‘REMARKABLE’ GAINS MADE IN TIMOR-LESTE SINCE UN SUPPORT MISSION ESTABLISHED, BUT UN PRESENCE NEEDED BEYOND END OF MANDATE, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
‘REMARKABLE’ GAINS MADE IN TIMOR-LESTE SINCE UN SUPPORT MISSION ESTABLISHED, BUT UN PRESENCE NEEDED BEYOND END OF MANDATE, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
4843rd Meeting (AM)
‘REMARKABLE’ GAINS MADE IN TIMOR-LESTE SINCE UN SUPPORT MISSION ESTABLISHED,
BUT UN PRESENCE NEEDED BEYOND END OF MANDATE, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
In the 17 months since the establishment of the United Nations support mission in Timor-Leste, the advances and gains in that country had been remarkable, Secretary-General’s Special Representative Kamalesh Sharma told the Security Council this morning.
In his briefing to the Council, he said progress had especially been remarkable in the areas of governance, open leadership, enactment of legislation, rehabilitation of infrastructure, responsible development planning and budgetary discipline, the country’s regional integration, and, most importantly, commitment to democratic norms and personal freedoms.
However, he said, there were still areas of concern as the mission -- UNMISET -- looks towards the end of its mandate on 20 May 2004, such as the presence of criminal elements, an inexperienced police force, and a limited defence force.
He said the evolving relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia was a primary asset in the country’s nationhood, and finalization of the agreement on the land border between the States was a key priority for both Governments. The accomplishment of the formidable task of repatriation and resettlement of the bulk of refugees had been a truly remarkable example of cooperation.
With seven months remaining in the mandate, UNMISET would, together with the Government of Timor-Leste, redouble efforts to realize all objective in the mandate implementation plan, he said. Given the traumatic experiences of Timor-Leste’s recent past, the nascent and fragile state of the emerging institutions, the as yet unsettled security situation, and the daunting challenges of nation building, Timorese leaders and representatives of civil society had clearly indicated the requirement of a continued United Nations presence in the immediate post-UNMISET period.
Areas in which continued international and bilateral assistance were needed included support and training for the core administrative structures of the Government, for the judiciary sector, and for social and economic development. Transforming an agrarian subsistence economy into a market economy would be a challenge for decades to come, he said. A human rights presence in the post-UNMISET period would continue to be needed to provide technical assistance to the Government.
In conclusion, he said the process of strengthening the foundations for a lasting and stable peace, of fostering a culture of self-reliance and democracy, of building a State in which the people had choices and opportunities and where their lives and property would be safe, within a society that respected human rights and the rule of law, had achieved remarkable progress, but would continue to remain the Organization’s challenge in Timor-Leste.
Timor-Leste’s United Nations representative said, with the presence of peacekeeping forces, the international force and the consolidation of the democratic process and institutions, a stable and vibrant democratic country had been maintained. Successes had been achieved in communications, agriculture, national health, relations with Indonesia and Australia, the resettlement of refugees and the economy. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), together with the Government, were preparing a plan to create a fund that would manage the petroleum revenues in a transparent and responsible way. President Xanana Gusmao had continued to promote reconciliation and national unity.
The international community had invested huge financial and human resources in his country, he said. It would not be possible, however, for Timor-Leste to achieve self-sufficiency in certain key areas by 20 May 2004. By mandate’s end, he recommended a credible and strong United Nations presence in order to consolidate stability and security conditions, which were sine qua non for sustainable development and for the success of the United Nations mission.
Welcoming the remarkable progress made, speakers paid tribute to the invaluable contributions the late Sergio Vieira de Mello had made to the country as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative. They emphasized, however, that, as the country continued to cope with numerous challenges, United Nations involvement should not end with the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate and asked the Secretary-General for recommendations in that regard after a thorough assessment of the country’s needs.
