SEAMLESS SWITCH FROM UN ADMINISTRATION TO POST-INDEPENDENCE GOVERNMENT IN EAST TIMOR VITAL TO SUCCESS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

30 January 2002
SC/7285

SEAMLESS SWITCH FROM UN ADMINISTRATION TO POST-INDEPENDENCE GOVERNMENT IN EAST TIMOR VITAL TO SUCCESS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

30/01/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7285

Security Council

4462nd Meeting (AM & PM)

SEAMLESS SWITCH FROM UN ADMINISTRATION TO POST-INDEPENDENCE GOVERNMENT

IN EAST TIMOR VITAL TO SUCCESS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

Many Speakers Commend East Timor for Progress Made;

Rapid Reconciliation between East Timor and Indonesia Praised

East Timor's independence in just 110 days would close a remarkable chapter in United Nations history, but would not end the Territory's struggles, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator for East Timor, told the Security Council as it considered the situation there this morning.

Downsizing of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) with the coming of independence had been particularly difficult, he noted, since government bodies were in dire need of international staff.  The new Government would also need international assistance to boost economic and social development, as well as reduce poverty.

The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, noted that a seamless switch

from United Nations administration to a post-independence government in East Timor was vital to long-term success.  He stressed that the international community should not undo good work by skimping on resources.

It was critical that the United Nations leave East Timor well equipped to tackle the challenges of independence, he said.  That was the best guarantee of minimizing the country’s longer-term reliance on international support.

Neither UNTAET nor its successor mission could eliminate all the challenges facing an independent East Timor in reaching economic prosperity, said the representative of the United States.  Assistance from the United Nations was not a substitute or short cut for development.

The United Nations must stay on schedule for downsizing UNTAET, carefully moving towards a goal of “zero peacekeeping financed support” by mid-2004, he added.  Progress already made with the police and defence force were good examples of how to reach self-reliance.

Jose Ramos-Horta, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Second Transitional Administration of East Timor, noted that designing a blueprint for economic development in the Territory had been a unique experiment.  It was one of the few times civil society had contributed to governmental planning and development before the plan was approved and put into effect.

Another marvel of the Territory's recovery was its relations with Indonesia. Seldom in decolonization history had two countries reconciled their differences as rapidly as East Timor and Indonesia, he said.  Sometimes it took generations to heal the wounds.  The Indonesian side has shown maturity and grandeur in putting the past where it belonged.

The representative of Indonesia said reconciliation was vital in post-conflict situations.  He welcomed the dialogue held by Xanana Gusmao with some 1,000 East Timorese predominantly pro-autonomy supporters.

Other speakers at this morning's debate commended East Timor for progress it had made so far to improve its public administration, police, justice system, and especially its Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.  That Commission would be seeking truth about events dating back to 1974, not only those since Indonesia entered the Territory.

The representatives of the United Kingdom, Syria, Ireland, Singapore, Norway, Mexico, Bulgaria, Russian Federation, Cameroon, Guinea, China, Colombia, France, Mauritius, Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan, Portugal, Bangladesh, Fiji, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Brazil and the Philippines also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:30 a.m., was suspended at 1:40 p.m., resumed at

3:05 p.m., and adjourned at 4:26 p.m.

Background

When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a report by the Secretary-General (document S/2002/80) on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).  Covering developments in the Territory since 18 October, the report focuses on its coming independence and the successor mission to UNTAET.

The Council agreed on 31 October 2001 that East Timor would become independent on 20 May 2002.  In preparing for that event, the Territory has taken significant steps over the past few months to improve its public administration, as well as security, economic and social sectors, the report notes.

The Constituent Assembly has approved most of the new draft constitution, which establishes a democratic State under a President, a Prime Minister, Council of Ministers and Parliament.  Elections for the Territory's first President will occur in April 2002.

Some 9,633 civil servants have been recruited in public sectors ranging from health and education to customs collection, the report states.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has fully recruited its personnel, and the first East Timor Defence Force battalion was set up on 26 October 2001.  The Territory’s Police Service now has 1,453 officers, although progress is currently stalled by a lack of resources, communications and transport.

Stability on the Indonesian border remains key to security, although few sightings of militia along the Tactical Coordination Line (an informal boundary pending formal demarcation) have occurred.  However, security also depends on several other factors, the report notes, including the return of refugees, support for reconciliation and prosecution of serious crimes.

Refugee returns reached 7,000 over the reporting period, bringing the total to 192,000.  In November, the Indonesian Government started paying a repatriation incentive of 750,000 rupiahs ($75) per family, with a bonus of 250,000 rupiahs ($25) for pre-Christmas returns.

Work has continued on a Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. An independent panel nominated national commissioners in December 2001, and candidates are being reviewed for regional commissioners.  To date, however, only $1 million of the required $3.8 million for the Commission has been pledged, and further funding is urgently needed.

The Office of the General Prosecutor has filed 33 indictments charging

83 people with crimes committed between 1 January and 25 October 1999, including 11 charges of crimes against humanity.  The reported crime rate in the Territory has remained low, but domestic crimes of violence against women and children have drastically increased.

Regarding the economy, the growth of East Timor's gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at 18 per cent for 2001, with an annual inflation of less than 3 per cent.  Taxable imports rose in September and October, but the overall economy in 2002 should slow after the international presence is reduced. Currently, the single greatest obstacle to investment in the country is its lack of a workable long-term Land and Property Code for claims dating from the Portuguese and Indonesian administrations.

Over the past two months, East Timorese officials have agreed on a tax and fiscal package with petroleum companies operating in the Bayu-Undan field in the Joint Petroleum Development Area of the Timor Sea.  East Timor’s revenue from the Bayu-Undan field is expected to be over $1 billion over the 17-year life of the project.

In the social area, some 530 schools, or 99 per cent of those damaged in the violence of September 1999, have been rebuilt.  Major steps have been taken to improve health services, as well as to restore public buildings, airports, power and agriculture.

With the Territory becoming more stable, UNTAET has been reducing its size to a post-independence strength of 5,000 troops.  The mission has also cut the number of civilians assisting the Territory's public administration to about

200 international staff and 60 United Nations Volunteers –- 75 per cent fewer than the original number.

The post-independence mission will include military, police and civilian components.  Civilian staff will assist the emergent East Timorese Administration, support the Special Representative and contribute to serious crimes investigations and national reconciliation efforts.

