5180th Meeting (AM)*
SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL RECOGNIZE CONTINUING NEED FOR INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY’S INVOLVEMENT TO CONSOLIDATE GAINS IN TIMOR-LESTE
Delegations Welcome Recent Positive Developments, including Peaceful Holding of
Elections, Improving Relations with Neighbouring Countries, Particularly Indonesia
Despite the remarkable progress achieved by Timor-Leste in the three years since attaining full sovereignty, speakers in the Security Council this afternoon acknowledged the continued need for the international community’s involvement to assist the island nation in consolidating the gains made so far.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s end of mandate report on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi noted that, while most of the credit for the country’s progress must be given to the Timorese people and leaders, there was no doubt that UNMISET and its predecessor had made a key contribution to the historic process.
He also provided an update on preparations for the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), established under resolution 1599 of April 2005, which was set to take over from UNMISET when its mandate ended on 20 May. The objectives of the Office would include further support of the development of critical State institutions, the development of the police and the Border Patrol Unit, and training.
Delegations welcomed recent positive developments in Timor-Leste, including the peaceful holding of local elections, the National Parliament’s endorsement of the first Provedor (Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice, and improving relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Indonesia. In that regard, speakers hailed the recent visit by Indonesia’s President to Timor-Leste, during which the two nations signed a provisional land border agreement.
Council President Ellen Margrethe Løj (Denmark), speaking in her national capacity, said recent events had shown that democracy in Timor-Leste was still fragile, but also vibrant and functioning. At the same time, she was concerned about the lack of progress in the fight against impunity. The issue of serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999 was a concern not only for the two countries, but also for the international community at large. The perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to justice. In that respect, she welcomed the recent visit by the Commission of Experts, appointed by the Secretary-General to review the prosecution of serious human rights violations committed in 1999, and looked forward to its recommendations.
Indonesia’s representative said the Commission on Truth and Friendship, the bilateral body created by his country and Timor-Leste, remained the best mechanism to provide an acceptable solution to heal the wounds and unload the burden of the past, in order to continue to foster bilateral relations and friendship among the two peoples. He noted that resolution 1599 had requested the Secretary-General’s Commission of Experts to explore possible ways of assisting the Truth Commission’s work. Indonesia had invited the Commission of Experts to visit Indonesia from 18 to 20 May, and looked forward to the positive contributions of that Commission to the work of the Commission on Truth and Friendship.
The representative of Timor-Leste thanked all members of UNMISET for their contribution to peace, stability, justice and capacity-building in his country, and welcomed resolution 1599 allowing the mandate of the follow-on mission for one year. His Government was committed to peace and stability in the country. While progress had been achieved in various areas, he noted that Timor-Leste remained one of the poorest nations in the world. The Government was determined, however, to create a better life for the people. To that end, the international community’s support was necessary.
Also making statements this afternoon were the representatives of the Philippines, Japan, China, Greece, United Republic of Tanzania, Romania, France, Benin, United States, Argentina, Algeria, United Kingdom, Brazil, Russian Federation, Australia, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Malaysia and Portugal.
The meeting, which began at 3:55 p.m., adjourned at 6:05 p.m.
When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the end of mandate report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), for the period from 17 February to 11 May 2005 (document S/2005/310). In addition to reviewing the activities of UNMISET, the report also describes preparations for the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), whose establishment the Council authorized for a one-year period, until 20 May 2006.
According to the report, over the three years which have elapsed since it gained independence in May 2002, Timor-Leste has made remarkable strides towards the threshold of self-sufficiency. The UNMISET, whose mandate expires on 20 May, has provided crucial support to this process, including during its consolidation phase, over the past 12 months. Notwithstanding all that has been achieved, more remains to be done, and further generous support will be indispensable if the remarkable gains achieved so far are to be sustained and built on in the future.
The follow-on mission, to be headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, will focus on transfer of skills and knowledge, to continue to build the capacity of the public institutions of Timor-Leste to enable them to deliver the necessary services, in accordance with international principles of democratic governance. The elements to be included within UNOTIL will enable the international community to offer vital assistance to the further development and strengthening of the rule of law, including justice, human rights, and support for the national police and other aspects of public administration.
At the same time, further international assistance will be essential, beyond the support provided through UNOTIL, the report continues. This will include assistance with security needs to promote the stability of the country and to ensure the safety of United Nations personnel. In addition, the advisory support available through UNOTIL to strengthen administrative and police structures can meet only the most pressing needs and must be supplemented with bilateral and multilateral assistance to ensure sustainable progress.
