UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST CONTINUE TO HELP TIMOR-LESTE MEET CHALLENGES ARISING FROM 2006 CRISIS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

13 December 2007
SC/9199

UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST CONTINUE TO HELP TIMOR-LESTE MEET CHALLENGES ARISING FROM 2006 CRISIS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

13 December 2007
Security Council
SC/9199
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5801st Meeting (AM)

UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST CONTINUE TO HELP TIMOR-LESTE

MEET CHALLENGES ARISING FROM 2006 CRISIS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

Country’s Delegate Stresses Need to Extend Mandate of UN Integrated Mission

While Timor-Leste was on the right path to sustainable peace, stability, unity and prosperity, the international community, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions must continue to provide resources and support to address critical challenges facing the country, since its 2006 political crisis, such as the issue of internally displaced persons, political differences and sustainable development, the representative of South Africa told the Council this morning.

Speaking during a meeting to discuss the report of the Council mission that visited Timor-Leste from 24 November to 30 November, he said the team had met with the country’s President, Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, members of the judiciary and Parliament, the main opposition party leader, non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and other United Nations agencies.  The South Africa-led mission had encouraged them to work together to consolidate peace, democracy, the rule of law, security sector reform, sustainable social and economic development, and national reconciliation.

Timor-Leste’s representative warned that, while law and order had been restored and great strides made towards democracy, the country’s current tranquillity was precarious and due largely to the efforts of United Nations police and the International Stabilization Force, led by Australia and New Zealand.  It would take two to five years for the national police to become credible and effective.  Moreover, Timor-Leste’s history -- exacerbated by the prevailing unemployment, illiteracy and displacement -– profoundly challenged future stability and prosperity.

The mandate of UNMIT should be extended until 2012, she stressed, with police and security sector capacities for at least an initial two and a half years, followed by a Council-mandated peacebuilding mission for another two and a half years.  The Mission would focus on governance, police and security sector assistance and capacity-building.  Such assistance would not create a climate of dependency and the Government would, in the short- and medium-term, cooperate with all stakeholders to address the problem of the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons.

Continued assistance would also focus on consolidating stability, strengthening key institutions and entrenching a culture of democratic governance, she said.  The 2006 crisis had strengthened rather than weakened Timor-Leste’s democratic institutional framework and commitment to the rule of law.  The civil service was functioning, free and fair elections had been held without violence and all political parties were participating actively in Parliament in all matters of national priority.

Still, several delegates expressed concern that the root causes of last year’s crisis and its consequences had not been addressed fully.  Indonesia’s representative cited the case of fugitive Alfredo Reinado, the military deserters known as “petitioners” and the internally displaced persons, all of which continued to pose serious challenges to peace and stability, as did widespread poverty.  Indeed, the international community’s continuing support was necessary to help Timor-Leste strengthen State institutions and embark on security sector reform and economic development.

New Zealand’s representative cautioned that the country’s institutions were young and fragile and a security downturn could easily cause a setback.  New Zealand supported a strong, long-term United Nations presence that would maintain the current numbers of United Nations police within UNMIT.  Close attention should also be paid to ensuring that the composition of UNMIT had the required capacity to provide security and help reform and rebuild the national police through capacity-building and core competency training -– key ingredients for the country’s future stability.

A review of the police role should be carried out prior to the Council’s discussion next February to assess progress and ensure that the mandate of UNMIT had the direction, skills and focus needed to carry out its duties.  Further, there must be better cooperation between security institutions, a stronger legal framework, increased operational capabilities and enhanced civilian oversight.  The Government of Timor-Leste and UNMIT should work together for the comprehensive review and reform of the security sector.

Others addressing the Council were the representatives of the Philippines, Japan, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Australia, United Kingdom, China, Belgium, Russian Federation, United States, Ghana, Qatar, Slovakia, Panama, France, Peru, Congo and Italy.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 12:05 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the report of the Security Council mission to Timor-Leste, 24 to 30 November 2007 (document S/2007/711).