The mission's military will assist with external security and territorial integrity in East Timor, but will ultimately hand its responsibilities over to the East Timor Defence Force and public administration departments.  The civilian police component will continue to provide executive policing and training to the East Timor Police Service.

The report concludes that close ties between the Territory and the international community will remain vital for continued stability and development. The Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend UNTAET's mandate until independence, and states that he will make further proposals prior to that date on the make-up of a follow-up mission.

Background to Mission

The United Nations General Assembly placed East Timor on its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 1960.  At that time, it was administered by Portugal.  When Portugal withdrew from the Territory in 1974, Indonesia intervened and later declared East Timor its twenty-seventh province.  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 was finally signed in New York on 5 May 1999, entrusting the Secretary-General with organizing a "popular consultation" on the East Timorese response to the concept of special autonomy for the Territory within Indonesia.

To carry out the consultation, the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was set up on 11 June 1999.  On 30 August 1999, some 78.5 per cent of East Timorese opted to reject the proposed autonomy and move towards independence.

Reacting to that result, pro-integration militias, supported by certain Indonesian security forces, launched a campaign of violence.  Indonesian authorities responded inadequately to the violence, and many East Timorese were killed or displaced from their homes.  An Australian-led 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 consultation, and on 25 October the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established (resolution 1272 (1999)).

The UNTAET was to provide security and maintain law and order throughout the Territory, set up an administration and assist in developing civil and social services.  It was also to deliver humanitarian, rehabilitation and development assistance, support capacity-building for self-government, and assist with conditions for sustainable development.

On 1 January 2001, UNTAET had 9,287 total uniformed personnel, including 7,765 military, 1,398 civilian police and 124 military observers, supported by

888 international civilian personnel and 1,767 local civilian staff.

Statements

SERGIO VIEIRA De MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator for East Timor, said that it was just 110 days before East Timor’s transition to independence, and with it the end of a remarkable chapter in the history of the United Nations:  one marked by an extraordinary collaborative effort.  On 20 May -– Independence Day -– East Timor’s dogged and inspiring quest for self-determination would be completed.  Happiness should be tempered by the reality that independence would not mark the end of East Timor’s struggles.  Far from it.

He noted that the Constituent Assembly had begun its work in September 2001.  Since then, it had achieved a mammoth task of approving most of the Territory’s draft constitution.  In a recent meeting with the Assembly, members raised with him their concerns over border security, the future of serious crimes prosecution, UNTAET’s ongoing downsizing, and United Nations plans for a successor mission.  He had approved the Assembly’s request for a further extension of its mandate until  9 March.  The additional time would give members the chance to undertake a more effective public consultation process.

The transfer of power from the United Nations to the East Timorese people required one final institutional development, he said –- the election of the President.  On 14 April, the East Timorese would elect their first President in a free and fair election with universal suffrage, in a secret ballot and on the basis of a single national constituency.  The Timorese would be taking a dominant role in implementing the elections.  In addition, international observers would be present throughout the electoral process.  The new President would be inaugurated just after midnight on 20 May.

On the international front, foundations were being laid for strong relations between East Timor and Indonesia, he said.  Various meetings would be held, both on bilateral and trilateral bases, with Indonesia and Australia, after which a number of arrangements on cooperation would likely be signed.  The trilateral talks would discuss regional cooperation, including the possible establishment of a South West Pacific forum, and regional security arrangements, economic cooperation and development matters.  In addition, East Timor had been invited to participate in a ministerial-level regional conference co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia on people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes, involving some 40 nations.

Key among the outstanding bilateral issues was the need to normalize the land border between East and West Timor, he went on.  First steps had already been taken towards delimitation of the border.  A joint work plan had been agreed and the first joint reconnaissance survey of the border would be undertaken next month.  Work was also being done to finalize an arrangement that would permit movement of people across the border.  The security situation, overall, remained stable, and crime rates were not increasing.  Indeed, the East Timor Police Service was growing into its duties admirably.  Until there was substantial progress in the establishment of an operational East Timor Defence Force, the presence of a military component was necessary.

He emphasized that long-term peace and stability would depend on the degree to which the September 1999 legacy of violence and destruction was overcome.  In a boost to the reconciliation process, he had sworn into office in January the seven national commissioners of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. The Commission was not a substitute but a complement to justice, as it would deal with lesser offences through a community reconciliation process.  In the coming weeks, the commissioners would need to appoint regional commissioners and senior staff, for which further donor support was needed.

The sensitive task of reconciliation between the East Timorese on both sides of the border was progressing through a unified reconciliation team.  The justice system was still in a nascent state and needed continued close attention.  The Council itself had identified “shortcomings” in the administration of justice in East Timor.  Under the UNTAET mandate, said Mr. Vieira de Mello, he still bore the ultimate responsibility for the administration of justice, and was making a concerted effort to address the problems within that sector and to ensure that a strong justice system would be in place by independence.  Meanwhile, considerable improvements had been made in the area of serious crimes prosecution in terms of management and resources.

He said he welcomed Indonesian President Megawati’s selection of 18 judges for the Ad Hoc Tribunal on Human Rights.  The recent Supreme Court decision to increase the sentences of three men convicted of murdering Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) colleagues in Atambua in September 2000, to between five and seven years, was also welcome.  Despite progress in serious crimes prosecution, real momentum on cooperation with Indonesia in the area of serious crimes remained elusive.  In the remaining four months before independence, UNTAET and the Prosecutor-General’s Office would continue to meet with the Indonesian authorities to push for further progress on serious crimes.  On refugee returns, he would redouble efforts.

It was also important to ensure that arrangements between East Timor and Indonesia on pensions and termination payments to former East Timorese employees of the Government begin to bear fruit, he said.  In December, a major breakthrough was reached between East Timor and UNTAET officials, with industry currently developing a major petroleum field in the Timor Sea.  An agreed tax and fiscal package would maximize petroleum revenues to East Timor by allowing petroleum development in the Timor Sea to go forward.  Overall, such revenues to East Timor would be much larger than previously forecast.

Turning to the successor mission, he said that the simple proposal contained in the Secretary-General’s recent report delimits the scope of action for the future peace operation, and –- perhaps more importantly -– bases its scope on the needs articulated by the future host Government and current UNTAET managers.  It was a consensus document with which all parties on the “operational level” had agreed.  Hopefully, that exercise allowed for a better synergy and sense of a common goal in the successor mission.  Above all, the mission would be guided by the principle of ensuring that operational responsibility was fully devolved to the East Timorese authorities as soon as possible without jeopardizing stability and progress. 