The representative of Singapore said that, at a time when the United Nations had to deal with numerous crises and its very relevance had been questioned, it was important for the Organization to protect all the success stories it had.
Australia’s representative, calling progress achieved to date real, but fragile, said there would be a need for a modest, security-focused United Nations mission in East Timor after the current mission’s mandate expired next year. He proposed a post-UNMISET mission, to be established by the Council for one year. The mission would complement ongoing work being done by the East Timorese authorities and their development partners to build sustainable capacity in the essential institutions, including its police and armed forces, and to lay the foundations for national stability and prosperity.
The representatives of China, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Spain, France, Germany, Angola, Guinea, Russian Federation, Chile, United Kingdom, Syria, Cameroon, Mexico and the United States also spoke, as did the representatives of Portugal, Philippines, Italy (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan, India, Malaysia and New Zealand. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative made closing remarks.
The meeting, which started at 10:55 a.m., was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
As the Security Council met this morning on the situation in Timor Leste, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (document S/2003/944). The report describes the activities of UNMISET since the last report of 21 August 2003, outlines progress that might be achieved by the Mission by the end of its mandate on 20 May 2004, and identifies areas where further needs will probably remain.
In the report, the Secretary-General notes what he calls the “remarkable progress” made by Timor-Leste since its independence in laying the foundations for a functioning civil service and police force. Security and socio-economic development have improved, and relations with other countries, particularly Indonesia, have continued to grow stronger.
However, he also states that some crucial work will not be completed by the end of UNMISET’s mandate, due to the magnitude of the task of building self-sufficiency in a new country, as well as various problems. Examples of the latter include delays in providing advisers in civil administration deployed through bilateral funding and reports of police misconduct.
Much of the remaining work is the responsibility of the country’s leaders: continuing to nurture the respect for the rule of law; reaching out to civil society; promoting political dialogue; and encouraging a non-political civil service, a free press and an independent judiciary.
International assistance, though, will continue to be indispensable, most likely in the form of guidance and advice in the areas of civil administration, justice and policing, and human rights training, he says. In addition, it is likely that the country will not yet have built adequate capacity for border security and that the “serious crimes” process will not yet be completed.
In that context, he says that while the international community should renew its determination to advance as far as possible during the remaining months of UNMISET’s mandate, it should also, during that period, make a thorough assessment of the country’s remaining needs with the aim of finding reliable means to meet urgent requirements and to secure the considerable investments that have been made in the country to date.
KAMALESH SHARMA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, said that in the 17 months since the establishment of UNMISET, the advances and gains had been remarkable, especially in the areas of governance, open leadership, enactment of legislation, rehabilitation of infrastructure, responsible development planning and budgetary discipline, the country’s regional integration, and, most importantly, the commitment to democratic norms and personal freedoms.
He said that UNMISET, United Nations agencies and bilateral and multilateral partners had played a supportive role in the strengthening of the institutions of State, advancing economic and social objectives and enhancing State security. The leadership of Timor-Leste also played a major role in those areas.
However, he said, there were still areas of concern, as UNMISET looked towards the end of its mandate on 20 May 2004. While there had been no major security challenges over the past six months, there were persistent reports of sightings of armed groups, and the presence of criminal elements, in rural areas, particularly in border districts. That phenomena could increase as the Mission downsizes. In urban areas, there was sporadic violence among martial arts groups and youth gangs, and incidents related to smuggling, extortion and robberies.
Such incidents created apprehension for a post-UNMISET period, even as the Mission continued to train and strengthen the National Police and its special units. It was still an inexperienced police service, which might not respond effectively if tested by major security challenges in the period immediately following closure of the Mission. Further operational support, training and capacity reinforcement would be required on a longer-term basis. Strengthening of human rights standards was also needed.
