SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CURRENT SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR AND TASKS LEADING UP TO ELECTION ON 30 AUGUST

18 May 2001
SC/7061

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CURRENT SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR AND TASKS LEADING UP TO ELECTION ON 30 AUGUST

18/05/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7061

Security Council

4321st Meeting (AM & PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CURRENT SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR AND TASKS

LEADING UP TO ELECTION ON 30 AUGUST

The Security Council held an open meeting today to consider recent developments in East Timor and the tasks ahead in the months leading up to the

30 August election there.  East Timorese leaders joined the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in highlighting the remaining challenges to the creation of a viable independent nation. 

The President of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, drew attention to the unresolved issues of justice and reconciliation, security, and the prospects for development.  If the international community took prime responsibility in bringing about justice, the East Timorese would bear the responsibility for reconciliation, despite unsatisfactory results from the Indonesian authorities.  To make a "success case" of East Timor, international assistance was needed beyond independence.  Of paramount importance were the holding of elections and the defining of a vision for economic development. 

Jose Ramos-Horta, Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs of the East Timor Transitional Administration, said the Security Council had invested considerably in bringing the process in East Timor to its current status.  Despite ups and downs, dramatic progress had been made in all sectors.  Domestically,

in an effort to encourage political plurality, the National Council of Timorese Resistance would be replaced by an even more encompassing instrument, namely the National Pact.  The draft constitution addressed issues of tolerance, non-violence, democratic commitment, and compliance with international human rights norms and the rule of law.  That document would bind all political parties, regardless of the election result.

Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, highlighted recent political, humanitarian, and judicial developments since the publication of the latest report of the Secretary-General on 2 May.  Commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission had been appointed and five political parties had applied for registration in the election.  To date, 390,000 East Timorese had been registered to vote and efforts were continuing to complete the registration exercise by the 20 June deadline.

Regarding refugees, Mr. Annabi said that no tangible progress had been made but discussions between the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the Indonesian authorities continued.  The latter had informed UNTAET that their plan to undertake a one-day registration of the refugees in West

Timor had been rescheduled for June.  Also disappointing had been the Indonesian President’s decree of 24 April limiting the court’s jurisdiction to acts committed after the ballot of 30 August 1999, thereby excluding earlier massacres from prosecution.  The United Nations had urged the Indonesian authorities to reissue the decree without temporal restrictions.  Concerning the lenient sentencing on

4 May for the six men in connection with the killings of three United Nations personnel last September, he warned, "that could not be the last word", given the crimes' gravity.

Indonesia remained fully committed to steadily and constructively resolving the outstanding issues "once and for all", that country's representative said.  Those related to the registration of refugees, citizenship, pensions for former civil servants, air agreement and postal service.  On the issue of East Timorese refugees, hopefully the “information campaign” undertaken by interested parties, including his Government, would expedite the repatriation process.  Concerning justice and impunity, he reiterated his Government’s unswerving commitment to bring justice to those responsible for human rights violations.  Despite the verdict handed down by the North Jakarta District Court on 4 May for the six accused of killing three UNHCR workers in September 2000, it should be emphasized that those trials had not concluded.  Concerned parties should refrain from making hasty judgements until a final decision was taken.

The question of reconciliation, which was a key element in resolving comprehensively the issue of East Timor, was closely linked to the problems of refugees and justice.  A genuine reconciliation between and among the East Timorese would become the solid foundation for promoting peace and harmony and eradicating the root causes of conflict.  For reconciliation to truly succeed, however, the vast differences must be bridged and past tragic incidents must be left behind.  Over the long term, his Government sought to establish a durable, wide-ranging and mutually beneficial relationship with East Timor.  The legal and political separation of East Timor from Indonesia could not erase the reality of centuries-old societal and family links between them.  Once UNTAET completed its mandate, he sincerely hoped that those links would flourish.

Council President James Cunningham (United States) welcomed Mr. Gusmao and Mr. Ramos-Horta to the meeting and added that the views of all political leaders must be communicated to the Security Council, especially in the post-election period.  He looked forward to welcoming East Timor, not under Rule 39, but as a full-fledged United Nations Member.  Speaking in his national capacity, he said he was struck by the degree of consensus on the issues before the Council regarding East Timor.  The United States supported the election process and the maintenance of the military component of the United Nations mission, in its present form for the time being.  Assistance should gradually turn towards a longer-term development assistance programme, with the peacekeeping component gradually declining as conditions permitted.  That process should be the result of close consultation among all actors. 

Mr. Annabi and Mr. Ramos-Horta took the floor for a second time to respond to questions and comments made by Council members.  (A summary of their remarks is contained in the Press Release.)

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The Council also heard from the representatives of the United Kingdom, Singapore, China, France, Russian Federation, Ireland, Colombia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Mali, Norway, Ukraine, Sweden, Australia, Portugal, Canada, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

Today's meeting, which began at 10:40 a.m. was suspended at 1:17 p.m.  It resumed at 3:06 p.m. and adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

Secretary-General’s Report

Before the Council was the interim report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) dated 2 May in which he observes that a great deal remains to be done towards the goal of independence and that more will need to be accomplished thereafter to ensure that the new State can exist on its own.  He favours a prudent approach that would safeguard the international community's considerable investment in the territory's future.

The report (document S/2001/436) says that the main step in the last three months of the transition to independence was the promulgation, on 16 March, of the regulation on the Constituent Assembly.  The promulgation will form the basis for the preparation of the electoral roll.  Registration began on the same day and, so far, more than 2,000 inhabitants have been registered.  Registration must be completed by 20 June to leave sufficient time for review, challenge and appeal of the electoral roll.  The ballot itself is scheduled for 30 August.

On 27 March, the report says, the National Council narrowly rejected a draft regulation that would have provided for the establishment of commissions to undertake a broad consultation on the future constitution.  Following that decision, Xanana Gusmao resigned from the National Council and was succeeded as Speaker by Manuel Carrascalao.

The report states that there is a broad range of views among East Timorese regarding the structure of the future State.  Some who had pressed for early independence have recently warned against rushing the process.  The UNTAET has launched a comprehensive voter education programme, using print media, radio and television to provide information about civil registration and the political calendar.

Political parties are slowly beginning to establish district and subdistrict offices, build membership and prepare for national congresses, the report says.  However, only the East Timor National Liberation Front (FRETILIN) is well advanced in that process.  The Popular Committee for the Defence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (CPD-RDTL) continues to oppose the election on the grounds that the territory became independent in 1975 and already has a constitution.

Regarding the economy and infrastructure, the report says that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an estimated 15 per cent during the last year, and crop production reached over 70 per cent of the pre-September 1999 level.  But much of the economic growth occurred in Dili, in service sector enterprises and in trade and construction related to donor-funded reconstruction programmes, the report adds.

It notes that unemployment remains substantial, especially in urban areas where the ranks of the unemployed have been swelled by migrants from the rural districts.  To slow that migration, World Bank programmes are seeking to channel investments to the rural areas.  Programmes administered by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are pursuing a policy of using maximum local labour and inputs to create employment and build the local economy, even where the result has been slower delivery.

According to the report, the future reduction in the number of international personnel based in East Timor will have an inevitable impact in employment, particularly in Dili.  Further efforts will be needed to ensure that the economic impact does not engender political instability.  Private sector development is the key to creating sustainable employment opportunities, the report says.

