5132nd Meeting (AM)
TANGIBLE PROGRESS MADE BUILDING TIMOR-LESTE’S DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS,
BUT MAJOR CHALLENGES REMAIN, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Special Representative Says Land Border Demarcation among Unresolved Issues;
Secretary-General’s Report Recommends ‘Scaled Down’ UN Mission until 20 May 2006
Despite tangible progress in the building of democratic institutions in Timor-Leste since 1999, a number of major challenges remained, the most demanding of which included land border demarcation negotiations with Indonesia, Sukehiro Hasegawa, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) told the Security Council this morning.
Outlining political, security and other developments in a briefing to the Council, he said that a provisional line comprising more than 95 per cent of the border had been agreed upon at the technical level, but it had neither been possible to resolve the remaining border issues nor to establish a transportation corridor linking Oecussi with the rest of Timor-Leste. A newly emerging challenge was the fight against corruption, which required not only the formulation and implementation of legislation, but also the establishment of ethical standards and guidelines.
On the positive side, the National Parliament was expected very shortly to appoint a long-awaited Provedor of Human Rights and Justice, he said. In addition, the National Parliament had approved the organic law of the Superior Council for Defence and Security on 14 February and the President had promulgated it on 17 February. That law, together with the organic law of the Council of State, represented another step in the strengthening of the principle organs of sovereignty. On 9 February, the Council of Ministers had approved laws on foreign and domestic investments and the adoption of a draft law on freedom of assembly and demonstration was expected at any time. Another noteworthy accomplishment was the drafting of the law on the petroleum fund, which would ensure accountability in petroleum revenue management.
Regarding security and stability, he said Timor-Leste had remained relatively calm and stable, but the operational environment remained fragile. Armed elements with possible links to ex-militia groups had made incursions in January and February. The border remained porous and difficult to control and illegal trading, smuggling and illegal crossings continued to occur. There was a need to enhance the border management capability, but it remained highly unlikely that a final land border agreement between Timor-Leste and Indonesia could be concluded by 20 May 2005, when UNMISET’s mandate was due to expire. The critical vulnerability remained the effectiveness of the Border Police Unit in maintaining the security situation along the border.
While the Unit had assumed border management responsibilities since 20 May 2004, he said, it had not yet gained sufficient experience, confidence and capacity to manage border affairs without the support of the United Nations Military Liaison Group. Its relationship with the Indonesian armed forces was still at an initial stage of development, and it relied heavily on facilitation by Military Liaison Officers. Moreover, the approximately 300-strong Unit remained considerably under-resourced and inadequately matched in comparison with the 1,500 Indonesian border units. The UNMISET military component would continue to assist through its Skills and Knowledge Transfer Programme, covering five training modules. That programme complemented the various existing bilateral arrangements.
Turning to the serious crimes process, he said the prosecutor had ended all investigations by November 2004 and trials would be completed by March 2005, as mandated by paragraph 8 of Security Council resolution 1543 (2004), while approximately 340 indicted people remained outside the country. The serious crimes process would not respond fully to the desire for justice of all victims of the 1999 violence and, in that regard, the Secretary-General had established the Commission of Experts to assess the outcome of the two judicial processes in Jakarta and Dili. The Commission would also consider ways in which its analysis could be of assistance to the Truth and Friendship Commission established by Timor-Leste and Indonesia, which had continued to make progress in strengthening their relations.
Jose Ramos-Horta, Minster for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said that, while he could not agree fully with the Secretary-General’s advice regarding the reduced figures being proposed for continued assistance from the United Nations, the disagreements were minor. The minimum request for assistance highlighted by the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste represented the barest minimum of secured assistance through assessed contributions that would ensure that the gains in Timor-Leste were not unduly jeopardized. A significant number of police officers would soon be trained in Indonesia in the areas of criminal investigation and traffic control. Several other areas, such as forensics, investigations were not covered and, therefore, the retention of 62 police trainers, deployed in those areas where multilateral and bilateral assistance were currently unlikely to be available, was essential.
Timor-Leste also required 68 civilian advisers to help strengthen the institutional capacity and ensure that sovereign institutions developed adequate capacity for the effective discharge of their functions, he said. In conclusion, he appealed for a final six-month or one-year extension of UNMISET’s mandate, saying that he was aware of the fact that he had made the same request last year. The United Nations had made an invaluable contribution to one of the most successful stories in the world. The reality was that peace in Timor-Leste, as well as the institutions that had made it possible was fragile.
Indonesia’s representative said his country had been helping reconciliation efforts among the people of Timor-Leste by, among other steps, facilitating dialogue visits to Indonesia’s West Timor province. In order to maintain and further promote bilateral relations, both countries had underscored the importance of resolving existing residual issues, while deepening and expanding bilateral cooperation at the same time. In addition, the 14 December 2004 meeting in Bali between President Yudhoyono and President Xanana Gusmao was an historic moment for bilateral relations, where the two leaders had reiterated their determination to further enhance a stable, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship. They had also noted the steady and positive growth in relations over the past three years, as reflected by the significant progress in addressing such issues as land border delineation, refugees, traditional border crossings and regulated market arrangements.