The Timor defense force was currently responsible for only one district and was not likely to become fully operational at the battalion level until around 2005-2006. Development of the force continued to rely primarily on bilateral partners. The military component of UNMISET continued, meanwhile, to downsize according to Council resolution 1473. As that occurred, the Border Patrol Unit and the Rapid Deployment Service of the police took on increasing responsibilities for border-area security, with continued assistance from the Mission.
Despite the best efforts, however, it was not likely that those two crucial units would be able to handle security challenges independently by the end of UNMISET’s mandate. Some assistance was, therefore, needed beyond that mandate. Continuing support in road engineering by the UNMISET military component would also complete previous work.
He said the evolving relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia was a primary asset in Timor-Leste’s nationhood. Constructive and cooperative relations between the two countries had continued to develop. Both sides were cooperating in the settlement of the border negotiations, residual refugee issues, and the continuation of pension payments to former Indonesian civil servants. Finalization of the agreement on the land border between the States was a key priority for both Governments. An agreement on the provisional border line would be finalized by 30 November. The accomplishment of the formidable task of repatriation and resettlement of the bulk of refugees had been a truly remarkable example of cooperation.
The UNMISET continued to provide support to the core administrative structures of the Government of Timor-Leste, he continued. The process had, on occasion, been affected by lack of enabling legal frameworks and of essential basic knowledge of the counterparts. That issue might require further training courses in specific areas, both at home and abroad, with the assistance of bilateral and multilateral partners. Following a recent needs assessment jointly undertaken by the Government, UNMISET and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Government had identified some critical functions which would require continued international support. As reliance on bilateral funding had produced mixed results, a reliable source of funding would need to be assured, he said.
The judiciary was another vital area requiring continued international support, Mr. Sharma continued. The coherence of a State based on the rule of law and the outcome of other State functions depended upon the integrity and efficient delivery by the judiciary. Hence, the need by the Council to ensure continuing focus on and support in that area. The Government and UNMISET/UNDP had completed reviews of the justice sector and had developed a comprehensive support programme. The sector deserved continuing financial, training and human resources backing of the international community.
The schedule outlined in the mandate implementation plan indicated an expectation of completion of investigations by UNMISET’s Serious Crimes Investigation Unit, he said. A first instance, judicial processes in 10 priority cases and five widespread patterns of violence might be completed by June 2004, but appellate procedures could not be completed within that time frame. An additional caseload of some 850 murders would remain uninvestigated by June 2004. Some 75 per cent of the accused of serious crimes remained beyond the jurisdiction of the Special Panels in Dili. Those factors needed to be carefully evaluated with a view to taking appropriate decisions as UNMISET completed its mandate.
He said that as Timor-Leste moved forward in the longer-term process of nation-building, it faced formidable challenges in creating a favourable climate for sustainable social and economic development. The Government had undertaken steps to establish a legal framework for insurance companies. Investment and Company Registration Laws, as well as a Bankruptcy Bill, were under consideration. However, transforming an agrarian subsistence economy into a market economy would be a challenge for decades to come.
Mr. Sharma emphasized the importance of inculcating and promoting a culture of respect for human rights. UNMISET’s Human Rights Unit had contributed immensely to the process with training, advising and capacity-building. A human rights presence in the post-UNMISET period would continue to be needed to provide technical assistance to the Government. Timor-Leste had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The gender focal point in UNMISET was actively leveraging all resources to pursue the tasks ahead. Strong measures had been taken to deal with the emerging ills of prostitutions and trafficking.
He said, with seven months remaining in the mandate, UNMISET would, together with the Government of Timor-Leste, redouble efforts to realize all objectives in the mandate implementation plan. Given the traumatic experiences of Timor-Leste’s recent past, the nascent and fragile state of the emerging institutions, the as yet unsettled security situation and the daunting challenges of nation-building, Timorese leaders and representatives of civil society had clearly indicated the requirement of a continued United Nations presence in the immediate post-UNMISET period. He said the Council would no doubt take those considerations into account in deciding on the best way in which the legitimate requirements of the country could be ensured in the post-May 2004 period.