According to the terms of reference annexed to the report, the mission’s primary purpose was to reaffirm the Security Council’s commitment to help the Timorese people consolidate peace, democratic governance and the rule of law; to express the Council’s full support of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT); and to assess progress made in implementing UNMIT’s mandate.  The mission’s visit followed the first presidential and parliamentary elections since Timor-Leste’s independence and as the country slowly recovers from the crisis of 2006, in which a demonstration by former soldiers ended in rioting.  Five people were killed and thousands fled the capital, Dili (see Press Release SC/8712 of 5 May 2006).

The mission is of the view that many of the causes of the 2006 crisis have yet to be addressed, report says.  Central to the crisis were issues of governance, the separation of powers and the building of sustainable institutions.  The crisis occurred because of divisions in the leadership, weak institutions –- especially the security forces -– and poor Government structures.  Its consequences, such as the issues relating to the fugitive Major Alfredo Reinado, the military deserters known as “petitioners” and internally displaced persons, have not been resolved.  Rebuilding the people’s confidence in State institutions, reintegrating internally displaced persons and resolving the inevitable disputes over land and property are all very real challenges facing the nation.

Despite successful elections, the mission found, divergences among the political leaders persist, with implications for national unity and political stability, the report states.  The mission urged political leaders to work together in the national interest to tackle issues confronting the country.  It encouraged UNMIT to continue to exercise its goods offices role to expedite national reconciliation efforts.  The reconciliation process should be without prejudice to the need for justice and accountability for criminal acts.  It was clear to the mission that, unless the differences among Timorese leaders are resolved, political uncertainty will persist, and with it the prospect of renewed violence and bloodshed.

Because of the lack of popular confidence in security institutions, especially in the police, since the 2006 crisis, the continuation of the United Nations police presence as vital, according to the report.  However, the mission noted underlying tensions in the relationship between UNMIT police and the national police.  The Secretary-General should deploy an expert mission to review their working relationship.  The mission was of the view that Timor-Leste will continue to need United Nations assistance in the foreseeable future, and recommended an extension of UNMIT’s mandate, which expires on 26 February 2008.

The report notes that the mission’s visit was overwhelmingly perceived as a reaffirmation of support for and readiness to assist Timor-Leste.  The leadership and members of the Government expressed their full satisfaction with the cooperation received from UNMIT.  All Timorese stakeholders also conveyed their strong desire for a long-term United Nations presence because of the enormous challenges facing the country.

Members of the mission were South Africa (head of mission), China, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Slovakia and the United States.  Dumisani S. Kumalo ( South Africa) briefed the Council on 6 December (see Press Release SC/9188).

Statements

BASO SANGQU (South Africa), speaking on behalf of Council mission head Dumisani S. Kumalo, said the purpose of the visit to Timor-Leste from 24 November to 30 November was to encourage the Government, Parliament, the political parties and the people to continue to work together and consolidate peace, democracy, the rule of law, security sector reform, sustainable social and economic development and national reconciliation.  The mission also sought to discuss ways to help the country develop its capacities and to assess progress made on the ground in the implementation of UNMIT’s mandate.

He said the mission had met with various interlocutors, including the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and members of the judiciary and Parliament.  It had also held a meeting with the leader of the main opposition party.  It had met with non-governmental organizations and representatives of UNMIT and other United Nations agencies, and received a briefing from the International Stabilization Force, led by Australia and New Zealand.

From the report, he said, it was evident that, despite relative progress, Timor-Leste still faced enormous challenges associated with political differences.  In the humanitarian sphere, the plight of internally displaced persons remained a big task.  Despite those challenges, the mission was convinced that the country was on the right path towards sustainable peace, stability, unity and prosperity.  However, the engagement of the international community could not be overemphasized.  The international community, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions should continue providing resources and assistance for the implementation of projects promoting sustainable and long-term development.