He said that the agreement establishing the Truth and Friendship Commission was unprecedented in history, whereby the two countries had agreed jointly to embark on finding the truth about the allegations of human rights violations in 1999. The agreement by the heads of the two Governments clearly reflected the maturity and spirit to seek an acceptable solution to heal the wounds and unload the burdens of the past in order to foster bilateral relations and friendship among both peoples. Indonesia and Timor-Leste had opted to seek truth and promote friendship as a new and unique mechanism. True justice could be served with truth and acknowledgement of responsibility, while the prosecutorial process might only achieve justice, but not necessarily establish truth nor promote reconciliation.
Japan’s representative, noting that leaving unmet requirements unresolved could threaten the important gains made, said his country was prepared to consider sympathetically the proposal to retain some form of United Nations presence in Timor-Leste upon the expiration of UNMISET’s current mandate. A small United Nations mission dedicated to peace-building, with a minimum required number of personnel and authorized for a limited duration, could be a useful solution to remaining problems.
The representative of the United States said that a peacekeeping mission was no longer required and UNMISET should conclude its mandate in May. It was clear that the peacekeeping phase was past and that the country could start on its path to self-reliance. Alternative ways to fill the gaps should be found, such as a political mission. It was important that the Government take increasingly more responsibility for the nation’s future, paying particular attention to constitutional development, continued police training and the building of a diverse political party system.
All speakers today began by expressing their condolences to the Government and people of Bangladesh following last week’s killing of nine United Nations peacekeepers from that country in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Other speakers today were the representatives of the Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Philippines, Algeria, United Republic of Tanzania, Brazil, China, France, Romania, Benin, Australia, Luxembourg (on behalf of he European Union and associated States), Singapore, Portugal, Thailand and New Zealand.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and adjourned at 1:20 p.m.
Before the Council was the Secretary-General’s progress report on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), dated 18 February 2005 and covering the period since 16 November 2004, when the Council adopted resolution 1573 extending the Mission’s mandate until 20 May 2005.
In the report (document S/2005/99), the Secretary-General recommends maintaining a United Nations Mission with a scaled-down structure for a period of up to 12 months, until 20 May 2006. That period could be shortened if bilateral and multilateral arrangements are identified to assume UNMISET’S critical responsibilities. The Mission’s reconfigured structure would have 35 military liaison officers (down from 42) with 144 back-up security support (instead of the current 310), including airborne mobility, primarily to facilitate the contacts between the Timorese and Indonesian border security agencies; and 40 police trainers (down from the present 157) to train national police units in the areas of investigation, forensics and logistics, and to help promote professional ethics.
According to the report, the restructured Mission would also include 45 civilian advisers (reduced from the current 58) to provide training and supervision as part of the capacity-building efforts in public administration, as well as to support critical State institutions, particularly in the justice sector where their Timorese counterparts are undergoing legal training; 10 human rights officers (down from the 14 at present) to promote respect for human rights through training and monitoring, and to assist in establishing the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice; and a small office supporting the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to coordinate the Mission’s work with United Nations system partners in Timor-Leste. These personnel could be reduced as and when persons provided under such arrangements become available to take over those responsibilities.
The Secretary-General notes that tangible progress has been achieved in establishing sustainable State institutions and in promoting democracy, transparency, accountability and respect for human rights during UNMISET’s consolidation phase, starting in May 2004. Evidence of that progress includes the successful holding of local elections in the Bobonaro and Oecussi districts, the adoption of legislation that is essential for a democratic society based on the rule of law, and the Government’s implementation of measures to resolve the question of veterans and the issue of violence between martial arts groups.
However, significant challenges remain, the report states. The provision of international assistance beyond the expiration of UNMISET’s current mandate will be crucial for Timor-Leste’s long-term security, stability and sustainable development. In the area of border management and control the Border Patrol Unit’s performance has improved, but it still lacks sufficient capacity to manage border affairs and to interact with the Indonesian national army on its own. And while the national police force has gained considerable experience, it still lacks critical skills and proficiency.
Regarding the development of critical State institutions, the report points out that, while the capacity of the public administration has been greatly enhanced, some core institutions, particularly in the justice and finance sectors, still rely on international advisers for the performance of line functions owing to a shortage of qualified personnel. And with respect to the observance of democratic governance and human rights, there are allegations of corruption within and political interference with the work of the national police, as well as and continued reports of human rights violations by police.
Noting that UNMISET has made efforts to secure continued support from bilateral and multilateral partners beyond the expiration of its mandate, the report says that some of those partners have expressed interest in taking over some of the Mission’s civilian adviser positions in the public administration, as well as providing or increasing assistance to police development programmes. But no firm commitments have been received and, while UNMISET continues its efforts to identify partners, it is increasingly clear that the level of assistance that it has been able to secure for the period following its planned closure may not be adequate.
The report states that, during the reporting period, the overall situation in Timor-Leste remained calm and stable, despite the reported incursion of an armed ex-militia group in January and clashes between the military and police. And according to the findings of the transition working groups on requirements for continued international assistance to Timor-Leste, and in view of the unavailability of viable alternatives to provide the assistance that the country requires, a withdrawal of UNMISET would have a potentially negative impact on the country’s stability and on the proper functioning of State institutions. The Secretary-General recalls that Prime Minister Alkatiri has written to him requesting continued United Nations assistance for one more year and that he has made a similar request in a letter to heads of State and government, including Security Council members.
SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, outlined recent political and security developments, saying that the first elections since Timor-Leste’s independence, for village chiefs and councils in the districts of Bobonaro and Oecussi, had taken place in December 2004 in an atmosphere free of intimidation. The next round, in Lautem, Baucau and Manatuto districts, would be held in March, followed by the remaining eight districts from April to June.
Timor-Leste had continued to make progress in strengthening its relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Indonesia, he said. The two countries had held a summit meeting in December and enhanced their relationship to mutual confidence and appreciation when President Gusmao had presented to President Yudhoyono a cheque from the Timorese people for tsunami relief efforts. Recently, the two countries had established the Truth and Friendship Commission to deal with crimes committed in 1999, among other things.
He said tangible progress had also been made in building democratic institutions in Timor-Leste. The organic law of the Superior Council for Defence and Security had been approved by the National Parliament on 14 February 2005 and promulgated by the President on 17 February. That law, together with the organic law of the Council of State, represented another step in the strengthening of the principle organs of sovereignty. The draft law on freedom of assembly and demonstration was expected to be adopted at any time. The Council of Ministers had approved, on 9 February, laws on foreign and domestic investments. Another noteworthy accomplishment was the drafting of the law on the petroleum fund, which would ensure accountability in petroleum revenue management.
But in spite of the tangible progress made on many fronts, a number of major challenges remained, the most demanding being the land-border demarcation negotiations, he said. A provisional line comprising more than 95 per cent of the border had been agreed upon at the technical level, yet it had not been possible to resolve the remaining border issues and to establish a transportation corridor linking Oecussi with the rest of Timor-Leste. In addition, the fight against corruption was a newly emerging challenge for the country, which required not only the formulation and implementation of legislation, but also the establishment of ethical standards and guidelines. The National Parliament was expected very shortly to appoint a long-awaited Provedor of Human Rights and Justice.
Turning to security and stability, he said Timor-Leste had remained relatively calm and stable, but the operational environment remained fragile. Armed elements with possible links to ex-militia groups had made incursions in January and February, posing a potential threat to the country’s security. The border remained porous and difficult to control and illegal trading, smuggling and illegal crossings continued to take place. There was a need to enhance the border management capability and the absence of an agreed border and a legal framework to manage border posts would add considerably to the problem. However, it remained highly unlikely that a final land-border agreement could be concluded by 20 May 2005. The critical vulnerability remained the effectiveness of the Border Police Unit to maintain the security situation along the border.
He said that the Border Police Unit had assumed border management responsibilities since 20 May 2004, but had not yet gained sufficient experience, confidence and capacity to manage border affairs without the support of the United Nations Military Liaison Group. Its relationship with the Indonesian armed forces was still at an initial stage of development, relying heavily on facilitation by Military Liaison Officers. The approximately 300-strong Border Police Unit remained considerably under-resourced and inadequately matched in comparison with the 1,500 Indonesian border units. The UNMISET military component would continue to assist through its Skills and Knowledge Transfer Programme, covering five training modules. That programme complemented the various existing bilateral arrangements.
Turning to the serious crimes process, he said the prosecutor had ended all investigations November 2004 and trials would be completed by March 2005, as mandated by paragraph 8 of Security Council resolution 1543. The Serious Crimes Unit and the Special Panel were preparing a database that would allow electronic searches of all cases. Increasing national ownership remained important, as approximately 340 indicted people remained outside Timor-Leste and might return in the coming years. The serious crimes process would not respond fully to the desire for justice of all victims of 1999 violence. In that regard, the Secretary-General had established the Commission of Experts, which would assess the outcome of the two judicial processes in Jakarta and Dili. The Commission would also consider ways in which its analysis could be of assistance to the Truth and Friendship Commission.
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, offered condolences to Bangladesh and the families of the victims for the brutal murder of its peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said, while he could not fully agree with the valued advice of the Secretary-General regarding the reduced figures being proposed for continued assistance from the United Nations, the disagreements were minor. The minimum request for assistance had clearly been highlighted by his Prime Minister and represented the barest minimum of secured assistance through assessed contributions that would ensure that the gains in Timor-Leste were not unduly jeopardized.
Currently, UNMISET had 42 Military Liaison Officers who were undertaking facilitation of exchanges between the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) and the Indonesian TNI, he said. The only legal agreement that governed the interaction between the border security agencies of Timor-Leste and Indonesia was the Military Liaison Arrangement. A successor arrangement had not yet been put in place. Indonesia had made it clear that the main security agency on its side of the border would be the TNI, which implied that the training of the BPU needed to be provided by the Military Liaison Officers. The presence of the 41 Military Liaison Officers represented the barest minimum required.
Further, he said that, if any country in the region were to offer standby arrangements for evacuation and other logistical support, his country would be open to discussion on an arrangement. While it had been said that Timor-Leste could be more effectively assisted through bilateral arrangements, he was puzzled that, so far, there had not been any positive reaction to Timor-Leste’s innovative suggestion that some close neighbours provide a standby evacuation force.