Ultimately, however, the primary responsibility for achieving maximum benefit and a better life for the people of Timor-Leste must rest with the Timorese leadership. Continuing efforts to foster the growth of a vibrant democratic society, with an independent and impartial judiciary, law enforcement agencies and civil service, as well as freedom of the press, will be crucial to the future progress of Timor-Leste.
Statement by Assistant Secretary-General
HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introduced the Secretary-General’s end-of-mandate report on UNMISET and provided an update on preparations for the implementation of UNOTIL’s mandate, established under resolution 1599 of April 2005. During the period covered in the report, there had been a few significant political developments, including the holding of local elections in a peaceful manner in the eastern districts on 17 and 23 March. Although the ruling party had fared well, opposition candidates had also won a significant number of seats. Another development had been the organization of a large demonstration by church leaders outside the Government building in Dili in response to a Government proposal to designate religious education as an optional subject in some schools. The 20 day demonstration had remained largely peaceful. On the advice of UMMISET civilian police, the Timorese national police had exercised restraint. The Government had also adopted an overall conciliatory approach towards the protest. A joint declaration had been signed between the Prime Minister and the two bishops, recognising that religious education should be included as a regular discipline in school curricula with attendance subject to parental wishes.
Relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia had also continued to improve, culminating in the visit of Indonesia’s President to Timor-Leste on 8 and 9 April, he said. During the visit, the foreign ministers had signed a provisional agreement on the border line, which defined 96 per cent of the entire land border. Most of the remaining 4 per cent related to the Ocussi enclave. The relationship between the Indonesian armed forces and the Timorese border control unit had also continued to develop with assistance from the Mission. On 21 April, the border police unit had exchanged fire with Indonesian military personnel. The incident highlighted the continuing need for a United Nations presence to facilitate interaction between the border control unit and the Indonesian military. Training was needed to enable the border control unit to fulfil its responsibility for contacts with its Indonesian counterparts. Other specialized units of the Timorese police also required further training assistance to become fully self-sufficient in the performance of their tasks.
Regarding State institutions and administration, further progress had been achieved towards their consolidation, he said. Local ownership had been enhanced, especially in the finance sector. The functioning of the judicial system, however, continued to depend on the support of international advisors who provided training for judicial figures and had to perform certain key line functions. The Council’s decision to authorize a one-year follow-on mission would enable the Organization to make a further contribution towards addressing the country’s outstanding needs for assistance.
Although resolution 1599 did not fully respond to the expectations of the Timorese Government, it had welcomed its adoption, he said. During his visit to Timor-Leste, he had discussed UNOTIL the implementation plan with the Government and the UNMISET leadership. The allocation of 45 approved civilian adviser posts to State institutions had been finalized in consultation with the Government. The UNMISET was reviewing the profiles of international advisors deployed in Timor-Leste to evaluate to what extent they matched the new requirements. For those who did, retention for another year hade been recommended. The current pool did not include the skills required for 23 new positions which would have to be advertised. All current advisors would remain in place until the new ones were deployed.
Regarding the 40 police advisors, their primary task would be the provision of training to specialized units of the Timorese police, he said. The training would cover areas ranging from riot control techniques and the use of firearms to immigration, navigation and close protection. Specialized training would also be provided to the border control unit. For that purpose, resolution 1599 had authorized the deployment of 35 additional advisors, 15 of whom would be military advisors. The 15 military advisors would assist the 20 additional police advisors in the mentoring and training of the border police unit. A joint concept of operations had been developed. The goal was to assure full border control by the border police unit.
Some of the current military officers would remain in Timor-Leste beyond 20 May to ensure a smooth transition from UNMISET to UNOTIL. Resolution 1599 did not authorize the deployment of the 144 strong security backup force recommended by the Secretary-General in February. Having travelled to the border area, he said it was clear that their departure would create some gaps. Not only did they provide a significant deterrent to criminal activities, but also ensured the maintenance of the land route from Dili to the border. That land route would become impassable without such services. While in Timor-Leste, he had been briefed on the serious crimes process. In accordance with resolution 1543 of May 2004, the serious crimes process would be terminated in a few days. In the meantime, 10 staff of the Serious Crimes Unit would be retained during UNMISET’s liquidation phase.
