TIMOR-LESTE MAKING STEADY PROGRESS TOWARDS SELF-SUFFICIENCY, BUT CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE NEEDED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
TIMOR-LESTE MAKING STEADY PROGRESS TOWARDS SELF-SUFFICIENCY, BUT CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE NEEDED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
5024th Meeting* (AM)
Timor-Leste Making Steady Progress Towards Self-Sufficiency, But Continued
international assistance needed, Security Council told
Assistant Secretary-General Hedi Annabi Briefs Council
While Timor-Leste was making steady progress towards self-sufficiency, it would continue to require international assistance for some time to come, Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council this morning.
Among other things, he noted that the country had adopted important legislation and had successfully assumed the responsibility for its internal and external security, while its public administration, law enforcement agencies and armed forces had all continued to develop. Also, the preparations for Timor-Leste’s first elections since independence were making significant progress.
While progress had been made in all areas of the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), much remained to be done in the remaining months before the expiration of its mandate next May, he said. The situation would be reviewed later this year to determine whether any modifications could be made to the size, composition and tasks of UNMISET. That review would be based on the prevailing security situation and the extent of progress made towards reaching the threshold of self-sufficiency by key institutions of State and government in Timor-Leste.
In the discussion that followed, speakers warned that without the sustained assistance of the international community, the gains made in Timor-Leste could be in danger of reversal. While hailing progress in areas such as police training and public administration, delegates called for the early finalization of the land border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, as well as the maritime boundary with Australia and the sharing of maritime resources.
Several representatives expressed disappointment about the recent overturning of convictions by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal in Jakarta and its “failure to ensure justice”, and highlighted the need to end impunity and promote a culture of accountability, crucial elements for the building of a modern and democratic nation.
Concerned by the current limited capacity of the Timorese judicial organs, as well as the “flawed” nature of the Indonesian Ad Hoc Tribunal judicial process, the representative of the United States stressed that it was critical to address the issue of impunity –- for the new country, as well as the region –- and it was clear that additional remedial measures were needed. He suggested that perhaps an independent international truth commission could be set up in that regard.
Saying that the process towards justice and ending impunity had “gone awry”, the representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the serious crimes process, while being conducted competently, had not resulted in bringing all perpetrators to justice, given that many of the indicted were still believed to be outside Timor-Leste. He called on Member States to extend full cooperation to ensure that those responsible for serious crimes did not enjoy impunity.
Stressing that justice and reconciliation were the cornerstone for guaranteeing a stable society, the representative of Timor-Leste hoped the work of the Serious Crimes Unit would be completed, as outlined in Council resolution 1543. He added that, despite some progress, poverty reduction, investment, capacity-building and job creation were still the main concerns of the Government. The continued support of the international community and development partners was critical to achieving economic and social development, and for the consolidation of the progress made and the maintenance of peace and stability.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of Chile, Pakistan, Algeria, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, Philippines, Angola, China, Benin, Germany, Romania, Spain, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia.
The meeting, which began at 10:14 a.m., adjourned at 12:45 p.m.
When the Security Council met this morning it had before it the progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (document S/2004/669), covering the period from 29 April to 13 August. During the last three months, Timor-Leste has made further significant advances towards self-sufficiency, states the report. It has adopted additional legislation and has successfully assumed the responsibility for its internal and external security, while its public administration, law enforcement agencies and armed forces have all continued to develop and mature.
At the same time, the report continues, it is clear that much remains to be accomplished during the remaining months of the UNMISET mandate, and that the extent of progress will depend upon joint efforts by Timor-Leste, UNMISET and the international community.
The preparations for Timor-Leste’s first elections since independence are making significant progress, according to the report. The adoption of the organic laws for the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) and Timorese national defence forces (F-FDTL) and of the law to establish the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice has reinforced the legal basis and framework for State and government institutions, the promotion of the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
However, the relative fragility of relations between the country’s nascent institutions became apparent during discussions of the national budget. While the veterans’ demonstration in Dili on 19 and 20 July highlighted the tensions that continue to exist in Timor-Leste, it also revealed the need for further efforts to strengthen the technical skills and professional values of Timorese security agencies. Prudent initiatives taken by the President and the Prime Minister following the incident helped to defuse the tensions. The promotion by the Timorese leadership of a culture of political dialogue, between government institutions and with the general public, remains crucial for the country’s progress, economic development and social stability.
The UNMISET civilian advisers and civilian police advisers are working to enhance the professional skills and performance of their Timorese counterparts, while the Mission’s military component continues to support Timor-Leste’s management of its security. Progress in these areas will be kept under close assessment, with a view to determining the feasibility of modifying the Mission’s size, composition and tasks, including the configuration of its police and military components, as proposed in resolution 1543 (2004).