He thanked the Council for having stationed the 125-strong Brazilian International Response Unit (IRU) since last May. Fortunately, the assistance of the IRU had not had to be requested, he said. Moreover, the country’s own security agencies, particularly the Police Reserve Unit (PRU), had benefited from the training provided by the Mission’s police component. The elements of the PRU had behaved with remarkable discipline and were deeply conscious of promoting and protecting human rights of all. Therefore, retention of the IRU had not been sought.
Regarding his country’s request for police trainers, he said a significant number of East Timorese police officers would soon receive training in criminal investigation and traffic control in Indonesia. Several areas such as forensics, the specialized units, investigations and the like were not covered by several bilateral initiatives. Therefore, the retention of 62 police trainers, deployed in those areas where multilateral and bilateral assistance were currently unlikely to be available, was essential. As far as critical civilian advisers for strengthening the institutional capacity of State institutions, his country had indicated that 68 advisers would be required to ensure that the sovereign institutions developed adequate capacity for effective discharge of their functions, but the Government had been advised not to ask for more than 58 and that is the number now requested.
He said the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia were conscious of the need to deal with the burden of the past. Hence, a Commission of Truth and Friendship had been established. The work of the Ad Hoc Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in East Timor, established in Indonesia in 1999-2000, had not ended. In Timor-Leste, the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) had been created, while the Special Representative had created the Serious Crimes Panel. The nascent nation of Timor-Leste required the focus to be on restorative justice, so that primary attention was given to people, participation, dialogue, needs, compensation and the future. Indonesia was beginning to take steps to confront its own past. Both countries had a long way to go towards consolidating democracy and the rule of law.
He said the people of Timor-Leste and the international community must accept and understand the complex challenges faced by the elected civilian leaders in Indonesia. Excessive outside pressure on the elected civilian leaders could result in unrest within the armed forces, undermining stability and the entire democratic experiment in the largest Muslim country, he warned. Since the end of 1999, overall, the Indonesian military leadership had displayed good faith in cooperating with the United Nations civilian and military authorities in Timor-Leste.
Land-border demarcation talks between the two sides had progressed in record time, reaching now some 96 per cent, he said, and the two Governments were determined to finalize the demarcation process, but could not anticipate when that process would be completed. He then proceeded to explain the terms of reference of the Commission of Truth and Friendship, which required the signatures of the two Presidents, among other things. It was the first time in history that two countries had embarked on a joint truth committee. It would be unique if two countries, one predominantly Muslim and one Catholic, could successfully bring to an end, in a satisfactory manner, the most unhappy chapter in their past.
In conclusion, he appealed for one final six months, or one year, extension of a United Nations assistance mission in Timor-Leste. He was aware of the fact that he had made the same request last year, but said he had been too optimistic. The United Nations had made an invaluable contribution to one of the most successful stories in the world. The reality was that peace in Timor-Leste, as well as the institutions that had made it possible, was fragile.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) expressed satisfaction with the achievements and progress made in the overall situation in Timor-Leste and with the steady, positive developments being made in the country. It was cause for congratulations that bilateral relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia had improved, he said. He was, however, concerned that the delineation of the land border was unlikely to be finished by May and that there continued to be incidents, including the incursion of an armed ex-militia group last month. He urged both sided to ensure that the border demarcation talks were brought to a successful conclusion and border security control was enhanced.
He said the gaps in the transition process was anther challenge. If unmet requirements were left unresolved, that situation could threaten the important gains made. His country was, therefore, prepared to consider sympathetically the proposal for retaining, on expiration of UNMISET’s current mandate, some form of United Nations activities in Timor-Leste. A small United Nations mission dedicated to peace-building, with a minimum required number of personnel and authorized for a limited duration, could be a useful solution to the remaining problems. Issues concerning serious crimes committed in the past should also be addressed. A Commission of Experts, as proposed, in order to face the issue of impunity, would need to have good cooperation from the countries concerned.
KONSTANTIN DOLGOV (Russian Federation) said that, in recent months, Timor-Leste had achieved considerable success, as noted by the Secretary-General in his report and as his Special Representative’s had made clear in his briefing to the Council. However, despite those efforts, the Russian Federation agreed with the Secretary-General that the progress achieved was insufficient and the country had not yet met the criteria required of an independent State. That applied particularly in the areas of public administration, police and border patrol.
After the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate, Timor-Leste would still need international assistance to ensure security and stability, he said. An ongoing United Nations presence would still be important. In addition, the Russian Federation welcomed the establishment of the Truth and Friendship Commission, which would strengthen the relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. The Russian Federation also reaffirmed its continuing support for the activities of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and his staff, as well as those of the Mission, in fulfilling their mandate.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said the Government and people of Timor-Leste, with the assistance of UNMISET, continued on the road of self-reliance, but significant challenges remained and continued international assistance was crucial. He, therefore, supported a continued United Nations presence in Timor-Leste beyond May.
In that regard, he would like to see a small and tightly focused political mission with a clear exit strategy and concentrating on institution-building. He welcomed the continuing evolution of the relationship between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, including creation of the Truth and Friendship Commission and the progress in border demarcation. He reiterated support for the Commission of Experts to tackle the issue of justice and looked for a recommendation regarding human rights and durable justice in Timor-Leste.
CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) reaffirming his country’s continuing readiness to support the building of Timor-Leste’s institutions, developed at so much cost and sacrifice, said that outstanding progress had been achieved and the country’s people and authorities deserved congratulations for moving forward towards peace, independence and prosperity. As had emerged from the Secretary-General’s report and the Special Representative’s briefing, there were still incomplete tasks and Timor-Leste continued to need help in border control and management, the establishment of a professional police service, the building of State institutions and the development of human rights. However, Timor-Leste had not yet reached the required critical threshold of an independent sovereign country.
The good state of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia had been highlighted by the frequent meetings between the Timorese President and Prime Minister on the one hand and the President of Indonesia on the other, he said. However, there was still a need for the two sides to work on the demarcation of their common border and the allocation of maritime economic resources. Argentina welcomed the establishment of the Truth and Friendship Commission. The hasty withdrawal of UNMISET might jeopardize all that had been achieved. Such a move would have serious repercussions for the well-being of Timor-Leste, which had worked so hard to build up its institutions, and it was hoped that there would be no repetition of what had happened in Haiti. The development of the country’s health, education and other sectors of human development still required continued United Nations involvement once UNMISET’s mandate expired. Since 1999, Timor-Leste had shown that it was devoted to peace and democracy and the United Nations must continue to lend its support to the country’s efforts, which would be imperilled by a premature withdrawal of the Mission.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN (Denmark), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said that UNMISET’s presence in Timor-Leste had been an important stabilizing factor and the Mission had ensured significant progress in institution-building. But much work still remained to be done in key areas, such as capacity-building in the public sector and the consolidation of a legal framework. Now, the task for UNMISET was to complete a smooth transition from a peacekeeping to a peace-building operation that could ensure a sustainable development assistance framework.
It was quite clear that Timor-Leste needed the support of the United Nations system after the termination of UNMISET’s mandate, he said. Denmark supported a continued United Nations presence in order successfully to complete the work that the Council had initiated in 1999. In that respect, Denmark noted the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a restructured mission and looked forward to a further discussion of those recommendations. In considering future assistance to Timor-Leste, including that of capacity-building in the public sector, the Danish Government would support an approach based on national ownership that placed Timor-Leste in the driver’s seat. The number of international United Nations advisers must be reduced over the coming months to give the Timorese room to assert their leadership.
Noting the improved relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, he expressed the hope that the improved relationship would soon be translated into concrete progress on the delineation of the common land border. In addition, Denmark shared fully the Secretary-General’s view that the issue of serious crimes committed in 1999 was a concern not only for the two countries, but also for the international community at large. The fight against impunity was of utmost importance and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Denmark, therefore, welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision, in accordance with resolution 1573 (2004) to establish a Commission of Experts to conduct a thorough assessment of the progress made in the legal proceedings at the two national human rights tribunals in Jakarta and Dili, respectively.
ADAMANTION TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, warmly welcomed all steps towards peace and reconciliation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Establishment of the Truth and Friendship Commission was of particular importance. The Secretary-General’s decision to establish a Commission of Experts to assist the parties in their quest for justice and reconciliation was highly commendable. With the bitter past behind them, the Timorese people could now focus on building their country. There was still a lot to be done in the areas of establishing sustainable State institutions, including in the judicial and financial sectors, border management, law enforcement, respect for human rights and promotion of democratic governance and rule of law.
He said the request for help could not and should not go unanswered. The international community had invested a lot in making Timor-Leste a success story. There was a need to explore all available options and come up with the one most suitable, so that the people of Timor-Leste would be given every chance to consolidate their achievements and successfully pursue their quest for peace, stability and development. He would not have difficulties supporting the proposals submitted by the Secretary-General.
LAURA L. BAJA (Philippines) said his delegation would give due consideration to the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a reconfigured and scaled-down Mission. His country was committed to support a neighbour in the region bilaterally and in partnership with other members of the international community in responding to the remaining assistance needs of Timor-Leste, particularly in the security, justice and finance sectors and those of governance and human rights. During the transition period, Timor-Leste would require a substantial number of international personnel to fill the gaps in administration and to address continuing capacity-building. That was better ensured by the systematic and guaranteed United Nations assistance than bilateral development assistance.
The heavy investment in establishing peace in Timor-Leste could only be preserved by a sustainable socio-economic development framework. In the medium to long term that was the new phase of investment on which the international community should focus. He asked the Special Representative for information on any developments on the matter of the maritime boundary of Timor-Leste with Australia.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) said his delegation welcomed the significant progress that had been made during UNMISET’s consolidation phase. The country had continued to make progress in establishing State institutions and the rule of law, as well as in strengthening the education, legal and security systems.
Expressing the hope that an agreement on mineral resources in the Timor Sea would soon be concluded with Australia, he emphasized that international support remained important, particularly with regard to border control. Timor-Leste had not yet reached the critical threshold for sovereignty and UNMISET’s presence remained necessary. It was incumbent upon the international community to continue its support for the country.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the leadership of Timor-Leste had requested support from several heads of State and government, including Council members, for the continuing presence of UNMISET for one more year. The Secretary-General’s recommendation for a scaled-down structure was a reasonable appropriate investment in the stability of Timor-Leste. The maintenance of law, order and justice were the cornerstone of a fractured society determined to live in peace with itself.