He said that the mission was expected to achieve its core mandate in approximately two years from independence, provided that the fundamental conditions for implementation prevailed.  As the Secretary-General had stated, the funding of the police service and defence force was essential; both were highly under-resourced and would require bilateral and other voluntary assistance.  The civilian activities of the mission would focus on providing international civilian assistance for the core functions in public administration.  On the police side, overall command of the East Timorese police would rest with the international Commissioner.  He was working with the Government to ensure that an agreement was concluded with the United Nations which addressed the role of the police component and its relationship with the East Timorese police.

On the military side, the mission would continue providing support for external security and territorial integrity, he said.  Once the border areas were delimited and national border-control structures were in place, the size of the military component would be reduced, subject to the overriding caveat of prevailing security conditions.  Furthermore, it would be vital for the mission to ensure timely handover of responsibilities from the military component to the East Timor Defence Force and relevant public administration offices.  The UNTAET was working with the public administration to ensure that immediately upon independence a formal understanding was in place to address clearly and unambiguously the role of the United Nations military component and its relationship with the East Timor Defence Force.

He noted that the Secretary-General had recommended extending UNTAET’s mandate until 20 May.  He himself was committed to ensuring a simultaneous “wind-down” of the mission to minimize trauma.  The downsizing process had been particularly difficult, as the government bodies were in dire need of international staff everywhere.  The East Timorese Government would also require international assistance in support of social and economic development and poverty reduction.  In the home stretch to independence, he and the Government had asked for East Timor to be deleted from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The Government would likely seek membership in the United Nations; the “orphan” would then become a full-grown member of the family. 

JOHN HOWARD, Prime Minister of Australia, said East Timor was a prime example of the Security Council’s ability to respond promptly and decisively to pressing issues.  The success of UNTAET could be seen in the Territory’s rapid move towards independence.  The renewal of the mission’s mandate marked a new phase of United Nations involvement in East Timor, and the Council must give priority to planning the post-independence mission.  It could not rest on successes gained over the past two years, for those successes would not be sustained without continued support.

Australia and other donors were committed to East Timor’s long-term sustainable development, he continued.  Australia would continue to do its part, both through the United Nations and bilaterally, to support the Territory.  It was committed to a substantial bilateral assistance programme to reduce poverty and assist the East Timorese people to govern their country successfully in a peaceful and democratic manner.  In the Timor Sea Arrangement, it had agreed on generous arrangements for revenue from the Timor Sea gas fields, which would make a sizeable contribution to East Timor’s future.

However, the Territory would need more than the help and goodwill of its nearest neighbours, he said.  A seamless transition from United Nations administration to a functioning post-independence government was vital to long-term success.  He stressed that the international community should not undo good work already done by skimping on resources.  It was critical that the United Nations leave East Timor well equipped to tackle the challenges of independence. That was the best guarantee of minimizing the country’s longer-term reliance on international support.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) commended the briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, stating that it was a masterpiece of the genre. He particularly welcomed reported progress on the Territory’s criminal and justice systems, as well as the Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  He agreed that UNTAET’s mandate should be extended until 20 May, and anticipated no problems in achieving agreement in the Council.

He looked forward to receiving specific proposals from the Secretary-General about the successor mission to UNTAET.  He agreed that a number of key civilian positions should be supported, since they would be vital to the new administration.  Recruitment should take place in good time to ensure a smooth handover after independence.

On the political front, he welcomed the announcement of presidential elections in East Timor on 14 April.  He hoped the extension of the constitutional process to allow broader consultation on amendments would be put to good use.  The Constitution should have the support of all the people of the Territory.

He was deeply concerned about the remaining refugees in West Timor.  He urged the United Nations and the Government of Indonesia to complete negotiations that would allow those people to return to East Timor.  In concluding, he stated that the United Kingdom was fully committed to supporting East Timor in creating a stable, independent State, and would retain a diplomatic presence in Dili after independence.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) expressed his satisfaction on the excellent work done by UNTAET in East Timor.  The elections scheduled for 14 April were a good step on the road to independence.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on progress made towards independence, particularly the constitutional and legislative measures, on security conditions and on the implementation of policies encouraging economic and social development.  Also welcome were the steps taken by both East Timor and Indonesia, East Timor’s most important historical neighbour, to build relations.

He appreciated the Indonesian Government’s determination to fulfil its commitments and the measures taken towards that end.  He was also satisfied at the increasing role undertaken by the Transitional Administration in governing the country’s daily affairs.  The efforts towards economic and social development, particularly with respect to income generation and poverty reduction, had also been encouraging.

 National security assistance had a critical role in promoting stability, he went on.  Also welcome had been the successful return of refugees.  The future of East Timor could only be guaranteed with full reconciliation among all East Timorese.  Development could only be achieved through reconciliation.  The experience of the United Nations in East Timor was a success story by any yardstick.  All remaining efforts should be similarly crowned.  The recommendation to extend UNTAET’s mandate until 20 May had his support, as well as the outline for a successor mission, with its plans to support the administration during the post-independence period. 

LIZ O'DONNELL, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said her country supported extension of UNTAET's mandate.  It had watched with great admiration as the people of East Timor progressed towards independence.  The setting of a date for the presidential election, the establishment of an independence day and the solid work of the Constituent Assembly were all welcome signs of a political system that was finding its feet quickly.  The people had assumed ownership in many areas of public administration, particularly in the education and health sectors.

She strongly supported the recent swearing-in of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation which, she hoped, would be able to assist the people in achieving accountability through truth-telling and healing through reconciliation, and would be an important part of the effort to forge a more stable future for the country.  The relationship between East Timor and Indonesia was also of critical importance.  She wished to see both countries working to resolve outstanding bilateral issues, including the delineation of the border and cooperation in bringing to justice those responsible for serious crimes.

Ireland was one of the countries already involved in a range of development cooperation programmes in East Timor, she said.  Its experience had shown that bilateral aid was crucial to future development there.  East Timor would, in the future, be a new country for priority assistance from Ireland's overseas development assistance (ODA) programme.  Experience on the ground had also shown that the unique dimension of United Nations engagement in the administrative and security tasks was still required.  The Organization would have a vital role in maintaining East Timor’s progress towards full independence after four centuries of external rule.

