Security Council extends Timor-Leste peacekeeping mission

26 February 2009 – The Security Council today extended for one more year the mandate of the peacekeeping mission it sent to help stabilize the fledgling nation of Timor-Leste in the wake of violent clashes in 2006.

In the unanimously-adopted resolution extending the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), the 15-member body also requested the mission to provide support for elections currently planned for 2009, responding to an appeal by the Government.

Among other priorities, it underscored the importance of continued security sector reform, including the delineation of the roles of the national defence forces and the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), to whom the UN mission is asked to provide intensified training.

It supports the phased transfer of policing responsibilities now performed by UNMIT to the PNTL, beginning in 2009, stressing however, that the police must first meet all required criteria.

Reform of the justice sector and coordination of international donors efforts on institution-building are other areas emphasized by the Council.

In his latest report on Timor-Leste, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is encouraged by the strides made by the leaders and people of Timor-Leste since 2006, but warned that the root causes of that crisis, including poverty and unemployment, still linger.

In late April 2006, fighting – attributed to differences between eastern and western regions – erupted when 600 striking soldiers, or one-third of the armed forces, were fired.

Ensuing violence claimed dozens of lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.

Through today’s resolution, the authorized deployment level of UNMIT was left unchanged, but the Secretary-General was requested to include, in his next report, possible adjustments in the mission’s mandate and strength as the PNTL begin to take over policing.

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