He noted with interest the measures taken by both Timor-Leste and Indonesia in fighting impunity related to serious crimes committed in 1999. He hoped that the judicial process in both Dili and Jakarta would work closely with the newly established Commission of Experts. Both parties should also be encouraged in constructive initiatives regarding the security and management of the Tactical Coordination Line at the border. Timor-Leste would continue to require international assistance, multilateral and bilateral. The adjustment of the residual UNMISET presence for another year should contain an exit strategy.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said that the people and authorities of Timor-Leste had been able to achieve quite considerable progress, which was the best guarantee for peace and stability in the region. As recognized in the Secretary-General’s report, most State institutions had been put in place thanks to an integrated and comprehensive approach by the Security Council and the international community. However, that strategy had not yet borne all its fruits and Timor-Leste had not yet managed to achieve the level required for its people to enjoy their total potential. It was unlikely that the country would be in a position to assume by itself the burden of assuming its democracy status without outside help. The Council should reaffirm it commitment to the same integrated and comprehensive long-term strategy that would enable Timor-Leste to achieve the required level.
Brazil looked forward to talks with all members of the Council, other MemberStates and the Secretariat in order to facilitate the development of a new strategy, he said. Peace and development were interconnected and required a new commitment by the international community in order to find common ground regarding the nature of the threats facing the young country. There was also a need for a broader perspective. Next May, when the Council would decide on the future of UNMISET, it should adopt the Secretary-General’s recommendations, which were essential for marshalling the international community’s efforts to help Timor-Leste. As part of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, Brazil was proud to announce its continuing efforts to assist the young nation in its nation–building efforts.
REED FENDRICK (United States) said UNMISET had helped Timor-Leste make substantial progress. The country would continue to face challenges and needed continued support from its friends. Particular attention should be paid to development of constitutional capacity, continued police training and development of a diverse political party system. His country was concerned about last month’s dismissal of 22 judges. There were also continued reports of problems with human rights. Postponement of the bilateral negotiations about border delineation was also of concern. He welcomed the establishment of the Commission of Experts.
He said, as one of the largest bilateral donors, his country would continue assistance. It was clear that the peacekeeping phase was past and the country could start on its path to self-reliance. That transition to development represented a milestone for Timor-Leste. A peacekeeping mission was no longer required and UNMISET should conclude its mandate in May. Alternative ways to fill the gaps should be found, such as a political mission. It was important that the Government took increasingly more responsibility for the nation’s future.
WANG GUANGYA (China), noting that local elections had been held in two districts and that important legislative initiatives were in the pipeline, said Timor-Leste remained committed to the establishment of good relations with its neighbours. Such political wisdom and strategic vision were commendable and the people of Timor-Leste deserved congratulations.
On the other hand, the country still faced grave challenges on many fronts and still needed international assistance and support, he said. The leaders of Timor-Leste had made requests to the Council for further assistance and China understood those requests. The people and Government of Timor-Leste had made strenuous efforts, but as the youngest and least developed nation in Asia, it was like a toddler that would still falter after taking its first few steps. Other Member States must encourage it to take the next steps. China called on the Council to give serious consideration to the country’s requests for additional assistance and for consideration of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, so as to ensure Timor-Leste’s lasting development and stability.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said he agreed with the analysis of the Secretary-General on progress achieved over the last 12 months. Major progress remained to be made in areas such as border control, strengthening State institutions, economic self-sufficiency, good governance and human rights. It was clear that international support remained necessary. He would, therefore, positively consider the proposals of the Secretary-General to keep a United Nations presence.
He said, in the phase of peace consolidation, the United Nations should not act alone. The Timor-Leste authorities should keep up their commitments and several bilateral and multilateral partners, such as the international financial institutions, should increase their support. The enormous progress the country had made, with assistance of UNMISET, must be recognized. A United Nations presence must be kept. The level of the presence must take into account the work that had been done by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).
GEIRGHE DUMITRU (Romania), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the agreement between Timor-Leste and Indonesia to establish the Truth and Friendship Commission as an important and concrete step forward in the consolidation of bilateral relations. The Commission of Experts and the Truth and Friendship Commission should coordinate their activities in the common effort to address the issue of serious crimes committed in 1999. The UNMISET’s contribution to the upholding of governmental capacity-building efforts was outstanding.
Taking note of the Secretary-General’s assessment regarding the remaining challenges that required additional international assistance beyond the expiration date of 20 May, he said bilateral donors and the wider international community had made an enormous investment in Timor-Leste. Achievements needed to be consolidated and their irreversibility safeguarded. He, therefore, favoured the ongoing support of the international community in Timor-Leste beyond the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate. The Secretary-General’s recommendations would be a solid basis for further discussions in the Council.
Council President JOEL ADECHI (Benin), speaking in his national capacity, said that the Secretary-General’s report described the progress, as well as the shorter medium-term challenges, to making Timor-Leste’s progress irreversible. In particular, Benin welcomed the success of the local elections. However, confrontation between the police and army and the lack of professionalism among the security services showed that there were difficulties and risks in the transition process. The international community must continue to support the country in facing those and other difficulties that it would encounter in establishing institutions and strengthening good relations with Indonesia and Australia.
