4913th Meeting (AM)
ONE-YEAR ‘CONSOLIDATION PHASE’ NEEDED FOR TIMOR-LESTE MISSION TO REINFORCE,
STRENGTHEN ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Describes ‘Remarkable Progress’;
Notes Areas in Which Additional Year of Support Could Make Major Difference
The continued presence of a peacekeeping operation in Timor-Leste for an additional, one-year “consolidation phase” was essential to reinforce and strengthen what had been achieved to date, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Security Council this morning, as it considered what steps to take after the mandate of the current United Nations mission -- UNMISET -- expires on 20 May.
Briefing the Council and presenting the latest report from the Secretary-General, Mr. Guéhenno said an appeal for additional support for Timor-Leste after 20 May faced a paradoxical challenge, because of the remarkable progress that had already occurred. External security and border control had benefited greatly from the statesmanlike commitment shown by the Indonesian and Timorese leadership.
However, he added, agreement upon the border had not yet been reached. The creation of structures and relationships on the ground also required further time. He recommended that a small group of military liaison officers could be retained along the border. Those officers would also need protection. It was, therefore, proposed that a military presence, with aviation and support, of 310 personnel be retained after May 2004.
An additional year of support, including to the public administration, to ongoing investigations of serious crime, and to establishment of an effective and professional police force, would make a meaningful difference in enabling the country to reach the threshold of self-sufficiency, he said. However, there were real limits to what could be achieved, and some further long-term assistance might be required even after one year.
It was doubtful that any nation had ever advanced more rapidly than Timor-Leste along the path to self-sufficiency, he said in conclusion. Nonetheless, there were always limits to what could be achieved in so short a period of time. The proposals contained in the Secretary-General’s Special Report (S/2004/117) represented a modest additional effort compared to what had already been done, but could make a major difference in consolidating all that had been achieved so far.
Jose Ramos-Horta, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, stressed the importance of a continued peacekeeping component in an extended mandate of UNMISET, as peace was still fragile, as were the institutions of law and order. In his view, backed up by experience in other conflict situations, the peacekeeping component provided the best guarantee against any recurrence of instability. The peacekeeping component would provide time and space to the country to strengthen its defence and police force.
He said the Secretary-General’s report had referred to key areas where progress had been made, but also to shortcomings in other areas. He accepted his Government’s responsibility when shown shortcomings and weaknesses, noting that the country had been independent for less than two years and none of the members in Government had governed before. The failings also had to do with a lack of training for personnel, particularly in the justice sector.
During the debate, in which 30 speakers participated, representatives hailed the progress made during the two years since Timor-Leste’s independence in areas of stability, security and democracy and noted the country was a true United Nations success story. They also welcomed improved relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, but urged both countries to resolve outstanding issues of border demarcation and former refugees. Most speakers supported the recommendation for extending UNMISET’s mandate for one year after 20 May, in a reduced size, and with a modified mandate, including a small military component.
Australia’s representative, however, while supporting a mandate extension, said Timor-Leste’s security challenges remained substantial, but those were internal and would require a police, rather than military, response. A police unit would have appropriate training and expertise to deal with internal law-and-order problems. He fully sympathized with the need for force protection of the unarmed military liaison officers, but said the envisioned police unit would have the capacity to protect United Nations personnel in emergency situations. The unit would be of a size capable of handling likely law-and-order threats. It would be well-armed and would be backed by local police and, subject to future legislation, potentially Timor-Leste’s defence force.
The representative of Indonesia said his country and Timor-Leste had worked hard to build a strong relationship. It was unfortunate that the report contained unnecessary notions that were capable of being negatively interpreted. The report suggested that tensions had arisen following the conduct of military exercises by the Indonesian armed forces without prior knowledge by their Timorese counterparts on an uninhabited island near Oecussi. No tension had arisen in connection with the matter, he said, the uninhabited island belonged to Indonesia and, furthermore, the Indonesian Navy had conducted an exercise squarely within Indonesian territory.
The representatives of Brazil, France, Germany, Chile, Philippines, Spain, Russian Federation, Romania, Algeria, United Kingdom, Benin, Angola, United States, Pakistan, China, Singapore, Ireland (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), New Zealand, Japan, Portugal, Thailand, Malaysia, Syria, Republic of Korea and Fiji also addressed the Council.
The Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, Joao Augusto de Medicis, also spoke. Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, addressed questions and comments made by speakers.
The meeting, which started at 10:15 a.m., was adjourned at 1:35 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/2004/117). The report reviews progress since the Secretary-General’s last report of 6 October 2003 towards the achievement of UNMISET’s mandate, which expires on 20 May 2004, and presents proposals for how the international community could assist in promoting the security and stability of the country after that date.
In the report, the Secretary-General notes that despite the “extraordinary achievements” that have been made by the Government and people of Timor-Leste over the past 18 months, formidable challenges remain as UNMISET’s current mandate draws to a close. While bilateral donors and the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and multilateral financial institutions can make a valuable contribution to Timor-Leste’s continuing development, further assistance will be essential to consolidate and build upon the gains that have been made in an atmosphere of peace and security.
