UNANIMOUS ASSEMBLY DECISION MAKES TIMOR-LESTE 191ST UNITED NATIONS MEMBER STATE

27 September 2002
GA/10069

UNANIMOUS ASSEMBLY DECISION MAKES TIMOR-LESTE 191ST UNITED NATIONS MEMBER STATE

27/09/2002
Press Release
GA/10069


Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

20th Meeting (AM)


UNANIMOUS ASSEMBLY DECISION MAKES TIMOR-LESTE 191ST UNITED NATIONS MEMBER STATE


Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Germany, Spain

Elected Non-Permanent Members of Security Council from 1 January 2003


By unanimous decision of the General Assembly, Timor-Leste became the 191st United Nations Member State this morning.


While acknowledging the contribution of the United Nations and the international community, the President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão, said that the core of his country’s successful accession to independence was its people.  They had proved themselves worthy of respect by rejecting violence, by exercising their rights in a democratic and civic manner, and by looking to the future for the certainty of freedom.  He represented a people who had already defined their vision for development in the next 20 years, addressing the need to eradicate poverty and illiteracy and to enhance standards of living for all. 


The people of Timor-Leste yearned for peace and stability after decades of independence struggles and suffering, he said.  Yet only tolerant and just societies could create climates of peace and stability.  His country had embarked on the path to national reconciliation with the intent to honour justice and to eradicate all sentiments of hatred and revenge.  The East Timorese destiny was to live in peace; this necessitated the creation of a society built upon harmony, tolerance and solidarity.


Welcoming Timor-Leste as the newest member of the United Nations, Jan Kavan (Czech Republic), President of the General Assembly, saluted the courage and determination of the East Timorese whose struggle had brought about the success celebrated today.  Timor-Leste had been the first independent State to emerge in the twenty-first century.  Within that independence process, the United Nations had played an integral role.  Independence, however, did not mark the end of the United Nations involvement in Timor-Leste.  Instead, a new phase had begun -- one in which previous achievements should be consolidated and built upon. 


Introducing the draft resolution to admit Timor-Leste into the United Nations, Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durão Barroso proclaimed Timor-Leste a “triumph of the human spirit”.  Though it was only now being admitted to the United Nations, the country had, for some time, belonged to the family of nations.  Timor-Leste’s achievement was a reminder of the faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of


men and women and of nations large and small.  Portugal, he pledged, would continue to lend a friendly hand to Timor-Leste.


Following the unanimous adoption of the resolution, the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the African States), Iran (on behalf of the Asian States), Ukraine (on behalf of the group of Eastern European States), Suriname (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group), Portugal (on behalf of the West European and other States), and the United States (on behalf of the Host Country) were among those who congratulated Timor-Leste on its admission today to the membership of the United Nations. 


The representatives of Australia, Indonesia, Brazil (on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries) and Saint Lucia (as Chairman of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples) also offered their congratulations and support to the newest member of the international community.


In other action this morning, Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Germany and Spain were elected to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2003. 


They will fill the seats vacated on 31 December by Colombia, Ireland, Mauritius, Norway and Singapore.  Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Syria will continue to serve as non-permanent Council members during 2003 for the second of their two-year terms.


In addition, acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Assembly decided to permit the Comoros, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Tajikistan to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2003.  The Assembly also decided to permit Burundi to vote in the Assembly until the next substantive session of the Committee on Contributions, scheduled to be held from 2 June 2003. 


The Assembly will meet again on Thursday, 3 October, to appoint a member of the Joint Inspection Unit and elect 18 members of the Economic and Social Council.


Background


As the General Assembly met this morning, it had before it a draft resolution on the admission of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the United Nations (document A/57/L.3), by which the Assembly would decide to admit Timor-Leste to membership in the Organization.


The text is sponsored by:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Zambia.


Also before the Assembly is the report of the Fifth Committee on scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/57/429), which contains a draft resolution recommended for adoption by the Assembly.  By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would decide that the Comoros, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Tajikistan should be permitted to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2003.  The Assembly would also decide to permit Burundi to vote in the Assembly until the next substantive session of the Committee on Contributions, scheduled to be held from 2 June 2003.


Statements


Introducing the draft resolution (document A/57/L.3) to admit Timor-Leste into the United Nations, JOSE MANUEL DURÃO BARROSO, Prime Minister of Portugal, hailed Timor-Leste as a “triumph of the human spirit”.  Though it was only now being admitted to the United Nations, the country had, for some time, belonged to the family of nations.