He said that the withdrawal of UNMISET should be gradual and effected in such a manner as not to compromise the progress already achieved. There could be no interruption of training courses merely because the Mission that had established them had been terminated. The perpetrators of serious crimes committed in 1999 must be pursued and the case of the indictees who remained outside the country must be prosecuted. Furthermore, UNMISET’S exit strategy must be based on the follow-up provided by the United Nations and its funds and programmes. Much still remained to be done and Timor-Leste still needed international assistance.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said his country was proud of its role in assisting Timor-Leste to build a stable and sustainable society. Australia had been a major supporter of UNMISET’s operations and continued to provide a significant bilateral assistance programme. Together with the United Nations and neighbouring countries, Australia had a big stake in ensuring that Timor-Leste was equipped to meet the challenges facing it. It particularly commended the efforts of the Governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia to develop productive relations and a cooperative approach to border-management issues. The development of close relations with its neighbours would be crucial to Timor-Leste’s long-term stability.
Although Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress, it clearly required the continued support of its neighbours and the international community, he said. Australia wished to see a continuation of United Nations involvement beyond May 2005, when UNMISET’s mandate expired, in order to safeguard the considerable investment made by the international community. However, the current external security environment did not warrant a continuation of peacekeepers on the border. Australia’s preference was, therefore, for a continued United Nations presence to concentrate on essential nation-building tasks, especially in building the capacity of government institutions, developing the police and security forces and strengthening the law and justice systems.
In any future United Nations mission, he said, a Special Representative of the Secretary-General should continue to report to the Security Council, which would retain oversight of the situation in Timor-Leste. The mission should also continue to be funded from the regular United Nations budget. It would be important to ensure that essential civilian positions were adequately funded. The UNMISET had clearly made a significant contribution to building a capable and vibrant democracy, but the challenges facing Timor-Leste required a new approach. A continued post-UNMISET United Nations presence should focus on the key areas of capacity-building and governance. Australia had been a significant contributor to United Nations efforts and could be relied upon to maintain its contribution, in proportionate terms, to any future United Nations presence in Timor-Leste, however the Security Council decided to proceed.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Union congratulated the Government of Timor-Leste for the tangible progress achieved in adopting key legislation, establishing State institutions, and holding successful local elections in two districts. It also welcomed the steady improvement of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia and hoped that the increased number of high-level meetings would lead to progress on border delineation. While a Truth and Friendship Commission had been formed, the Union remained concerned at the lack of progress in the fight against impunity, and welcomed the establishment of a Commission of Experts to assess progress made.
Whereas tangible progress had been achieved in many areas, significant challenges remained and international assistance beyond May would be crucial for the long-term stability, security and sustainable development, he said. The Union, therefore, supported adequate continued United Nations presence in Timor-Leste after the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate.
He said the Union had provided vital assistance to Timor-Leste, contributing half of the external assistance to the country in the amount of 638 million euros. It had committed 180 million euros to support the rehabilitation and development process. In the near future, Timor-Leste would benefit from the European Development Fund.
VANU GOPALA NENON (Singapore) said Timor-Leste’s judiciary and public administrative systems were still in their early stages of development. The work of the international judges and the United Nations civilian advisers remained crucial. The continued support of United Nations legal advisers would definitely help. It was clear from the report that UNMISET civilian police advisers, especially trainers, were still critically needed. Border management and control was one of the key challenges to the Timor-Leste Government. The United Nations liaison officers would play a critical role in that regard.
He fully supported the Secretary-General’s assessment that significant challenges remained and that the provision of international assistance beyond the current mandate was crucial. He said the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had correctly identified the importance of helping to build and strengthen important key institutions as part of the process of peace-building in post-conflict countries. He, therefore, urged the Council to support the report’s recommendations to maintain a United Nations mission with a scaled-down structure in Timor-Leste for an additional 12-month period.
JOAO SALGUEIRO (Portugal), subscribing to the statement made by Luxembourg on behalf of the European Union, said that Timor-Leste was in a critical period of its peace-building process. The Secretary-General’s report clearly outlined a number of areas that were in need of international assistance beyond UNMISET’s mandate. In the area of police training, there was much work still to be done in managing the border, which remained porous and, therefore, a source of illegal incursions and illegal trade. Security on the border was a key factor for the political and social stability of Timor-Leste. Portugal noted with concern that the land border demarcation was incomplete. That was particularly worrisome because a successor arrangement to the present Military Liaison Arrangement was not yet in place.
While the Secretary-General’s report said that Timor-Leste had made considerable advances towards self-sufficiency, significant challenges remained, nevertheless, and continuing international assistance beyond the expiration of UNMISET’s current mandate was essential for the mid- and long-term security, stability and sustainable development of Timor-Leste. That was why Portugal agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendations to ensure that, after May 2005, a new structure for the United Nations presence in Timor-Leste was configured, in order to address the existing needs. That would include such components as military liaison officers, police trainers, civilian advisers, human rights officers and a small office to support the work of the a Special Representative.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said that, as a country that shared history with Timor-Leste, Indonesia regarded the young nation as one of the priorities in its foreign policy. Furthermore, both nations had decided to embrace forward-looking and reconciliatory policies in the interest of their peoples and of development, as manifested by the increasing strengthening of bilateral relations and in the intensive meetings of the highest political officials of both countries. Rigorous efforts had been made in the past three years to promote reconciliation, which had reached a satisfactory level and shown significant results. The “Operation Solidarity” initiative launched by President Gusmao following the Indian Ocean tsunami and the strong solidarity demonstrated by individual Timorese through their donations attested to the tangible progress made in reconciliation between the peoples and Governments of the two countries.
