the area of human rights, she pointed to the strengthening of the justice sector, saying she looked forward to working closely with UNMIT and United Nations agencies in implementing the Justice Sector Strategic Plan, which included adequate legal protection for women and children. In addition, the country was making concerted efforts, through the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, to ensure the mainstreaming of gender-sensitive policies throughout the Government.
She said the National Strategic Development Plan provided the Government’s blueprint for the next 20 years and would enable development partners to align their programmes with identified national priorities. The Government was committed to working closely with UNMIT through the joint mechanism to guide the Mission’s transition planning, she added, emphasizing the importance of national ownership of that process in ensuring its sustainability.
Highlighting the importance of relations with friends and partners in the region, she said the Government was taking a pragmatic and proactive approach to regional engagement. A border-crossing card system had been established with Indonesia, as had strong relations with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal on issues of security and economic development, particularly in the petroleum sector. The Timorese people remained optimistic and positive about their future, but also acutely aware of the many steep challenges ahead, she said. Those challenges could only be faced in partnership with friends in the region, the United Nations and other partners. Timor-Leste was grateful for their continued support, and requested their continuing assistance “in building a stable and prosperous Timor-Leste — a predictable partner in international relations, firmly embedded in the partnerships in its region, and a beacon of human rights, at peace with itself”.
TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan) also paid tribute to the late Special Representative of the Secretary-General. He noted the positive developments in Timor-Leste, but cautioned that the most difficult phase would be completing the resumption process of policing responsibilities by the National Police, particularly since many police officers in the Dili districts remained uncertified, creating a formidable obstacle to the force’s efforts to assume primary responsibility in the capital. While reaffirming the importance of the criteria-based approach, Japan encouraged the Government to address that issue as soon as possible. At the same time, he reiterated the importance of community policing, based on his own country’s experience.
Attention should also be paid to logistics, management and gaps in UNMIT’s activities, he stressed, pointing out that his country planned to take up those issues in its capacity as Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping. He commended the work of UNMIT and the international security forces, and noted Japan’s intention to contribute two military liaison officers. It was not too early to discuss the question of who would provide the services now provided by UNMIT after its scheduled withdrawal. Japan supported the forum established for dialogue with the Government on that issue, and the Council’s planned mission to Timor-Leste would provide a good basis to consider the Mission’s exit strategy. Japan would continue to stand by the Timorese people as it had done since the outset of their nation-building endeavour, he pledged.
BROOKE ANDERSON (United States) said the United Nations and the international community had played a critical role in Timor-Leste’s independence, and sustained international support would be critical to the young country’s success. Timor-Leste’s security situation remained stable despite a slight reduction in the numbers of UNMIT police. As it continued on the path to stability, the country was looking at long-term challenges, she said, emphasizing that the transfer of policing responsibilities was critical to further cementing stability. However, the excessive use of force and lack of accountability within the National Police continued to be a concern, though progress had been made in developing national security policies.
She said her country would increase its bilateral support for the Police, but stressed the critical importance of developing clear lines of authority for the military and police. While progress had been made in the follow-up to the reconciliation process, the commutation of the sentences imposed on those convicted of the 2008 attacks raised concern about impunity. The United States welcomed the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission, which would be an essential factor in the country’s development. She noted the absence of reported cases of sexual abuse as well as the creation of a training course to investigate gender-based violence. Welcoming the beginning of planning for the transition following UNMIT’s departure, she said the Mission must continue to support national capacity-building, while drawing up, with the Government, a careful transition plan.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said Timor-Leste’s continuing stability and calm security situation was encouraging, as was the absence of an increase in crime following the gradual transfer of policing responsibilities from UNMIT to the national police. However, there were still challenges in some parts of the country and in the certification of police officers, he noted, calling on the Government to give priority to resolving such outstanding issues, and on UNMIT to continue building the capacity of the National Police.