In conclusion, he said, the process of strengthening the foundations for a lasting and stable peace, of fostering a culture of self-reliance and democracy, of building a State in which the people had choices and opportunities and where their lives and property would be safe, within a society that respected human rights and the rule of law, had achieved remarkable progress, but would continue to remain the Organization’s challenge in Timor-Leste.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said that great strides had been made in Timor-Leste, and he congratulated all those involved in the effort. Certain continuing tasks required further, long-term efforts however, in the interest of bringing the country toward full, sustainable self-sufficiency.
He hoped that UNMISET would make full use of the remainder of its mandate. At the same time, he supported the Secretary-General’s proposal that remaining needs be assessed carefully before the expiration. China would continue to provide development assistance according to its abilities, especially in the development of the sectors of gas and oil, agriculture and fisheries.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) categorically condemned the heinous killing of the three Americans in the Gaza strip. Aligning himself with statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, he welcomed efforts of the Timor-Leste Government to build a State of law based on democracy and respect for human rights. Recent government initiatives were an indication of its commitment towards those goals.
He commended the assumption of the work of the Appeals Court. In spite of the praiseworthy efforts of UNMISET, the country continued to cope with numerous challenges. The United Nations must continue to support Timor-Leste after the mandate expired. He welcomed increased cooperation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste and expressed appreciation for the positive contributions of countries such as China, Australia, Portugal and Japan.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), recalling the great contributions to Timor-Leste of the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, said UNMISET had made considerable progress in areas of stability, democracy and justice, internal security and border control. However, several challenges remained, which would outlive expiration of UNMISET’s mandate. It was, therefore, important that the role of the United Nations would not end with the withdrawal of the Mission. An objective assessment of country’s needs should be carried out, followed by suggestions from the Secretary-General for the future rule of the Organization in the country.
He said, with the assistance of the international community, Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress. However, a large part of the credit for the success must go to the people and the leadership of the country. Development of close relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia was of the utmost importance, and he called on both sides to work together to resolve outstanding problems and strengthen cooperation. Promotion of economic prosperity would be a long-term challenge in which international support would be essential. In spite of many challenges, Timor-Leste was a United Nations success story, demonstrating the successful implementation of self-determination expressed by the people. The people of Kashmir awaited their opportunity to express their self-determination, as had been prescribed by the Council. He hoped resolutions of the Council would be implemented soon.
ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) endorsed the statement to be made by Italy on behalf of the European Union. She said that a great foundation had been laid for a democratic self-sufficient State of Timor-Leste. In many areas, however, there were needs that must be met after the expiration of the UNMISET mandate. She looked forward to the Secretary-General’s proposed assessment.
What was needed after the expiration of UNMISET, she said, was a smaller mission, with a clear-cut mandate, to consolidate the progress that had been made thus far. Police and military advisers should be included. The expense of such a mission would be comparatively low and was necessary to secure the progress made, thus far. She underlined several issues of importance, especially a focus on bringing to justice those accused of serious crimes, in both Indonesia and Timor-Leste itself.
EMMANUELLE D’ACHON (France), supporting the statement to be made by Italy on behalf of the European Union, congratulated all the parties involved in Timor-Lest on the progress there. Even though it was time for the country to be moving to full autonomy through the activity of its people, some sort of international support must be maintained after the end of UNMISET’s mandate. A clear distinction must be made, however, between UNMISET and the further presence of the United Nations.
Such further assistance should have as its essential objective, she said, the development of Timorese capacity in sectors that should be defined in the coming period. They will probably include police and justice, and security in general. International assistance should come through cooperated action of the United Nations agencies and with a clear exit strategy in mind. The report of the Secretary-General should provide the analytical elements that would allow the Council to make knowledgeable decisions on the issue.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), associating himself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said he supported the Government’s efforts to consolidate the young political institutions and to ensure democracy and the rule of law. He appreciated the stabilization of the security environment. He said the build-up of police was broadly on track and the national police had assumed responsibility for routine police tasks everywhere but in Dili, which would soon follow. That proved the downsizing plan of the Council had been realistic. He also welcomed continued strengthening of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, particularly in the area of border demarcation.