The report states that a comparatively modest additional effort can make a crucial difference in increasing the sustainability of the remarkable achievements that have already been made, allowing Timor-Leste to reach a threshold of self-sufficiency. Assistance for one more year is crucial to permit the continuing function of the judiciary and key ministries, while supporting the development of necessary skills and the establishment of policy and legislative frameworks; to enable the still very inexperienced police to gain additional substantive skills and reinforce professional values; and to provide additional assistance in the management of security in the border region, where Timorese capacity is at an early stage of development.
The Secretary-General recommends that UNMISET be extended for a further year, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate. In particular, he recommends the retention of a component of 58 civilian advisers to provide support to the public administration and judicial systems; the continuing provision of support to prosecutions and trials related to the serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999; the retention of 157 civilian police advisers, and the deployment of 42 military liaison officers. He also recommends that a security force of some 310 military personnel, including an infantry company with airborne capability, be deployed to provide protection for the military liaison officers. That force would maintain a reassuring presence in the border regions and provide a quick reaction capability if required.
In view of the fact that progress will depend upon the closest possible coordination with related bilateral donors, the recommendations would allow for adjustment to take account of relevant bilateral assistance that materializes prior to the end of the mandate period, the report says. The recommendations include a strategy for transition that will allow the continued peacekeeping presence to be phased out within a year, mostly on the basis of developing sufficient Timorese capabilities.
The validity of the proposals, the report continues, will depend on a number of key political decisions, including the adoption of a Civil Service Act and the law creating the Office of the Provedor, and strong transparency and accountability legislation against corruption. Other key political decisions include the adoption of the organic law for PNTL (Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste), a defence act for the Timorese armed forces (F-FDTL) and other policies that would define the respective relationships between PNTL and F-FDTL and between PNTL units. In the coming months, further progress in those areas is essential to enable the Council to evaluate the proposals set out in the report well in advance of the end of the current mandate.
Progress will also depend, the Secretary-General notes, on continuing joint efforts by Indonesia and Timor-Leste in a number of areas related to security and justice, including the adoption of a realistic timetable for the determination of key decisions relating to the border, and the resolution of the presence of former refugees in the area. Strong cooperation in the area of prosecution of serious crimes is also essential.
Briefing by Under-Secretary-General
JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introducing the Secretary-General’s report, said the report presented proposals for continued support to Timor-Leste after the conclusion of the current UNMISET mandate on 20 May. Two recent developments in Timor-Leste had not been reflected in the text. Some days ago, President Gusmao had approved the law on village elections. Those would be the first elections in independent Timor-Leste and would be a basis from which broader electoral laws could be developed for national elections.
A recent incident suggested continuing fragility of the situation on the ground, particularly in the area near the border, when on 29 January, a group of villagers from West Timor had entered Timor-Leste and burned some structures in a village in the area, and might have stolen some livestock.
He said an appeal for additional support for Timor-Leste after 20 May faced a paradoxical challenge, because of the remarkable progress that had already occurred. The continued presence of a peacekeeping operation, for an additional, one-year “consolidation phase”, was essential to reinforce and strengthen what had been achieved to date. The recommendations had been derived through a two-step process. The first step was to determine tasks, reflecting crucial gaps in Timorese capacity that could threatened the country’s stability and security, and where no viable alternative form of support existed. The second step was to identify the best means through which UNMISET could contribute.
He said the provision of assistance to the Public Administration had been one of the most challenging of the tasks undertaken by the United Nations in Timor-Leste. The speed of progress was limited both by the complexity of the skills that were being imparted, and by the close linkage between a country’s institutional development and a process of political evolution that could not be artificially accelerated. An additional year of support would make a meaningful difference in enabling the country to reach the threshold of self-sufficiency. However, there were real limits to what could be achieved, and some further long-term assistance might be required even after one year.
The recommendations in support of the conduct of serious crime investigations and proceedings would allow progress in an area where much had already been done. Eighty-one indictments had now been issued, resulting in a total of 48 convictions. However, a number of trials would remain pending by 20 May, and further indictments were in preparation. Continued international assistance was crucial for that process. He noted that the great majority of those who had been indicted remained outside of the country. Close cooperation among Member States would be essential to ensure that all those who were responsible faced justice.
He said the establishment of an effective and professional police force remained a core objective of the United Nations’ involvement in the country. For all the progress achieved, the creation of law enforcement agencies took time. International assistance would remain crucial for a further 12 months after 20 May, to ensure the police service’s effective functioning and to reinforce professional values and skills. That assistance would be based upon the continued deployment of 157 civilian police advisers after May. Further adjustments should be possible to accommodate bilateral assistance that materialized on the ground before the end of April.
Extensive consideration had been given to the possibility that UNMISET should retain an operational role in responding to civil disturbance. However, the Timorese leadership had indicated its strong preference for exercise of full executive authority in policing after May. He had, therefore, concluded that the better course would be to redouble training efforts and to retain an advisory presence after 20 May. It was urgent that the Timorese leadership develop the necessary legislative and policy frameworks that would clarify the basis for cooperation between the armed forces and the police.