Looking forward to a clear timetable for withdrawal of UNMIT police, he said the Government could play an important role in that regard by ensuring the National Police had sufficient equipment and logistical support. The United Kingdom welcomed the progress made in following up the reconciliation process, but noted with concern that the recent commutation of some sentences sent the wrong message about impunity. The country’s longer-term needs must be addressed now, he stressed, welcoming the fact that the United Nations was already thinking about how best to support Timor‑Leste once UNMIT had left. Since the 2012 elections were the most significant milestone on the horizon, it was to be hoped that once fair and credible elections had taken place, Timor-Leste would have a safe and secure future, he said.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) welcomed the substantial progress that Timor-Leste had made, but stressed that further efforts were required to overcome the political, institutional and socio-economic weaknesses that had contributed to the events of 2006. While the National Police had resumed primary policing duties in almost all districts, UNMIT retained those responsibilities in three sensitive districts, including in Dili. A successful transition in those districts would depend on enhancing security measures and creating jobs, especially for the youth, she emphasized. The 2012 elections would be an important political test, she said, adding that she expected the vote to be held in such a way as to solidify democratic values and strengthen Timor-Leste’s institutions and stability.
She said the country had advanced in the social and economic development sector, and deserved praise for managing to reconcile strong economic growth with low inflation and a steep reduction in poverty levels. Efforts to ensure food security and combat diseases were also noteworthy, she said, noting however, that more international assistance would be needed to help expand food production and improve access to health and education. As for UNMIT’s future, she said it would be important to consider the format of a peacekeeping presence that would be commensurate with the remaining challenges, including the forthcoming elections, by drawing on lessons from 2006. She concluded by saying that the political and socio-economic progress made by the Timorese, and the smooth resumption of policing responsibilities by the National Police so far, showed that the Mission was close to become a success story.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria) welcomed the positive developments in UNMIT’s mandated priority areas, including the closure of the last transitional shelter for internally displaced persons, which was an indicator of increased stability in the country. The National Strategic Development Plan could play an important role in making returns and reintegration sustainable through economic and social development, and could also allow for more effective international support and increased national ownership.
He expressed hope that the recently launched Justice Sector Strategic Plan would further strengthen the formal justice sector and contribute to better protection of women’s and children’s rights. The establishment of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child, and the adoption of new witness-protection domestic violence legislation were also significant developments in that regard. Due to the high number of reported incidents of gender-based violence, enforcing those new laws would be particularly critical.
While certain steps had been made towards accountability for crimes committed during the 2006 crisis, he said, further work was needed on remaining challenges, such as the limited number of cases brought to trial and acquittals due to lack of evidence. Accountability for gross human rights violations committed during and prior to 1999 remained an area of concern, he said, emphasizing that impunity for those crimes could destabilize Timorese society in the long term. He encouraged the UNMIT Serious Crimes Investigation Team to continue its work, and welcomed efforts to create an institution to realize the recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) welcomed the progress made in Timor-Leste and stressed the importance of keeping activities to strengthen the National Police flexible and responsive to the situation on the ground. In the coming period, national policies must assume a greater role alongside continuing international assistance, and should focus on creating jobs for the youth. In addition, the institutional capacities of the Government must be built up in order to ensure its ability to hold free and fair elections in 2012. He also emphasized the importance of ensuring justice for human rights crimes committed in the past, welcoming in context measures to build up the justice sector and establish truth and reconciliation mechanisms. Saluting those who contributed to UNMIT, he said its support beyond 2012 must continue, in accordance with the needs of the Timorese people.
CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) also welcomed the positive developments, saying there was no doubt that UNMIT was a success story for the United Nations system, even though challenges remained. It was crucial to consolidate achievements by strengthening the rule of law and democracy. She commended the Mission’s training of the National Police and welcomed the country’s continuing stability, as well as ongoing reform of the judiciary. Lebanon also welcomed the initiative to inculcate a culture of dialogue in society, as well as the resettlement of displaced persons.