He welcomed progress made in establishing political institutions. Priority should be given to the resolution of past serious crimes, he said, highlighting the importance of an adequate judicial system as an essential element of democracy. In spite of progress, there were still major tasks to be accomplished. Even after UNMISET had concluded its mandate, the international community would have to provide continued support to the country. It was, therefore, timely to take stock of achievements and consider the best means of how best to preserve the success story of Timor-Leste.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO MARTINS (Angola) said he appreciated progress achieved since national independence. That progress indicated the will of the people to achieve peace, democracy and prosperity. The Council had made an outstanding contribution to the stabilization of the territory. Timor-Leste would need the continued support of the international community, and he hoped the Council would stay actively involved. The political situation had improved, and institutions were functioning and had expanded to the local levels. He welcomed improvement of relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
He said the improvement in the security situation was another important development and hoped that improvement would be sustainable. He supported recommendations with regard to efforts to develop institutions and legal frameworks and to establish a police force in which recruitment was based on merit. There were also positive developments in the key issue of external security. However, a lot remained to be done to develop the armed forces. The cooperation of the UNMISET military component should be continued after UNMISET’s departure. The difficult economic situation was a cause of serious concern. It was vital to continue commitments of bilateral donors and international financial institutions. The United Nations should continue the sustained peace-building efforts in Timor-Leste.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) welcomed the favourable political evolution in Timor-Leste, especially the dialogue on open governance and the country’s improving regional relations. He also welcomed the achievements of UNMISET. An exit strategy must now be devised to make all that progress sustainable.
He urged donors to fulfil their obligations for the remaining work of advisers and supported further work in justice, reconciliation and security, including further capacity-building in the police force. He called for further cooperation on border management and maintained that the transfer of defence responsibilities should be accompanied by measures to ensure success. He also expressed concern about the reduction of gross domestic product (GDP) in the country and he asked Mr. Sharma to provide some details about economic assistance being provided by the international community.
ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) expressed satisfaction at progress in Timor-Leste, along with the work of UNMISET. The State institutions, he noted, still remained somewhat fragile. The maintenance of good relations with neighbours was essential, as was effective security and defence forces.
He emphasized the need to build up donor support to help the country succeed in its development plan. The experience of the work done in Timor Leste, he said, could have great value in other situations around the world and he called for the Security Council to utilize it well.
CHRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile), acknowledging the contributions to Timor-Leste of the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, said great progress towards independence had been made. It was important that the security situation had been improved, something in which UNMISET had played a key role. He highlighted work done by the civilian support group that had helped the administration and appreciated the work in training and advice. However, continued efforts were necessary to get the funding for and fill the posts of advisers.
He also expressed appreciation for UNMISET’s Human Rights Unit. Assistance was necessary to finalize the judicial process for serious crimes committed during 1999. As there must be economic development to overcome poverty and generate jobs, he emphasized programmes for employment and stability for ex-combatants and supported their reinsertion. In conclusion, he said there must be measures to meet the various requirements of Timor-Leste at the completion of UNMISET’s mandate, especially in the area of human rights.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said after UNMISET international assistance would be essential. In that regard, it was necessary that there was clarity about the role of the United Nations in the international engagement. In the remaining time before mandate’s end, UNMISET should try to achieve as much as possible.
He was concerned at the delay in finalizing the border delineation. That process should be completed before the end of the mandate, he said. He also had concerns about the continuing weaknesses in the judicial sector. As perpetrators of human rights abuses must be brought to justice, he asked how that could be best achieved. He welcomed progress made by the Serious Crimes Unit, but wondered how those crimes should be handled after 2004. There was a need for continuing capacity-building of the police force. His country was working with Australia on possible assistance in that area.