RICHARD WILLIAMSON (United States) said that the Special Representative’s briefing once again illustrated that the Territory was on the right track.  Particularly impressive had been its ability to overcome the difficulties of drafting a first constitution.  He urged all Timorese involved in the political process and the United Nations to stay on track for election in April and independence in May.  A rollover presence was outlined in the draft resolution to be approved by the Council tomorrow.  In April, once developments became clearer, the Council should begin work on establishing a United Nations post-independence role.  That had already been foreshadowed in the resolution of October 2001. 

He said he supported the concept of a successor mission, which had been fleshed out in the Secretary-General’s recent report and in today’s briefing.  But neither UNTAET nor the successor mission could eliminate all of the challenges facing an independent East Timor in meeting the needs of its citizens to achieve economic prosperity.  United Nations involvement was not a substitute or a short cut around the development process.  He looked forward to East Timor assuming responsibility for its own affairs. 

To get there, he said that the United Nations and the East Timorese should work with the widest range of bilateral donors, interested agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure success as the extraordinary peacekeeping achievements gradually diminished over the next two years.  The United Nations must stay on schedule with downsizing, and it must do so by carefully planning to move towards a goal of “zero peacekeeping financed support” by mid-2004.  The progress made with the police and defence force were examples of how to move towards self-reliance.  The United States would continue its bilateral support to East Timor, as well as its support within the United Nations context. 

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore), referring to the situation in Afghanistan where the United Nations faced enormous challenges, hoped that the success of East Timor would have a ripple effect in the region.  East Timor was a good example of what the United Nations could achieve, he said, but it was clear the Organization still had unfinished business there.  East Timor's independence did not mark the end of United Nations engagement, but signalled the beginning of an important new phase to secure the gains achieved.

Although he believed that the United Nations needed a good exit strategy, the view that the United Nations should disengage as rapidly as possible was overly simplistic and dangerous, as precipitate exits in Afghanistan and Somalia had shown.  What the United Nations had achieved in East Timor had only come about through hard thinking, shrewd judgements, hard work, dedication and commitment.  It was, therefore, the Council's task to ensure that it got the job there done right today -- so that it did not have to return tomorrow.

How the Organization handled East Timor after independence would have wide-ranging consequences for the region as a whole, he continued.  A stable East Timor could contribute to the stability and security of the region and complement the region's efforts to prevail over the political and economic problems it faced.  The stakes were too high, both for East Timor and the region, to risk a failed State.  The Council had recognized and affirmed the need for a substantial international presence after independence.  It must now ensure that the United Nations effectively followed through to fulfil its responsibilities.  The Council had broadly endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendations for the United Nations successor mission in East Timor in its presidential statement of October 2001.  With the renewal of UNTAET's mandate, he now looked forward to more specific proposals from the Secretary-General on a follow-up peacekeeping operation and a thorough discussion of those proposals.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said East Timor was in the process of transforming itself into an independent State, which placed significant challenges upon its leadership.  The drafting of the constitution was well under way, and popular consultation would further contribute to a document setting up a unitary democratic State based on the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers.

Norway attached great importance to the instigation of criminal proceedings against persons responsible for serious crimes, he said.  He welcomed the first conviction for crimes against humanity delivered by the serious crimes panel last December, which clearly demonstrated that such crimes would not go unpunished. Another fortunate development was the inauguration of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission earlier in January.  In light of financial constraints experienced by both the serious crimes panel and the truth commission, Norway would consider the possibility of providing additional funds.

He also welcomed the recent appointment by the Indonesian Government of

18 judges to serve as ad hoc tribunals for serious crimes committed in East Timor during 1999.  He expected trials to begin shortly, so that justice for the East Timorese would be served.  He was also pleased that bilateral relations between East Timor and Indonesia were improving, since that was crucial for the prosperous development and long-term stability of the region.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) joined all those who had undertaken to maintain international support for East Timor.  The remaining months prior to independence would be critical to guaranteeing stability and security, particularly with respect to the presidential elections in April.  The role of UNTAET, therefore, was fundamental in maintaining a stable process and avoiding the emergence of trouble in the political arena.  Follow-up would require international and national attention, under the continued leadership of the United Nations.

He said that the prosperity of the new State would depend largely upon the efficiency and honesty with which justice was administered.  He supported an extension of UNTAET’s mandate, as well as its reconfiguration.  The United Nations presence following independence should preserve the three key elements set forth in the Secretary-General’s priorities, namely, military, civilian/police, and civilian components, aimed at supporting the transition.  He agreed that the successor mission should be based on the principle that operational responsibilities should be transferred as soon as possible to the East Timorese authorities through a two-year period of downsizing. 

In addition to the criteria set forth by the East Timorese authorities, troop-contributing countries should be consulted before and after independence to ensure a successful exit strategy. A continuing close dialogue was also needed between the new East Timorese authorities and Indonesia.  Progress still needed to be made in such areas as maritime limits, cross-border crime, and the establishment of a political, economic and educational cooperation that would lead to a deepening of the friendship between the two countries.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) welcomed the success of the United Nations and the international community in East Timor.  That region, with its nascent democracy, was on the right path.  Without belittling the enormous difficulties it would face -– security and the return of refugees, for example -- he did not doubt that a new State would be born with the Territory’s independence on 20 May.

The United Nations could not afford to reduce its commitment to East Timor on that date, at that crucial time in its existence, he continued.  The Organization must use the full gamut of its machinery to foster true success in building the new State of East Timor.  Bulgaria would fully support the resolution being prepared to extend the mandate of UNTAET in East Timor until 20 May.

AUDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) supported the basic recommendations and conclusions of the Secretary-General, including the extension of UNTAET for a final period until 20 May 2002.  Indeed, the people of East Timor and the international community had something to be proud of.  Particularly welcome had been the successful “Timorization” of authority.  The United Nations had played a key role in resolving the crisis and must now envisage its future role in the post-conflict period.  He agreed with the approach set forth by the United States representative. 

He said that the scale, configuration and time frame for the future international presence should be determined on the basis of the real needs of East Timor, as well as the pace of development, while fully taking into account the Government’s position.  The overall duration of the future mission should not exceed two years.  Establishing an independent State should involve a broad spectrum comprising the United Nations system, regional structures, international financial institutions, and donor countries.  As State structures were established, the international presence should gradually be wound down.  All of that should be carefully regulated to ensure continued success. 