SOFIA BORGES (Timor-Leste), expressing gratitude for the mission’s visit, said the Government pledged to cooperate with all stakeholders to address the problem of the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons.  Law and order had been restored, but the current tranquillity was precarious and due in large measure to the efforts of the United Nations police and the International Stabilization Force.  The national police would take two to five years to become credible and effective.  In addition, significant progress had been made towards democracy, but Timor-Leste’s history, exacerbated by the current unemployment, illiteracy and displacement, had left profound challenges confronting its future stability and prosperity.

In that light, the Government was focused in the short to medium term on consolidating stability, strengthening key institutions and entrenching a culture of democratic governance, she said.  Development was the ultimate goal, but the continued support of the United Nations in security and institution-building was crucial.  The mandate of UNMIT should be extended until 2012, with police and security sector capacities for at least two and a half of those years, followed by a Council-mandated peacebuilding mission focused on governance, police and security sector assistance and capacity-building for another two and a half years.

She assured the Council that such assistance would not create a climate of dependency and that the Government and people took full responsibility for the 2006 crisis and reconciliation through continued national dialogue.  In the five short years that Timor-Leste had been independent, its people had had to build a country from scratch.  The crisis of 2006 had strengthened rather than weakened the democratic institutional framework and the commitment to the rule of law.  For example, the civil service continued to function with paid salaries, free and fair elections had been held without violence, and Parliament had garnered the active participation of all parties in all matters of national priority.

ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand), acknowledging some encouraging progress in Timor-Leste this year, said presidential and parliamentary elections had been held successfully and the new Government had some important accomplishments to mark its first 100 days in office, such as the adoption of a new Government programme and an interim budget.  New Zealand reiterated its continuing support for the Government’s efforts to address challenges and commended the opposition’s active participation in Parliament as essential to the functioning of a democratic system.  While the security situation was gradually improving, the root causes of last year’s crisis had not been fully addressed.  Underlying political situations continued to challenge the country’s young and fragile institutions and a security downturn could easily set progress back.  Many problems remained, including a large number of internally displaced persons throughout Dili.  The international community’s ongoing involvement was needed, and New Zealand supported a strong, long-term United Nations presence in Timor-Leste.

Next February’s review of UNMIT’s mandate would be very important, she said.  Close attention must be paid to the skill sets and focus of the United Nations police element within that Mission.  While its numbers should be maintained at the current level, close attention should be paid to its make-up to ensure it had the required capacity to provide security and support durable reform and rebuilding of the national police through capacity-building and training in core competencies -– both important to the country’s future stability.  A review of the police role should be done prior to February discussions on UNMIT’s mandate, which would be helpful in assessing the progress it had made thus far and ensuring it had the direction, skills and focus needed to carry out its duties next year.  UNMIT must continue to support the Government in reforming and strengthening the justice and security sectors.

She stressed the need to improve cooperation between security institutions, strengthen the legal framework, increase operational capabilities and enhance civilian oversight.  The Government and UNMIT should work together to comprehensively review and reform all aspects of the security sector, encompassing the defence force, the Ministry of Defence, the national police and the Ministry of the Interior.  New Zealand continued to contribute defence and police personnel to the International Stabilization Force and the United Nations police, and commended the positive cooperation between the two.

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. ( Philippines) said Timor-Leste would continue to need United Nations assistance in the areas of governance, rule of law, security sector reform and economic and social development.  The country would benefit from priority action in those areas.  UNMIT was in a position to provide the necessary assistance, and its mandate to promote economic and social development through the compact between Timor-Leste and the international community should be given more focus.  The abundant reservoir of international goodwill should be sustained and international assistance geared towards self-reliance.

He said the mission’s assessment that many of the causes of the 2006 crisis had yet to be addressed was a matter of concern.  Those causes included issues of governance, the separation of powers and the building of sustainable institutions.  Timor-Leste was a part of the United Nations and any failure in those areas, in that or any other State with the same problems, affected the Organization’s integrity.  The United Nations, through the Council, was looked upon to act more decisively to address those concerns.

YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said his country had consistently been a strong supporter of nation-building in Timor-Leste since independence and was encouraged by the mission’s report.  Japan was impressed by the people’s enthusiasm and commitment to democracy, as had been witnessed by international electoral observers, including those from Japan.  The Council’s mission was timely and had contributed significantly to enhancing UNMIT’s work.  However, more must be done in certain areas.  Political differences persisting among the leadership after the elections should be expressed by the parties in Parliament, and there was a need for more work on capacity-building and reforming the security and justice sectors.  While the successful holding of elections was a good indication that the country was essentially stable and calm, the situation was still volatile and the level of residual trauma and fear among the people remained high.

Rebuilding the national police force so it could maintain security was indispensable, he said.  Police officers sent by Japan were doing their part by helping to compile a basic textbook for new police recruits and acting officers.  Evaluating the credibility of the police among the people would be essential to deciding on the transfer of greater responsibility to the force.  An expert mission should assess that transfer.  Japan remained committed to supporting all peacebuilding and development efforts beyond the peacekeeping stage.  Timor-Leste had great potential due to the large amounts of funds generated by oil revenues.  The effective and well-planned use of those funds would contribute to prosperity.  In that regard, training and building the capacity of Timorese personnel to manage those funds was critically important.

Consolidating peace was also an imperative, and UNMIT should continue to play a role to that end, he said.  The Government of Timor-Leste wanted the United Nations to consider creating an overlapping period in which peacekeeping operations and the Peacebuilding Commission would work in tandem to ensure a smooth transition to peace.  Japan hoped the parties concerned would consult in good faith and reach agreement on how best to benefit from the various forms of peacebuilding support.

JOÃO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the mission had been successful in identifying the various unresolved challenges that Timor-Leste must address.  Some of the root causes of the 2006 crisis had not yet been resolved and the European Union encouraged Government and opposition leaders to pursue political dialogue.  It was also essential to solve the question of “petitioners” in a peaceful manner and to bring to justice the group of former soldiers who had deserted the national defence forces.  The European Union also emphasized the need to restore confidence in the national defence and security institutions and in the judicial system, in addition to encouraging the Government to implement the security sector reform programme.

He said the humanitarian situation was also a matter of concern, as it threatened the country’s political and social stability.  The European Union called on the Government to give the highest priority to creating the conditions for the return, resettlement and reintegration of internally displaced persons into their local communities.  While the European Union recognized that Timor-Leste’s future lay in the hands of its people and Government, the Government would need continued and sustained assistance to overcome capacity shortcomings.  The involvement of the United Nations was vital to the country’s further stabilization and the European Union therefore supported the Organization’s continuing engagement and the renewal of the UNMIT mandate beyond February 2008.

ROBERT HILL ( Australia) said his country had been at the forefront of international efforts to help Timor-Leste lay the foundations of a stable and prosperous nation.  It was a leading donor and had made significant contributions the country’s security.  Australia welcomed recent positive development such as the successful holding of elections, but while Timor-Leste had come a long way since the unrest in 2006, the security situation remained fragile, pending the resolution of long-term social, political, security and governance challenges.  Security institutions were still weak and the presence of significant numbers of internally displaced persons in camps around Dili remained a concern.  Unemployment among the young population was also unacceptably high.  Those issues must be addressed as the basis for Timor-Leste’s long-term stability and prosperity.

He said last year’s unrest underscored the importance of sustained international engagement in the country to lay a solid foundation for peace and prosperity.  The United Nations had invested much and must remain in the forefront of international efforts to support the new nation.  That should be reflected in an extension of a strong UNMIT mandate focused strategically on areas of key concern.  It would be important for the United Nations to continue to play the primary security role until local security forces were able to manage independently, and reform of the sector would be crucial.

KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) noted that UNMIT and the International Stabilization Force were doing an excellent job.  There was room for improvement, but there had been a very competent, integrated Mission working at a high standard.  The United Kingdom endorsed the need to send experts from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations into the field.  While post-conflict efforts continued on track, the situation remained fragile, volatile and prone to setbacks.  Specific challenges remained, such as the question of “petitioners”, bringing Alfredo Reinado to justice and internally displaced persons.  Each of those issues could be addressed through good political leadership.  The political parties should unite around a shared vision of an independent, prosperous and united country.