While most of the credit for the remarkable progress achieved in Timor-Leste must be given to the Timorese people and leaders, there was no doubt that UNMISET and its predecessor had made a key contribution to the historic process. More needed to be done, and UNOTIL would do its best to contribute to the United Nations’ peacebuilding efforts in the country. Further generous support would remain indispensable to consolidate the remarkable gains made so far.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that the change in the character of the United Nations presence in Timor-Leste from peacekeeping to a transition special political mission that would eventually lead to a sustainable development framework recognized not only the significant strides that had been achieved in establishing a generally calm, stable and peaceful security environment in Timor-Leste, but also important political achievements in the country. The Secretary-General had reported the successful holding of local elections in three eastern districts, as well as progress in institution-building, particularly the endorsement of Timor-Leste’s first Provedor (Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice. There was ample opportunity for the complementarity in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Secretary-General’s appointed Commission of Experts to effectively address the need for justice in the serious human rights violations committed in 1999.
Regarding UNOTIL, he observed that it would be necessary for the international community to seek alternative ways to meet a number of important requirements in implementing the mandate of UNOTIL which would remain outstanding. In that regard, he welcomed the steps that the Secretary-General had indicated in his report to ensure that continuity was preserved in important and critical tasks whose conclusion would transpire beyond the end of UNMISET’s mandate. He also observed that further international assistance would be essential, beyond the support provided through UNOTIL, to ensure sustainable progress. In particular, he noted the Secretary-General’s concern for the need for assistance to promote the stability of the country and for contingency arrangements to secure the safety of United Nations personnel.
In that regard, he requested UNOTIL, in its subsequent reports to the Council, to indicate developments in the consultations to be undertaken to secure bilateral and multilateral assistance with regard to the above two concerns.
TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) noted the tangible achievements and progress made during UNMISET’s final consolidation phase over the past year, especially the improvements seen in the security situation, State institutions and capacities, and in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The recent peaceful resolution of the demonstrations initiated by church leaders exemplified the consolidation of democracy in Timor-Leste. He also highly commended the recent strengthening of Timor-Leste’s relations with neighbouring countries, including Indonesia.
He expected that the United Nations, other international organizations and MemberStates would continue to provide assistance for nation-building in Timor-Leste for the remaining one-year period. The coming year would represent the final demonstration of the United Nations’ direct contribution to the country. In order to make that effort a success, his country would provide strong and sustained support in Timor-Leste. The UNOTIL should fulfil a coordinating role in order to effectively combine all bilateral and multilateral assistance for the future sustainable development of Timor-Leste. At the Timor-Leste and Development Partners’ Meeting held in Dili in April, Japan had pledged to continue and strengthen its bilateral support to Timor-Leste, which had included dispatching experts for human resources training and institutional capacity-building.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that, in a few days, the Government and people of Timor-Leste would celebrate the third anniversary of their independence. Over the past three years, with the help of the international community, the Timorese people had overcome all difficulties and had taken encouraging initial steps in nation-building. Among other things, the Government had recently conducted local elections and had dealt with domestic difficulties. Also, its relationship with its neighbours was improving. He shared with the Government and people of Timor-Leste a deep sense of achievement. Those achievements reflected the hard work and contribution of UNMISET over the past three years. The Mission had lived up to its mandate and had accompanied the new country in tackling all its ups and downs.
In doing so, UNMISET had earned credibility for the United Nations in the country, he noted. He paid tribute to all the members of UNMISET, as well as the previous and current Special Representatives of the Secretary-General. Although UNMISET’s mandate would come to an end, the international community would continue to assist the country. As pointed out by the Secretary-General, the next steps should be towards institution-building through robust capacity-building activities. He hoped UNOTIL would be clear about its direction from the beginning, so that there would be a professional management team, and the independence of Timor-Leste would be completed at an early date. He called on the international community to continue to give attention and support to Timor-Leste to help it achieve progress in the peaceful building of the country.
ALEXANDRA PAPADOPOULOU (Greece) said Timor-Leste had travelled a long way since independence in May 2002 due mainly to the determination and efforts of her citizens and the international community’s steadfast commitment. The UNMISET had provided critical support in the long journey, and UNOTIL constituted the reaffirmation of the Council’s commitment to see the journey fully completed. There was still work to do. She was pleased to see the continuous strengthening of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, proof of which was the recent visit of Indonesian President to the country. Greece was also pleased with other developments, such as progress in establishing Timor-Leste’s legal framework. Dealing with difficult problems of the past, however, especially human rights abuses and fighting impunity, was still an open chapter.
