SPEAKERS EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT FOR EAST TIMOR FOLLOW-ON MISSION, AS SECURITY COUNCIL CONCLUDES DEBATE

29 April 2002
SC/7383

SPEAKERS EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT FOR EAST TIMOR FOLLOW-ON MISSION, AS SECURITY COUNCIL CONCLUDES DEBATE

29/04/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7383

Security Council

4522nd (Resumed) Meeting (PM)

SPEAKERS EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT FOR EAST TIMOR FOLLOW-ON MISSION,

AS SECURITY COUNCIL CONCLUDES DEBATE

East Timor had rebuilt itself in a record two and a half years -- an amazing time frame for such a devastated nation to put itself firmly on the path towards democracy and the rule of law, the representative of Fiji said this afternoon as the Security Council, in a meeting resumed from last Friday, concluded its discussion of the situation there three weeks before independence –- 20 May.

The United Nations must continue to guard the partnership it owned in the East Timorese success story, and the Territory must remain on the Organization's agenda despite other pressing crises, he continued.  To that end, periodic reports from the proposed United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) would help the Organization gauge how weaker areas were responding to rehabilitation and support.

Thailand’s representative told the Council that the birth of East Timor as a State was the result of firm political will and strong partnership with the United Nations, the wider international community and neighbouring States.  But, most critical to its success was the towering perseverance and strong commitment of the East Timorese people themselves.

He urged the Council not to be lulled into a sense of false security.  East Timor’s social, economic and democratic infrastructures must be rebuilt to create a truly secure environment.  He hoped the follow-up United Nations mission would give equal importance to economic and political security.

The representative of Malaysia said the continued presence of the United Nations in East Timor beyond its political transition was vital to the smooth process of nation-building.  The mandate of UNMISET was pragmatic and achievable, and he was confident that East Timor's friends would lend needed support to the United Nations in the early years after independence.

Continuing, he stressed that nation-building and reconciliation was a highly complex and sensitive process, in which the return of refugees must be an important criteria.  He was, therefore, pleased to note the recent upsurge in refugee returns.

Indonesia’s representative said that, from January to April 2002, more than 8,000 refugees had returned to East Timor, but about 50,000 remained in the province of East Nusa Tenggara.  A means for resolving that problem lay in the “Joint Government of the Republic of Indonesia/United Nations Appeal on Solutions

for East Timorese Refugees” of 27 November 2001.  He urged the international community to respond positively to that Joint Appeal.

Indonesia’s determination to prosecute human rights violations that had occurred in East Timor had been reflected in the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on

14 March 2002, he continued.  On the eve of the trials, the Indonesian Government had adopted two important regulations governing witness protection and compensation for victims of human rights abuses.  Those measures attested to the sincere efforts of Indonesia’s Government, judicial institutions and civil society to implement justice in a prompt and fair manner.

The representatives of the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Ukraine and the Philippines also spoke.

Also addressing the Council today was Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

The meeting began at 4:05 p.m. and ended at 5:25 p.m.  The Council will meet again Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the situation in East Timor, resuming a meeting that began on Friday, 26 April.

(For details, see Press Release SC/7379.)

Statements

LEE HO-JIN (Republic of Korea) said that, during the course of building an independent State, the United Nations had played a pivotal role through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

The United Nations’ success in East Timor more than vindicated the relevance and strengths of the Organization in current international affairs, he continued.  The UNTAET embodied the aspirations of the international community for peace, freedom and democracy.  Regarding the report of the Secretary-General on a successor mission in East Timor, his country supported the notion that a key element of such a mission should be a gradual withdrawal over a two-year period.  He also shared the Secretary-General’s view that given the remaining challenges to security and stability in East Timor, as well as its fragile economy, now was not the time for complacency.  It was essential that the international community remain engaged as the new State began to take shape.

TIM MCIVOR (New Zealand) said the proposal for the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) signalled both a beginning and an end.  For the past two years, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and his team had worked in partnership with the East Timorese people to bring them from a post-conflict situation to the eve of independence.

However, the transition to a stable, secure and just society required a continued role for the United Nations in East Timor, he continued.  The Secretary-General’s proposals provided a clear exit strategy for the peace support component of the United Nations presence in East Timor.  The downsizing proposals for military, police and civilian elements of UNMISET were based on realistic needs assessments and followed the concept endorsed by the Council last October.

Like the United Nations, New Zealand’s focus would move from peacekeeping to development assistance, he said.  At the end of the year, it would withdraw its battalion and helicopter support, as part of the United Nations exit strategy.  Its police, customs and corrections personnel had already left East Timor, but would continue to provide training and development assistance.  New Zealand looked forward to a maturing bilateral relationship with East Timor, based on an agreed development framework and common regional interests.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil), welcoming East Timor’s transition to nationhood, said independence day on 20 May would mark the launching of a new phase in which the United Nations’ steadfast cooperation and support in a vast array of critical areas would be required to underpin the exercise of sovereignty by the East Timorese.  The United Nations was approaching not the end of its engagement in the Territory, but a new beginning that would require continued political commitment.  In that regard, he added, Brazil supported the establishment of a successor mission to UNTAET as proposed by the Secretary-General, comprising a military, a civilian and a civilian police component.