At the same time, it should be borne in mind that UNMISET can meet only the most urgent requirements. Complementary bilateral efforts to strengthen Timorese public administration, law enforcement agencies and armed forces are essential for Timorese counterparts to achieve the necessary capability in an orderly and sustainable manner.
Building on the high-level cooperation that has been demonstrated by the respective leaderships of Indonesia and Timor-Leste, the completion of agreement on the countries’ common land border can make a crucial contribution to enhancing their bilateral relations. However, while efforts have been made by both sides, progress has not been as rapid and conclusive as had been hoped. The leaders of the two countries are urged to make every effort in the coming months to finalize their agreement on their land border and for the management of the border area. The UNMISET and the United Nations stand ready to assist their efforts.
The serious crimes process in Dili has made significant achievements in prosecuting perpetrators of serious crimes committed in 1999. However, many of the indicted persons are still outside Timor-Leste and have not been brought to justice. The Secretary-General reiterates his previous calls for the full cooperation of Member States to ensure that those responsible for serious crimes do not enjoy impunity.
HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report, saying that UNMISET had now been downsized following the modification of its mandate, and the Government had assumed responsibility for external and internal security since 20 May. Except for a few minor incidents, the situation in the country had remained stable and largely peaceful.
The demonstrations on 19 and 20 July had raised some concern. While reconciliatory measures taken by the President and Prime Minister had helped to defuse the situation, the demonstrations were symptomatic of underlying concerns in the country. In response to the concerns of the demonstrators, progress was being made to formulate a policy on veterans. It was essential that legislation be expedited on that matter and action taken to implement short-term and long-term measures to address their grievances. The UNMISET would maintain regular contact with all concerned to facilitate their efforts.
The resurgence of fighting between armed groups was worrying, he stated. There had been four serious incidents in the last 10 days. The UNMISET had urged the Government to develop a legal framework to regulate the activities of those groups. However, socio-economic development and job creation would be essential to tackle the root causes of those incidents. It was heartening that the Government had resumed its open governance programme, which had been suspended since the beginning of the year.
Regarding the functioning of the democratic process, he said that voter registration for the first election since independence had been encouraging, with 400,000 registered for the election of village chiefs and village-level bodies. The law to establish the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice was promulgated in May. However, the appointment of the Provedor by the Parliament had been delayed, since none of the three candidates could obtain the required majority. The process was now reopened for nominations and he hoped Parliament could select someone when it returns after its recess.
While Timor-Leste was making steady progress towards self-sufficiency, it would continue to require international assistance for some time to come, both financial and human resources, to implement the legislation it had adopted, and to enhance the effectiveness of key institutions of State and government. The flow of revenues from energy resources would be a key factor.
In that context, the recent meeting between Timor-Leste and Australia on the framework for negotiations was encouraging. Also, progress had been made on the finalization of the land border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Agreement had been reached on 90 per cent of the border and he hoped agreement on the remaining 10 per cent would be achieved in the coming weeks. He hoped that process could be completed expeditiously.
Turning to the three programme areas of UNMISET’s mandate, he said that UNMISET had completed the recruitment of civilian advisers, with the participation of the Government. Fifty-one of the 58 advisers had already been deployed in the field. Of the 102 critical posts to be funded bilaterally, it was regrettable that resources had been achieved for only half that number. Support from the international community for those posts would be crucial. It was incumbent for the Government to recruit counterparts to those civilian advisers, who had been fully informed on the importance of devising exit strategies.
The justice sector continued to be affected by a lack of qualified personnel, he noted. Nevertheless, progress had been achieved, including the fact that the number of detainees on expired warrants had been reduced. The UNMISET had also provided 15 advisers in the justice sector, including judges for district courts. He hoped that, with the assistance of the international community, the system could be made functional. The serious crimes process in Dili had made progress in addressing those committing crimes in 1999. However, many of the indicted remained outside Timor-Leste and had not been brought to justice.
The UNMISET police component continued to assist the national police service to develop towards a professional police service. The police component had prepared a skills development plan for the PNTL. The focus was on training the trainers. The PNTL had assumed all policing responsibilities since 20 May, but continued to face problems such as misconduct and lack of professional skills. Human rights training of the anti-riot rapid intervention unit had begun on 9 August to ensure capacity development and sustainability of the training even after the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate.
Since the assumption of responsibility for external security, he said that security had been generally calm and peaceful. The UNMISET’s military component had continued to facilitate contact between Timor-Leste and Indonesian security forces. It had also made efforts to foster collaboration between Timorese national security forces. The development of the country’s defence forces, which continued to lack skilled personnel, would continue to depend on external support.