Greece had supported the Secretary-General’s proposals regarding the international community’s reaction to the request of the Timorese authorities for help, she said. At the same time, Greece strongly believed in the value of the Council’s unanimity. The decision to establish UNOTIL had been unanimously adopted. The focus must now shift to UNOTIL and the fulfilment of its mandate. Building a stable and secure democracy to foster economic development and social progress was a goal the international community shared with the Timorese people. As Timor-Leste moved to the next chapter, the challenge was to consolidate the progress achieved so far and pave the way towards a better future of peace, stability and prosperity for the country and region as a whole. In that connection, UNOTIL’s role was very important, and Greece was ready to provide it with all necessary means and support.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said he was encouraged by the positive developments that had been recorded in Timor-Leste in the past three months. He also noted with satisfaction the step-by-step growth of TimoreseState institutions, realizing that uninterrupted international support would continue to be required beyond UNMISET, to ensure the growth of a viable State. The UNOTIL, which would focus on knowledge and skills transfer, marked an important step towards a full Timorese ownership of their nation-building process. While thanking all those who contributed to the success of UNMISET, he welcomed UNOTIL, which should also ensure that it equally succeeded in its follow-up mandate.
The Secretary-General had signalled an anticipated shortfall of required resources under UNOTIL, which needed to be bridged by the international community, he said. The additional resources would further stabilize the security of Timor-Leste and strengthen its democratic governance institutions. The call by the Secretary-General should be heeded with a timely and adequate response. External support to help fight problems such as poverty, unemployment and illiteracy would continue to be needed even after the conclusion of UNOTIL’s mandate. Continuing international support was required for the specific objectives of consolidating the pillars of statehood and the path of sustainable development, which Timor-Leste had already established.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said his country upheld the approach reflected by resolution 1599 which deemed it a sound balancing act between the need to acknowledge the completion of the mandate and purpose of a given United Nations peacekeeping operation, on the one hand, and the requirements of continued United Nations support for preventing post conflict achievements from becoming victim to persistent challenges, on the other. He noted with satisfaction the indications of significant progress in terms of stability, development, strengthening of democracy and State institutions in Timor-Leste. He was also encouraged by the continuous improvement of cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, which he hoped would bring about further progress in the resolution of outstanding issues, including the completion of land border delineation.
Regarding remaining challenges, he emphasized the need for continued international and bilateral assistance to Timor-Leste with the goal of achieving the country’s full self-reliance. The United Nations had a central role in that regard. UNOTIL’s mandate was adequately fine-tuned to address those requirements and expectations. He welcomed the establishment of the Commission of Experts, as well as the agreement between the Governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia on the setting up of a Truth and Friendship Commission. The two measures had the potential of making a difference within the overall efforts to end impunity. It was important that all Member States cooperated with their work.
JEAN POIRIER (France) congratulated Timor-Leste on the progress made in the past three years, including the building of State institutions and the growth of democracy. He thanked UNMISET and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for their contribution to the success of the Mission. The Timorese had the primary responsibility for long-term development, and the United Nations would continue to play an accompanying role. He underscored the improving relations between Timor-Leste and its neighbours, including Indonesia. The visit of the Indonesian President and the land border agreement attested to that.
JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said that, although the composition of UNOTIL was still below the requested level, its mandate, as defined in resolution 1599, was a specific expression of the will of the international community to assure a transition and the continuity of an international presence in the country. He paid tribute to UNMISET and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the excellent work done in supporting reconstruction and strengthening human capacity. He also saluted the maturity of the Timorese parties in dealing with recent delicate issues.
Also, the commitment of the Timorese Government in favour of achieving the Millennium Development Goals was encouraging, as well its ongoing improving relations with Indonesia and Australia. He welcomed the signature of the provisional border agreement and hoped the demarcation of the border would be completed soon. All of that showed that Timor-Leste had turned a decisive corner in its march towards democracy, peace and economic development, and it augured well for the country’s future. He joined others in requesting the international community to find the resources to meet the current shortcomings, as indicated by the Secretary-General, for continuity of the United Nations presence in the country and for carrying out important legal and political developments.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) welcomed the Secretary-General’s end-of-mandate report and thanked Mr. Annabi for his presentation. The UMISET had done an outstanding job, and he thanked all those who had contributed to its work. The people and Government of Timor-Leste had come a remarkable distance and their spirit and determination were admirable. He also recognized the international community’s contribution. The time had come to move onto supporting Timor-Leste’s own capacity for self-governance. He fully appreciated the new challenges the country would face as a new State. The United States hoped that support for the new special political mission would provide the additional assistance and transfer of skills necessary for Timor-Leste to achieve further self-sufficiency.
He said the United States remained committed to achieving accountability for the crimes committed in 1999 and looked forward to the report of the Commission of Experts. He commended the special crimes unit for its work and expressed concern about the proper handling of crucial evidence gathered by that body. The United Nations must preserve a full copy of the files. He welcomed the decision to maintain a core staff to ensure that the files were copied. In that regard, the United States supported a delay in the liquidation of the Serious Crimes Unit until the Council could consider the Commission’s recommendations.