While welcoming Timor-Leste’s economic growth, she warned, however, that youth unemployment represented a “time bomb”, and encouraged all efforts to redress that situation. She called on the international community to provide all necessary assistance for the elections planned for 2012, and encouraged all parties in Timor-Leste to take advantage of UNMIT’s capacities in the time before the transition. All stakeholders should engage seriously in dialogue to plan that transition, she added.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia Herzegovina) said that strengthening security-sector reform was crucial for sustained peace and security. He welcomed the resumption by the National Police of primary policing responsibilities, expressing hope that the process would be finalized in all districts and all units by the end of 2010. There must be a clear delineation of responsibility between the National Police and the Armed Forces, he stressed, calling for comprehensive reform of both.
He also welcomed the closing of the last transitional shelter for internally displaced persons, since their reintegration was inextricably linked with achieving and maintaining lasting peace, as well as strengthening democratic institutions and processes. Only truth and justice, as well as a successful fight against impunity, could lead Timor-Leste towards full reconciliation, prosperity and national unity, he said. Socio-economic problems must be addressed in an effective and coordinated manner, with all stakeholders onboard, including the private sector, civic society and foreign donors, he said. Bosnia and Herzegovina reiterated its full support for Timor-Leste continuing steady progress along its path to a stable, secure and democratic society.
WANG MIN (China) said that, as a result of efforts by the Government and people of Timor-Leste, and of the support by the international community, the situation in the country remained stable. The Prime Minister’s Road to Peace and National Unity initiative continued, the Strategic Development Plan had set the direction for progress over the next 20 years, and the National Police had gradually taken over policing responsibilities. To realize long-term peace, however, the various political factions must seek to resolve their differences through democratic dialogue, he said.
It was necessary to improve Timor-Leste’s own capacity to maintain security, he said, adding that UNMIT should focus on helping the National Police to enhance its law-enforcement capacity through increased training. It was also necessary to develop the country’s economy and improve peoples’ lives. China welcomed in that regard the Government’s focus on infrastructure development and capacity-building, as well as on addressing the population’s employment needs. The international community should continue to provide assistance, in line with the country’s priorities, he said, expressing hope for a final smooth withdrawal by UNMIT, which could set an example in formulating exit strategies for other peacekeeping missions.
KONSTANTIN DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) also welcomed the strong progress made in key areas of development. Political forces had demonstrated responsibility by pursuing reconciliation and dialogue, and the stable situation was creating the atmosphere required for long-term challenges to be addressed. However, there were serious socio-economic problems, the solutions to which required support by the international community. Strengthening the national security forces was an important factor, the success of which would be an indicator of Timor-Leste’s true independence, he said.
Consolidating the transfer of policing responsibilities from UNMIT to the National Police required the strengthening of the latter’s capacity, he continued. He welcomed the discussions begun by UNMIT with the country’s leadership on the future activities of the United Nations in Timor-Leste. A reconfiguration of the Organization’s presence must take into account the realities on the ground, he emphasized. The Council’s mission to the country in November would provide first-hand information on Timor-Leste’s specific challenges and needs, he said in conclusion.
MARTIN BRIENS (France), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union delegation, said the continuing calm in Timor-Leste testified to the maturity of its institutions and the building up of its security forces. However, UNMIT’s transfer of responsibility to the National Police in Dili and other districts must not be carried out in haste, but in accordance with United Nations standards. It must be supported by technical assistance and training, he added. The Timorese must gain faith in their justice system, particularly by avoiding impunity for past crimes, he emphasized, pointing out that commuting sentences did not send a good signal.
Looking towards 2012, he noted that the planned general elections would be held in the same year as the end of the UNMIT mandate, and he urged that proper preparations for those two events be kept at the forefront. Reaffirming his country’s support for the Mission and the current Special Representative of the Secretary-General, he said the months ahead would be crucial both for Timor-Leste and the United Nations in its ongoing efforts to bring about stability in countries emerging from conflict.
RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) welcomed the climate of calm in Timor-Leste and the ongoing planning processes in the country. He said the Government’s priorities would advance development if the relevant plans were followed through. He also commended peace initiatives, efforts to build capacities for the 2012 elections, ensure gender equality and deal with youth unemployment. He called for continuing, effective strengthening of the National Police and urged redress for crimes committed by anyone in the security forces. Nigeria looked forward to assessments of the drawdowns of UNMIT police as well as corresponding initiatives to address remaining challenges, he said, commending the Mission and the United Nations country team on their work.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey), welcoming Timor-Leste’s prevailing stability, commended the countries political forces and people for their continuing efforts for dialogue, as well as the Government for addressing key long-term issues in the areas of economic and justice-sector reform development. Noting that UNMIT’s handover of policing responsibilities to the national police had not led to increased criminality, he said the latter required more training. It was now critical to start thinking about the Mission’s eventual exit, but that should not be rushed. Its mandate and force composition should not be further altered until the 2012 elections, he said, calling for a focus on building the capacities of the police and other State institutions.
It was necessary to define a meaningful role for the Timorese army in a peaceful setting, he said, recalling that Turkey had previously suggested its possible orientation towards peacekeeping operations and noting with satisfaction that the Government had embraced that idea. Although projected economic growth was impressive, the Government should be aware that the political, social and economic challenges that had led to the events of 2006 must be overcome, especially high youth unemployment, which was a possible security risk. It was necessary to continue national dialogue and unity, as well as international support for Timor-Leste’s quest for peace, stability and prosperity. The Council’s visit in November would be useful for discussing UNMIT’s possible exit after the 2012 elections, he said.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI ( Gabon) complimented the Government and people of Timor-Leste for preserving national unity and continuing their pursuit of national reconciliation, saying that ongoing cooperation favoured the establishment of lasting peace. He welcomed the Government’s commitment to organizing credible and transparent elections, with technical assistance from UNMIT and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The contribution of civil society and religious organizations should be highlighted for achieving a climate of security and stability, he added.
While welcoming the role that UNMIT had played in transferring responsibilities to the National Police, he stressed the importance of providing the latter with the necessary equipment, and delineating its duties as well as those of the army. Given the importance of the Strategic Development Plan, he commended the Prime Minister’s efforts to take into account the opinions of communities throughout the country. Timor-Leste should pay due attention to the development of human resources, he emphasized, as he also welcomed the country’s good neighbourly relations with Indonesia.
Council President RUHAKANA RUGUNDA (Uganda), speaking in his national capacity, joined Council members in thanking the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the representative of Timor-Leste for their statements, and commended Timor-Leste for its progress in the spheres of security, democracy and development. He welcomed initiatives to address youth employment and the continued strengthening of national institutions, with input from the entire country. He also welcomed measures taken by UNMIT to enhance police capacity, and stressed the importance of concluding remaining capacity-building programmes and the transfer of responsibilities in a timely manner.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said the improvement in Timor-Leste’s security situation augured well for the ongoing resumption of responsibilities by the National Police. Adherence to the rule of law was crucial in ensuring the people’s respect for their own security forces. Accountability for criminal acts must not simply appear to be paramount, but must actually be so, he stressed. Malaysia was encouraged that the ongoing process to establish a professional and credible police force was achieving success.
He urged the Government to focus more attention on socio-economic development and to invest in infrastructure and facilities that would create socio-economic activities to benefit the local population and provide job opportunities. Malaysia would continue to encourage businesses and investors to consider Timor-Leste as a viable business partner. It would also continue to provide training to Timorese Armed Forces personnel. In closing, he expressed condolences to the Government of Japan and the family of the late Deputy Special Representative Takahisa Kawakami.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said youth unemployment and the rising level of urbanization were potential factors for social instability, and it remained critically important that the international community continue to support capacity-building, particularly in the areas of security and governance. Since the planned elections might prove a major challenge, it was important that UNMIT drawdowns be based on conditions and take prevailing capacity into account. It was also important to take a long-term view of any proposal to change the Mission’s mandate or budget, with Timor-Leste’s long-term viability taking precedence over short-term budget considerations, he emphasized.