Emphasizing that the future government must act quickly to attract long-term investment, the report notes that UNTAET and Australia have concluded two formal and two informal rounds of negotiations over the territory's main natural resources, oil and gas in the Timor Sea.  Income derived from them will be a major factor in the development of the future State.

The report stresses the critical need for a practical and reliable arrangement to ensure unhindered land transit between the Oecussi enclave and the rest of East Timor for the enclave's economic well-being.  That unresolved issue has been the subject of negotiations between UNTAET and the Government of Indonesia, the report adds.

On the unresolved question of refugee returns, it points out that following a brief upsurge in March, when 2,735 returned home from West Timor, only 400 returned in April, despite efforts by UNTAET culminating in a tour of four refugee camps by the mission's Chief of Staff from 9 to 11 April.  Despite heavy security provided by the Indonesian army and police, the team was advised not to visit the camp at Betun, which is a stronghold of pro-Indonesian militias.

According to the report, the majority of refugees voiced no opinion when Indonesian officials accompanying the UNTAET team informed them about a planned registration exercise scheduled for 21 May during which they would all be offered a choice between repatriation and permanent settlement in Indonesia.  However, a small but vocal group in each camp denounced the result of the 1999 ballot, saying they would only return if East Timor became part of Indonesia.

Regarding reconciliation, the report says that the East Timorese have readily accepted returning refugees who had supported integration with Indonesia.  At the same time, they felt strongly that while minor transgressions should be dealt with through reconciliation measures, major crimes must be prosecuted.  It is deeply disappointing that Indonesian President Wahid's 24 April decree excluded from prosecution the massacres in Liquica and Suai, as well as several other serious crimes under investigation.

While the security situation has been generally good, there is a widely shared fear that the political process may not remain peaceful, the report states.  The Timorese, therefore, look to UNTAET's military component to prevent political violence.  While their immediate concern is focused on the campaign for the Constituent Assembly election, particular vigilance may also be required in the post-election period and during the formation of the first independence government.

The report says that the situation on the border was generally calm, except for the first days of April, when a young woman was shot dead by unknown assailants and United Nations troops came under fire.  Although the relatively calm, stable security environment last year had led to a reduction of UNTAET's military component, the onset of the dry season brought with it a significant increase in incursions by pro-Indonesian militias in West Timor.

According to the report, the situation remains unpredictable.  The militias continue to advocate armed struggle to integrate East Timor with Indonesia and they remain a force to be reckoned with.  While the Indonesian armed forces have contributed to the relative stability of the border, it would be prudent to maintain UNTAET's military component essentially in its present form until the East Timorese Government has established itself.

Once the Government has established itself, the report says, it is envisaged that the troops deployed in the east could be gradually withdrawn, while those in the western sector and the Oecussi enclave would be maintained.  The first battalion of the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) is currently being trained by Portuguese personnel using equipment provided by Australia, which is also building a training facility at Metinaro.

Background

In 1960, the United Nations General Assembly placed East Timor on its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  At that time, East Timor was administered by Portugal.  In 1974, Portugal withdrew from the Territory and Indonesia intervened and later declared East Timor its twenty-seventh province.  The United Nations never recognized this annexation, and both the Security Council and the General Assembly called for Indonesia's withdrawal.

Beginning in 1982, successive Secretaries-General held regular talks with Indonesia and Portugal aimed at resolving the status of the Territory.  A set of agreements between Indonesia and Portugal were finally signed in New York on 5 May 1999, which entrusted the Secretary-General with organizing a "popular consultation" to ascertain the East Timorese response to a proposal for special autonomy for East Timor within Indonesia.

To carry out the consultation, the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was established on 11 June 1999.  On 30 August 1999 some 78.5 per cent of East Timorese voters opted to reject the proposed autonomy and begin a process of transition towards independence.  Following the announcement of the result,

pro-integration militias, supported by elements of the Indonesian security forces, launched a campaign of violence.  The Indonesian authorities did not respond effectively to the violence, and many East Timorese were killed and displaced from their homes.  A multinational force -- INTERFET -- was authorized by the Security Council and eventually restored order

On 19 October 1999, the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly formally recognized the result of the consultation, and on 25 October, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established (resolution 1272 (1999)).  The UNTAET is mandated to provide security and maintain law and order throughout the territory; to establish an effective administration; to assist in the development of civil and social services; to coordinate and deliver humanitarian, rehabilitation and development assistance; to support capacity-building for self-government; and to assist in the establishment of conditions for sustainable development.

On 30 April, UNTAET had 9,646 total uniformed personnel, including 8,162 military, 1,360 civilian police and 124 military observers, supported by 1,051 international civilian personnel and 1,928 local civilian staff.

Statements

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States), Council President for May, said that hearing directly from Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta promised to be very useful.  The views of all political leaders must be communicated to the Council, especially in the post-election period.  He looked forward to welcoming East Timor, not under Rule 39, but as a full-fledged United Nations Member.

HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that however much he tried to learn about the situation in East Timor, he would never know as much as his distinguished colleagues from East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, President of the National Council of Timorese Resistance and Jose Ramos-Horta, Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs of East Timor Transitional Administration.  He was pleased that they would have the opportunity to brief the Council, themselves.

He said that since the publication of the Secretary-General’s interim report on East Timor, a number of developments had taken place.  The Secretary-General had appointed the Commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission, and five political parties had applied for registration to participate in the election.  To date, UNTAET’s Civil Registration Unit had registered 390,000 East Timorese.  There had been some technical difficulties, but new equipment had arrived, and the Administration was working hard to complete the registration exercise by the

20 June deadline, to enable the ballot to occur on 30 August.

Major developments in the rehabilitation of the economy and infrastructure were covered in the report, he noted.  Concerning exploitation of natural resources in the Timor Sea, useful progress had been made at another round of talks with Australia, held in Brisbane, from 2 to 4 May.  Regarding refugees, the tour by UNTAET’s Chief of Staff of four refugee camps in West Timor from 9 to

11 April was the main development covered in the report.  Regrettably, since then, no tangible progress had been made towards resolving the refugee situation.  Discussions between UNTAET and the Indonesian authorities continued, and the latter had informed UNTAET that their plan to undertake one-day registration of the refugees in West Timor this month had been rescheduled for June.

With respect to the abduction of East Timorese women to West Timor, he said that, in the absence of a permanent international presence there following the brutal murders of three United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers and the continuing presence of militia, obtaining concrete information had proved very difficult.  Indonesian human rights and non-governmental organizations monitoring the camps had attempted to gather information on those cases but their access to the camps was limited and many of the women were reluctant to speak.  Of the 25 abduction and rape cases currently under investigation by UNTAET’s Serious Crimes Unit, one woman remained in West Timor. 

He said that UNTAET was seeking to pursue the matter during the course of bilateral negotiations on outstanding issues with the Indonesian Government, which resumed this week.  In terms of justice, President Wahid’s decree of 24 April limited the tribunal’s jurisdiction to acts committed after the ballot of

30 August 1999, thus excluding earlier massacres from prosecution.  Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor and Head of the Mission, had urged the Indonesian authorities to reissue the decree without temporal restrictions.  On 4 May, a Jakarta court had handed down sentences ranging from 10 to 20 months to six men in connection with the 6 September 2000 killings of three UNHCR staff in West Timor.  Clearly, given the gravity of the crimes, that could not be the last word.