He said Timor-Leste’s achievement was a reminder of the faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.  He paid tribute to the United Nations for its role in Timor-Leste.  He also praised the General Assembly for its part.


“Portugal”, he pledged, “will continue to lend a friendly hand to Timor-Leste, with which we are also associated within the community of Portuguese-speaking countries since the Brasilia summit.  Thousands of Portuguese have served in the United Nations operations in Timor-Leste and the bilateral cooperation programmes that we began even before its independence.”


He considered it a great honour to be speaking for the Timorese people.  Having introduced the resolution, he welcomed Timor-Leste into the United Nations.


JAN KAVAN (Czech Republic), President of the General Assembly, welcomed Timor-Leste as the newest Member of the United Nations.  He saluted the courage and determination of the President, Minister for Foreign Affairs and the other East Timorese whose struggle had brought about the success celebrated today.


Timor-Leste had been the first independent State to emerge in the twenty-first century, he said.  Though the country’s path to independence had not been easy, the country and its people had succeeded.  Within this independence process, the United Nations had played an integral role.  The United Nations peace-building mission to East Timor (UNAMET) and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had, despite numerous difficulties and barriers, shown the way forward for United Nations participation in helping Timor-Leste to achieve the status of an independent, sovereign State.  The Security Council and the United Nations had demonstrated their ability to respond promptly and decisively to pressing issues.


Independence, however, did not mark the end of United Nations involvement in Timor-Leste, he said.  Instead, a new phase had begun -- one in which previous achievements should be consolidated and built upon.  The establishment of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) provided an example of this continued engagement.  The United Nations and its Member States should be prepared to increase their support in helping Timor-Leste and the region to address some remaining issues.  For instance, Timor-Leste would need to develop a fully functioning infrastructure which earned enough revenue to obviate the country’s need for continuous aid.


JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said the fact that Timor-Leste stood here today was, more than anything, a testament to the strength and courage of the East Timorese people.  It pointed also to the exceptional work of the Organization.  “This has been a great success story for the United Nations.”  Australia would continue to play a role within UNMISET and as a friend and partner.  Australia and Timor-Leste would be neighbours forever.


MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said that four months ago, on the eve of Timor-Leste’s Independence Day, President Megawati Soekarnoputri had visited Dili to help cement the new and promising relationship between their two countries.  Likewise, the State visit of President Xanana Gusmão to Jakarta in early July greatly helped to strengthen that growing bond. 


Since those two milestone visits, he said, the two countries had embarked on a path of reconciliation and partnership, which was evident in an increasing number of concrete and mutually beneficial achievements.  One such event was the establishment of the Joint Commission, a forum for discussing pertinent issues through dialogue and searching for mutually beneficial answers to issues of common interests.  Steps such as those were part and parcel of a number of tangible efforts to build stronger bilateral and regional relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste that augured well for the future.  The courage of the leaders and peoples of both countries in stepping forward to construct a future of shared objectives should be applauded. 

However, he continued, the people of Timor-Leste were facing daunting challenges, especially in capacity building, education, health and other basic services.  To that end, Indonesia was ready to extend its assistance, including through South-South cooperation. 


GELSON FONSECA (Brazil), on behalf of the Portuguese-speaking countries, described the East Timorese people as “brave” and their struggle for self-determination as “heroic”.  He said their admission to United Nations membership was one more accomplishment in a success story for which the United Nations was responsible.


Referring to the occasion as a special moment for the United Nations, he said it rekindled the wishes and hopes vested in the Organization as an effective instrument for the resolution of the challenges that lay ahead of the community of nations, especially those that could only be adequately addressed through multilateral channels.


Its role in bringing about the independence of that country showed what could be accomplished once the Organization had mustered the political will and harnessed the necessary financial and human resources.  That example should serve as an inspiration for the other challenges that remained on the international agenda.


He also called for continued assistance to Timor-Leste.  “In this context, it becomes even more pressing to continue to bring on stream income-generating projects, maintain the flow of international aid, and create the conditions for sustainable development.”


EARL HUNTLEY (Saint Lucia), representing the Special Committee of 24, recalled the efforts of East Timor before the Committee to promote its decolonization.  He anticipated that its future contributions would also enrich the work of the United Nations.


In his address, which focused on the political fate of those countries that had not yet gained their independence, he pointed out that Timor-Leste was still very much in its infancy and needed assistance to create the conditions for sustainable development.  In the same way that they had helped East Timor to achieve its independence, the international community and the United Nations now had to assist the country with its development process.