He encouraged the continued handover of policing responsibility once the remaining districts met the agreed conditions, and joined the call for the Government to take the logistical needs of the National Police seriously into account in its budgetary and planning processes. Australia welcomed the attention that the United Nations was giving to building appropriate policing skills and hoped the additional civilian posts would soon be on the ground. It was important for UNMIT police to continue its mentoring role, with any drawdowns reflecting the actual security environment and the capacity of the national police.
Pledging that his country, through the international security forces and contributions to UNMIT police, would continue to help the Government and the Mission to maintain security, he noted that drawdowns had been made by both Australia and New Zealand with the support of the Government. Any further drawdowns would also be made in close consultation with the Government, the United Nations and other international partners. As Timor-Leste’s largest donor, Australia stood ready to support all efforts for a stable and prosperous future, having contributed more than $100 million in aid this year alone.
LIBRAN CABACTULAN (Philippines) said that the 137 personnel of the Philippine police contingent of UNMIT, 14 of them women, looked forward to successfully finishing their tour of duty and leaving Timor-Leste on the path to peace and stability. The country’s economy was projected to grow by 10.4 per cent in 2010, which would no doubt strengthen the foundations of its economic base. Crime rates had decreased slightly in recent months, and the improved peace and order situation had allowed UNMIT gradually to reduce the number of its police officers and the National Police to play a more active role.
However, while encouraged by some positive news, the Philippines maintained a guarded optimism about the whole situation, he said. Underlying concerns related to the ability of the national police to take over UNMIT’s role, since that would require sustained and concentrated efforts to ensure that it provided a strong foundation for long-term institution- and capacity-building. Strengthening civilian oversight and management capacities over the State security forces would be equally critical, he said, emphasizing that, as UNMIT implemented its downsizing plan throughout 2010, it must sketch out a realistic, practical, transparent and cost-effective exit strategy.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) paid tribute to the late Special Representative Kawakami. He said the investments made in Timor-Leste over the next 18 months would be decisive in determining the extent to which the nation-building achievements of the past few years could be sustained and built upon. “We now see a country increasingly confident and determined to chart its own course into the future,” he said, adding that, in the upcoming period, the international community must do all it could to ensure that the elections planned for next year helped to consolidate the emerging democratic political culture. It was equally important that institutions established for effective public management and to guard against corruption had sufficient support to execute their duties.
It was also important for the international community to give careful thought to how best it could help the Government tackle remaining challenges, while allowing for greater Timorese ownership, he said. Whether UNMIT and the international security forces had a role beyond the 2012 elections must be decided in due course by the Government, in consultation with the international community. It was vital for serious planning to begin now to ensure a smooth transition that would not negatively affect the security or economic situation. In the continuing transfer of authority to the National Police, New Zealand hoped to see an early resolution of the status of uncertified officers, especially those accused of crimes, he said, stressing that the priority must be maintaining the longer-term integrity, reputation and effectiveness of the force. As the focus of assistance shifted from security to other priorities, New Zealand was committed to aligning its support with Timor-Leste’s national development priorities and its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, he said.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union, said that since Timor-Leste’s independence nearly a decade ago, the people and their Government had grabbed the world’s imagination by building up their new nation from the ground. During that time, the last transitional shelter for internally displaced persons had closed, and with the humanitarian phase now completed, the country could focus fully on consolidating peace and justice, and eradicating poverty — with the European Union at its side, continuing to provide considerable assistance.
However, challenges remained, he said, citing review and reform of the security sector; strengthening the rule of law; economic and social development; and promotion of a culture of democratic governance and dialogue. On security, he said the road to a less fragile Timor-Leste went through a well-functioning, professional, impartial and accountable police service. Concerning the rule of law, the performance of the justice sector had improved and accountability was on the rise, but there was still a sense that justice was not always done, while impunity persisted and human rights abuses by the security forces caused special concern. There had also been a high number of reported incidents of gender-based violence, he noted.