The United States had focused its assistance on, among other things, promoting free and open markets, improving the judicial sector and training the military and police forces. He hoped partners would continue to work with the people and Government of Timor-Leste to further the country’s capacity-building and security sector training. During the final year of United Nations political assistance, he hoped the Mission would be able to transfer the skills needed to build capacity in the country, with a special focus on policing.
CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said that experience of the United Nations in Timor-Leste had been extremely positive. The successive missions there had made significant contributions to the country’s transition to its independence and to the consolidation of institutions. None of that would have been possible without the will of the people to create a viable State in such a short period of time. Despite elements of progress, the help of the international community would continue to be necessary to ensure that what had been achieved would be sustainable over time. That had been the approach followed by the Council in adopting resolution 1599. He noted that some areas covered by international support would no longer be covered, and hoped the Council would react flexibly if international support was needed in those areas in order to maintain security.
The signing of a border agreement between Timor-Leste and Indonesia continued to be a matter of priority, he said. The strengthening of relations with its neighbours, particularly Indonesia, was of vital importance. The visit of the Indonesian President was an additional step in that process. He also hoped a satisfactory solution would be attained regarding the use of maritime resources between Timor-Leste and Australia.
Regarding the Truth and Friendship Commission, he reiterated his country’s support to everything that could clarify the terrible events of the past and lead to genuine reconciliation. While he recognized that time was required for that process, reconciliation should not be achieved at the cost of justice. He supported the work of the Commission of Experts, which was appointed by the Secretary-General. In addition, he supported the maintenance of a substantive United Nations presence in Timor-Leste for as long as necessary and to look into other options should the significant progress achieved be called into question.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said Timor-Leste continued to make progress in the final consolidation phase, as demonstrated by the holding of local elections and the strengthening of public institutions. He also welcomed the relationship between Indonesia and Timor-Leste which had improved in recent months. He congratulated them for the decision to establish a Truth and Friendship Commission and on the border agreement. In that regard, he encouraged both Governments to continue their work. Algeria was also pleased with the agreement with Australia on offshore oil.
He said the progress achieved so far needed to be consolidated. Assistance was needed in key areas, including in the area of justice. With the end of UMMISET’s mandate, the follow-on mission would enable the United Nations to continue assistance regarding capacity-building and building the rule of law. Timor-Leste would need financial assistance to meet its national development plan and ensure long term stability.
PAUL JOHNSTON (United Kingdom) joined others in paying tribute to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, his predecessor and everyone at UNMISET for the excellent work done to assist the people of Timor-Leste. With the establishment of UNOTIL, the activities of the United Nations had moved into a new phase. The United Nations was now in a position to focus on areas in which the people needed targeted assistance, and he looked forward to the Timorese achieving self-sufficiency.
Given the importance of the border issues, he was pleased that the training of the border patrol would be a priority, and stressed the importance of bilateral assistance in that regard. He looked forward to the forthcoming report of the Commission of Experts and welcomed the fact that Indonesia would issue visas for the Commission to visit Jakarta. It was important, he noted, that the Serious Crimes Unit was retained to protect information and documentation for as long as necessary. He congratulated the Timorese who had achieved so much in the last few years.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said important progress had been made in the implementation of UNMISET’s mandate in the last few years and a new phase in the United Nations commitment would begin after 20 May. Enthusiasm over the success of the United Nations presence must not cause the international community to lose sight of the challenges still facing the country. Timor-Leste was in urgent need of international assistance in the socio-economic, security and political fields. The progress achieved so far must not be jeopardized. Challenges related to the transition to a post-conflict situation and the implementation of peacebuilding measures would test the United Nations.
Stability must be preserved as the democratic process evolved and reconciliation efforts gained momentum, he said. Brazil welcomed the signature of the provisional agreement on the border, the establishment of the Truth and Friendship Commission and the holding of elections in March. The careful handling of problems related to religious education in school programmes reflected maturity and a promising ability of the Government to overcome potentially divisive issues in a peaceful manner.
United Nations development and humanitarian agencies would make an important contribution in the new phase, he said. Providing assistance to Timor-Leste’s long-term developments was the best way to prevent a resurgence of violence. Brazil appreciated in particular the efforts of the Governments of Indonesia and Australia to solve pending issues and strengthen bilateral ties based on friendship and respect. It was essential to keep the current level of public services after the end of UNMISET’s madate. Strides had been made in the “Timorization” of public administration, and important progress had been achieved towards building the capacity of TimoreseState institutions during the consolidation phase.