While progress had been made in all areas of UNMISET’s mandate, much remained to be done. Timor-Leste would have to work with other partners to meet its continuing requirements beyond May 2005. The situation would be reviewed later this year, in October, to determine whether any modifications could be made to the size, composition and tasks of UNMISET. That review would be based on the prevailing security situation and the extent of progress made towards reaching the threshold of self-sufficiency by key institutions of State and government in Timor-Leste.
HERALDO MUNOZ (Chile) said he was encouraged to hear that, in spite of real limitations, steps had been taken to move the reconciliation process forward in Timor-Leste. He was particularly pleased to here of the number of laws originated and put in place by the Government. Chile was also pleased with the advances made in the area of enhancing the capacities of public institutions. He added that the government should continue to search for the right personnel for the middle range of management posts. The UNMISET’s work was essential for the continued training of civil servants and public officials.
Chile also shared concerns about the deficiencies in the processes geared towards the administration of justice and promotion of human rights, and welcomed the steps under way to address those issues in the judicial system. He welcomed UNMISET’s assistance through the Serious Crimes Unit, as it sought to investigate the crimes committed in 1999, but he added that that body might not be able to complete its work in the allotted time frame. The Council should not discount the need to take additional measures in the future.
He also welcomed the improvements in the national police training and hiring programmes. Nevertheless, much remained to be done in that area, and he hoped training programmes would continue, with a strong emphasis being placed on respect for and promotion of human rights. On the maintenance of security, he said that, while there had been many gains, it was important not to overlook ongoing trouble spots, such as illegal trading, smuggling and illegal border crossings. Another key challenge for Timor-Leste was achieving the requisite social and economic development. That would require continued and enhanced international assistance, so that the fledgling country could tackle problems such as lack of employment and low rates of development.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress since independence. He commended the Government for its achievements, despite difficult circumstances. Pakistan supported UNMISET’s efforts to consolidate peace and promote institutional developments in Timor-Leste. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that UNMISET could only meet the most urgent requirements, and bilateral efforts to assist Timor-Leste were essential for the Timorese counterparts to achieve the necessary capabilities in a sustained manner. The continued support of Timor-Leste’s neighbours was vital in that context, particularly that of Indonesia. He welcomed efforts by both sides to improve their bilateral relations and called on them to conclude outstanding matters.
Also, he hoped that Timor-Leste’s other neighbours could resolve their bilateral issues with Timor-Leste to allow it to attain its true economic potential. He attached importance to the early finalization of the maritime boundary between Timor-Leste and Australia and the sharing of maritime resources. He shared the optimism of the Secretary-General’s report on the progress made on the road to self-sufficiency. However, it was clear that much remained to be accomplished during the remaining months of UNMISET’s mandate. The long-term stability and self-sufficiency of Timor-Leste should not be taken for granted. Without the sustained assistance of the international community, the gains made in Timor-Leste could be in danger of reversal.
He proposed that the possibility of setting up a composite committee with representatives from the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly be examined, in order to oversee international assistance for Timor-Leste. At the very least, the ECOSOC should consider setting up a mechanism for Timor-Leste similar to those set up for Burundi and Guinea-Bissau.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said his delegation had been encouraged to hear of the number of Government-driven initiatives under way in Timor-Leste, particularly legal and institutional frameworks, and in areas such as voter registration and the promotion and protection of human rights. He stressed, nonetheless, that the Timorese Administration continued to have limited capacity and it was critical that UNMISET officials and staff continued to transfer their expertise and training before the mission’s mandate ended.
He commended the work of the fledgling country’s judicial bodies, particularly the establishment of a judicial training centre that would help create the conditions necessary to set up a functioning judiciary. Nevertheless, he was concerned by the current limited capacity of the Timorese judicial organs, as well as the “flawed” nature of the Indonesian Ad Hoc Tribunal judicial process. He stressed that it was critical to address the issue of impunity –- for the new country, as well as the region –- and it was clear that additional remedial measure were needed. He suggested that perhaps an independent international truth commission could be set up in that regard. He called on the international community to continue to support Timor-Leste’s transition towards the stable and vibrant nation that it could be.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that encouraging advances had been made in preparations for local elections and in the establishment of public administration. Developments in security, such as key laws for the police and defence forces, were positive. In addition, local authorities were performing their functions. He was confident that Timor-Leste would continue to develop its own capacity and would shortly be in a position to achieve self-sufficiency in the area of security. Financial difficulties had continued to impede reconstruction and preparations for elections.