Overall, the security situation was “generally good”, he went on.  The report also identified risks, both internal and external, especially in view of the sensitive political season ahead, which would conclude when the first Government of an independent East Timor settled in.  Given the uncertain outlook on security, the Secretary-General concluded that it would be prudent to maintain the military component essentially in its present form until the East Timorese Government had established itself.  Regarding a United Nations presence after independence, planning for post-UNTAET was under way, he said.

KAY RALA XANANA GUSMAO, President of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, said that unresolved issues under consideration by that council were justice and reconciliation, the security situation and prospects for development as a whole. 

As the crimes committed in East Timor were an affront to the international community, as well as a source of suffering to the territory’s people, the international community should take prime responsibility in bringing about justice, while the East Timorese would bear the responsibility for reconciliation, he said.  To date, Indonesia had not followed through satisfactorily on its promises to punish the perpetrators of the violence, as attested by the appalling verdicts given to the confessed murderers of three staff members of the UNHCR.

The Timorese remain committed to the reconciliation process, he said, but stability was needed for progress in that area.  The security situation was under control, but internal violence needed to be differentiated from border incursions.  The former had been greatly exaggerated while the border attacks were, in reality, a major concern.  The East Timorese leadership sought a neighbourly relationship with Indonesia, based on mutual respect and understanding.  That was in the interest of both parties, and so was being pursued by both.

He requested Council members to continue their support in order to make East Timor a success case.  For that to happen, assistance was needed both for security and for the promotion of good governance during the initial phase of independence.  Together, the values of peace, justice, democracy, human rights, and international law could be upheld.  In time, the East Timorese would address the Council, express their gratitude and would no longer need further assistance.

Elections, he said, would be of paramount importance, as a first step towards taking up full responsibility for the country.  Another important step would be to define a vision for future economic development.  Important steps had already been taken in the context of the regulatory framework, but East Timor still lacks a structured economic system. 

He said that, in an East Timorese initiative, with the support of President Jim Wolfenshon of the World Bank, a group would soon be set up to work full time on strategic development planning at short, medium, and long term.  That group’s work had been delayed due to lack of human and material resources.  The group would focus on assuring that investments made by the international community be efficiently used to obtain genuine sustainable development for the newly emerging nation.  The international community had generously assisted East Timor in maintaining freedom, and it would reciprocate by building a democracy that would contribute with peace to the region and the world.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs of the East Timor Transitional Administration, said that by June, the National Council of Timorese Resistance would be resolved.  That organization had proved vital in bringing together all East Timorese groups under one umbrella.  As the political process unfolded, however, plurality must be encouraged.  It had been his plan from the beginning to downsize the National Council and the Transitional Authority so as not to have a parallel and competitive institution.  In June, it was time for the National Council to be disbanded so that the parties could prepare more effectively for the constitutional Assembly on 30 August.

He said that the National Council would be replaced by an even more encompassing and important instrument, namely the National Pact.  The draft comprehensive document contained elements such as tolerance, non-violence, respect for minorities, commitment to democracy, compliance with international human rights standards and the rule of law.  That document would bind all political parties, regardless of the election result.

Regarding the verdicts handed down to the assassins of the three humanitarian aid workers, he said he understood the difficulties faced by the fledgling democratically elected Government.  Time and trust should be given to the Indonesian legal system to bring justice to the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  It was with profound sadness and shock, however, that he heard of the sentence handed down to the confessed assassins of the three United Nations staff.  Was it possible to continue to place trust and confidence in a system that produced those verdicts?  “We are outraged”, like the rest of the international community, and truly discouraged by the direction of the Indonesian justice system with respect to other serious crimes perpetrated in 1999. Hopefully, the world had not heard the last of it from the Indonesian side. 

On the question of the reported violence in East Timor, he said that along the border there had been sporadic incursions from West Timor into areas protected by peacekeeping forces.  That contravened so many pledges by the Indonesian side in disarming their militias and enabling refugees to stay there without fear.  Yet, militias continued to control the camps.  If the militias were disarmed, as promised, and if West Timor ceased to be a base of aggression and instability against peacekeepers, the conditions would be created to develop relations, leading to free trade across the border, free movement of people, and joint strategies for the eradication of poverty and disease.

As Mr. Annabi had mentioned, he noted that negotiations for a new revenue-sharing agreement on the resources on the Timor gap area in oil and gas were proceeding positively at a faster pace.  He dared to hope that, in two months’ time, a new agreement would be signed enabling investors to begin to lay down the contracts for pipelines in order to bring gas from the Timor Sea to the northern part of Australia.  That would be a win-win situation.  Australia was a close friend and neighbour, as well as a strategic partner.

The Security Council had invested considerably in bringing the process in East Timor to its current status.  There had been ups and downs, frustrations and disappointment -– all of which was natural given the complexity of the situation.  Compared to September 1999, dramatic progress had been made in all sectors.  For progress to continue, the international community must persist in sending signal of its willingness to remain engaged.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said he agreed that the security situation remained uncertain, therefore UNTAET should remain at its current level, possibly at least until the elections.  However, assistance should be done in the most cost-effective way.  Around $10 million had been recently given away in unmetered electricity, and that kind of waste should be avoided.  He also remained concerned about conditions in West Timor.  He encouraged the Indonesian Government to conduct its registration programmes without delay and the soonest accomplishment of a United Nations Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) mission to assess security in West Timor. 

He urged the complete investigation of human rights violations in the area, and hoped that the appeal of the sentences to those responsible for the UNHCR killings would result in justice.  The Council would continue to monitor the process closely.  He also hoped Indonesia would complete arrangements for the ad hoc tribunal, and extend the jurisdiction of the tribunal to crimes committed prior to the 1999 ballot. 

He supported the creation of an integrated mission task force to look at the kind of support that would be needed by Eat Timor after independence.  That planning should include a realistic exit strategy, but the United Nations should plan to remain in East Timor for some years past independence in order to accomplish its goals there. 

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that the people of East Timor must now harness their strength, determination and stamina towards making a country that was viable and sustainable, and included the efforts of their repatriated refugees.  He favoured the Secretary-General’s prudent approach towards a stable and lasting foundation for the country, which could not be created overnight.  Gains made by UNTAET must be consolidated so that the country could progress on its own.

It was inevitable, he said, that the country’s future would be intertwined with that of Indonesia.  Sound and lasting democratic institutions must be promulgated in both countries.  The United Nations exit should be predicated on reaching well-defined benchmarks of progress.  Until then a strong peacekeeping presence was needed.  Only a stable situation would attract external investments and allow economic sustainability.  The security assessment in the West should have been done sooner.  He understood the dismay and anger at the short sentences of the murderers of the UNHCR staff members, but the Indonesian justice process should be allowed to run its course, and he hoped that Indonesia followed through on its various commitments in all matters of justice.

Ultimately, he said, much depended on the East Timorese themselves.  Their efforts thus far had given the international community much hope.  The international community must give them the necessary assistance to launch a true United Nations success story.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that voter registration had started, and the active participation of the political parties in East Timor reflected that they took seriously the process of democratization and independence.  Presently, the problem of refugees in West Timor was most disquieting.  The decision to send an inter-agency security assessment mission there this month was very important.  Hopefully, help would be provided to refugees in dire need, and the repatriation process would be accelerated.  Although the overall security situation in East Timor was favourable, the locals were still very worried about whether the elections would be held peaceably.  A number of recent incidents had borne out their concerns. 