It was also critical to strengthen the rule of law, he continued. Despite the improved relations between Indonesian armed forces and the Timorese Border Patrol Unit, the establishment of an effective mechanism for border management to replace the military liaison arrangement, which would expire on 30 June 2005, was urgently needed. In the field of criminal justice, Timor-Leste still faced a serious lack of specialized personnel, he added, stressing the need to conclude the activities of the Serious Crimes Unit. It was also important to address other legal problems that might inhibit the country’s economic recovery and development. A predictable source of funding was needed. Now was the time to protect the huge investment already made.
VADIM SMIRNOV (Russian Federation) said that UNMISET had achieved impressive success, and its contribution to the establishment of core State institutions was difficult to exaggerate. By virtue of the tireless efforts of the United Nations, the capacities of the Government, the armed forces and police had grown. He expressed appreciation to the United Nations Mission, headed by Secretary-General’s Special Representative Hasegawa, for the excellent job done.
Despite the thorough efforts of the Timorese, the United Nations and other partners, Timor-Leste continued to need comprehensive external assistance, he said. Thus, the Council had adopted resolution 1599 authorizing the United Nations political mission. He expected that in the next 12 months, UNOTIL would assist the Government in the remaining tasks. To ensure lasting stability in Timor-Leste, it was important to maintain good neighbourly relations. He welcomed the steady improvement of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, and hoped the bilateral Truth and Friendship Commission would further broaden cooperation between the two States.
Council President, ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), in a statement in her national capacity, welcomed the continuing positive political developments in Timor-Leste. Recent events had shown that democracy in Timor-Leste was still fragile, but also vibrant and functioning. Noticeable progress had been made in the electoral field through the holding of local elections and the National Parliament’s endorsement of the first Provedor –- or Ombudsman -– for Human Rights and Justice of Timor-Leste. She further welcomed the recent visit of President Yudhoyono and the signing by the Foreign Ministers of Timor-Leste and Indonesia of a provisional agreement on the borderline between the two countries. Efforts to solve all outstanding issues and to further improve and strengthen the relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia must continue.
She said her Government was concerned about the lack of progress in the fight against impunity. The issue of serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste 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 significant importance to the people of Timor-Leste and for the development of the country. The perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to justice. In that respect, she welcomed the recent visit by the Secretary-General’s Commission of Experts to Timor and the expected visit to Indonesia by the Commission. She urged the two parties to fully cooperate with the expert Commission and looked forward to its report.
With the closure of UNMISET and the establishment of UNOTIL, the focus of the international assistance was now on peacebuilding and development in Timor-Leste, she said. Her Government supported an approach based on national ownership that placed the people of Timor-Leste in the driver’s seat. She, therefore, welcomed that the number of international United Nations advisors would be reduced in the coming months to give room for the Timorese to assert their leadership. She urged the United Nations to ensure a smooth transition from UNMISET to UNOTIL.
PETER TESCH (Australia) said he supported the Security Council resolution for establishing a special political successor mission to the successful peacekeeping mission now drawing down. As a neighbour and friend to Timor-Leste, his country had supported each of the missions to that country from the first. The new mission, UNOTIL, would play an important role in transferring needed skills to Timor-Leste’s institutions.
At the same time, he said, the international community must remain engaged in Timor-Leste, in particular by giving support to developing the police and security forces along with the law and justice systems. Timor-Leste would achieve its long-term goals only through improvements in those critical areas.
Finally, he said the United Nations engagement in Timor-Leste would be a case study on how the Organization can work and make a difference. The international community must keep in mind, however, that the process of nation-building was not yet complete in Timor-Leste. The international commitment to Timor-Leste must be sustained over the long term to ensure its transition to a secure and self-reliant statehood.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg) said that the Organization had accomplished a lot in providing assistance to Timor-Leste since the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) in 1999. He wanted to pay tribute to all those who had lost their lives to bring peace and freedom to others, and to the dedication and professionalism of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), as well as the leadership of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello. He also commended the personnel of UNMISET for their work to ensure a smooth transition from peacekeeping to the sustainable development framework in Timor-Leste, under the competent leadership of Special Representatives Kamalesh Sharma and Sukehiro Hasegawa. He also welcomed the adoption of resolution 1599, which had decided on a one-year follow-on special political mission (UNOTIL). Through the implementation of its mandate, it would assist the Timorese in their continuing journey towards self-sustainability. Nevertheless, international assistance should complement that Mission’s efforts in supporting Timor-Leste’s public administration.