He said external security and border control had benefited greatly from the statesmanlike commitment shown by the Indonesian and Timorese leadership. However, agreement upon the border had not yet been reached. The creation of structures and relationships on the ground also required further time. He recommended that a small group of military liaison officers could be retained along the border. Those officers would also need protection. It was, therefore, proposed that a military presence, with aviation and support, of 310 personnel be retained after May 2004.
In conclusion, he said the Council’s ultimate decisions on support to the country after 20 May would need to take into account developments between now and then, including changes in the security situation, progress in the development of Timorese capability, and provision of relevant bilateral assistance. It was doubtful that any nation had ever advanced more rapidly than Timor-Leste along the path to self-sufficiency. Nonetheless, there were always limits to what could be achieved in so short a period of time. He hoped that the Council would consider the proposals, which would represent a modest additional effort compared to what had already been done, but could make a major difference in consolidating all that had been achieved so far.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) noted that he was speaking as the current chair of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. Brazil considered the agenda item highly important, on account of the historic role played by the United Nations in the birth of the independent Timor-Leste. It was a vivid example that the United Nations could harness political will and financial and human resources in an effective way. Notwithstanding several positive aspects, the report highlighted that present deficiencies must be addressed with the international community’s continued support. Further assistance to Timor-Leste would be required in a number of areas after 20 May 2004. While Timor-Leste’s political institutions were gaining strength, the early level of their development was a reminder of their fragility.
Brazil strongly favoured retaining a military component within UNMISET for a further 12-month consolidation phase, as Timorese capacity to respond to destabilizing activities still fell short of their security needs. The visible presence of the UNMISET military component would continue to have a deterrent effect and help maintain a calm environment in the country. An international presence for an additional year would allow Timor-Leste to reach a long-sought threshold of stability and development. The military component would also ensure the protection of United Nations equipment and personnel on the ground. International civilian police could make a crucial contribution towards building the capacity of the PNTL as a non-political professional police service. He also stressed the need to strengthen the rule of law, to address legal problems and to maintain the current level of public services.
He said a critical juncture had been reached in Timor-Leste. The international community had made an impressive investment in the future of the country and should continue to work in concert towards helping Timor-Leste’s institution to attain full-fledged sufficiency. Brazil supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council extend the current mission for a further 12-month consolidation phase.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said he, like many others, had numerous reasons to be gratified by events in Timor-Leste. Reasons for concern continued, however. The country’s internal security remained fragile in some ways, in particular because of the actions of armed bands. On the external level, the armed forces alone did not seem capable of coping with possible border incidents. The issue of the repatriation of East Timor refugees remained a potential source of instability.
France supported the extension of UNMISET’s mandate for a one-year period as recommended by the Secretary-General, he said. The extension should allow the United Nations to consolidate the gains achieved. The Mission’s mandate should be modified and emphasis should be placed on assistance to the Timor-Leste authorities. The UNMISET must continue providing assistance to the judicial system and administrative agencies and continue to maintain security by supporting the police force. It was difficult to assess the required staffing and components for the Mission as thus extended with a modified mandate. However, he was confident that the Secretary-General’s proposals would be successful. It was important to heed the concerns of the parties involved and consider developments on the ground. It was also important to define a clear exit strategy. The extension of the mandate must allow the United Nations to continue to disengage, however. The Organization should show its ability to end operations when conditions had been met. The Mission’s timetable should not exceed one year. To respect that timetable, a precise schedule for troop reduction until the final withdrawal should be laid down. The authorities should also be encouraged to pursue efforts at building the State and strengthening the country’s independence.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) , associating himself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said he supported the recommendation of the Secretary-General to extend UNMISET for a further year, in a reduced size, and with a modified mandate. Although sharing the view that there was need for a continued international security component, his country was quite flexible with regard to the adequate means. Regarding internal security, he said Australia’s proposal for an Emergency Security Response Unit deserved consideration.
He said his country was prepared to join a consensus along the lines suggested by the Secretary-General, including the military component, if the Council could agree on a continued peacekeeping element in Timor-Leste. Otherwise, perhaps a compromise could be found by adding a number of armed international police forces, and to reduce the suggested number of envisaged military personnel. The question whether the international security assistance would be provided by an armed police or a military component seemed to be more of a technical, rather than political question, and he was confident that the issue would not prevent the Council from finding a practical, efficient and consensual solution
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he supported the proposal to extend the current mission for a further 12 months, with reduced size and modified mandate. Assistance to the justice system was fundamental to the viability of Timor-Leste and he was concerned about shortcoming in the areas of human rights. It was necessary to continue to support the training of police forces in Timor-Leste, as well as to continue training the Rapid Intervention Force.
Maintenance of security was a central element in achieving stability, he said, and he, therefore, supported the Secretary-General’s realistic proposal. Noting the excellent cooperation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, he hoped there would soon be an agreement on provisional border demarcation and on bringing to justice people guilty of grave crimes.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said Timor-Leste could be seen as a model of successful United Nations involvement. Notwithstanding the gains made by the country and UNMISET, some residual concerns remained that would necessitate continued United Nations presence. An immediate pullout of the international military and police presence would create a security vacuum in the country. The continued United Nations presence would be able to deal with law-enforcement activities and take care of possible disturbances from remnants of the anti-independence militia and other criminal elements. The security presence would also be able to assist in the continued development of the Timor-Leste national police and provide protection to United Nations military liaison offices. Timor-Leste had requested a continued military presence and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had recommended an extension for another year, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate. He urged the Council to listen to Timor-Leste and support the advice of the Department.