For social stability and socio-economic development to be achieved, the Government and people must step up efforts and the constant support of the international community and donors would remain vital. Low income levels and poverty had continued to jeopardize Timor-Leste’s reconstruction efforts. The expected revenues from oil and gas in the Timor Sea had not been realized. He hoped that agreement between Timor-Leste and Australia on the sharing of maritime resources would shortly be concluded. He also welcomed the continuing improvement of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia.
The promotion of Timor-Leste’s social and economic development by multilateral and bilateral partners would greatly help in establishing long-term stability. He was confident that the Timorese people would continue to achieve success in nation-building and in securing the country’s economic recovery.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said that, despite relevant progress in many areas, bilateral and multilateral support, in particular from international financial organizations, would be crucial for Timor-Leste’s future. He hoped such support would continue, properly managed, in full cooperation between the country’s authorities and institutions and their international partners. He also noted the Secretary-General’s reference to the relationship between Timor-Leste’s own capacity to generate sufficient national income and development of sustainable national institutions, which would lead to stability and improved socio-economic conditions. In that regard, Brazil hoped that Timor-Leste’s bilateral negotiations on the maritime boundary with Australia and on land boundaries with Indonesia could soon be finalized.
As far as the fight against impunity was concerned, the international community should continue to provide support to the improvement of the judicial system in Timor-Leste, as well as to the work of the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. It was an essential part of any process of democratic consolidation. The need to address all cases of impunity and violations of human rights should not be limited to efforts, however laudable, to act against those who had committed the most serious crimes in 1999. All crimes and violations of human rights, serious or minor, needed to be punished. He called on all the parties concerned, inside and outside Timor-Leste, the donor community and human rights organizations, as well as the Governments of Dili and Jakarta, to make all possible efforts to build a culture of respect for human rights in the new nation.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) joined others in welcoming the positive steps that Timor-Leste had taken in the areas of the administration of justice and said that his country had been closely following efforts to keep the elections process on track. In that regard, he welcomed the ongoing voter registration efforts. He also drew attention to the need for the Timorese Administration to press ahead with effort to delineate its maritime boarders with Australia and its land borders with Indonesia. Those were areas which, to a certain extent, would determine the economic stability of the country, he said.
Looking ahead, he said that much remained to be done. It was critically important to address the issue of impunity, and in that regard he wondered if additional measures could be taken by the international community in that regard. He also wondered what measures were being planned to continue to support the people of Timor-Leste once UNMISET’s mandate expired.
JULIAN KING (United Kingdom) said that he was pleased to welcome the significant progress made in a number of important areas and commended the efforts of Timor-Leste, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNMISET. He particularly welcomed support for new measures needed to deal with programmes in the justice sector, as well as support to the Timorese police force following their assumption of full responsibility for security on 20 May. He also commended the efforts of UNMISET to coordinate efforts to assist Timorese police with other bilateral programmes, such as the United Kingdom’s police training programme.
More needed to be done in a number of areas, he noted, including progress in developing further capacity and structures in public administration and developing further the capabilities of the armed forces. The full cooperation of Member States remained important. He was disappointed about the recent overturning of convictions by the ad hoc human rights tribunal in Jakarta and its failure to ensure justice. He commended the continued efforts of Timor-Leste and Indonesia towards reaching agreement on their land border. He welcomed UNMISET’s plans to support Timor-Leste in resolving emerging issues as it moved towards self-sufficiency. In that respect, he looked forward to the review later this year to modify the mission, as needed.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said while it was noteworthy that some key positions in Timor-Leste’s public administration had now been turned over to Timorese nationals, an overall assessment of civil administration in the country revealed a lack of experienced and skilled personnel, particularly in the areas of economic planning and finance, and justice. The development of a modern egalitarian judicial system was crucial, he added, and stressed that Timor-Leste’s long-term governance hinged on the strong foundations of its administrative institutions.
While awaiting the final report of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, the Philippines noted the Secretary-General’s observation that the remaining time frame and limited resources for the serious crimes process might not be sufficient to bring to justice all those responsible for the violence in 1999. He said his delegation was heartened by the report that the overall security situation had remained calm in Timor-Leste. Despite initial fears, the significant reduction of UNMISET’s military component had not sparked any destabilization. Nevertheless, the Philippines was concerned about the limited capabilities of the Timorese security forces, chiefly due to a lack of training and equipment, lack of skilled personnel and limited logistical capacity for deployment.