He said the reported violence against civilians and peacekeepers was “totally unacceptable” and the perpetrators should be brought to justice. Experience showed that acceleration of the process of political independence could further aggravate tensions.  In light of the endorsements and recommendations of the Secretary-General, UNTAET should take measures to bolster the people’s confidence in the process in order to create a more stable social environment for the election.  The international community, for its part, should support the stability of both Indonesia and East Timor.

The UNTAET had set up a working group on the ground to plan for the post-transition period, he noted, and a corresponding body had been set up to assist the working group.  Those would increase the capacity of an independent administration in the post-election period.  The independence and self-sufficiency of East Timor required the support of all Member States and the general assistance of the international community.  Both should continue to support its economic development.  His country had provided assistance in that regard and would continue to explore with East Timor the possibilities of promoting economic and trade relations, as well as new channels for investment there.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said that the statements today by the two East Timorese authorities bore witness to their courage and conviction.  Their statements also indicated that steps remained to be taken in order to attain the common objectives in the best possible circumstances and as early as possible.  He wholeheartedly wished them success in their endeavours.  He also welcomed the positive developments since the Council’s last meeting on East Timor on 15 April.  Those were helping to make UNTAET a success.  The main good news was that preparations for the elections were going well.  The timetable was definitely tight, but respect for the deadlines, of 20 June for registration and 30 August for the ballot, were vital if the momentum was not to be lost and future targets were to be met.

He said the transition should not be allowed to get bogged down.  The United Nations’ presence in Cambodia and in Eastern Slovenia were good examples of speedy transitions.  That had not meant disengagement; investment in East Timor, quite rightly, should not be lost.  Today, one quarter of blue helmets in the field were employed by UNTAET.  Nevertheless, certain questions should be answered.  Among them:  was it desirable for the civilian police component to be only one fifth the size of the military component?  Were the UNTAET blue helmets in a better position than civilian police units to maintain law and order?

The next interim report in July should contain recommendations on how to react after the elections, he said.  For example, there could be no compromise where the security needs of United Nations’ personnel were concerned.  In that context, the verdict on the assassins of the UNHCR workers was disappointing, to say the least.  He welcomed the decision to appeal those sentences.  Attention should also be given to the crucial question of the return of refugees.  The organization of registration in West Timor on 6 June was welcome.  Overall, where did those preparations stand and what role was the United Nations expected to play?  Specifically, would the return of United Nations’ personnel to the camps in West Timor be authorized?

He said that the process of registering refugees in West Timor must be linked to the overall timetable in East Timor.  That did not appear to be easy and he was unsure how to reconcile those two timetables.  The post-independence period also should be prepared for with great care.  In future discussions, the Council might consider including representatives from world financial institutions, as those players would have a major role in the post-election period.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that, along with the obvious success of United Nations efforts in East Timor, there remained the problem of refugees and militia activity along the border with West Timor.  The refugee issue was particularly troubling because it could prevent those in West Timor from voting in the planned elections.  It was also troubling that issues of national reconciliation and the drafting of a new Constitution had caused clashes between East Timorese.  

He opposed interference within sovereign States, but supported the application of justice to those who had promulgated violence in East Timor during the period around the referendum and had killed United Nations workers.  Regarding the recent census and election registration, he hoped it was a good omen for the success of the election.  He hoped that further progress towards viability, stability and good governance was forthcoming.

     RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said he hoped the political dissension in East Timor was in itself a positive sign of normalization.  Resolution of issues should emerge through strengthening of the argument rather than from the use of physical force.  Extreme care must be taken to ensure that calm and stability were maintained, both during the election process and the subsequent constitutional building period.  Ireland hoped to participate in both, and welcomed the recent signature of a proposed national pact.

Since the security situation remained of concern, he said it was vital that international efforts not be endangered by a premature troop reduction.  The UNTAET’s military component should be maintained in its present form until the new Government in East Timor had established itself.  Also, a substantial, appropriate international presence should be maintained in the post-independence period, calibrated to a carefully scrutinized timetable of careful scrutiny and review.

Further, while significant progress was being made in the registration and civic education programme in East Timor, the pace of refugee registration in West Timor was of concern.  The Government of Indonesia should speedily implement its repatriation and resettlement programme.  It should also be ensured that the perpetrators of violence faced the full force of the law.  “The punishment must fit the crime and must be seen to fit the crime”, he said.  The Secretariat should provide information on women allegedly being held in conditions of sexual slavery in West Timor after abduction during the conflict in East Timor, he added. 

ANDRÉS FRANCO (Colombia) said that in the discussions held in January on the subject, there had been an infectious enthusiasm about the final process towards independence.  He noted in the current report a certain concern as independence grew nearer.  He would reaffirm his statement made in the January debate, namely that the Council should take the necessary steps to enable UNTAET to complete its tasks, without hasty action that could compromise the future success of the fledgling democracy.  Indeed, holding the elections 30 August was a test for the future Timorese nation.  It was satisfying that, to date, more than 40 per cent of the population had registered to vote. 

He said that the refugee situation was still unresolved.  Hopefully, the registration day in the West Timor camps on 6 June by the Indonesian Government would make it possible to determine the number of refugees wishing to return to East Timor.  The prompt return of the United Nations agencies to the refugee camps would be welcome.  Reconciliation was most important for the future of the Timorese society, but it could not take place in an atmosphere of impunity.  Those responsible for serious crimes must be brought to trial.  Equally important was improved relations between UNTAET and Indonesian Government authorities, particularly with respect to West Timor.

In earlier interventions, he said he had spoken about the incidents of political violence in East Timor, which had cast shadows on the newly emerging democratic nation.  The population widely feared that the political process might not remain peaceful.  Efforts must be made to prevent outbreaks of political violence, both domestic and external.  With respect to border security, he was concerned that pro-Indonesian militias in West Timor continued to advocate an armed struggle.  He supported the recommendation in the Secretary-General’s report that it would be prudent to maintain a military component of UNTAET until a government was set up.  With respect to the post-independence phase, it would take years before a civil service was properly functioning. 

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that UNTAET’s contribution towards the establishment of a viable country in East Timor had been impressive.   The main challenges were now to prepare for elections and independence, and to establish a constructive and supportive post-independence role for the United Nations after the elections. 

Welcoming developments in the election process and civic education, she encouraged the early establishment of the district constitutional mechanism.  She also welcomed UNTAET’s policy to encourage gender balance in the new Timorese public administration.

In regard to the refugee situation, she asked Mr. Annabi the reason for the dramatic decline in returns during April.  She also asked, regarding the election process in general, whether it was possible for UNTAET to complete the registration process by the end of June.  As for the reconciliation process, the Government of Indonesia must remain cognizant of the role it plays in that effort.  She urged greater dialogue and cooperation in that effort, and she supported activities to assure security in West Timor. 

Finally, she supported retaining an appropriate United Nations presence in East Timor, as part of the effort to establish a viable democracy which was not over-dependent on international assistance.  

BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said he was pleased that the United Nations team had been disseminating information to refugees about security and the political situation in East Timor, as well as providing assistance to returnees.  Radio UNTAET had a crucial role to play in the forthcoming elections, by educating the people and informing them of the mechanisms for a free and fair election.