Decisions concerning the level of the force and duration of its presence, he said, should be based on a clear assessment of the concrete needs of the future sovereign State of East Timor, as “no one wants an open-ended mission in East Timor, let alone the perpetuation of dependency and passivity”.  He also paid tribute to Mr. Vieira de Mello, who will soon be stepping down as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Transitional Administrator for East Timor.  He said his competent and steady guidance of UNTATET turned out to be “one of the most successful achievements of the United Nations”.

JAIME ACUÑA (Chile) shared the view of the Secretary-General that, even  with the substantial progress that had been made in strengthening East Timor’s political and institutional structures, the assistance and solidarity of the international community was still necessary.  To that end, global actors must assume their unavoidable responsibility to prepare the East Timorese people to exercise their most precious and fundamental rights, within parameters that guaranteed freedom and democracy.

He said the future presence of the United Nations –- under a clear mandate and for a period of no more than two years, if possible -– with the consent and active support of the East Timorese people appeared to be the best approach.  Chile supported the establishment of UNMISET and welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a comprehensive plan for implementing the mandate of such a mission.  That mandate should focus on three main areas:  stability, democracy and justice; internal security and law enforcement; and external security and border control.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the independence of East Timor represented the completion of an important political process in the Territory, which many players -- particularly in Indonesia and East Timor itself -- had contributed to. The East Timorese people had overcome a difficult period and had built a new State in a climate of peace with its neighbours.

Egypt agreed with the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Territory, which mentioned numerous challenges that could block stability and development, he continued.  Those included the demarcation of boundaries, the return of refugees, the strengthening of economic and social activities, the establishment of a new government, and the building up of security structures.  The international community must respect the free choice of the East Timorese people in their efforts to achieve those goals.  That autonomy would safeguard the stability and the achievements of the transitional authority.

Security in East Timor still represented a clear challenge, he said.  Egypt supported continuing the United Nations mission there, as well as reducing its size after independence.  The mission would help provide the necessary conditions to guarantee security in the new State.  Egypt attached special importance to East Asia, with which it enjoyed strong relations.  He wished the new State every success in its endeavours.

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said the current debate of the situation in East Timor provided the opportunity to welcome the successful presidential elections that had recently been held.  It would also give the Council a chance to better focus on the remaining challenges, particularly as the day of Timorese independence –

20 May -- was fast approaching.

Today, he said, the international community was witnessing the rebuilding of a nation in record time.  Two and a half years was an unimaginable time frame for a nation so devastated to gain the wisdom that would help put it on a track towards democracy, observance of the rule of law and human rights standards.  While there were visible gaps in the nation’s development road map, Fiji acknowledged the spirit and cooperation of the people of East Timor.  That and their collective determination had been invaluable to United Nations efforts at establishing an interim administration.

He said that infrastructure rehabilitation must take place in parallel with community development initiatives.  The promotion of human rights, protection of the environment and the advancement of women were three important pillars to national development.  He added that they were also key targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals.  He looked forward to the finalization of the East Timorese United Nations Development Assistance Framework in May.  That framework could integrate national development goals with the various forms of assistance available within the United Nations system.

The matching of goals with resources would accelerate the needed economic, financial and fiscal recovery so critical to the delivery of services by East Timorese national institutions, he said.  New energy clearly emanated from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  That body’s consultations with the community on its mandate, in an attempt to prevent future human rights violations and bring justice to aggrieved parties, was welcomed.

He went on to note that there were specific areas where multilateral, bilateral, inter-agency and private partnerships would still be needed in order to sustain accomplishments made thus far.  To that end, Fiji supported the proposal to authorize the establishment of UNMISET for an initial period of two years.  His delegation did not wish to foreclose the need to extend that time frame should it fall below post-independence development goals and targets.  After all, supporting hands were indispensable for an infant taking its first steps. 

The United Nations must guard the partnership it owned in East Timor’s success story, he said.  East Timor must remain on the Organization’s agenda, regardless of other pressing global crisis situations.  That position corresponded with the goals of peace-building and peacemaking and conflict prevention.  To that end, he was pleased that UNMISET would focus on:  stability, democracy and justice; internal security and law enforcement; and external security and border control.

ZAINUDDIN YAHYA (Malaysia) stressed his delegation’s support for the proposal of the Secretary-General for the continued presence of the United Nations for two years after East Timor’s independence.  The continued presence of the United Nations beyond the completion of the political transition was important to ensure the smooth implementation of the arduous process of nation-building.  The envisaged integrated successor mission to the UNTAET would enable the United Nations to complete the mandate of resolution 1272 (1999).

He said the mandate of UNMISET was pragmatic and achievable and was in line with the concept of the successor mission that the Secretary-General had outlined to the Council at its meeting in October last year.  He was confident that the friends of East Timor would lend the necessary support to the United Nations in the early years after independence.  As a regional neighbour, Malaysia would play its part in assisting the people of East Timor in their efforts to build a progressive nation, within its capability to do so.