What Timor-Leste now enjoyed he hoped for those other countries that had not yet gained their independence.  Quoting the Secretary-General, who said there should be no room for colonialism in the twenty-first century, he said the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, small though they might be -- and at risk of being forgotten because of their size -- should not be prevented from peacefully exercising their right to self-determination.


“What must be of cardinal importance”, he stressed, “is that the freely expressed wishes and interests of the peoples of those Territories must always be paramount in determining their future mode of governance.”  To react otherwise would be to sow the seeds of conflict.


XANANA GUSMÃO, President of Timor-Leste, said he represented a people who had already defined their vision for development in the next 20 years, addressing the need to eradicate poverty and illiteracy and to enhance standards of living for all.  Aware of the need for an elementary basis of democracy as a precursor to economic and social development, the people of Timor-Leste intended to build a participatory democracy at the local government level to ensure social justice and citizen’s rights. 


The people of Timor-Leste yearned for peace and stability after decades of independence struggles and suffering, he said.  Yet only tolerant and just societies could create climates of peace and stability.  For this reason, the increasing violence in the Middle East was of concern.  The Palestinian people had the right to self-determination, independence, peace and dignity; it was neither moral nor ethical to deny them their rights.  Just as Timor-Leste had established diplomatic relations with Israel, it was ready to recognize the State of Palestine and establish diplomatic relations with the legitimate authority of the Palestinian people.


The situation of Western Sahara was also of concern to Timor-Leste, he said.  Noting that the United Nations had recognized the right of the Saharawi to self-determination eight years before it recognized that right for the East Timorese, he urged the resumption of the United Nations plan to hold a referendum for self-determination in Western Sahara.  The people of Timor-Leste also expressed their solidarity with Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai.


Timor-Leste needed to increase its participation within the groups of developing countries with which it shared common problems, advantages and backgrounds, he said.  In spite of its Pacific ties, Timor-Leste was geographically close to Asia and felt proud to be part of the Asian region, whose countries had assisted in rebuilding Timor-Leste.  His country had also recently joined the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, he said.


Expressing his commitment to opposing cultural and religious intolerance, terrorism and trafficking in humans, drugs and arms, he said Timor-Leste joined the international community in its commitment to work for democratization, respect for civic and political rights and good governance and in its struggle against the misery, hunger and disease that affected more than half the world’s population.  His country had embarked on the path to national reconciliation with the intent to honour justice and to eradicate all sentiments of hatred and revenge.  The East Timorese destiny was to live in peace; this necessitated the creation of a society built upon harmony, tolerance and solidarity.


His Government was aware, he said, that the best interests of his people would be served by honouring international commitments and being a signatory to the relevant conventions and treaties.  The Maubere people were committed to social and economic development, to strengthening its culture and traditions and to being actively engaged in a policy of dialogue, cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world.  The East Timorese people believed in a future where peace ruled the world, and in that context, he put forward a proposal to declare a World Peace Week, from 21 to 27 September, each year.


Finally, while acknowledging the United Nations and the international community’s contribution, he said that the core of Timor-Leste’s successful independence was its people.  They had proved themselves worthy of respect by rejecting violence, by exercising their rights in a democratic and civic manner and by looking to the future for the certainty of freedom.


The Assembly then turned to the election of five non-permanent members of the Security Council.


Elections


The five non-permanent members were to be elected according to the following pattern:  two from Africa and Asia, one from Latin America and the Caribbean and two from Western Europe and other States.  There was an understanding to the effect that, of the two States to be elected from Africa and Asia, one should be from Africa and one from Asia.


The meeting suspended at 11:45 a.m. and resumed at 12:25 p.m. 


The results of the balloting were as follows:


African and Asian States


Number of ballot papers:                             183

Number of invalid ballots:                              0

Number of valid ballots:                            183

Abstentions:                                            1

Number of members voting:                             182

Required majority:                                    122


Number of votes obtained:


Angola                                                 181

Pakistan                                              172

India                                                   1


Latin American and Caribbean States


Number of ballot papers:                             183

Number of invalid ballots:                              0

Number of valid ballots:                            183

Abstentions:                                            5

Number of members voting:                             178

Required majority:                                    119


Number of votes obtained:


Chile                                                 178


Western European and other States


Number of ballot papers:                             183

Number of invalid ballots:                              0

Number of valid ballots:                            183

Abstentions:                                            0

Number of members voting:                             183

Required majority:                                    122

Number of votes obtained:


Germany                                               180

Spain                                                 180


Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, Angola, Pakistan, Chile, Germany and Spain were elected to the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2003. 


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For information media. Not an official record.