MILAD ATIEH (Syria) expressed satisfaction at the development of political institutions and good regional relations by Timor Leste. He called for strengthening those relations in all spheres, especially those that concerned Indonesia. He stressed the need for continued international assistance to maintain the gains that had been made, including development aid. Consolidating security was also essential.
IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) fully agreed with the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General. He welcomed progress in Timor Leste in the areas of institution-building and good neighbourly relations. He appealed to donors to finance civilian adviser posts, in addition to training for judges and other key actors in a strengthened judicial system.
He also commended UNMISET for its work in training the police and the army. After the departure of UNMISET, the support of the international community was absolutely necessary in that area. In addition, until Timorese petrol is developed, the international community must continue to provide economic assistance.
CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said now that the end of UNMISET’s mandate approached, the commitment of the international community to Timor-Leste must be reaffirmed and technical assistance in several areas must continue. While work remained to be done, Timor-Leste was already a success story, as a reflection of what could be done in little time when one enjoyed the commitment of the international community and the will of the people.
He welcomed the policy of open governance of the President, the deepening of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, as well as progress made in establishing a maritime border with Australia. An effective exit strategy for UNMISET was necessary to support ongoing programmes. It was indispensable for the Council to coordinate its work with that of other bodies of the United Nations and international organizations. The process of recruiting and training military and police must continue, as must initiatives to build confidence among the population. He emphasized that training of troops should include human rights training.
An effective strategy to meet the challenge of reintegrating 26,000 refugees must be defined, he said. The United Nations must give Timor-Leste assistance and training to help it develop its potential and improve its economy. The permanent fund to be established, in cooperation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), should provide an opportunity in that regard.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States), speaking in his national capacity, said he was pleased with the progress in Timor-Leste and called on donors to continue providing assistance, particularly bilaterally funded advisers.
He looked forward to further progress in the rule of law, including a focus on police brutality and proposals for improving the judicial system. He agreed that the international community should begin to consider how to best assure the maintenance of progress after the expiration of the UNMISET mandate, with the aim of providing some form of assistance after that date.
JOSE LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) said, with the presence of peacekeeping forces, the international force and the consolidation of the democratic process and institutions, a stable and vibrant democratic country had been maintained. The Government had initiated a process of bringing itself to the people in remote areas. By year’s end, all capital districts would have fixed and mobile communications fully operational, and more than 60 per cent of the irrigation system had been repaired. A national health-care policy had been adopted, but malaria and tuberculosis remained widespread, and there was a need for more doctors, nurses and midwives. Despite efforts to reconstruct 700 of the 900 schools destroyed in 1999, 25 per cent of the children did not have access to formal education.
The Government would soon start the maritime boundaries negotiation with Australia, he said. Parliament had set out a 200 miles maritime boundary claim. The oil and gas revenues in those areas were of strategic value to the country and the people. The World Bank and the IMF, together with the Government, were preparing a plan to create a fund that would manage the petroleum revenues in a transparent and responsible way. The Joint Ministerial Commission had agreed to continue to find solutions for the residual problems of the past and establish cooperation in areas of commerce, investment, development, education, health and security. Despite forecasts of contraction of the economy, he believed that trend would reverse very soon.
President Xanana Gusmao had continued to promote reconciliation and national unity and had participated in various meetings in the border area to encourage return of refugees from West Timor. In spite of those efforts, some 26,000 remained in the refugee camps, he said. The international community, in particular donor countries, had invested huge financial and human resources in his country. He shared the view of the Secretary-General that it would not be possible for Timor-Leste to achieve self-sufficiency in certain key areas of the mandate by 20 May 2004. By mandate’s end, he recommended a credible and strong United Nations presence in key areas in order to consolidate stability and security conditions, which were sine qua non for sustainable development and for the success of the United Nations mission.