Although he supported the thrust of the Secretary-General’s report, he said he had not seen any comprehensive picture for future United Nations assistance in East Timor.  Without that, the future activities of the United Nations there would, at best, be based on “mere serendipity” and not on well calculated long-term strategies.  Clearly, a responsible approach to the matter meant close coordination of action with all international players providing assistance to East Timor.  Hopefully, the Secretary-General would present detailed proposals on the matter to the Council by early April.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said he was impressed by the work accomplished by UNTAET.  Much had been done in the political sphere to set up and administer the Territory, security had steadily improved, and social and economic policies were being implemented.

He noted several positive, concrete achievements in East Timor.  The Territory would be holding presidential elections on 14 April, the constitution for the new State was being forged, and administrative structures were being strengthened.  He was also gratified that the return of refugees was continuing, and believed that protection and follow-up measures should be envisaged and strengthened to encourage that process.  He also pointed to the harmonious relations East Timor enjoyed with Indonesia and Australia, which were vital for the young State.

Important progress had indeed been made in East Timor, leading to its independence, but the Council’s aims on the eve of independence were still far from being accomplished.  It would be necessary to keep a peacekeeping force after independence, and the Territory’s public administration remained very much dependent on UNTAET’s resources.  Too rapid a downsizing of that mission could lead to instability in the new State.

BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said that the international community and the United Nations deserved credit for the positive results achieved in East Timor.  He welcomed the approval, thus far, of most of the draft constitution.  Also appreciated had been the dialogue between East Timor, Indonesia and UNTAET.  He eagerly awaited the outcomes of the high-level meetings and hoped that the presidential elections in April would be peaceful.  A solution to humanitarian issues was needed, particularly for refugees, and he welcomed the recent establishment of the relevant Commission.

On the question of violence against women and children, he supported the proposal for multi-sectoral intervention.  Such a complementary framework could be coordinated by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).  The establishment in September 2001 of the Planning Commission had been an excellent initiative, as that would speed up the elaboration of a final development plan. 

Drafting laws and democratic institutions was one thing; respecting them was something else, he said.  Perhaps an international donors’ conference could be organized, preferably before independence day, to mobilize resources and direct them towards such targeted programmes as education.  He approved the extension of UNTAET’S mandate and awaited with interest the Secretary-General’s proposals regarding the successor mission.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said the situation in East Timor was by no means all peace and prosperity.  The Territory had only a limited pool of expertise and there were some security problems.  To ensure continued stability and development in East Timor, the international community must keep an appropriate presence there and develop a strategy for the future.  That was the consensus that had been reached by the Council.

He noted that the successor mission to UNTAET would include military, police and civilian components.  He supported the Secretary-General’s proposals for that successor mission, and agreed that it should hand over its authority to East Timor officials as soon as possible, without jeopardizing the progress already made.

FRANCO ANDRES (Colombia) welcomed the earlier address today by Chairman Karzai of Afghanistan.  There was a certain parallel between the role of the Council and the international community and the political processes of both situations -- Afghanistan and East Timor.  Both cases were in the international limelight and both held great expectations for a prosperous future.  Also, both had undergone a process of transformation in which the Council had played a critical role.  Both had also had expectations about what the international community could and should do to create a better world.

On the question of a successor mission to UNTAET, he said the international community must continue to support East Timor after independence in order to consolidate the process and not jeopardize the excellent work done by UNTAET.  He also supported a downsized mission, including military, police and civilian components.  The mission should include a group of experts to assist the new administration.  Moreover, the transfer of operational responsibilities to the East Timorese authorities should be carried out without endangering progress so far achieved.  Finally, there could be no reconciliation without bringing to justice the perpetrators of the atrocities there.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said that today’s debate was a turning point in the history of East Timor.  The UNTAET would become a success story for the United Nations.  Political transition was taking place smoothly, reconciliation was well under way, and conditions for economic revival were present.  However, East Timor’s history did not stop there, and attention must now be focused on the post-independence period.  It was vital that international assistance be transformed into a more normal form of development assistance.

He suggested that the Council hold its next debate in the presence of representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  A threefold partnership should be established, with the General Assembly also playing an important role.  He added that troop contributors must be properly consulted in private meetings with the Council.  Regional organizations should be consulted to establish global partnerships.  Together, the international community must continue efforts to see that independent East Timor remained a fine example of a new State.

ANIL KUMARSINGH GAYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, said the United Nations deserved all the credit for a successful operation in East Timor.  The painful past was gone and the people of East Timor must derive immense satisfaction that their quest for self-determination was legitimate and unquestionable.  Hopefully, East Timor would emerge as a full-fledged nation, ready to assume its rightful place in the international community.  It should chart a way for the welfare, development and prosperity of its people.  As a small island State, Mauritius was pleased to see another such State on the point of joining the United Nations.

His delegation fully supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a renewal of UNTAET’s mandate.  The United Nations must ensure that everything was done to complete the Territory's safe transition to independence.  Consolidating gains and realizing the legitimate aspirations of the East Timorese for statehood required that the transition was seamless and obstacle-free.

The United Nations, he continued, with UNTAET’s help, had “given birth” to a new nation.  The international community should nurture it and prepare the small island nation to operate as a viable State.  That was the crucial phase in the political history of any country, especially a newborn one.  Success should be ensured by maintaining security and building a sustainable administrative and economic base.  East Timor should continue to benefit from United Nations assistance after independence, especially in the form of civilian expertise in various fields of administration and other sectors.

The risk of both politically and criminally driven violence should be avoided at all cost, he went on.  A competent police unit and law enforcement bureau should be established to maintain law and order.  Fortunately, training for civilian police and the Defence Force was being accelerated.  Also welcome was the increased rate of return of refugees.  They needed assistance and rehabilitation, and he called on the international agencies and bilateral donors to give them sustained support.  He added that historic achievement in East Timor would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the Indonesian Government. 