He said the process of nation-building and reconciliation was a highly complex and sensitive matter.  The return of refugees was one of the important criteria in the process.  He was, therefore, pleased to note the upsurge in refugee returns. 

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) noted significant progress made in implementing key elements of the mandate of UNTAET.  Those included the transition to independence, the establishment of a public administration and the creation of a stable, security environment.  Ukraine was encouraged by achievements in the fields of economic and social development, as well as in health and education.

However, East Timor would require substantial international support after independence to ensure its security, as well as the viability and stability of its Government, he continued.  He supported the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s recent report, which clearly outlined the proposed structure for the United Nations presence in East Timor after independence.  The proposed mandate, structure and size of UNMISET would ensure effective international participation in reconstructing East Timor, and provide for the active participation of the East Timorese themselves in building their country.

He strongly supported emphasis in the report on internal security and law enforcement, as well as external security and border control, which would require effective police and military structures.  East Timor itself must play an increasingly greater role in enforcing public safety and in defending its borders. The strengthening of the East Timorese Defence Force and the East Timor police should be priority tasks for UNMISET.

CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) said the birth of East Timor as a nation State was the result of strong political will and the strong partnership of many actors, including the United Nations, the wider international community and neighbouring States.  Most critical to the success of East Timor was the towering perseverance and strong commitment of the East Timorese people themselves.  Recent developments augured well for its future, namely, the adoption of a constitution in March and the recently successfully concluded presidential elections. 

Those events, he continued, would tremendously aid in the seamless handover of East Timor to its popularly elected officials and rebuilt national institutions.  That march towards independence was certainly what the people of the country deserved.

He urged the Council not to be lulled into a sense of false security.  There was a definite need to recognize that East Timor’s social, economic and democratic infrastructures needed to be rebuilt, in order to create a truly secure environment.  To that end, Thailand would join its voice with the chorus of others in support of a follow-on mission in East Timor.  He hoped that UNMISET would give equal importance to economic, as well as political, security.  Close cooperation between the new mission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was also vitally important. 

He had high hopes for the upcoming donors conference, which would give the international community the opportunity to pledge resources commensurate with the needs of East Timor.  Thailand would continue to provide technical assistance and other resources, to ensure the East Timorese people would be able to take full advantage of their independence.

DARMANSJAH DJUMALA (Indonesia) said the complex multidimensional issue of refugees must be addressed in a comprehensive manner.  From January to April 2002, more than 8,000 refugees had returned to East Timor, but about 50,000 remained in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. The basis for a comprehensive solution to that issue was contained in the “Joint Government of the Republic of Indonesia/United Nations Appeal on Solutions for East Timorese Refuges” of 27 November 2001.  An expedited resolution of the matter would be in the best interests of all concerned parties.  His Government requested the international community to respond positively to the Joint Appeal.

Refugee returns in large numbers had been made possible by effective security at the borders, he said.  Cooperation between the Indonesian army (TNI) and UNTAET had been a key component in assuring security.  That cooperation should have been stressed in the Secretary-General’s report, rather than irrelevant and unnecessary references to “militias”.  Such terminology gave an inaccurate impression that lawlessness existed at the border, which was simply not the case. Similarly, the report should have stressed cooperation between Indonesia and UNTAET to deter criminal activity, rather than referring to criminal activity in the absence of any concrete evidence.

Indonesia’s commitment to justice by prosecuting human rights violations in East Timor was reflected in the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on  14 March 2002, he continued.  On the eve of the trials, the Indonesian Government had adopted two important regulations governing witness protection and compensation for victims of human rights abuses.  Such progress attested to the sincere efforts of Indonesia’s Government, judicial institutions and civil society to implement that kind of justice in a prompt and fair manner.  The international community should, therefore, refrain from impromptu and hasty judgement.

ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO (Philippines) said in less than a month the international community would welcome a new nation, having witnessed East Timor’s transformation from conflict to an independent State.  The Secretary-General's report presented detailed evidence of the situation in East Timor, and, as with any new State, it indicated that some challenges remained.  If there was a common thread in the report, it was that global actors must remain vigilant in its support of East Timor for the next few years.  To see the success story through to

the end, the international community must continue its support, always bearing in mind the fragile nature of nation-building.

The international community could offer vast assistance in areas of reconstruction outlined in the report, he continued.  To that end, he reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the establishment of a carry-on mission.  The proposed gradual downsizing of the civilian, police and military component in the span of two years, and the handover of their functions to the East Timorese people, fell squarely within the notions of "ownership" and capacity-building that the Council had imagined for East Timor.

He was pleased to inform the Council that a human resource development package for the Timorese people was being created by his Government and other donor partners.  His Government also participated in regional assistance projects through the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) framework.

When the debate ended, HÉDI ANNABI, the Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said he was grateful for the support expressed by Council members for the Secretary-General’s proposal of a follow-on mission in East Timor.  That support would certainly facilitate the timely establishment of UNMISET before the East Timorese independence on 20 May.

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For information media. Not an official record.