As for Timor-Leste’s overall political situation three years after its independence, he said that tangible progress had been achieved in numerous areas, but challenges remained in others. Further international assistance would be essential. In particular, priority should be given to the implementation of quick-impact projects. He welcomed the peaceful pursuit of the local election process in three more districts, as well as the progress achieved in reinforcing the Timorese legal framework. Efforts should continue to improve the judicial system, in order to guarantee real access to justice and respect of due process to all citizens. A recent visit of the President of Indonesia to Timor-Leste demonstrated continuous strengthening of the relations between the two neighbours.
The European Union remained concerned, however, at the lack of progress in the fight against impunity, he continued. Those responsible for serious human rights violations committed in Timor-Leste in 1999 must be held accountable for their crimes, in conformity with relevant Security Council resolutions. He urged all parties to cooperate fully with the work of the Secretary-General’s Commission of Experts, mandated to review the judicial processes in both nations. The Union looked forward to the Commission’s upcoming report and recommendations, exploring ways to address the issues, including how its analysis could assist the Commission of Truth and Friendship being established by Indonesia and Timor-Leste. He hoped that the two commissions would be able to work together to ensure that justice would prevail. He also welcomed the fact that the security situation in Timor-Leste had remained generally calm and stable, while recognizing the need for the international community to remain vigilant in that regard.
In conclusion, he said that since 1999, the European Union and its memberStates had provided vital assistance to Timor-Leste, contributing nearly €700 million to its development. That represented half of the external assistance that country had received. In the near future, as a new Africa, Caribbean Pacific (ACP) State, Timor-Leste would also be benefiting from the European Development Fund. He appreciated the efforts of the Government of Timor-Leste and the determination of the Timorese people to build a viable, just and democratic State. The Union was committed to remaining a reliable partner in assisting Timor-Leste in its efforts to achieve long-term stability and sustainable economic development, in close coordination with other bilateral and multilateral donors.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said that the progress made by the Government and people of Timor-Leste in building their country in a short period after obtaining full sovereignty was remarkable. The new State had become a peaceful nation and continued to make progress in economic and social development, strengthening law and order, and consolidating democracy. However, the challenges ahead were daunting for Timor-Leste.
Despite the successful completion of the mandate of UNMISET in helping Timor-Leste towards self-reliance, continued international assistance was still needed. In that regard, he was pleased that the Council had authorized the establishment of UNOTIL, whose objectives would include further support of the development of critical State institutions, the development of the police and the Border Patrol Unit, and training. To ensure success, UNOTIL should be able to deliver the needed assistance in an effective and efficient manner.
Indonesia and Timor-Leste had continued to enjoy excellent bilateral ties, he noted, marked by the exchange of visits at the highest level, extensive cooperation in many fields, and progress in addressing residual issues. Bilateral cooperation had not only deepened, but also expanded. The Joint Commission, at the foreign ministers level, remained instrumental in furthering bilateral cooperation in the economic, social, cultural, security and educational fields.
Turning to the Commission on Truth and Friendship, he said that it remained the best mechanism to provide an acceptable solution to heal the wounds and unload the burden of the past, in order to continue to foster bilateral relations and friendship among the two peoples. The terms of reference of the Commission had been announced in a joint declaration on 9 March. The recruitment of its members would be completed very soon. He noted that resolution 1599 had requested the Secretary-General’s Commission of Experts to explore possible ways of assisting the Commission’s work. His Government had invited the Commission of Experts to visit Indonesia from 18 to 20 May, and looked forward to the positive contributions of that Commission to the work of the Commission on Truth and Friendship.
With regard to the boundary issue, he said that a provisional land border agreement had been signed during the course of the Indonesian President’s visit to Timor-Leste. The agreement established the provisional borderline covering approximately 96 per cent of the entire land border, and had come into effect on 8 May. Regarding the remaining 4 per cent, the Technical Subcommittee had continued to hold discussions. The job of placing border markers along the agreed sections would commence next month. The provisional agreement would substantially facilitate border management, as well as cooperation, in the field of border security.
RADZI RAHMAN (Malaysia) commended the Special Representative and the members of UNMISET’s civilian, military and police components for their contribution to the nation-building process in Timor-Leste. Malaysia fully appreciated the important roles played by the Mission in providing security and facilitating the country’s advance towards progress and development. The Mission had made a tremendous contribution towards the development of political, economic, social, legal and judicial institutions in Timor-Leste. In particular, it had played a crucial role in assisting towards building the capacity of TimoreseState institutions during the consolidation phase. Those advances could not have been achieved without the strong resolve of the country’s leadership and the support of the Timorese people, in general. Malaysia agreed that international assistance would be required beyond the expiration of UNMISET’s mandate to enable the young nation to build on the progress it had achieved.