Stressing the importance of sustained security sector reform, she also pointed out the need for economic growth and job creation.  The Government must use its petroleum revenues for those purposes.  The United Nations and other international partners could help the country achieve success, but they could not resolve its underlying challenges.  The international community would not want to foster a relationship that encouraged dependency rather than self-reliance.  The United Kingdom endorsed the request that the United Nations continue to assist Timor-Leste pending an assessment of how much support the country would need in the future.

HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the elections had clearly been a step towards consolidating democracy.  While progress had been made, the root causes of last year’s crisis and its consequences had not fully been addressed.  The problems stemming from the crisis, such as the case of fugitive Alfredo Reinado, the “petitioners” and internally displaced persons, continued to pose serious challenges to peace and stability.  It was necessary to integrate development-related aspects with responses to the security situation.  Poverty continued to be a major cause of instability, with about 40 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.  In the international compact for Timor-Leste, the Government had identified youth employment as a priority area.  Continuing international support was necessary to help the young country strengthen State institutions and embark on security sector reform and economic development.

He said UNMIT should continue to exercise its good offices role, which was particularly pertinent at a time when national consensus was required to address serious challenges confronting the country, such as the urgent need for national reconciliation, security sector reform, stability, resolving the situation of internally displaced persons, strengthening democratic institutions and improving governance.  UNMIT should encourage the Timorese Government and people to take ownership and leadership of their own development by implementing the assistance programmes provided by the United Nations and other partners.

LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said he had participated in the mission and had felt the people’s ardent aspirations for peace and development.  Although some progress had been made in development and democratization, Timor-Leste faced many challenges.  The leaders of political parties should achieve national reconciliation through dialogue, and face the security situation together.  The lingering issues of the 2006 crisis remained to be resolved and political forces, particularly the Government and the main opposition, should cooperate fully with each other.  The Government and leaders should resolve their differences and lead their people towards development.

Calling on the United Nations to step up its assistance to Timor-Leste so as to improve the country’s self-governance capability, he said that ensuring that Timor-Leste embarked on the path to success was a responsibility of the Organization.  The operations of some institutions, particularly the national police, still depended on United Nations assistance.  UNMIT and international agencies should help Timor-Leste improve its self-governing ability.  The United Nations police should shift its focus to training.

The realization of sustainable peace lay in the development of the economy, he said, noting that Timor-Leste’s unemployment rate of 40 per cent was one of the main causes of unrest.  The Government should utilize the country’s rich natural and tourism resources to improve people’s lives.  The international community, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), must continue to provide assistance.  As a member of the Asia-Pacific family, China had paid great attention to Timor-Leste and hoped the country could realize development and social harmony.

JOHAN VERBEKE ( Belgium), aligning himself with the European Union, said one of the main points noted by the mission was that, despite UNMIT’s work, both the causes and consequences of the 2006 crisis persisted.  The division within the leadership was one of the major causes of the crisis, and now that the elections were over, the main opposition party had told the mission it would not use violence and would participate in Parliament.  Although that was a positive development, national consensus was required.  Another cause, weak institutions, particularly the security forces, continued to prevail.

He said it was essential to prevent the aftermath of the crisis from leaving a permanent mark on society.  It was now up to the new Government team to tackle the sensitive problems.  There was a move towards a negotiated solution to the “petitioners” question and Mr. Reinado, which was welcome.  The matter of the internally displaced persons was also a key concern.  Their return depended, among other things, on the perception of safety and of justice being done.  The existence of major national resources gave the Government the keys to fruitful investment and a better social and economic future.  The Council’s support remained more necessary than ever and UNMIT’s mandate should be renewed.

KONSTANTIN DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said the mission and its report bore witness to the Organization’s support for the young State’s first steps towards developing democratic institutions.  Just and honest presidential and parliamentary elections had been held, and the political will to move forward toward state-building was assured.  But the young country’s independence had only existed for five years and it faced many challenges, among them a dire socio-economic situation, weak institutions, a lack of professional workers and internally displaced persons.