He was also concerned by Timor-Leste’s high unemployment rate and the resulting widespread poverty, he said. Unless the Government acted swiftly to address those issues, they could pose serious threats to the country’s security and stability. He, therefore, urged the Government to make use of unspent revenues to fund capital projects, such as road building and infrastructure improvements, particularly since those types of projects would simultaneously generate employment and promote economic growth and social development. Overall, it was clear that, while UNMISET had achieved gains in Timor-Leste, the problems associated with nation-building would continue past the end of the Mission’s mandate. Therefore, it was necessary for international assistance, on a bilateral and multilateral basis, to pick up where UNMISET would leave off. Thus, the definition of UNMISET’s exit strategy was critical during that consolidation phase.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that he had taken note of the progress achieved by the people and Government of Timor-Leste. The progress achieved in the three main programme areas of UNMISET stood as a gauge of hope that a modern State could become a reality in the near future. It was essential to provide Timor-Leste with a degree of economic stability. The international financial institutions and multilateral and bilateral partners, as well as the international community at large, should provide the necessary economic assistance. The advances achieved might be jeopardized without the establishment of the foundations of a modern economy.
The relations between Timor-Leste and its neigbours remained a crucial element of the consolidation phase of the nation-building process, he said. He welcomed the agreement on the land border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. The conclusion of that agreement and the agreement between Timor-Leste and Australia were crucial for stability and socio-economic development. As stated in the Secretary-General’s report, Timor-Leste had reached a crucial stage in self-sufficiency. When the Council examines UNMISET’s mandate in October, it should aim for a sustained presence in the country until an adequate threshold for self-sufficiency was reached.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said that, with the unremitting dedication of the people and Government of Timor-Leste over the past few months, the fledgling country had seen real progress towards nation-building in many areas, including public administration, enhancement of police and armed forces and maintaining security. Still, maintaining national stability and promoting economic and social development would require the help of the international community, in cooperation with the relevant agencies and funds of the United Nations, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions.
The United Nations Mission in the country should continue to assist the Timorese administration in all the tasks that lay ahead through the end of its mandate, and the wider international community must establish a long-term partnership with the country. He called upon the United Nations and its agencies and funds, particularly the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to continue to support and assist Timor-Leste to ensure sustainable development in all areas.
JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said that the information provided had confirmed the political resolve and vision of the Timorese leaders in their attempt to build a stable and democratic nation. It also confirmed that the Timorese people were taking full advantage of UNMISET, whose remarkable activities to assist the Timorese people to achieve self-sufficiency he greatly appreciated. He welcomed the cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, as well as with Australia. He noted the political resolve shown by the three and hoped it would be a long-term undertaking. He welcomed progress in the delimitation of the maritime and land boundary of Timor-Leste, which would be crucial for sound development and equitable use of natural resources of the area.
In addition, he welcomed the effective transfer by UNMISET of defence and police powers to the Government of Timor-Leste. Since then, the Timorese territory had been calm and stable and the Government had continued to set up mechanisms to ensure an environment conducive to the achievement of socio-economic development. Still, there was no doubt that Timor-Leste needed time to achieve its objectives and meet the many expectations arising from its transition to independence. Peace, justice and democracy were vital components for the creation of a modern State. Timor-Leste still encountered problems in the functioning of State institutions. However, what was important was how those problems were tackled and resolved.
Much remained to be done, particularly in strengthening the capacity of the Timorese national police, which must remain a force at the service of the country’s citizens. It was essential that the Timorese justice system be given effective means, so as to bring all those that committed crimes to justice. Countries that sheltered those guilty of crimes in 1999 must turn them over to Timor-Leste, so that they might be tried accordingly. He was convinced that the country’s efforts needed the consistent support of the international community.
WOLFGANG F.H. TRAUTWEIN (Germany) said considerable progress had been made in areas such as public administration, law enforcement and stability, among others. And while he commended the Timorese Government’s efforts, he noted that deficiencies remained in capacity-building. Continued and enhanced external help was needed in that regard, and capacity-building and training should be a focus of the United Nations Mission in the country throughout the remainder of its mandate.
He encouraged Timor-Leste to solve its disputes with its neighbours. He urged the Government to continue its talks on delineating a land boarder with Indonesia, and said it was essential for the development of the economy of the country that its talks with Australia on maritime issues, particularly concerning oil and natural gas reserves, were successful. He said that reconciliation was also an important part of nation-building. Therefore, it was important that all perpetrators of serious crimes were brought to justice. He added that Timor-Leste had been described as a true model of nation-building, and the international community should continue its cooperation and support aimed at ensuring national stability and development.