He said the international community needed to seriously consider the Secretary-General’s call to seek alternative ways to meet crucial requirements following the Mission’s withdrawal. In consolidating the gains achieved thus far, it was essential that the transition from the peacekeeping to development be conducted with the contribution of bilateral and multilateral partners. It was incumbent on the international community to lend its vital assistance to ensure the success of UNOTIL as it undertook its one-year follow-on mission. As it focused on the transfer of skills and knowledge to building the capacity of public institutions, there would be areas in which the international community could contribute to further developing and strengthening of the rule of law. The international community’s assistance would also be needed in areas beyond the support provided by UNOTIL, including ensuring the safety of United Nations personnel.
JOÃO SALGUEIRO (Portugal) welcomed the important work being carried out by the Commission of Experts, appointed by the Secretary-General, and looked forward to its final recommendations. He also noted the positive developments in the relationship of Timor-Leste with its neighbours, and welcomed the advances towards resolving such key issues as finalizing the demarcation of land and maritime borders. Welcoming the establishment of the special political mission, he said that, although the security environment remained calm and stable, it was important for the Council to follow with particular attention the situation on the ground, taking into account the removal of the last United Nations troops. The country was in a critical period of its peacebuilding process. In particular, police capacity-building was of great concern to his delegation.
Timor-Leste, he said, should continue to benefit from the organized and coherent support of the United Nations system. Despite the significant steps the country had taken, much more remained to be done. International support, both bilateral and multilateral, must be forthcoming. While Portugal had invested significantly in development programmes, its involvement was far from being exclusively financial. Portuguese nationals in the thousands had taken part in UNMISET and before that in UNTAET, from peacekeepers and civilian police observers to civil servants and volunteers from all walks of life.
JOSE LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and thanked all members of UNMISET for their contribution to peace, stability, justice and capacity-building in his country. He also welcomed the adoption of
resolution 1599 allowing the mandate of the follow-on mission for one year. The Government of Timor-Leste was committed to peace and stability in the country, as well as to protecting all United Nations personnel. The political and social environment remained peaceful and dynamic. Last month, the Catholic Church had organized a 20-day demonstration. Despite some fears of instability, the Government and the President had initiated a constructive dialogue with Church leaders. It had been a very challenging time for the new democratic institutions. It had also been a victory for Timor-Leste’s people.
He said the visit of President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to Timor-Leste on 8 and 9 April had reinforced the friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries and peoples. His Government welcomed the decision of Indonesia’s Government to provide training to Timorese police officers in Indonesia, and to continue the scholarship programme for Timorese students in Indonesia. The Timorese people had been deeply touched by the visit of the Indonesian President to the Santa CruzCemetery. On the negotiations on the maritime boundaries and the sharing of gas and oil resources with Australia, another round had just been completed last week in Sydney, and the Government was studying the proposals in order to achieve a fair and just agreement.
Regarding issues of justice and human rights, Timor-Leste and Indonesia had created the bilateral Commission of Truth and Friendship, he added. Timor-Leste had also cooperated with the Commission of Experts established by the Secretary-General. During their visit to Timor-Leste in April, the Commission had met with leaders, civil society representatives and relatives of the victims. He also welcomed the decision by Indonesia’s Government to invite the Commission to visit Jakarta this month. To consolidate the achievement in the area of human rights and justice, the National Parliament had endorsed on 29 March Sebastiao Dias Ximenes as Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice, the first in its history. While progress had been achieved in various areas, Timor-Leste remained one of the poorest nations in the world. The Government was determined, however, to create a better life for the people. To that end, the international community’s support was necessary.
Responding to the comments made, Mr. ANNABI said he would convey to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and staff of UNMISET all the kind words expressed about them. There was no doubt that Timor-Leste had achieved a lot in very little time. The United Nations was privileged to have accompanied Timor-Leste over the past five years as it built credible State institutions. Some had described the United Nations role as a model for successful peacekeeping and as a remarkable success story. He hoped that that success would be duly remembered. At a time when the United Nations was turning a page in its history in Timor-Leste, it was important to remember the exemplary work of Sergio Vieira de Mello, who devoted two and a half of his last years to assisting the Timorese people. Mr. Vieira de Mello would remain a role model to all those who believed in what the United Nations stood for.
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* The 5179th meeting was closed.