Timor-Leste’s inner strength was rooted in the resolution of the people to survive, he said. Nevertheless, efforts to create means for sustainable development and secure economic growth must be provided. The country was one of the least endowed on earth. It did not have major industries, unemployment was high and the infrastructure poorly developed. Key areas for assistance included management of public finance and the justice system. In baseball, one had to touch the home plate to score a run and win. East Timor was already on third base and in the final inning. It needed to score a run to win. He urged the Council to help Timor-Leste win by extending UNMISET for another year.
ANA MARÍA MENÉNDEZ (Spain) said she fully supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations in all their aspects, including the maintenance of a reduced military component within the Mission composed both of military observers and troops. Obviously, the cooperation of Timorese institutions would be necessary, as they had important tasks ahead, such as the enactment of key legislation regarding human rights, anti-corruption, the police and defence. She was pleased at the communication between the Governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia. She hoped work on two essential subjects, namely, the delineation of the land border and the continued presence of some 28,000 refugees on the western part of the island, would be completed. The situation would remain volatile until the problems were resolved.
Of the three elements contained in the Secretary-General’s proposal, the maintenance of security and stability should be one on which there was no doubt, she said. Those that believed there were no potential risks and that a small peacekeeping force was warranted seemed to be forgetting that there were still elements that could destabilize the country after May 2004. Spain supported the Secretary-General’s evaluation that the capacity of the Timorese forces to respond without assistance to security incidents was extremely limited. To maintain a military component for one more year would reduce the risk of destabilizing incidents, in particular in the western districts. It would make it possible to consolidated security and increase local confidence. The United Nations had made a vast effort to help and defend the people of Timor-Leste. Too much had been invested to lose what was one of the most gratifying experiences of the Organization. Spain hoped for the complete success of Timor-Leste.
ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said Timor-Leste had achieved genuine self-sufficiency. Noting progress in the transfer of responsibility to ensure law and order from UNMISET to the national police force, he viewed positively efforts of UNMISET to prepare and train police forces. He also welcomed developments in Indonesia/Timor-Leste relations and hoped a speedy solution to outstanding questions, including refugees in West Timor, would be reached. He further welcomed bilateral negotiations with Australia on demarcation of underwater areas containing resources.
However, problems in administration and strengthening of internal and external security still existed, he said. Timor-Leste was yet another example of the fact that the process of Statehood could not artificially be squeezed into existing frameworks. The international community must not expose the project to risk. He, therefore, supported the proposal to extend for one year the mandate of UNMISET’s three components.
MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania), aligning himself with the European Union statement, said remarkable progress had been made in establishing institutions and upholding democratic principles. A strong commitment had been shown towards stability. However, national efforts should be assisted by the United Nations beyond the mandate date in such areas as consolidating the rule of law, and strengthening civil society and democratic institutions. Good-neighbourly relations with Indonesia should be strengthened. He urged both countries to solve the problems of demarcation and refugees in West Timor.
He supported ongoing support to Timor-Leste by the international community, as bilateral donors and the international community had invested enormous resources in the country. A modest additional effort would indeed make a crucial difference, he said. A mission of reduced size, with a clear cut mandate would give the people of Timor-Leste greater confidence to continue with the necessary efforts. Knowing the challenges of transition from his country’s situation, he said there was a moral duty to support Timor-Leste.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said since its independence, Timor-Leste had made remarkable achievements, including an improved security situation and progress in bilateral relations with Indonesia. He hoped agreement on the land border would soon be finalized and he appealed to both Governments to promote the resettlement of East Timorese returning from West Timor. He hoped a definitive solution would be found. Despite the achievements, important challenges remained, particularly in the fields of national security and stability and socio-economic development. It was essential that the international community and the United Nations continue to support Timor-Leste.
Following the end of the Mission’s mandate, the United Nations should maintain a mission with a clear mandate to improve the justice system and public administrative structures, and contribute to the maintenance of security and stability. He understood the concerns of the Government of Timor-Leste regarding problems that could threaten the country’s stability. The young State must be supported in the current crucial stage. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations that the mandate be extended for a 12-month period and that the United Nations maintain an appropriate presence to meet security needs. The consolidation of peace represented a major challenge to the international community. Peace and development must be made firm and sustainable. It would not be fair if Timor-Leste were penalized for its remarkable transition.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the progress made was testimony to the determination of the Timorese people. The United Kingdom supported the clear emerging consensus that UNMISET be extended for a further year in a consolidation phase. However, much remained to be done, both for the international community and the Timorese. For their part, the Timorese must make further progress by establishing the Office of the Provedor for human rights and justice, and by giving greater urgency to creating an appropriate investment culture. The United Kingdom also remained concerned about the poor relations between the police and defence forces. In that regard, he encouraged the Government to pass police and defence bills and clearly delineate the roles of those forces. The United Kingdom was committed to working both bilaterally and through the United Nations to assist the Government in strengthening those institutions. He welcomed the establishment of the independent inquiry into the incident in Los Palos.