GHEORGHE DUMITRU (Romania) joined others in welcoming with satisfaction the steady pace of post-conflict stabilization and nation-building processes under way in Timor-Leste. He added that that progress had been the result of close cooperation between the Timorese Government, the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and development partner countries. The decision to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the country was also bearing fruit, as the Mission itself had contributed to the building of capacity in all basic sectors of the young TimoreseState.
He said that, while UNMISET was efficiently discharging its duties with the help of experts, training and outlining comprehensive policies, with notable results towards the development of sustainable national institutions, it was clear that in other areas the process was still in its early phases. The capacity of major Timorese institutions was hampered by a lack of experienced and skilled personnel, proper training and equipment and, in some cases, a very limited logistical potential for deployment.
He was particularly concerned by the fact that, despite some progress, it appeared that the serious crimes process might not be able to fully respond to the desire for justice for those affected by the violence in 1999. That meant that many cases of grave human rights violations might not be investigated, thus denying justice to victims and their families. Furthermore, even though the overall security situation had remained calm, illegal trading and border crossings remained a cause for concern. Generally, in a number of key areas, including economic planning and finance, justice and infrastructure, external support remained crucial.
Meanwhile, UNMISET’s ability to help continued to be limited. Therefore, the Security Council should further encourage greater assistance from the international community, which would be critical to the long-term stability and development of Timor-Leste. The cooperation of Member States was more necessary than ever, since many of the persons indicted for serious crimes were still outside Timorese territory.
JUAN ANTONIO YANEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) welcomed the progress made by Timor-Leste since the Council’s last meeting in May and congratulated the Timorese people and leaders for the advances made. The Government had undertaken responsibility for internal and external security, in accordance with the deadline set, and had begun preparations for the first elections since independence. In addition, it had enacted key legislation for State institutions and public administration, and continued efforts for political dialogue. However, much remained to be done in the remaining months before the conclusion of UNMISET’s mandate. He was particularly concerned about the lack of qualified middle-level civil servants and deficiencies in the judicial area.
He fully concurred with the Secretary-General about trials for serious crimes committed in 1999, and would continue to lend support to efforts aimed at ending impunity for such acts. The international community must not lack in providing support for Timor-Leste, whose socio-economic development represented a real challenge. The country’s relations with its neighbours were of key importance for its full development. He was gratified that the Timorese Government had been conducting those relations in a constructive spirit. He hoped that bilateral negotiations between Australia and Timor-Leste would be successfully concluded. The delimitation of the land boundary between Timor-Leste and Indonesia would continue to be a basic factor for stability.
He hailed the recent announcement by Indonesia that a bill would be presented on reconciliation, which could help heal the wounds of the past. He trusted that the good level of relations and cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia would continue and be sustained to guarantee peace and stability for both countries.
Council President ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, said that with the active support of the United Nation and its agencies and in cooperation with the wider international community, Timor-Lest and its Government had achieved tangible progress in its move towards self-sufficiency and stability. At the same time, the country’s lack of its own resources and the shortage of trained personnel, particularly in law enforcement and judicial fields, needed to be addressed.
He went on to stress that the Timorese Government and the wider international community would have much to do prior to the conclusion of UNMISET’s mandate next year. He urged the Government to continue its efforts to shore up the serious crimes process, and to press ahead with voter registration efforts. He called on all political forces in the country to participate constructively in the upcoming elections. He welcomed the continued development of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia and encouraged the parties to continue their efforts delineate land borders.
JOSE LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) informed the Council of his Government’s action following the public demonstration, which occurred on 19 and 20 July. Among other things, immediately following the incident, both President Gusmao and Prime Minister Alkatiri publicly acknowledged that the actions of some officers of the PNTL was cause for concern and promised strict action against those PNTL officers who were found to be responsible. The demonstrations highlighted that further capacity-building in the PNTL was needed. The Government was making every effort to address the issues raised by the veterans and hoped for the continued support of the international community.
Timor-Leste continued to enjoy good relations with its neighbours, he said. The finalization of the land border demarcation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste remained a priority for his Government and all efforts were being made to conclude an agreement in the coming months. Finalization of the land border would contribute significantly to facilitating cross-border links between residents on the border areas on both sides. Negotiations on the maritime boundaries between Australia and Timor-Leste were scheduled to commence in September, and he was confident that a just and equitable agreement could be reached. Agreement on permanent boundaries was essential to ensuring Timor-Leste’s future economic viability and stability.
He said that justice and reconciliation were the cornerstone for guaranteeing a stable society. He hoped the work of the Serious Crimes Unit would be completed, as outlined in Council resolution 1543. Also, institutional capacity-building in a number of key areas of public administration, such as finance, justice, infrastructure and economic planning was critical for the Government’s nation-building efforts. In that regard, he appealed to the Council, the international community and development partners to continue to support Timor-Leste through the provision of advisers in those key sectors.