Indonesia had been helping reconciliation among the people of Timor-Leste by, among other steps, facilitating dialogue visits between the country and the people of Indonesia’s West Timor province, he said. However, in order to maintain and further promote bilateral relations, both countries had underscored the importance of resolving existing residual issues while deepening and expanding bilateral cooperation at the same time. In addition, the 14 December 2004 meeting in Bali between President Yudhoyono and President Gusmao was a historic moment for bilateral relations, where the two leaders had reiterated their desire and determination to further enhance a stable, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship between their two countries. They had also noted the steady and positive growth in relations over the past three years, as reflected by the significant progress in addressing such issues as land border delineation, refugees, traditional border crossings and regulated market arrangements.
He said that the agreement establishing the Truth and Friendship Commission was unprecedented in history, whereby the two countries, which had been severely affected by the common experience of 1999, had agreed jointly to embark on finding the truth about the allegations of human rights violations and on the basis of which intra- and inter-communal reconciliation among their two peoples would be further promoted. The agreement of the heads of the two Governments had clearly reflected the maturity and spirit to seek an acceptable solution to heal the wounds and unload the burdens of the past in order to foster bilateral relations and friendship among both peoples. Different countries with their respective experiences had chosen different means in coming to terms with their past. In some countries, leaders and people might seek truth and reconciliation, rather than prosecutorial process. Indonesia and Timor-Leste had opted to seek truth and promote friendship as a new and unique mechanism. True justice could be served with truth and acknowledgement of responsibility, while the prosecutorial process might only achieve justice, but not necessarily establish truth nor promote reconciliation.
Regarding the land boundary, he said Indonesia was ready at any time to sign a provisional agreement and was pleased to learn about indications of a possible signing. The draft agreement had been discussed by both countries in June 2004 and it covered all the work done by the joint technical team since 2001. There had been remarkable progress in the land boundary delineation process, in which almost 95 per cent of the border had been agreed. Both countries had agreed on the land coordinates and several points remained in order to upgrade the approximate boundary lines into agreed boundary lines and complete the actual boundary.
He stressed that border management was a continuous process that would not stop once the border was demarcated. It was also necessary to better respond to possible criminal activity. The continued strengthening of relations between the Indonesian police and military and the Timorese border patrol units had resulted in a notable improvement of security not only in the border areas, but also in Timor-Leste generally. On the other hand, the continuing improvement of security in West Timor was another positive factor for the improvement of security and stability in border areas. Now that the termination of UNMISET’s mandate was in view, it was time to take a hard look at the need for Timor-Leste to strengthen its national capacity-building. The overall achievement of UNMISET must not preclude the fact that some additional and continuing United Nations assistance was needed.
LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said the journey to the advancement of Timor-Leste was still at the beginning stage. Although many developments had been achieved, the country’s path to progress would continue to meet a mixture of successes and challenges. The international community must remain active in rendering assistance to the country. It was imperative that the accomplishments of UNMISET were maintained in a sustainable manner for the benefit of long-term development of the country and its people. She, therefore, concurred with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that UNMISET should continue its presence, with a scaled-down composition and size.
She said the development of the country needed to be approached in a holistic manner. Progress would also require continued assistance from the international community. Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, among others, still plagued Timor-Leste and would continue to hamper its nation-building process and national development for some time in the future. Support by the international community to fight against those problems would be needed after the conclusion of UNMISET’s mandate. The forthcoming development partner conference would provide a venue to reaffirm support for Timor-Leste.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said, in just five years, unprecedented progress had been made towards self-sufficiency. The “consolidation phase” of the United Nations’ role in Timor-Leste, initiated last year, required a delicate balance between a robust assessment of what was needed and an instinctive caution not to withdraw precipitously. He saw a continued role for the United Nations in Timor-Leste beyond a standard developmental one to safeguard the enormous progress that had been made to date. His country considered a modest, time-bound follow-on mission to UNMISET, tasked primarily with capacity-building, as an appropriate way to assist Timor-Leste’s transition to a sustainable development assistance framework.
Welcoming the evidence of warm and strengthened relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, he said he was encouraged by progress made in the process of border demarcation and hoped that further progress could be achieved before the conclusion of UNMISET’s mandate in May. As a regional neighbour, Timor-Leste would continue to be one of his country’s core bilateral development assistance partners. There remained many capacity-building tasks, however, that could best be provided by multilateral institutions. It was, therefore, appropriate that development agencies and international financial institutions had begun to assume some responsibilities that currently rested with the peacekeeping mission. He strongly supported that process as a means to assist Timor-Leste’s transition from a peacekeeping to a sustainable developmental framework.
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