He said the moment had come for the Council to assure East Timor and the international community that a strong and continued United Nations presence would be maintained for a period of two years from the date of independence.  He, therefore, endorsed the plan for a successor mission in the post-independence period.  The mandate outlined in the Secretary-General’s report was both pragmatic and realistic.  Undoubtedly, East Timor would emerge as a strong, viable and prosperous nation with the assistance of the world community.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Second Transitional Administration of East Timor, said the process of designing a blueprint for economic development in the Territory had been a unique experiment. It was one of the few exercises in planning and development where civil society provided an input to a governmental process before the plan was approved and put into effect.

On security in East Timor, the reported crime rate continued to be among the lowest in the world, he said.  Throughout 2001, there were only four reported cases of murder, none of which was politically motivated.  However, domestic violence, particularly against women, was rising.  Perhaps that was indicative of a higher level of reporting within the police and justice systems.  With more trust in those systems, women might now be reporting cases of domestic violence.

He was pleased with recent developments in the East Timor Police Service, which now stood at 1,400 trained officers.  Their presence throughout the elections in August reflected the Service’s success.  The same positive progress could be seen in the East Timor Defence Force, with 600 East Timorese making up its first battalion.  Recently, the naval component of the Defence Force had taken possession of two modified Albatross patrol boats donated by Portugal.  The boats would be used to patrol East Timorese coastal waters and protect its maritime resources.

On the refugee front, there had been some progress, although there were still some 70,000 in West Timor, he said.  There were still some rumours circulating about retaliation against refugees when they returned, which were without any foundation.  The Territory was doing its best to educate people about the reality of the situation.

Regarding the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, seven new national commissioners had been elected last week.  He noted that the Commission had an enormous responsibility for seeking the truth about events dating back to

1974.  Crimes did not occur only after the Indonesian intervention in East Timor, and the Territory must find the courage and humility to face earlier offences.

Seldom in decolonization history had there been such quick reconciliation and normalization in relations between two countries as there had been between East Timor and Indonesia, he said.  Sometimes it took generations to heal the wounds.  The Indonesian side had shown maturity and grandeur in putting the past where it belonged and in working to forge a new relationship.  Success was, in large measure, a tribute to Indonesia.

Concluding, he said that East Timor expected to accede to several human right treaties at independence, and the constitution was being drafted accordingly.  The Territory would like to join the United Nations, either on the day of independence or soon after.

The meeting was suspended at 1:40 p.m. and resumed at 3:05 p.m.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the year 2002 would mark the birth of a new nation.  As responsibilities were transferred by UNTAET, the security of the country and the stability of the future Government must be ensured.  The Union strongly supported the Secretary-General's recommendation that UNTAET's mandate be extended until   20 May.  The Union also welcomed the proposed phasing out of the United Nations presence and the estimated period of two years after independence for a successor mission.  The Union had already endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendation for an integrated mission and recognized the consistency of the Secretary-General's latest report with the proposals he had set out last October.  The Union looked forward to further specific proposals in due course.

Since October, the pace of progress towards independence had accelerated, he said.  Security had improved, the Constituent Assembly was discussing a new constitution, and presidential elections would take place in April.  He congratulated the mission and the East Timorese people for the increasing number of functions that East Timorese institutions were assuming.  Relations with the Government were gradually improving, although important issues, including cooperation in serious crimes investigations and human rights violations, were still pending.

Despite achievements, however, the challenges to a successful transition were still present, he said.  Recent reports of political violence were reminders of the need to provide adequate channels for expressing political dissent and competition.  The full and peaceful integration of political currents through political parties was essential for the successful transition to democracy.  The Union supported the Secretary-General's proposal to reduce UNTAET's military and the civil police components by independence, and noted that the prevailing security situation and the provision of adequate training to the East Timor Defence Force and Police Service would affect the downsizing plans. 

Success in East Timor was very much about reconciliation, he continued.  Efforts should be made to promote cross-border contacts, increase confidence and resolve the issue of pensions.  Reconciliation, however, must be cemented by justice.  He welcomed the recent launching of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.  The work of the courts and the Office of the General Prosecutor would be important steps in that direction.  The Union called upon the Government of Indonesia to ensure the speedy implementation of fully mandated ad hoc rights tribunals, in accordance with international standards, with a broadened jurisdiction to cover all human rights violations.  He welcomed the appointment of new judges for the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court by the Government of Indonesia and recalled the urgent need to make the Court operational.  The Union was ready to provide technical assistance both to judges and prosecutors of the Ad Hoc Court. 

A parallel evolution should take place in the economic and social services areas, he said.  The international community had a role to play in supporting the economy of East Timor.  It was time to move towards a relationship based on development goals.  The donor community should support East Timor beyond independence.  The efficient collection and investment of revenues from natural resources would be essential.  As East Timor became less dependent on international donors, a stable East Timor based on sound institutions and peaceful relations with its neighbours would attract investors.  As other countries faltered in the wake of conflict or natural disasters, he hoped the success of East Timor would be less of an exception and more of a precedent.  In May, a new State would be born, and the United Nations would have reason to be proud. 

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) commended UNTAET’s efforts and supported the extension of its mandate until 20 May -- the date East Timor was to become independent.  He also reiterated his delegation’s admiration for the people of East Timor who, in cooperation with UNTAET, had been making strenuous efforts to achieve their own independence.  He encouraged them to tackle the remaining tasks leading up to independence with a sense of ownership, including the adoption of the new constitution and the holding of the presidential elections.  For its part, the Government of Japan would continue to extend its cooperation and assistance both to UNTAET and the people of East Timor.

Because of the vital importance of achieving a comprehensive resolution of the refugee issue, Japan would provide some $5.39 million in support of East Timorese refugees in West Timor, he said.  The Japanese Government would also consider extending assistance amounting to $1 million for the activities of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.  Furthermore, his country was preparing to dispatch a 700-strong engineering group to the peacekeeping operations in East Timor. 

He was pleased at the progress in planning the functions and structure of the post-UNTAET mission, he said.  His Government believed that a United Nations presence was necessary to ensure the stability of East Timor after it achieved independence.  He hoped that work on preparing the Secretary-General’s recommendations would be completed as soon as possible and that the Council would promptly decide on the establishment of the mission.  Japan supported funding a minimum and indispensable civilian component, including 100 key functions, with peacekeeping assessed contributions.

He added that the soon-to-be-achieved independence of East Timor would be a success story in a world where conflict and instability were widespread.  However, many difficulties still lay ahead, and it was the responsibility of the international community to continue its support to the people of East Timor. 

FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal) said Portugal fully supported the extension of the current UNTAET mandate until the date of independence.  He expressed concern that the Council had grown used to looking at UNTAET and East Timor as a success story and was taking it for granted.  It was important not to lose sight of how difficult and complex UNTAET’s task had been and remained.    Two years was not much time to work from scratch in establishing a security environment, building a democratic government, improving human capacity, rebuilding infrastructure and restarting the economy.  Yet, only two years after the widespread violence, the Timorese could reasonably expect to have, not only their independence, but also a functioning administration, a democratic and human rights-abiding regime, and prospects for economic sustainability. 

How many United Nations missions could claim such an extensive record of achievements? he asked.  It would not be feasible to accelerate this and other processes without serious risk to their future sustainability.  This amply justified the continued engagement of the United Nations and the international community in East Timor, especially after independence.  The fact that UNTAET and the Timorese had achieved so much was all the more reason to continue supporting them, enabling them to finish and strengthen the tasks that the Security Council had entrusted them with. Any other option would be irresponsible and unacceptable, he said.  It would be on par with punishing a good student because he had been doing all his homework and was, therefore, getting better results than his colleagues. 

He believed that an integrated peacekeeping mission, comprising military, police and civilian components, was the best approach to the post-independence support for East Timor.  A number of civilian support positions must be included in that mission and financed through assessed contributions, in order to ensure minimum stability to the new administration in its early stage of independence.

In its presidential statement of 31 October 2001, the Council had endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations for the post-independence mission in East Timor, including the need to ensure assessed funding for a number of civilian positions.  The Council had thus made it clear that it was willing to continue to have a very supportive and constructive role in East Timor’s independence and stability.  Looking at the post-independence period in East Timor, he underlined a number of areas that were crucial for the sustainability of democracy and rule of law in East Timor.  These areas included the training of the Timorese police and military, the development of the judiciary and the establishment of a human rights culture.  The Council had the duty to guarantee that the responsibility of the United Nations was exerted until the adequate means were put at disposal of the Timorese to run their country. 

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said progress had been made in a number of important areas.  East Timor was on course to become a major success story.  That success could only be ensured if the United Nations’ exit was based on a sound strategy.

He recognized the constructive role of Indonesia in ensuring the security of East Timor and its people.  That was encouraging for reconciliation and return of refugees to East Timor.  Early resolution of outstanding issues would be beneficial for a sound economy along the border with West Timor.  The return of remaining refugees in West Timor would be a benchmark before the coming independence of East Timor.

Continued financial support to East Timor would remain critical in the near future, he said.  Early funding was needed in ensuring the viability of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  For a vibrant and viable East Timor, the successor mission should be funded through assessed contributions.  His country was looking forward to the celebrations in May in East Timor.

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said the successes of East Timor closely mirrored similar peace-building initiatives in the Pacific such as in Bougainville, Solomon Islands and his own country. He hoped the wind of peace heralded more constructive engagements towards democratic governance in the region and beyond.  Fiji's peacekeeping task in Suwai, bordering West and East Timor, had not been an easy one, but his country would stay engaged as along as necessary.  His Government would be pleased to be of service by providing one of the two international members of the Board of Commissioners for the presidential elections in April.

He was heartened by the building rapprochement between West and East Timor through the border reconciliation meetings between Indonesia and East Timor, which positively affected internal security.  That would encourage more refugee returns. In the difficult transition period, building a gender component in the administration system prior to independence was a challenge.  He hoped relevant preparatory work would ensure a more secure domestic environment for women and children.  Civil service recruitment was close to its targets, but it was critical that the United Nations core budget allocation remained committed in supporting an identified number of civilian technical assistance posts.  That would boost programmes for socio-economic development and poverty eradication.

In anticipation of UNTAET's drawdown and ultimate withdrawal, he encouraged the Constituent Assembly to continue with measures to cushion the impact on the local economy.  Regarding security, much depended on the border delimitation issue to be determined by East Timor and Indonesia.  Capital investment was also critical for the development of the East Timor Defence Forces and police services. Until both those institutions showed that capacity to maintain security, the UNTAET military and civilian police component should stay engaged.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that following the completion of the Constituent Assembly elections last August, a number of other critical tasks lay ahead, including the presidential elections in April and independence day in May.  He endorsed the recommendation to extend UNTAET’s mandate until then.  Regarding its restructuring, he welcomed the downsizing plan, as well as the general picture that was emerging of the post-UNTAET mission.  In accordance with the plan, his country’s military battalion had successfully completed its one-and-one-half year mission in the eastern area and was recently deployed to the Oecussi enclave.  It would do its best to ensure the security of the new mission area and to promote the development of the area, together with a Japanese engineering company, which was expected to arrive soon.

After independence, he said, the continued assistance of the international community was required, in light of the still weak security environment and the country’s fragile administrative and economic foundations.  In keeping with the efforts of the East Timorese to become self-reliant in the shortest possible time, a gradual exit strategy for the peacekeeping mission should be implemented in a way that would not diminish the progress achieved thus far.  Hopefully, the planners could devise a downsizing programme that struck a good balance between the United Nations’ assessed contributions and the roles of bilateral and multilateral donors.  A slackening of resolve among donors or the overly speedy disengagement of the international community in East Timor would be detrimental and must be forestalled. 

DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said that New Zealand would be happy to support the renewal of UNTAET’s mandate through to East Timor’s forthcoming independence, in May this year.  He welcomed the innovative step taken by the East Timorese Council of Ministers to hold open meetings in each of East Timor’s 13 districts, as a means of educating the population on the workings of government.  He also applauded the interim government’s ongoing efforts to strengthen East Timor’s relations with Indonesia.  However, the partnership venture between East Timor and the United Nations was not yet over.  The challenges that lay ahead were considerable and would call for constant vigilance to ensure that precious funds were directed to top priority activities, he said. 

Both the East Timorese leadership and the international community had a particular duty to ensure that mutual expectations -- and not just those of the East Timorese people, but also those that the international community had of East Timor -- remained realistic and within the capacity of donors and the East Timorese Government to deliver.  He said that all shared the same end-goal:   self-sufficiency for the country and people of East Timor.  He looked forward to donor relations with East Timor reverting to a normal developmental model as soon as feasible.