Turning to socio-economic development, he said Timor-Leste was recovering from the economic setbacks of the past, though there had been an estimated 9 per cent drop in poverty over the past three years. Hopefully the careful management of oil revenues and the new National Strategic Development Plan would help jump start economic growth and poverty reduction. The Plan should revolve around fostering long-term rural development, reducing unemployment – particularly among young people – and improving social services, with an emphasis on health and education.
In the field of governance, he said, Timor-Leste had been making great strides. Public-finance management had been reformed and the State was more transparent and accountable, in addition to the Civil Service Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission having been put in place. The European Union called on Timor-Leste to push on and make the Commissions truly operational. It should also set up an independent technical secretariat, an independent procurement commission and a court of audits, he said. In closing, he said the presence of UNMIT should be maintained during the election year, adding that there should be no delay in preparing an operational strategy to transform the Mission from a peacekeeping operation into a peacebuilding one. Beyond 2012, the international community’s commitment to Timor-Leste should be different, but no less strong, he stressed.
MONÉ DYE ( South Africa) welcomed the Prime Minister’s draft strategic plan for 2011-2030, which aimed to achieve a transformation from a low-income to a upper-middle-income economy by 2030. She also welcomed the President’s continuing dialogue initiative, “Road to Peace and National Unity”, which was an important step in strengthening peace and reconciliation efforts throughout the country.
Welcoming the progress made in resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the National Police, she noted with concern, however, that the districts where that had not happened were all in Dili, and that significant challenges remained with regard to certifying police officers. It was essential to enhance disciplinary mechanisms and to increase gender sensitivity in police duties, she stressed.
Furthermore, UNMIT’s configuration should be approached in a sensitive manner, with a specific focus on the need for sufficient capacity to provide support to the National Police through training, capacity-building, advising, mentoring and institutional development. South Africa stood ready to support the process ahead as a member of the Core Group, and remained committed to seeing a stable and strong Timor-Leste that could use its “peace dividend” for the benefit of all its people, she said.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union statement, welcomed the encouraging developments in Timor-Leste, with which his country had a long shared history. It was important to acknowledge both how far the country had come since independence, and the challenges ahead. The 2012 elections would test the capacity and resilience of national institutions and the progress made in assimilating a stable democratic political culture. Given the development challenges, further efforts were required to overcome the political, institutional and socio-economic weaknesses that had contributed to the events of 2006, he emphasized.
The continuing good offices of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative would be crucial in facilitating ongoing political dialogue, he said. In order to facilitate effective progress towards full reconstitution of the National Police, a reinvigorated partnership between the force and UNMIT would be required, as would a clarified relationship between the defence forces and the police, he said, adding that the closest possible coordination of all assistance was needed in that regard.
Expressing support for the Government’s efforts in socio-economic development, he called on the international community to provide more assistance in that area. He also welcomed the preparation of a strategy to guide the transition from UNMIT support, saying that process required sustained international support, with full respect for Timorese choices. As a major donor in a wide spectrum of areas, including those under the responsibility of UNMIT, Portugal remained fully engaged in supporting Timor-Leste, he said.
Ms. HAQ, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, thanked Council members for their expressions of support for UNMIT and the people of Timor-Leste, particularly those who had supported the jointly owned mechanism for transition. She voiced agreement with their emphasis on prioritizing Timorese ownership and solid planning for the transition. Comments warning against a hasty hand over of responsibility for remaining police districts were appreciated, she said, pointing out the continuing need for training and capacity-building, as well as the importance of the 2012 elections as a test of security capacity. She assured the Council that UNMIT would continue to work in a concerted manner with the remaining districts and units.
The Mission’s commitment to the full package of national security legislation, and to the issues of delineation contained therein would continue, she said, sharing also the concerns expressed about impunity, which could arise from difficulties of access to justice. They must be addressed comprehensively. She also expressed concern about youth unemployment and welcomed pledges of future bilateral support. Finally, she noted the emphasis on the importance of continuing dialogue and reconciliation, assuring Council members that those efforts would remain at the forefront. She welcomed the Council’s upcoming mission to Timor-Leste, thanking members and other partners for their continued support.
* *** *For information media • not an official record