Political and constitutional developments in East Timor were matters of the utmost importance to the international community, as well as to the East Timorese people, he said.  For any democratic process to succeed, it must first of all adopt an inclusive approach to accommodate the entire population without discrimination.  Returnees should be treated as an integral element of the broader process of reconciliation and popular democracy in an independent East Timor.  He appreciated the decision by the Indonesian authorities to conduct a one-day

re-registration of refugees in West Timor.

He said that, after independence, the Council must ensure that UNTAET’s mission had been successful and that there was a real possibility of timely and quality donor participation in the post-election period.  The international community must see to it that the desire of the East Timorese leadership for a solid society based on the rule of law and precepts of human rights was not warped by unnecessary pressures.

M. SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said that today’s debate was an opportunity to take stock of the situation regarding some unresolved issues, including those which impinged on the course of events leading to independence.  Some recent progress had been made during talks between the Indonesian Government and UNTAET.  Certain issues relating to citizenship, however, should be clarified.  A special fund for paying the pensions of Indonesian employees and refugees was welcome, as were positive discussions on such topics as an air link and postal services. 

He said that the recent increase in the number of East Timorese students studying at Indonesian institutions augured well for future relations between the countries.  Hopefully, some good news would emerge from the Indonesian Government’s response to the refugee situation in West Timor.  Important steps had also been taken by the East Timorese side in the political arena.  For example, he had heard about the intention to disband the single-party politics and engage all in future endeavours.  Much more should be done to ensure justice, as that would pave the path for reconciliation.  Hopefully, the world had not yet heard the last of the sentencing of the assassins of UNHCR workers.

A balance should be struck in UNTAET between international and local staff, while not sacrificing efficiency, he said.  Good progress had been achieved, but more needed to be done to prepare the country for independence.  Indeed, a United Nations’ presence would remain essential, even though the affairs of the territory were falling more and more into the hands of the East Timorese.  The period leading to the elections was a critical time.  He wished everyone success.

ANOUAR BEN YOUSSEF (Tunisia) said that the United Nations must make further efforts to help East Timor become viable and attract investment.  Planning must be done to continue such assistance after independence.  Registration of refugees must begin in order to promote reconciliation between all East Timorese.  Regarding security, an evaluation of needs was necessary, and the military component of the mission should be maintained at least until the elections.  The upcoming conference in Canberra would allow the international community to reassert its commitment to complete the process.

SEKOU KASSÉ (Mali) said that, although the election preparation should continue, much needed to be done before elections were held.  Security was necessary, and the military component of the mission should be maintained.  Refugees should be repatriated under the best possible circumstances -- he welcomed Indonesian cooperation in that regard.  Agreeing with many of the processes, he underlined the need to attract external investment to the country.  An independent East Timor, based on pluralism, should be the objective of the efforts of the international community.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that East Timor had been undergoing some difficult transitions since the 1999 referendum.  Some of the main challenges lay ahead, and the months leading up to the election were uncertain.  The equally uncertain post-election period would be of crucial importance to the nation’s future.  There was a need for a sustained commitment by the United Nations at that very critical juncture.  It was essential that the August elections be free and fair and that all East Timorese were permitted to exercise their right to vote. The registration of a large number of people was encouraging.  Also welcome was the initiative by UNTAET to conduct an educational programme.

He said that everyone was aware of the crucial importance of the safe return of refugees from West Timor.  The Indonesian Government, therefore, should be encouraged to carry out the registration exercise at the beginning of June.  That was an important precondition for voluntary repatriation.  At the same time, the security situation in the border areas and the refugee camps in West Timor remained a matter of great concern, as did the presence of military camps in the area.  The initiative by the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator to undertake a security assessment mission to West Timor this month was an important first step towards facilitating the safe return of refugees.  The Indonesian Government should be urged to fulfil their obligations in that regard.

Also of concern were reports of politically motivated violence, he went on.  He would urge the East Timorese leadership and UNTAET to take steps to avoid increased violence in the period leading up to the elections.  Great importance should be attached to initiating criminal proceedings against persons responsible for serious crimes.  Preventing an atmosphere of impunity was a key premise for long-term peace and reconciliation.  Limited jurisdiction concerned him, as that would leave the tribunal without the authority to try the perpetrators of massacres and several other serious crimes.  In that context, he was pleased that the Indonesian Attorney-General would appeal the judgements against the assassins of the humanitarian aid workers.

He said he wished to underline also the importance of continued economic support.  Development agencies must make an even greater effort to channel investment into the areas.  Once independent, East Timor would need further assistance, including a continued United Nations presence.  The composition of such a future presence must be based upon a thorough and in-depth analysis of the situation on the ground.  In particular, a future military and political presence should clearly reflect the actual security situation.  Presently, there was relative stability, but the situation remained fragile.  Following the Secretary-General’s report in July, it would be timely to assess and debate a future United Nations’ presence.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine), noting that success in completing the election for the constituent Assembly would depend largely on maintaining a secure environment, said that a series of violent incidents in Baucau and Viqueque last March had raised concern that the political process may not remain peaceful.  Ukraine stressed the continuing importance of the security arrangements currently provided by the military and civilian police components of UNTAET.

While there had been an increase in the number of refugees returning to their places of origin in March, the general situation had not improved significantly, he said.  The normalization and reconciliation of the population of East Timor -- which had a direct bearing on the return of refugees -- would be extremely limited until those responsible for major crimes were prosecuted.

He emphasized his concern regarding reports of the limited jurisdiction of the ad hoc tribunals established recently to deal with gross violations of human rights.  Ukraine was interested in further clarification regarding how such a state of affairs corresponded to the commitments by the parties on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding of cooperation in legal affairs.

Mr. CUNNINGHAM (United States), speaking in his national capacity, said he was struck by the degree of consensus on the issues before the Council regarding East Timor.  The United States supported the election process and the maintenance of the military component of the United Nations mission, in its present form, for the time being.  Assistance should gradually turn towards a longer-term development assistance programme, with the peacekeeping component gradually declining as conditions permitted.  That process should be the result of close consultation among all actors.  He welcomed upcoming events that would encourage cooperation and planning.

He supported the concept of a national pact that rejected violence and encouraged flexibility.  The United States had expressed disappointment in the sentences for those involved in the killing of United Nations staff members.  He emphasized that accountability for past crimes was a crucial part of moving forward, with successful prosecutions being part of that equation.

PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein, said the common objective of early independence for East Timor had come decidedly closer. However, the international community should maintain its support after independence. The European Union remained committed to the success of the East Timorese transition to independence and supported the electoral timetable.  It was satisfied to hear that measures were being carried out to secure broad public participation in the constitutional development process.

The Union was concerned about the rather slow pace in the “Timorization” process and would appreciate hearing the Secretariat’s assessment of progress in that field, he said.  Given the continued threat of militia activities, he noted the need to maintain a military component.  It was also important that the international community support the build-up of the East Timor Defence Force and that the international civil police continued its presence until the Timor Lorasa’e Police Service was operational.

Regarding crimes against humanity and other serious crimes committed during the violence in 1999, he said it was very disappointing that the jurisdiction of the ad hoc human rights tribunal would be limited to acts committed after the popular consultation on 30 August 1999.  The Union had expressed its deep disappointment with the judgements on 4 May to six men in connection with the killings on 6 September 2000 of three international staff members of the UNHCR in West Timor, and welcomed the prosecutor’s decision to appeal.

     PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) said continuing uncertainty about the security situation in West Timor still dictated caution.  Still, if the right decisions were made now on political and security issues, the East Timor transition process could be a significant success story.  Continuing international commitment to the East Timor transition, however, was absolutely necessary.  The UNTAET was a complex and unusual operation, “conceived in crisis and founded on strong political commitment from the international community”.  It needed thoughtful and continuing management to succeed.

She mentioned a mid-June donors' conference her country would be hosting in Canberra, where the findings of the working group on post-UNTAET planning and of the Integrated Mission Task Force would be discussed.  Those would give an accurate picture of post-independence needs and of available resources.  The results of those planning efforts would be critical to decisions about the size, scope, administration and financial support for a post-independence presence.  Donors would also have an opportunity to renew their support for East Timor, the level of which depended on a number of factors.

First, she said, economic management was a key measure for determining confidence among donors.  To demonstrate fiscal responsibility, the budget for East Timor should not be expanded beyond that already determined.  In addition, there should be a progressive transfer of responsibility to the East Timorese in a process now known as “Timorization” in United Nations terminology.  Capacity- building was a related issue, to be pursued especially in areas concerning law and order.  A United Nations civilian police presence should be maintained in East Timor after independence until a fully fledged local Police Service was achieved.

Finally, she said, justice, reconciliation and effective accountability were essential elements of long-term stability in East Timor.  The recent sentences delivered by the North Jakarta District Court against those responsible for the deaths of three UNHCR staff in Atambua were in no way commensurate with the gravity of the crimes.  They would not serve as a deterrent, nor would they encourage humanitarian workers to return to West Timor.     

The meeting was then suspended until 3 p.m.

FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal), supporting the European Union statement, said East Timor had been a success story for the United Nations, but the collective task was yet to be completed.  The coming months would be crucial for the territory's successful transition to independence, and it was vital that the Security Council maintain its strong interest and engagement in the birth of a new Member State of the United Nations.

Welcoming the latest developments in preparations for the election of the Constituent Assembly, he said its success would depend as much on the capacity of the internal political forces to make democracy and good governance the driving force behind their actions as on the support the international community would be able to provide to the East Timorese Government structures.

A detailed evaluation of East Timor's needs after independence was urgently required, he said.  The focus of that exercise must be kept on the ground, where the Timorese input was best taken into account.  In view of the Secretary-General's remarks highlighting the risks and uncertainties of the security situation, Portugal agreed that it would be prudent to maintain the military component of UNTAET in its present form until the East Timorese Government established itself.  Any subsequent change must only be on the basis of a detailed assessment of the security situation on the ground.

Noting that the substantial engagement and support of the international community would still be needed after independence, he said it was fundamental to ensure the continuity of UNTAET's work in all areas.  The Secretary-General had rightfully stated in his report, "No Exit Without Strategy", that in order to ensure the success and viability of independence, a follow-on peacekeeping mission would be required to support the new State.  His recommendations on what such a mission might look like should include a realistic assessment of the capacity of any implementing partner to carry out tasks that the Security Council had entrusted to UNTAET.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that two years ago the international community had witnessed the signing of the agreement that authorized the 1999 vote in East Timor.  That had been the first of several important steps that would soon lead the people there towards independence.  It was important, therefore, that the global community stayed on course where East Timor was concerned.  While recognizing that at some point the United Nations' involvement would have to be reduced, there was no need to move hastily.  Indeed, all actors must move with circumspection so as not to hamper the success that the international community was seeking.  At the same time, he called on East Timorese Government to exercise proper use of financial and other resources at all times. 

He went on to say that it was important not to gloss over the issue of impunity -- the worst threat to the entire process.  In that regard, he complimented the fledgling judicial process in East Timor which had been rejecting impunity and pursuing accountability for those who had committed crimes there. Indonesia must also do its part, he added.  To that end, the verdicts prescribed for those who had openly confessed to murdering the UNHCR personnel last September were indeed troubling.  The sentence of mere months for the commission of those heinous crimes might further undermine the international community’s belief in the efficacy of the judicial process in Indonesia.

Further, treating those murders lightly only encouraged further attacks.  He echoed the sentiments of the representative of Jamaica, saying justice was not only not served, but was seen not to have been served.  He was encouraged that an appeal of the sentences had been filed by the Indonesian authorities and hoped the matter would be dealt with effectively.  If this issue was not solved satisfactorily soon, the international community would have no choice but to pursue other means to ensure that justice was done.

GELSON FONSECA, Jr. (Brazil) said the forthcoming election for the Constituent Assembly would certainly be the first test case for the embryonic democratic institutions of East Timor, and the support of the international community for the electoral process in all phases -– from the registration of voters to the certification of elected officials -– was essential.  He was confident that the elections for the Constituent Assembly would create a solid basis for sustainable democracy in East Timor.  He also agreed that civic education and training were essential components of that endeavour.  Moreover, it was important that all political parties remained committed to settling their differences through dialogue and institutional channels and that, at the grass roots level, East Timorese society reject any form of political violence.

He said that as East Timor’s transition towards independence continued, the support of the international community would be more important than ever.  For its part, Brazil remained fully committed to building a democratic and stable East Timor.  And, to that end, President Cardoso had personally presided over the launch of Brazilian cooperation projects in the areas of capacity-building, training and professional education.  A Brazilian technical mission was currently visiting East Timor in order to identify opportunities for further cooperation, particularly in the area of architecture.

He said that the report before the Council drew specific attention to persistent militia activities in and around the refugee camps of West Timor and in the border areas.  Brazil, therefore, recognized the importance of maintaining credible dissuasive capacity on the ground.  He said that other information in the report highlighted the notion that accountability was the key to healing the wounds of the recent tragedies in East Timor.  To that end, he noted that the Indonesian Parliament’s decision to establish an ad hoc tribunal to address gross violations of human rights in East Timor was a positive step.  At the same time, however, the limitations imposed on the jurisdiction of that tribunal would mean that massacres such as those that occurred in Suai and Liquica could not be prosecuted.  Brazil was also dismayed by the light sentences given those responsible for the killing of UNHCR staff.

Brazil was encouraged, he said, to learn about the advanced planning of the United Nations presence in East Timor after independence.  That future presence would essentially aim at the far-reaching tasks of nation-building, and seek to establish effective democratic institutions and create economic opportunities for all.  Post-independence assistance should also take the form of massive technical assistance and capacity-building projects that stressed the ownership by the East Timorese of their own futures.  As future efforts would concentrate on post-conflict rather than post-crisis peace-building, there would certainly be a need for enhanced cooperation between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  He was, therefore, very disappointed that the planned meeting between the two bodies last week to discuss such matters had not taken place.  He was glad that the idea had not been ruled out altogether and believed such a meeting would be helpful to develop an operational model for coherent and system-wide action in post-conflict situations in East Timor and elsewhere.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said most importantly, the political transition must be effected through an open, fair and democratic process.  Japan strongly supported the efforts of UNTAET to that end, most notably in drawing up -- with the people of East Timor -- a specific timetable for the election of the Constituent Assembly and compiling electoral regulations and voter education programmes.  Every effort must be made to ensure that the electoral process would be conducted in an orderly manner. 