He added that, despite some progress, poverty reduction, investment, capacity-building and job creation were still the main concerns of the Government. The continued support of the international community and development partners was critical to achieving economic and social development, and for the consolidation of the progress made and the maintenance of peace and stability.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said his country placed great value in its relationship with Timor-Leste. Indeed, only last month the Indonesian Government had upgraded the status of is diplomatic representation in Dili to the ambassadorial level. He hoped that development would further nurture the relationship between the two countries. He added that, on 30 June, foreign ministers of the two countries had held a meeting in Bali to discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, with particular emphasis on the boundary issue.
He went on to note that the Technical Sub-Committee on Border Demarcation and Regulation had held 11 meetings since its establishment in 2001. That body had achieved significant progress and had identified 907 geographical points for an international boundary in the border areas between the two countries. That was important, because those geographical points covered approximately 90 per cent of the land boundary the two countries shared. Therefore, only about 10 per cent of the land boundary remained to be covered.
Referring to the outcome of the June ministerial meeting, he told the Council that the participants had agreed on the content of the Provisional Agreement between the two Governments on the land boundary, which would be submitted to the respective heads of the two nations for consideration. He said that the draft outline of the agreement underlined the robust efforts of both sides to facilitate the conclusion of the first-ever boundary agreement between both nations and paved the way for a comprehensive decision on the issue.
Finally, he drew the Council’s attention to the recent decision by the United Nations Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) to change the security status of West Timor from phase five to phase four. Although the decision had come rather late. It was, nonetheless, a demonstration that the security situation was improving in the border area, this despite the fact that its status had been improperly imposed in the first place. He said that both Indonesia and Timor-Leste were determined to embrace forward-looking policies in the interest of their people and development. Both nations had chosen to embrace cooperation on the basis of mutually beneficial policies. In that context, it was important for UNMISET to remain supportive of the cordial and growing bilateral ties between the two countries.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that, although the decision would not be before the Council until November, his delegation was of the view that UNMISET should continue in its current form through May 2005. Australia was not in favour of an early withdrawal or downsizing of the Mission’s police or military elements. He added that, while Timor-Leste, with the help of UNMISET, had made significant progress towards achieving self-sufficiency, many challenges lay ahead, including the development of the country’s police and justice sectors.
He said that Australia agreed with the findings in the Secretary-General’s report that Timorese law enforcement agencies, including the rapid intervention unit, required further training and development to strengthen their technical skills and professional values. The veteran’s demonstrations in mid-July had highlighted the need for ongoing capacity-building of the country’s national police service, as well as the value of having an emergency back-up international police response unit through 20 May 2005. That unit must remain at its current strength, he added.
He said Australia’s Foreign Minister had met with Mr. Ramos-Horta to discuss the issue of the maritime boundary on 11 August. Significant progress had been made at those talks, and the parties were now closer than ever to an agreement on a framework for a settlement on permanent maritime boundaries. Both Australia and Timor-Leste were pursuing a creative approach that preserved the fundamental interests of both parties. For its part, Australia believed in the strength of its legal position. Sovereignty was also a key issue. Australia looked forward to working with Timor-Leste to resolve outstanding issues as soon as possible.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that, despite clear successes in most fields, ending impunity and promoting a culture of accountability and transparency was one of the key tasks of post-independence Timor-Leste. The process towards justice and impunity had gone awry. The serious crimes process, while being conducted competently, had not resulted in bringing all perpetrators to justice, given that many of the indicted were still believed to be outside Timor-Leste.
Therefore, he called on Member States to extend full cooperation to ensure that those responsible for serious crimes did not enjoy impunity. That issue was gaining urgency, as the Serious Crimes Unit, in conformity with the current mandate of UNMISET, would be terminated in May 2005.
The European Union had noted with concern the recent overturning of convictions by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in Jakarta, he said. The Union expected the trials to be conducted according to international standards to which the Government of Indonesia was itself deeply committed. He hoped the Indonesian Government would do its utmost to ascertain the credibility of the judicial process.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) reiterated his country’s position that if Timor-Leste were to be considered a genuine peacekeeping success story, UNMISET must complete its activities and achieve its goals within this final one-year period, according to its mandate. During this period, it was essential to conclude the transition from the peacekeeping and conflict-resolution phase of the operation and move on to the next phase of development activities conducted through bilateral channels and relevant international institutions. Japan appreciated the progress described in the Secretary-General’s report and believed that it was crucial for Timor-Leste to maintain momentum towards sustainable independence.
