Office of the President of the Millennium Assembly
55th session of the United Nations General Assembly

on Friday 26 January 2001 at 10am

The President of the 55th General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Harri Holkeri, will brief the Security Council on Friday 26 January during its discussion of East Timor.

Mr. Holkeri recently returned from a visit to East Timor. During his week-long visit to South-East Asia from 10-17 January, he also visited Indonesia and Singapore. The purpose of his visit was to familiarize himself with the United Nations operation in East Timor, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). The visit to UNTAET, a comprehensive and complex peace operation, was undertaken in light of the recent discussions on the Brahimi report on the question to strengthening and improving the UN peacekeeping capacity. UNTAET was established by the Security Council in 1999 following the "popular consultation" in East Timor, conducted by the United Nations, which resulted in the population voting for the independence of East Timor.

The purpose of UNTAET is to assist the country during its transition to independence by providing security and maintaining law and order, by establishing an effective administration, by developing civil and social services, by ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and development assistance, and by supporting capacity-building for self government.

Following his visit to East Timor, the President of the General Assembly met with President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia and a number of high-level Indonesian officials. One of the issues his discussion focused on was the importance of the Indonesian Government implementing Security Council resolution 1319. This resolution was adopted by the Security Council immediately after the murder (in Atambua, West Timor, in September last year) of three staff member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The resolution calls on the Indonesian Government to disarm and disband the militia which are based in the refugee camps in West Timor where large numbers of East Timorese refugees continue to live in very difficult conditions and are subject to intimidation by the militia. The resolution calls on the Indonesian Government to restore law and order in West Timor, to ensure the safety of refugees and humanitarian workers in the refugee camps and to prevent cross-border incursions into East Timor.

In his discussions with the Indonesian Government, Mr. Holkeri emphasised that the implementation of this Security Council resolution was a pre-requisite for the return of refugees to East Timor and for the United Nations agencies to resume their humanitarian work in West Timor. The President of the General Assembly received assurances from the Indonesian Government of their commitment to restore order in West Timor.

Friday's meeting will be the first time that a President of the General Assembly has ever been invited by the Security Council to brief it on a substantive issue. The only other time a President of the General Assembly has addressed the Security Council was in 1946 and this was on a procedural matter.