As noted in the Secretary-General's report, there was concern among the Timorese people that the political process might not remain peaceful, he said.  Japan fully supported UNTAET's policy of zero-tolerance for violence and urged the mission to ensure that effective contingency support be given to the police by the military component.  It would be prudent to maintain the military component in its present form, at least until the establishment of the East Timorese Government.  Future changes in the size, configuration or mandate of the military component must be based on the objective security assessment at the time.

The issue of East Timorese refugees in West Timor remained a matter of serious concern, he added.  While it was important to give those refugees the opportunity to participate in the electoral process, the plight of the refugees in the absence of international humanitarian workers and reported incidents of friction between refugees and the local population were worrisome.  The refugee problem was both complex and difficult.  Japan urged the Indonesian Government to continue its best efforts to resolve the problem by addressing the issue of militia activities as well as the broader issue of reconciliation.  The international community should provide the necessary support for such efforts.  In that context, he welcomed the decision of the United Nations Security Coordinator to organize an inter-agency security assessment mission to West Timor and stressed the importance of the safety and security of international personnel.  Japan shared the international community's concern over the judiciary process in Indonesia regarding the Atambua incident in which humanitarian workers were murdered.  All parties concerned, particularly the host country should firmly deal with those engaged in such hostile actions.

Violations of human rights and humanitarian law should be firmly dealt with, he said.  Japan was encouraged by steps taken by Indonesian authorities, including the Parliament's decision to establish an ad hoc tribunal to address gross violations.  Japan shared the Secretary-General's concern over the limited jurisdiction of the tribunal and hoped that the Indonesian Government would address the issue in such a way that would help ease concern. 

Addressing the economic and social dimensions of the situation would be essential if East Timor was to develop as a viable sovereign State, he said.  Ensuring continuity in the provision of international assistance was essential to not jeopardize the progress made so far towards nation-building.  Japan welcomed the establishment by the mission and United Nations Headquarters of a working group and an integrated mission task force to draw up a blueprint for the future United Nations presence.  While the people of East Timor had come a long way on the path to independence, they would need the support of the international community before and after independence.

DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said that although his country shared the Secretary-General's assessment that the recent security situation in the territory had been generally good, it remained unpredictable.  The continued existence of the militias in spite of Security Council resolutions calling on the Government of Indonesia to disarm and disband them was a matter of great concern.

He recalled that those responsible for the murder of two United Nations peacekeepers, Private Leonard Manning of New Zealand and Private Devi Ram Jaishi of Nepal, had yet to be brought to justice.  New Zealand looked to the relevant Indonesian Government agencies, in close cooperation with UNTAET, to expedite the prosecution of Jacobus Bere, who had admitted to killing Private Manning.  New Zealand expected also that others involved in those attacks would be arrested and brought to trial.

Expressing great dismay at the inadequate sentences handed down to those who had murdered the UNHCR workers in Atambua, West Timor, last September, he said the trivial sentences made a mockery of efforts to promote the safety of United Nations personnel.  New Zealand welcomed, therefore, the Indonesian authorities' decision to appeal the sentences and looked forward to justice being fully served.

New Zealand shared the Secretary-General's deep disappointment at the limited jurisdiction of the Indonesian ad hoc human rights tribunal for East Timor, he said.  New Zealand once again called on Indonesia to bring to account those responsible for the most serious human rights violations committed in East Timor in 1999.  Across the border, in West Timor, the refugee situation remained unresolved.  While acknowledging Indonesia's recent initiatives to resolve the problem, New Zealand urged greater expedition in implementing plans to register, resettle and repatriate the refugees in accordance with international standards.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that since its inception one and a half years ago, UNTAET had been quite successful in post-crisis management, security maintenance and nation-building.  Indeed, it served as perhaps one of the few success stories of the United Nations and the international community in such matters.  With that in mind, the continuous support of the world community was crucial, as this year would be especially important, symbolic and meaningful in the history of East Timor, particularly with upcoming political events, such as the election of the Constituent Assembly and the establishment of an independent government.  He said that the election of the Constituent Assembly was of special note because it would lay the groundwork for other elections thereafter.  The Republic was pleased that the East Timorese themselves had launched the preparations for the election, along with the help of international actors such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

He went on to say that during the elections and subsequent debate on the Constitutions, it would be of the utmost importance to ensure the maintenance of security and social order.  To that end, the role of the local military and police would be more crucial than ever.  It was his hope that both local and international security components would maintain particular vigilance and cooperation.

The new era of reconciliation and unity in East Timor also called for a solution to the refugee problem, he continued.  In that regard, he was pleased with the return of over 3,000 refugees last March and April.  And while he recognized the efforts of the Indonesian Government in refugee-related issues, he called on that Government and concerned international organizations to expedite further efforts and strengthen coordination to better address that serious problem.  The Republic also expected Indonesia’s plans for refugee registration to be implemented soon and without fail.

His delegation also appreciated the efforts of UNTAET and global actors in the area of capacity-building.  He added that the emphasis for future action should be on increasing the East Timorese people’s ownership of their nation and institutions.  He hoped that the Donors Conference in Canberra next month would provide an opportunity to discuss in greater depth the mid- and long-term international strategy for assisting the people of East Timor.  He expressed concern, however, that current debate within the Organization regarding the early exit of United Nations personnel might unintentionally send the wrong signal to elements out to threaten the security and political stability within East Timor. Therefore, it was very important for the Council to convey to the Timorese people its firm commitment to protect them until and even after independence.

At the same time, he said the United Nations mission should not replace the role of the new independent government, nor should it remain there indefinitely. It was his view, particularly in light of the Secretary-General’s report, that a reduction of UNTAET military and police components should be carried out gradually, in a phased manner.  Before any such reduction, however, a clear exit strategy should be prepared.  He welcomed the deliberations of the Working Group on UNTAET, as well as the recent establishment of the Integrated Mission Task Force within the Secretariat.  He expected those groups to continue in-depth study of exit strategies and to present the Council and troop-contributing countries with a comprehensive blueprint on post-independence engagement of the Organization and East Timor.  He also emphasized the need for close consultation with troop- contributing countries during the entire process of troop withdrawal or relocation.  

MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) reaffirmed his Government’s position towards building a strong foundation for future relations between the peoples of East Timor and Indonesia and to cooperating with UNTAET in helping the territory’s transition to independence.  Indonesia remained fully committed to steadily and constructively resolving the outstanding issues “once and for all”.  Those included questions relating to the registration of refugees, citizenship, pensions for former civil servants, air agreement and postal service. 

On the issue of East Timorese refugees, he said he hoped that the “information campaign” undertaken by interested parties, including his Government, would expedite the repatriation process.  Simultaneously, the refugees were entitled to voice their opinions freely concerning the popular consultations, as that was the true meaning of democracy.  Regarding allegations of misinformation, he questioned the Secretary-General’s report, which refers to uncorroborated sources, such as an Indonesian newspaper, in attributing actions to his Government.

He said that the continued imposition of the Phase-5 security category by the United Nations had impeded the return of the refugees.  Hopefully, the United Nations’ security coordination team would arrive this month.  Meanwhile, the planned registration for 6 June was expected to take place as scheduled, preceded by a socialization process in May, to which UNTAET was invited.  His Government had done, and would continue to do, its utmost in promoting security, law and order.  Regarding cross-border incidents, the responsibility to prevent them rested with both Indonesia and UNTAET, and there was no justification for any party to overreach or go beyond its mandate.