Japan was concerned by the Secretary-General’s observation that efforts to delineate the land boundary between Timor-Leste and Indonesia were not proceeding apace but, nevertheless, expected both sides to continue their best efforts to resolve the matter. He went on to say that Japan had played a major role in the building of a sustainable Timor-Leste and had contributed substantially to the Recovery, Employment and Stability Programme for Ex-combatants and Communities in Timor-Leste (RESPECT). He added that Japan had also invested some $57 million in infrastructure projects, such as roads, electricity and water supply facilities in the Dili district. His Government was also making efforts, by dispatching “civil power” groups made up of non-military engineering specialists, to help transfer technology to Timorese administration officials in areas of operation, maintenance and management of donated material and equipment.
RUI MACIEIRA (Portugal) said that, while significant advances towards self-sufficiency had been made by Timor-Leste, work still remained to be done in areas such as security and the completion of border negotiations. The recent confrontations between armed groups highlighted the serious socio-economic challenges the country still faced today, particularly the disenfranchisement of its youth, unemployment and poverty. Equally important to the sustainable and viable development of Timor-Leste was the completion of the border negotiations with both neighbours, Indonesia and Australia.
He recalled the commitment of the Government of Indonesia to bring to justice those responsible for violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Timor-Leste. The recent overturning of the convictions of those convicted of committing atrocities in Timor-Leste was deeply disappointing. He underlined the importance his country attached to accountability and the respect for human rights.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) joined others in welcoming the positive developments throughout Timor-Leste’s civilian institutions, progress on border delineation with Indonesia, and the passage of key justice and human rights legislation. He also noted that preparations were on track for the holding of parliamentary elections in 2006. New Zealand agreed with observations that some critical challenges remained in building the capacity of Timor-Leste’s security infrastructure, particularly in the area of rapid intervention but, nevertheless, looked forward to advice on further progress on police and security sector training in the Secretary-General’s next report.
He expressed deep concern that the ad hoc process established to bring to justice the perpetrators of the violence in 1999 appeared to have failed. New Zealand had long believed that efforts to bring such persons to justice must be consistent with international law. It was unacceptable for the international community to tolerate an environment of impunity, and if domestic processes were not able to ensure justice, New Zealand saw a role for the United Nations, and the Security Council, to ensure that accountability was established and justice was done.
Finally, he encouraged the wider United Nations to look at opportunities for sharing its assessment of key remaining tasks in Timor-Leste with donors. New Zealand believed that information about what the Organization viewed as critical to support Timor-Leste, as it adjusted to UNMISET’s planned departure next year, could make a useful contribution to other governments’ bilateral assistance plans.
RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said that the activities of the United Nations and, in particular, UNMISET, had continued to provide a window of opportunity in Timor-Leste. The progress achieved thus far had permitted a downsizing in the international presence on the ground. It was encouraging that the Government of Timor-Leste had taken several important steps towards reaching self-sufficiency and that it had formally assumed responsibility for internal and external security last May.
At the same time, he noted the Secretary-General’s point that “pending sufficient national income generation, the development of sustainable national institutions would continue to be dependent on international assistance”. He also expressed hope that Timor-Leste and Australia would redouble their efforts so as to come to an early and mutually beneficial conclusion on the sharing of petroleum and natural gas resources in the region and said that his delegation was encouraged by the continued effort of Timor-Leste and Indonesia to delineate the land border between them.
Much remained to be accomplished during the remaining months of UNMISET’s mandate, he said, and continued international assistance was required. Also, as the Secretary-General had pointed out, “complementary bilateral efforts to strengthen Timorese public administration, law enforcement agencies and armed forces are essential for Timorese counterparts to achieve the necessary capability in an orderly and sustainable manner”. It was essential for the international community to allow sufficient time for the Timorese to acquire the necessary skills and experience, where local expertise was still lacking. His country had provided some training in a number of areas, and it stood ready to further cooperate with the Government of Timor-Leste. As a neighbouring country, Malaysia reiterated its commitment to the nation-building process and development of Timor-Leste.
Responding to a question posed by France, Mr. ANNABI said that he was fully aware of the implications of the decision of the Indonesian Appeals Court to overturn the convictions of officials indicted for serious crimes in Timor-Leste in 1999. In that regard, the position of the Secretary-General was clear. He had stressed repeatedly the need to ensure that those charged with serious crimes be brought to justice. Also, he had asked the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the serious crimes process in both Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The report was expected to be completed by the end of September or early October. Then it would be possible to be in a better position to consider action to be taken to ensure that the process moved forward and that impunity did not prevail.
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* The 5023rd Meeting was closed.