Political consensus, national dialogue and reconciliation were needed to resolve those challenges, and UNMIT was effectively carrying out its role, he said.  Following its participation in the mission, the Russian Federation saw the need to extend UNMIT, as requested by the Timorese leadership.  An extension was crucial to the maintenance of law and order.  The Russian Federation placed great hopes in the speedy training by United Nations police of the national police force.  It was important to encourage the young State to resolve its main problems on its own, with the support of the international community.

JACKIE WOLCOTT ( United States) said the future mandate of UNMIT should include security sector reform and the training and development of the police force.  The United States supported a review of the Mission’s role in relation to the national police, which could point to key improvements in UNMIT’s training.  There was also a need for reconciliation and recognition of differences among different parties in order to resolve the question of internally displaced persons, the case of Alfredo Reinado and other unresolved issues identified by the 2006 Committee of Inquiry.  Reconciliation should be without prejudice.  The United States also stressed the importance of helping the Government support key policy objectives, such as boosting the economic sector, improving governance and strengthening the rule of law.

LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) said his country supported an enhanced role for civil society in all aspects of national development, especially in fostering social cohesion and a strong sense of solidarity.  Ghana trusted that appropriate mechanisms could be put into place to achieve that in due course.  However, the fragile security situation, the plight of internally displaced persons and the lack of job opportunities for Timorese youth remained sources of concern.  Ongoing efforts to address those issues should be accompanied by meaningful programmes to examine underlying socio-economic problems that threatened the country’s stability.  That would require the Government and opposition to work closely together.

He said capacity-building requirements in policing, public service and the judiciary deserved sustained attention, which would speed the Government’s taking over of functions currently handled by international partners or managed with their assistance.  UNMIT and the Government should follow through with initiatives, including the Supplemental Arrangement on Policing and the security sector reform process contained in the National Security Policy framework.  However, Ghana remained concerned about the failure of authorities to apprehend and bring to trial fugitive military police commander Major Alfredo Reinado, who had escaped from prison in 2006.  His evasion of justice would add fuel to the perception of bias, especially among those who had been held accountable for their actions in last year’s crisis.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said the mission had been successful in carrying out its mandate, as shown by the positive reactions in Timor-Leste, and the show of international support for the country would be strengthened by the Secretary-General’s visit to Dili, scheduled for tomorrow.  The achievement of national reconciliation and the resolution of differences among the political leadership must be on the Government’s list of priorities, as must the promotion of security.  Cooperation between the national police and United Nations police must be enhanced.  There was a need for accountability, particularly in connection with the events of 1999 and 2006, while maintaining a balance between the requirements of national reconciliation and fair accountability.  Timor-Leste still faced issues that should be addressed, including development and combating poverty, which contributed to instability.

He said that, according to a recent UNMIT report, the Timorese people enjoyed a wide range of human rights and were firmly committed to peace, democracy and free elections.  That was a cause for optimism.  However, the Government would need the support of bilateral and multilateral partners in order to achieve its goals.  Continued assistance was necessary to help the Timorese on their path to democracy, peace, reconstruction, recovery and prosperity.  UNMIT had a big role to play in providing assistance, and Qatar therefore agreed with the mission’s recommendation that UNMIT’s mandate be renewed in February.

PETER BURIAN (Slovakia), aligning himself with the European Union, said that outstanding problems, including the issues of internally displaced persons, “petitioners” and root causes of the 2006 crisis, could only be resolved through political dialogue and common efforts by all political parties and leaders.  A meaningful role for the opposition was crucial, but those in the opposition must respect the results of the election.  Calls for early elections were counterproductive, divisive and dangerous.  It was also essential to strengthen the review and the reform of the security sector.  Relations between the police and the military must be improved and civil oversight of the security sector must be enhanced.  The Government, with the help of the United Nations, should clearly define the roles and functions of the national police and defence forces.