On the issue of justice and impunity, he reiterated his Government’s unswerving commitment to bring justice to those responsible for human rights violations.  A presidential decree had established ad hoc human rights courts to adjudicate documented cases of human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999 and Tanjung Priok in 1984.  Moreover, implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding regarding Cooperation in Legal, Judicial and Human Rights-related Matters required the consent of the Parliament to be in full conformity with the Indonesian legal system.

He said that despite the verdict handed down by the North Jakarta District Court on 4 May for the six accused of killing three UNHCR workers in September 2000, it should be emphasized that those trials had not concluded.  The judicial process was still under way and the Prosecutor was currently appealing the matter to the High Court, with the possibility of again appealing to the Supreme Court.  It was, therefore, prudent for all concerned parties to refrain from making hasty judgements until a final decision was taken.

The question of reconciliation, which was a key element in resolving comprehensively the issue of East Timor, was closely linked to the problems of refugees and justice.  A genuine reconciliation between and among the East Timorese would become the solid foundation  for promoting peace and harmony and eradicating the root causes of conflict.  Reconciliation and retribution, however, did not go hand in hand.  For the process of reconciliation to be truly successful, vast differences must be bridged, and past tragic incidents must be left behind.  Hence, true justice and stable peace should be achieved in tandem and in a balanced manner.

He added that by promoting and enhancing direct people-to-people contact between and among the East Timorese, the refugees could gain confidence of the reception that awaited them upon their return.  It was legitimate, therefore, to also address their genuine concerns regarding their security in East Timor, particularly given the recent brutal acts of violence against returnees.  The political rights of the East Timorese refugees to participate in the democratic elections must be respected.

In order to satisfactorily resolve any dispute, including East Timor, it was essential that the reports of the United Nations be impartial, balanced, objective, and based on reliable sources, he said.  Biased and contradictory statements of facts, as well as references to unverifiable sources of information could be prejudicial to the interests of Member States.  Similarly, media sources and so-called unnamed sources should demonstrate greater ethical responsibility.

He said that over the long term, his Government sought to establish a durable, wide-ranging and mutually beneficial relationship with East Timor.  Trade, investment, and cooperation in the socio-cultural fields were central to that effort.  In that context, the creation of conditions conducive to the interaction of the people of East Timor and the neighbouring Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara was important.  The legal and political separation of East Timor from Indonesia could not erase the reality of centuries-old societal and family links between them.  Once UNTAET completed its mandate, he sincerely hoped that those links would flourish. 

      Secretariat Response

Mr. ANNABI took the floor for a second time to respond to comments and questions.  The first had related to the reported lack of progress pertaining to electric bills and airport charges.  He said he had taken that on board and, once he received the technical information from UNTAET, he would be able to respond.

Regarding a series of questions from the French delegation on the structure and staff of the mission, he said that the Secretariat would address those questions in the report that the Council had asked the Secretary-General to prepare at the end of July.  At the same time, some bitter experiences from the last decade had taught that it would not be prudent to assume the risk of committing considerable international investment and then prematurely reducing United Nations' staffing levels in East Timor.   The recommendations of the Secretary-General in his report of 2 May were based on an analysis of potential threats, which could impact the current push for independence. 

He said the Secretary-General was firmly convinced that one must avoid any premature reduction in staff, but he would, nonetheless, continue closely to follow the evolution of security, given that he would not hesitate to propose to the Council any kind of reduction deemed reasonable in due course.

To a question about the evaluation of security being undertaken this month, he said that decision had been adopted and would hopefully be implemented in the near future.

Concerning the vote of refugees in the West Timor camps, he said the electoral regulation adopted on that were very clear:  East Timorese who wished to register and vote would have to come to East Timor to register and then, to vote.  Measures had been taken to ensure that registration station and polling booths would be available close to the boundary with West Timor so that refugees wishing to vote would be given the opportunity to do so.  The UNTAET did not believe, however, that it would be possible to organize the vote, for obvious reasons, of refugees in West Timor.

The Integrated Mission Task Force had been meeting regularly in New York.  On the ground, UNTAET had also established a working group to interact with the task force, and a senior official had been appointed to shuttle between the Task Force and the working group to ensure that the detailed planning on the ground was in sync.  The Task Force included a core group from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs and the UNDP, and the World Bank. It would hold larger meetings, as required, to enable contributions from other agencies in the post-planning phase.

Asked if he could elaborate on the reasons for the decline in returning refugees between March and April, he said it was true that very few had returned in April.  The situation in the camps was still not conducive to their return, and the intimidation and disinformation was still having an effect on the refugee population in the camps; those were still subjected to interference by militias that had not been disarmed or demobilized, as requested under Security Council resolution 1319 (2000).

He said he had received some good news over lunch:  the UNTAET and Indonesian authorities had reached agreement on the resumption of pension payments to former Indonesian employees residing in East Timor.  Many in UNTAET saw that as a breakthrough.  Hopefully, that would be promptly implemented as it could encourage refugees to return.

It was also agreed, he said, to include a reference to a planned composition fund for former State employees in the consolidated appeal for West Timorese refugees.  That would be launched by the United Nations in July.  The fund could also induce the return of refugees to East Timor.

Regarding the role of United Nations volunteers in East Timor, he said they were playing an important role in preparing the elections.  In particular, they were assisting in civic education and civil registration and would also assist in other phases of the electoral process.  They were employed whenever possible, as they were cost effective.

East Timor had been less fortunate than some other Territories seeking independence, he went on.  Until recently, very little attention had been paid to the training of East Timorese experts.  The UNTAET was doing its best, but it would take some time to create a generation of managers and administrators.  The UNTAET would continue to consider that an essential priority in the post-independence period.

Mr. RAMOS-HORTA, in a second intervention, said he wished to add more to questions about the political atmosphere -– the political division and tensions, and his own reconciliation efforts.  He took seriously the concerns expressed in the room by almost all delegates regarding the political tensions and divisions.  Of the several incidents in 2000 and during the first few months of this year, only two were considered politically related.  Contrary to rumours, the political violence had so far been restricted to one or two incidents.  Everyone wondered whether it was possible to maintain a relative level of peace and stability in the coming months when political tensions would increase.  Even greater efforts were being made, not only towards reconciliation between the pro-independence majority and the pro-autonomy groups, but a comprehensive campaign had, for many months, been promoting the culture of non-violence and tolerance.  It had been difficult to address the issues of a culture of violence among a people formerly traumatized by law enforcement agencies.

The fragility of peace and tranquillity was a reality in East Timor, owing to psychological and emotional aspects, he said.  In terms of justice, a truth and reconciliation commission had been established.  It intended to search back to 1975 because the East Timorese side could not blame only Indonesians for everything that had happened.  Indeed, the East Timorese were to blame for the first acts of violence and resorting to weapons when the civil war began in August 1975.  It would take courage and humility to search their own history and apologize to their own people.  "Then, we could demand real justice from others," he said. 

In closing remarks, given in his capacity as Security Council President,

Mr. CUNNINGHAM said the contributions of speakers during today’s meeting had certainly enriched the discussion on the situation in East Timor.  He also felt that clear messages had been sent from the Council and hoped that the addressees would take them to heart.  He also expressed appreciation on the part of the Council to the work of Sergio Vieira de Mello, as well as the troop-contributing countries.  

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For information media. Not an official record.