He conveyed his Government’s invitation to the Council to send a delegation to Timor-Leste, honouring that body’s fundamental contribution to the success of the United Nations mission and the crucial role played in the liberation of the country and people.
GONÇALO SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said that, in light of the outstanding progress Timor-Leste had made in many fields, the country could be held up as a success story of the United Nations. Noting with satisfaction the strides made by the young nation’s civil service and police force, as well as its recent lack of security-related incidents, he also expressed approval of the improving relationship it was enjoying with Indonesia.
Much still remained to be done before the end of UNMISET’s mandate, however, he continued. For example, border controls and human rights awareness among police officers needed to be improved. Additionally, public administration offices, hampered by a shortage of qualified personnel, required continued support. Turning to socio-economic development, he expressed concern over the recent drops in Timor-Leste’s gross national product (GNP) and called for more assistance to the country from international financial institutions and donors. He also declared that a continued United Nations presence in Timor-Leste, after UNIMSET’s mandate expired, would help the country achieve the interrelated goals of: security; institution and State-building; and sustainable development.
LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said that, despite Timor-Leste’s increasingly stable security situation, improving civil service, and warming relationship with Indonesia, the country was still suffering from a persistent economic slump. And with 40 per cent of the population living on less than 55 cents a day, such a decline could not be ignored. Acknowledging that recent oil and gas agreements would bring more money into the country, he maintained that the added income would not be enough to eradicate poverty there.
He suggested that, in order to generate sufficient economic growth, Timor-Leste should seek to create jobs in labour-intensive fields, such as farming. In that context, he called on international donors, some of whom were considering cutting back on aid because of the expected oil and gas deals, to instead funnel resources into job creation in the agricultural sector. For its part, his Government had recently put forth the Philippine Human Resource Development Assistance Package for Timor-Leste, under the auspices of the Philippines-Japan Partnership Programme.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that the progress achieved to date was real, but fragile. Significant challenges remained, including in the security field, in institution-building and in bringing opportunities to the East Timorese people. While much could and was being done through bilateral and other donor support, there would be a need for a modest, security-focused United Nations mission in East Timor after the current Mission’s mandate expired next year. Australia had put forward a model for a post-UNMISET mission, to be established by the Council for one year. That presence would be fundamentally different in nature from the missions that had gone before it. At the centre of the model would be the East Timorese themselves.
He said that the United Nations’ role would not be one of traditional peacekeeping, but of providing the back-up support and advice to enable East Timor’s institutions to evolve with confidence. The mission would complement ongoing work being done by the East Timorese authorities and their development partners to build sustainable capacity in the essential institutions, including its police and armed forces, and to lay the foundations for national stability and prosperity. It would be limited in scope and focused on specific needs, and it would have a clear end point. The follow-on mission, focused on security, would be comprised of: military liaison officers; an international police response group; police observers; a core of international advisers; and international legal experts.
ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy), on behalf of the European Union, said the Union supported the efforts of the Timorese Government to consolidate its fragile political institutions. It welcomed the continued development of strengthened relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, and looked forward to the early finalization of the border delimitation agreement, following the meeting of the bilateral Ministerial Commission, held in Dili at the beginning of September. Hopefully, cooperation would continue on other important issues, from the resettlement of refugees still in West Timor, border crossings and regulated markets, to the conclusion of other cooperation agreements between the two countries.
He said the Union strongly believed that, by ensuring the accountability of all perpetrators of serious human rights violations, trust in the judiciary and reconciliation process would be greatly enhanced. The UNMISET’s operations were generally progressing according to the scheduled time frames for scaling down the Mission, and the strategy set out for the progressive transfer of responsibilities was being implemented. At the same time, the international community must continue to monitor the situation on the ground, particularly in the areas of civil administration, justice and policing, as well as human rights training. The Union had offered considerable support to the new nation through financial assistance, humanitarian aid, and rehabilitation and development cooperation, and it would continue to support consolidation of its democratic institutions.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said he hoped the Council would remain focused on the challenges facing Timor-Leste. There was a mixture of good news and bad news in the assessment. Progress achieved was real, but fragile. It was, therefore, important that the Council think seriously about the exit strategy. In that regard, the Council should be guided by the need to find reliable means to secure the considerable investments made in the country.