On the police side, he said the United Kingdom had been working with Australia and the Timorese Government on a training and assistance programme. He requested the Secretariat to coordinate plans for police assistance now, rather than in December, to avoid any possible duplication. He was pleased at progress in establishing good relations with Indonesia. He also urged Timor-Leste and Indonesia to reach early agreement on their land border. The international community’s investment must not be jeopardized. The follow-on mission should include a security element with a focus on policing. The United Kingdom continued to support a police back-up model along the lines proposed by Australia.
JOËL W. ADECHI (Benin) said the report and briefing made the international community fully aware of the authorities’ determination to do everything possible to build a nation at peace with itself and its neighbours and to fight poverty. Material and human resources required to that end must be made available. It was of critical importance to strengthen the capacity of administration and the justice system.
The problem of defining the roles of police and military was crucial and decisive for the democratic nature of the political system of Timor-Leste, he said. A national army was required to ward off external threats. Noting efforts by Timor-Leste and Indonesia to establish cooperation bilaterally, he said that was an outstanding example of post-conflict reconciliation. Security of border regions was still a concern, because of reactionary armed groups in the region. He supported the extension of the mandate of UNMISET. The country was now within the category of least developed countries. He hoped the advantages deriving from the status would help the country’s development.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), aligning himself with statement on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, said he was encouraged by steady progress accomplished by the people of Timor-Leste. The Council was now called upon, once again, to continue its decisive role in building a future of stability, justice and prosperity for Timor-Leste. The country still faced a fragile environment, the main State institutions still needed external assistance, and the defence forces, police and judicial system still required a continued presence.
He also concurred with recommendations that the Council consider extension of the Mission for a year, under a modified mandate. Implementation of the proposal would provide a realistic framework for consolidating the situation in Timor-Leste and contribute to the building of a democratic and stable society. Timor-Leste still needed a capability to secure its self-defence. The presence of a minor contingent was in line with the reality on the ground. He agreed with the proposals of the Secretary-General, in the expectation they would meet the approval of the Council and all the main stakeholders.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said UNMISET was a success. The United States had been a strong supporter of East Timor’s efforts to build a more hopeful future. Much remained to be done, however. He agreed with the Secretary-General that the Mission be extended past May 2004, at reduced levels, to consolidate gains. The United States applauded the progress made by the Government and people in the development of a civilian administration. It also welcomed the proposal for a limited number of civilian experts in East Timor’s ministries and understood that any assistance past 2005 would be provided through multilateral and bilateral donor support.
The Government of East Timor should do its part to nurture respect for the rule of law, including taking action to address allegations of police misconduct. Human rights violations committed in 1999 had not been forgotten. The process of accountability should achieve its goal, namely justice. The security situation remained fragile and the Council should consider how best to meet the country’s security needs. An unresolved issue was the strengthening of the police capacity.
MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) agreed there was a need for a continued United Nations presence beyond May 2004. As a troop contributor, Pakistan regarded itself as a stakeholder in the country’s peace and security. Its approach was guided by several principles including that no peacekeeping operation be withdrawn without completing the tasks assigned to it. While the national security was the responsibility of every sovereign State, in post-conflict situations there was need for continuing, even if symbolic, presence. He welcomed the improvement of relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, which was a prerequisite for success in the region. The UNMISET’s confidence-building tasks needed to be consolidated.
He also stressed the importance of the safety and impartiality of United Nations peacekeepers. Pakistan supported the extension of UNMISET with reduced size, as the United Nations presence would provide a deterrent role against any security threat. Pakistan looked forward to reaching an early agreement on the Mission’s future composition and mandate.
Council President WANG GUANGYA (China), speaking in his national capacity, said since Timor-Leste had become independent two years ago, the Government and people of the country, with the help of the international community, had made considerable progress. However, despite the achievements made, Timor-Leste was still faced by many challenges.
He noted that the country faced a long-term task of achieving stability and sustainable development and urged the Government to exert greater efforts in the field of development. The international community should continue to provide assistance in that regard. He supported the recommendation to extend mandate of UNMISET for a further year and hoped the Council could reach a consensus on arrangements before 20 May.
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said the Secretariat had made an excellent analysis of the problems faced by his country. The report had referred to key areas where progress had been made, but also to shortcomings in other areas. He accepted his Government’s responsibility in shown shortcomings and weaknesses, noting that the country had been independent for less than two years, and none of the members in Government had governed before. The failings had also to do with a lack of training for personnel, particularly in the justice sector. His Government had invested enormous efforts in strengthening the judiciary and public administration.
Noting that the Secretary-General’s report recommended continuation of the United Nations presence based on three components, he said there seemed to be some disagreement on the continuation of the peacekeeping component. He stressed that the land border was a porous one. He acknowledged the goodwill of Indonesia regarding refugees and demarcation, but noted that the two sides had failed three times to reach agreement. However, there was political will on both sides to conclude the border demarcation, which would help resolve the issue of cross-border incursions.