New Zealand endorsed the Secretary-General’s concept of a successor mission, he said.  Its primary objective would be to enable an independent and stable East Timor to stand on its own two feet and for the United Nations to quickly fulfil its post-independence mandate.  He reiterated New Zealand’s support for this last extension of UNTAET’s mandate and looked forward to the Council’s detailed consideration of the United Nations’ post-independence presence at a later date.

GELSON FONSECA, JR. (Brazil) said there was a need to ensure a smooth and seamless transition to independence, one that preserved stability and security, as well as continuity in the public administration.  For that to happen, one could not rely solely on voluntary contributions.  It was necessary to secure a predictable source of funding.  Brazil supported the establishment of a successor mission.  Given the very limited pool of professional and administrative expertise in East Timor, it was important that the civilian component included the 100 key functions within the administration to guarantee continuity and ensure on the job training.  Those positions must be included in the assessed funding of the successor mission.  Downsizing of the military and the civilian police components was desirable, guided by the capacity of the East Timor Defence force and the Police Service to provide external and internal security.

There had been an increase in the number of repatriations of refugees, he said.  It was a sign that efforts to heal wounds of past animosity was bearing fruit, despite reports of misinformation in the camps.  He appreciated efforts by the President of Indonesia to solve pending issues and build strong bilateral ties with East Timor based on friendship and mutual respect.  That was crucial for the stability and development of East Timor.  Strengthening of the rule of law in East Timor was another critical area.  That was a precondition not only to realize human rights, but also to provide a solid basis for a sound economic system.  It was important to address legal problems that might inhibit economic recovery, particularly those concerning property rights and commercial law.

The independence of East Timor should not be an excuse for precipitous withdrawal, he said.  It must be an opportunity to display a real commitment to a stable and democratic East Timor.  The declaration of independence was no magic wand that would turn East Timor into a full-fledged and functioning State.  Now was the time to show solidarity and ensure that independence became more than a symbolic event.  To that end, assistance from the international community continued to be vital.  He hoped the Council and other United Nations organs would keep attaching a high priority to East Timor.

ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that it was almost “curtain time” in East Timor.  The efforts of the past two years would be rigorously tested starting on 20 May.  In times of success, it was easy to be lured into complacency and become the “victim of our own achievements”.  Hopefully, success in East Timor would not detract from the multitude of tasks remaining.  There could not yet be reasonable assurance that all of the efforts in East Timor were fairly secure and durable.  Indeed, the transition period could be the most dangerous, as inertia and hubris were bound to occur.  For that reason, the Council and the international community must remain vigilant and ensure that the gains made were preserved and sustained. 

The Secretary-General’s report was filled with an unequivocal call for adequate funding, he said.  Without that, it would be virtually impossible to successfully implement the best plan.  With the maintenance of security and the building of a sustainable administrative and economic base dependent on that funding, he called on the donor community to intensify efforts to assure adequate funding for East Timor’s growing needs.  With the world community’s attention riveted to the war on terrorism, he hoped that East Timor would not be relegated to the background or forgotten in the scramble for assistance at those critical times. 

Attaining independence in East Timor was by no means a small achievement, but that could not be the final chapter of the Organization’s exit strategy there, he said.  The challenge ahead was daunting, as the country strove towards self-sufficiency and stability.  Much had been achieved and the parties should remain fully committed until East Timor was able to establish sustainable government institutions and economic structures.  He supported UNTAET’s extension, as well as the proposed framework for the successor mission.

MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said his country’s commitment and support for the future of East Timor needed no further reiteration.  Indonesia and UNTAET had jointly engaged in various bilateral talks, and discussions at the ministerial level had also been scheduled with the representative of UNTAET/East Timor in February.  Trilateral discussions, including Australia, were also scheduled.  Such meetings were the most appropriate way to resolve outstanding issues, including border, pension, East Timorese students in Indonesia, the establishment of postal links and cultural cooperation.

With the prevailing atmosphere of calm and stability in the border area, the number of refugee returns had been steadily rising, totaling nearly 193,000 to date.  Two battalions from East Nusa Tenggara had been withdrawn.  Bearing in mind the upcoming presidential election, it was a matter of the highest priority that the refugees became active participants in the future of their country.  His Government and the United Nations had launched a joint appeal for East Timorese refugees on 27 November 2001.  It was expected that through that endeavour around 60,000 refugees could be repatriated this year.  He appealed to donor countries and institutions to contribute generously to those efforts.  As camps would be closed on 30 April, it was crucial for refugees to decide on the options offered, that is, repatriation or joining Indonesia’s transmigration programme.

He said reconciliation was an important component to post-conflict circumstances.  He was gratified by the dialogue session held by Xanana Gusmao with some 1,000 East Timorese, predominantly pro-autonomy supporters.  He underlined the importance of such reconciliation initiatives and hoped that the international community would lend that process its full support.

It was pertinent to note that the Indonesian military and United Nations peacekeeping forces had been working in close cooperation, leading towards a more conducive condition along the border.  Both sides had agreed to a joint reconnaissance of the border next month.  His Government would continue to provide the assistance deemed necessary in that regard.  Indonesia had assured that justice would be upheld, and a presidential decree had been issued regarding the appointment of 18 judges to the ad hoc human rights court.  Regarding the Atambua cases, Indonesia’s Supreme Court had overruled decisions of lower courts, resulting in sentences of five to seven years.

Mr. VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative and Transitional Administrator for East Timor, took the floor again and spoke also on behalf of Mr. Ramos-Horta.  The achievements would not have been possible without the unfailing support of the Security Council over the last 27 months.  Regarding the successor mission, he welcomed approval, in principle, of the outline contained in the Secretary-General’s report, as well as the support expressed today by many speakers for the civilian positions in core areas that the Secretary-General proposes be funded from the assessed budget of the United Nations. 

Concerning the request that the Secretary-General put forth specific proposals in his end-of-mission report, he had taken note with great attention of the suggestions made here, in particular by the Russian Federation and France.  He would confirm to the representative of Guinea that he would be convening a last donor conference in Dili approximately 10 days before the country’s independence.  He had taken all other comments into account, and he shared many of the observations, in particular, the extension of the mandate of the Constituent Assembly and the good use that should be put to refining the draft constitution.

He thanked the Council and the transitional government for its support and solidarity during today’s debate.  That would strongly encourage everyone, particularly the people of East Timor, in that final phase of transition to independence, which he had been tasked to administer and steer. 

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.