He emphasized that a post-UNMISET presence should come from assessed contributions. The necessary presence of military-liaison officers, police observers, an armed back-up police capability for emergencies and international civilian advisers was not an excessive requests for the post-UNMISET presence. At a time when the United Nations had to deal with numerous crises and its very relevance had been questioned, he said it was important for the United Nations to protect all the success stories it had had. He supported the invitation to the Council to visit the country. Such a visit would help the Council decide how to manage the post-UNMISET presence.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) was pleased to note the progress that had been made in Timor-Leste. Because of the serious challenges that still remain in such areas as public administration, the judiciary, policing and national security, it was the firm intention of Japan to continue to support assistance to the country after the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate.
He hoped that the Secretary-General would provide detailed proposals for the post-UNMISET stage as early -- and in as specific a form -- as possible. Taking all information into account, Japan would then seriously consider what the most appropriate form of continued aid would be, especially in the areas of peace-building and the enhancement of human security. He outlined Japan’s assistance up to now, highlighting aid to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the construction of roads and bridges by the Engineer Group of Japan’s defence forces. Finally, he underlined the importance of the assumption of responsibility, by the people of Timor-Leste, for their own nation-building.
A. GOPINATHAN (India) said it was gratifying to learn that since its independence, Timor-Leste had made significant progress in promoting its social and economic development, and that its political institutions had continued to develop, as had its relations with countries in and beyond the region. Mentioning some of the highlights of the Secretary-General’s report, he said such developments illustrated the progress achieved.
He said recognizing that nation-building was a long-term process, the Secretary-General had highlighted the continued indispensability of international assistance. Timor-Leste would continue to need international guidance and advice in areas of civil administration, justice and policing, human rights training and, possibly, security. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations. Progress achieved since Timor-Leste’s independence had to be attributed to the country’s enlightened and forward-looking leadership.
RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) welcomed progress in Timor-Leste, represented by the acquisition of skills among its people, the continuation of open government programmes, and the first year of legislative activity. With the resolve of the country’s people and continued international assistance, remaining shortcomings could be overcome. The heavy reliance of the economy upon external factors must be addressed urgently by UNMISET and the Government. In encouraging development of the private sector, the UNDP and the World Bank were critical.
In regard to nation-building, he hoped that the leaders of Timor-Leste would pay equal attention to the rights of the minority populations, including Muslims. As a country in the region, Malaysia would continue to provide assistance both bilaterally and through regional and international efforts. He outlined some of the aid provided by his country thus far, as well as its efforts to strengthen bilateral ties. He welcomed also the constructive engagement between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Finally, he said it was crucial to meet the urgent requirements of the end of the UNMISET period, as well as afterward, to secure the accomplishments achieved thus far.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said that there was much to celebrate at the macro-level in Timor-Leste. But, withdrawal should be made on the basis of careful consideration. He supported the current downsizing schedule based on current information. A total withdrawal from the country by the end of the mandate, however, would be neither appropriate nor sustainable.
New Zealand, therefore, fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s intention to reconsider the issue in more detail early next year, he said. Some form of transitional United Nations presence after the mandate was essential -– less than a traditional peacekeeping mission, but certainly more than the standard development presence. Meanwhile, he hoped for substantial progress in many areas, especially border issues, in time for the Council’s next discussion of the topic.
Mr. SHARMA, in response to comments by speakers, joined in the tributes to those who had worked on nation-building in Timor-Leste, particularly to Sergio Vieira de Mello. He said he would contact delegations to answer any questions that were raised during the course of the meeting.
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