Peace was still fragile, he continued, as were the institutions of law and order. The Government of Timor-Leste had written to the Secretary-General to request a continuation of a peacekeeping component, leaving it to the Secretary-General and the Council to decide on the size. It was his informed view, however, backed up by experience in other conflict situations, that the peacekeeping component provided the best guarantee against any recurrence of instability. He did not anticipate an external threat, but said it was wiser to be overcautious. The peacekeeping component would provide time and space to the country to strengthen its defence and police force. He believed all responsibilities could be taken over by his country by the end of 2005.
He said on many occasions Sergio Vieira de Mello had sat beside him at the Council table. He was the country’s most eloquent and passionate advocate. The job which he initiated with success had, however, not been completed. Any miscalculation in pulling out the peacekeeping force could undermine the tremendous success of the role of the United Nations in Timor-Leste. He hoped the Council members would display their habitual wisdom and reach a consensus.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said he hoped there would be consensus on the need for continued United Nations assistance to consolidate the achievements already made in Timor-Leste since independence. A precipitate withdrawal could jeopardize the fragile success in Timor-Leste. While speakers had spoken of the success of Timor-Leste, it was important not to forget that the situation there remained fragile. Building up Timor-Leste was not unlike building a house. The skeletal framework had been put up, but various key components, such as the roof and walls, had yet to be fully installed.
Any drawdown should be based on realistic assessments of the situation on the ground, and not carried out mechanically by some abstract timetable, he said. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the extension of UNMISET. Recalling the Brahimi report, he said the Council should be told not what it wanted to hear, but what it needed to hear. The Under-Secretary-General had made a carefully considered case for the extension of the Mission for a further year, which included a military component. Given the magnitude of the tasks at hand, that was not an excessive request. The recommendation for the retention of a military contingent would be the area of greatest debate. In that regard, it was important to put the request in a proper context. While the security situation had remained uneventful, it was not inconceivable that troublemakers were laying low until the United Nations withdrew its presence. He supported the maintenance of a small military presence.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the United Nations could be proud of what had been achieved by the people of Timor-Leste. The Union commended and supported the efforts of the Timorese Government to consolidate the progress made to date, especially in the areas of governance, the development of new legislative and judicial frameworks, the rehabilitation of infrastructure, and the commitment to democratic norms and personal freedoms. Determining the Organization’s approach to disengagement of peacekeeping and peace-building operations was a recurring challenge. In that regard, it was necessary for the international community, on a case-by-case basis, to focus on the tasks remaining and carry out a careful analysis of any continuing threats to the maintenance of peace and security, the development of the rule of law, the humanitarian situation, the development of national security institutions and creating a favourable climate for sustainable socio-economic development.
The Union welcomed the Secretary-General’s dispatching of an assessment team to Timor-Leste in January 2004, he said. The Union also supported the efforts of the Timorese Government to consolidate the political institutions, to promote socio-economic development and to uphold the rule of law. Further assistance would be needed to consolidate the achievements already made. A continuing, though modified, presence for UNMISET after May 2004 seemed to be required. Notwithstanding the fact that the primary responsibility for a successful transition lay with the Timorese people themselves, it remained incumbent on the international community to consolidate the progress that was so evident in Timor-Leste. He reaffirmed the Union’s commitment to the Timorese people.
DON MacKAY (New Zealand) said it was important for the international community to do its utmost to continue to support Timor-Leste through its transition period and he fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation of an extension of UNMISET for a further year, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate. He agreed with the Secretary-General and the Government of Timor-Leste on the importance of the assurances that would be provided by retention of a modest military force, with quick reaction and airborne capability to maintain stability in the border areas.
He welcomed progress in the bilateral relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, and strongly supported the continuation of the work of the Serious Crimes Unit for a further year, as well as continued action on the part of the international community to follow up on the human rights abuses that had occurred in 1999. Ongoing support would be necessary to enable the truth and reconciliation commission to complete its work. He also endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposal for continuing United Nations support for capacity-building in the public administration of Timor-Leste, and a number of concerns articulated by the Secretary-General, particularly on the need for the Government to expedite the development of key aspects of the administration’s legislative and regulatory framework.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said no country had done more to assist Timor-Leste in building a stable and sustainable democracy. That contribution had been part of a highly cooperative and effective international effort. He hoped that cooperative, consensus-based approach would continue. Further international assistance to Timor-Leste remained essential and he fully supported the recommendation of a one-year extension of UNMISET, at a reduced level. A back-up United Nations policing component was necessary to help Timor-Leste address its likely law-and-order challenges.
He said Timor-Leste security challenges remained substantial, but those were internal and would require a police, rather than military, response. A police unit would have appropriate training and expertise to deal with internal law and order problems and would provide a more graduated and faster response to any incident. The United Nations police unit would deploy only in an emergency.
He fully sympathized with the need for force protection of the unarmed military liaison officers. The envisioned police unit would have the capacity to protect United Nations personnel in emergency situations. He saw an armed back-up police unit being able to perform many of the tasks the Secretary-General had set out in his report. The safety of such a unit would not be predicated on the availability of a substantial back-up peacekeeping force. The unit would be of a size capable of handling likely law-and-order threats. It would be well-armed and would be backed by local police and, subject to future legislation, potentially the Timor-Leste’s defence force.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) welcomed the progress made in the areas of public administration, serious crimes, and external and internal security matters. He also welcomed the news that Timor-Leste’s relationship with Indonesia had been further strengthened. He believed it would be necessary for the international community to extend its support to Timor-Leste in such areas as public administration, the judiciary, and national security and stability. The consolidation and building of peace was one of the major challenges faced by the international community. The international community must make certain that the achievements made took root.
It was also critically important for a young country like Timor-Leste to be provided support in the area of nation-building by civilian experts, he said. He endorsed the recommendation that the extended UNMISET should have 58 civilian advisers in all areas of government administration. On the issue of security and safety, Japan believed that serious attention should be paid to the situation described in the Secretary-General’s report. United Nations peacekeeping operations worked most effectively when they were in accord with the intentions of the government and the people of the recipient countries and when they were based on a unified consensus within the international community.
Japan had pledged and had been steadily implementing assistance of up to $60 million over a three-year period following independence with a focus on peace-building and reconstruction, he said. He reiterated the importance for the leaders of Timor-Leste to be united in governing their country, for the people of Timor-Leste to participate in nation-building efforts and for the international community to continue to extend its support.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said he hoped the international community would recognize Indonesia’s contributions to the successful implementation of UNMISET’s mandate in Timor-Leste. From the very beginning, Indonesia had demonstrated its unwavering interest in developing friendly ties with Timor-Leste. As a result, the Government-to-Government relationship between both nations had been strengthened and was characterized by strong commitment at the highest political level, including the establishment of the Joint Ministerial Commission and the Joint Border Committee. The Commission had established several working groups to deal with border issues, trade and finance, legal matters, educational and cultural affairs, and transport and telecommunication.
Regarding the issue of refugees, he said that through close cooperation between the two Governments, more than 200,000 refugees had returned voluntarily to Timor-Leste. As of December 2002, Indonesia had declared that there were no more Timor-Leste refugees. The remaining 28,000 East Timorese who had opted to stay in Indonesia were now being processed as citizens and would be relocated within Indonesia. The Government was prepared to assist any of them who voluntarily wanted to return to Timor-Leste.
On the matter of separated children, as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was no longer directly involved in the matter, the Government of Indonesia with the Government of Timor-Leste would take care of the children through reunification and local integration. As of December 2003, over 2,000 cases had been resolved through reunification.
Indonesia and Timor-Leste had worked hard to build a strong relationship, he continued. It was his hope that UNMISET would support that relationship. It was unfortunate that the report contained unnecessary notions that did not accurately reflect the facts of the matter and were capable of being negatively interpreted. For example, the report suggested that tensions had arisen following the conduct of military exercises by the Indonesian armed forces without prior knowledge by their Timorese counterparts on an uninhabited island near Oecussi. First, no tension had arisen in connection with the matter in December 2003. Existing legal documents showed that the uninhabited island belonged to Indonesia. While the Indonesia Navy had conducted an exercise, it had done so squarely within Indonesian territory. Indonesia’s commitment to ensuring improvements in Timor-Leste had been demonstrated in various ways and his Government would continue its endeavours.
GONÇALO AIRES DE SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union statement and the one on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, said his country appreciated the increased stabilization in the security environment in Timor-Leste, but shared the Timorese Government’s assessment of their own limitation to cope with internal and external security problems. Even relatively low levels of destabilization could have a significant impact for the stability of the country. In that regard, he noted the continuing problem resulting from the 28,000 former refugees along the border. He, therefore, strongly supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to extend UNMISET’s mandate.
He said in a period of four years a country had been created literally from ashes. At the same time, the international presence had been steadily decreasing. The Secretary-General was recommending a presence limited to a military component of 350 observers and troops. That clear trend showed that Timor-Leste, far from becoming a victim of a United Nations dependency syndrome, was successfully preparing for the end of the peacekeeping operation in the near future. “We could just wish that other peacekeeping operations, despite their unquestionable importance, had been able to achieve so much in such a short period of time”, he said.
LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said Timor-Leste was not only a neighbour, but also a proven case of success for United Nations peacekeeping and nation-building. Thailand had played an active role in assisting Timor-Leste since 1999. The United Nations needed to ensure that peace and security in the country became irreversible, as a safe and secure environment was a precondition for socio-economic development. Given the general volatility of a nascent country and the complexity of the nation-building exercise, it was in the international community’s interest to remain engaged in the country. Thailand, therefore, supported the continued presence of a multinational force mandated by the Council in consonance with previous resolutions on Timor-Leste. She also reaffirmed her country’s readiness to continue to take part in United Nations peacekeeping efforts after 20 May 2004.
She said Thailand’s position in favouring continued international presence, either through collective or bilateral arrangements, was rooted in its conviction that it was the moral imperative of the international community not only to dispel fears and provide security, but also to restore hope and lend a helping hand to countries in dire straits. Her Government was conscious of the complementarity between peace and development and wanted to promote and strengthen human security in Timor-Leste and the region. She encouraged Timor-Leste to have greater interaction with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Thailand had offered bilateral technical and economic assistance in diverse fields, including agriculture, public health, trade and energy, and she noted positive developments in that regard.
RADZI RAHMAN (Malaysia) said, despite progress made, the situation in many areas remained fragile. A feeling of complacency had to be avoided. Timor-Leste still needed the continuing support of the United Nations. The continued presence of UNMISET would instil greater confidence among the Timorese people and contribute to continuing calm and stability in its area of deployment. His country, therefore, supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation on the extension of UNMISET for a further year.
He said Timor-Leste must be given the necessary support and adequate time, to ensure that the peace, stability and progress achieved would not be wasted. At the same time, Timor-Leste must do its part to facilitate a number of key political decisions that would provide the enabling environment and conditions to make the desired extension of UNMISET possible. The size of the peacekeeping force must be carefully considered against the anticipated actual threat. An oversize force would not bode well for the confidence-building measures essential for peace and security in the region, and would entail high costs.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said Timor-Leste was a success story for the United Nations, as a result of efforts by the General Assembly and the decolonization Committee, as well as efforts from the Secretary-General and the Council. He welcomed the excellent communications resulting from improved relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste and hoped both countries would achieve agreements concerning outstanding issues as soon as possible.
Noting the assistance needed in the fields of justice, external and internal security and border control, he agreed with the Secretary-General that the United Nations must provide all assistance needed to consolidate the achievements, thus far. His country supported the request for the extension of UNMISET and hoped the Council would meet the request submitted by Timor-Leste.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said the United Nations had played a pivotal role in the progress made in Timor-Leste. The stable environment provide by the actions of the Council had proven crucial to the success of the ongoing endeavours to consolidate the nascent nation’s independence. Timor-Leste now stood at a critical juncture in the peace-building process. Like many newly independent countries, Timor-Leste faced the daunting challenges of achieving stability, developing democracy and overall capacity-building on its road toward a self-sustaining society. It was clear that Timor-Leste required further assistance to sustain what had been achieved and to make further progress in the areas of stability; democracy and justice; internal security and law enforcement; and external security and border control. The United Nations should continue to play a role in the country’s nation-building until the time when Timor-Leste could firmly stand on its own two feet.
The substantial support provided by the international community must not be phased out prematurely, he added. The overall assessment of the situation on the ground should serve as the basis for decision-making on how best to organize and structure the international efforts. Those efforts, in conjunction with the determination of the people of Timor-Leste, would prevail in establishing a nation underpinned by the rule of law, human rights and sustainable development.
JONE DRAUNIMASI (Fiji) said history had shown that the premature withdrawal of operations had resulted in violence and conflict. The United Nations must be vigilant in protecting what would appear to be neo-colonial tendencies. That,
however, needed to be balanced with the needs of the Government and people of Timor-Leste in the process of nation-building. For Timor-Leste, the sine qua non for achieving democracy was a safe and secure environment. The Secretary-General’s recommendations were sound, strategic and gave credibility to the immense international and bilateral investments that had been expended in Timor-Leste.
He said he had every confidence that the Government of Timor-Leste would be better positioned to engage its resources and political will to take the legislative and executive measures that remained outstanding. Much progress had reportedly been made in the very sensitive issue of border demarcation. While he fully supported the democratic processes in Timor-Leste and the engagement of a 300-person battalion, there was a need to respect a time line towards an end-of-mission programme. Much was at stake in the Asian region in relation to the state of affairs in Timor-Leste.
JOAO AUGUSTO DE MEDICIS, Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPSC), said the Community had been created in 1996 and, from day one, had taken to heart Timor-Leste’s quest for sovereignty. It had proudly accepted Timor-Leste as its eighth memberState. Timor-Leste’s struggle to overcome its misfortunes over the last four years had been quite a success story. However, that recent achievement was still far from being safely rooted. The Community, therefore, endorsed the observations and recommendations listed in the Secretary-General’s report.
He said it was too early for a handover of full defence responsibilities. Although the situation in the country was peaceful, one could argue that that very situation relied on the stabilizing role played by the United Nations’ peacekeeping force. The Community believed that the hard-won achievements of nation-building in Timor-Leste should not be put in jeopardy by an untimely withdrawal of the UNMISET military component. Internal security was also an issue that needed to be addressed. The UNMISET police forces were an element of stability that should be preserved. Moreover, the National Police of Timor-Leste could only benefit from the extension of the mentoring and monitoring provided by the UNMISET police component.
HEDI ANNABI, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, responding briefly to issues raised during the discussion, agreed that proposed bilateral assistance to the Timor-Leste police should now be coordinated with multilateral assistance. He noted that the Secretariat had based the estimated residual requirement to the Timor-Leste police on the information available at the time of the report’s preparation. The Secretariat would welcome any further information from bilateral partners on specific plans for assistance to the Timor-Leste police and the timetable for deployment for the proposed assistance. The Secretariat would then be able to adjust estimates to reflect the offers of bilateral assistance in the end of April report. Adjustments should ultimately be made not only on the basis of anticipated assistance, but also assistance available on the ground in Timor-Leste by the end of April.
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