Strengthening the justice system was a major aspect of building a culture of peaceful conflict settlement in Timor-Leste, he said.  Strengthening justice was also crucial to building respect for the rule of law, which was undermined by a widespread perception of a lack of accountability.  Timor-Leste was at a crucial moment and should seize the opportunity to build on what had already been achieved.  The fragile institutional structure was the major challenge and, coupled with limited capacity and the lack of skills, undermined the process of democratic governance taking hold.  The continued support of the United Nations and the international community remained critical.

ALFREDO SUESCUM ( Panama) said the mission had made it possible for the Council to have first-hand knowledge of events in Timor-Leste and would impact the form of UNMIT’s renewed mandate, which his country supported.  Timor-Leste still required the support of UNMIT and international partners, since the country still faced such challenges as continuing serious internal divergences, despite the composition of a democratic Government.  Still, the Timorese people were first and foremost responsible for resolving their problems and a successful democratic process would be the best vehicle for restoring confidence in their institutions.  The Council should support that.  It was also important to eliminate the root causes of the 2006 crisis.  The fragile security situation had improved but security sector reform must continue.

Noting the strides made in the human rights arena through the drafting of laws and the holding trials for crimes and events related to the 2006 crisis, he stressed the importance of complying with the recommendation of the independent Committee of Inquiry by addressing human rights violations.  UNMIT should continue to offer technical cooperation to strengthen the Timorese judicial system.   It was also important to support socio-economic development and efforts by UNMIT and the Government to consolidate lasting peace and democracy.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE ( France), expressing his satisfaction that Timor-Leste political parties had worked to resolve their differences peacefully, said the mission’s report rightly insisted on the importance of strengthening the security forces and the judicial system to ensure lasting stability.  It was also crucial to strengthen the rule of law and to promote human rights.  The team investigating crimes committed during the crisis had carried out important work and significant progress had been made in the last 18 months.  But those strides were fragile, and the international community must continue to support Timor-Leste.  France was ready to review UNMIT’s mandate in February.

JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) urged the Government and all political parties to continue, through dialogue, to strengthen development and overcome fragility and instability.  In light of the enormous challenges it faced, Timor-Leste would continue to require United Nations assistance.  It was crucial that the Council show its continuing commitment to help by renewing UNMIT’s mandate with a view to helping the Timorese people and leaders resolve their great challenges, including those relating to the rule of law and development.  The leaders and people must assume their responsibilities and ensure that the distribution of income reached those most in need.

He said other problems to be addressed included implementation of national development and security sector reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and humanitarian assistance, in particular resolving the problem of internally displaced persons.  Peru supported the deployment of a technical mission to assess the problems of the national police, and the international community must continue to invest in Timor-Leste.

LUC JOSEPH OKIO (Congo), welcoming the work done by the Council mission in such a short time, saying that the Council, through the mission, could now get a real feel of the situation on the ground.  Congo took note of the Government’s determination to do everything in its power to build peace and stability in order to free its people from poverty and the United Nations of its obligations.  Timor-Leste had rejected a culture of dependence, but it faced enormous challenges.  More than ever before, the international community had an obligation to complete its work there and live up to the legitimate expectations of the Timorese people.  The Organization’s work would be crucial in peacebuilding and promoting democracy and the rule of law.

He said the people of Timor-Leste must work together to meet the challenges facing their country.  Their leaders must commit to dialogue and national reconciliation, putting an end to the differences that had led to a squandering of energy.  Priority should be given to issues relating to poverty and widespread unemployment and the resolution of major problems like the questions of “petitioners” and the reintegration of internally displaced persons now living in camps.  The weak capacities in the justice and the security sectors were the Achilles’ heel of Timorese institutions.  The Council should act in the best interest of Timor-Leste and renew UNMIT’s mandate.

Council President ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy), speaking in his national capacity, lauded the mission’s report, saying the Council had sent a clear message that would allow for a more informed discussion on UNMIT next year.  All parties in Timor-Leste counted on UNMIT’s continued presence.  The persistent complexity of the situation required United Nations support in addressing issues of security, political dialogue, human rights and development.  Patience was of paramount importance, as was Timorese ownership of peace and a lasting democratization process.  The Timorese themselves must find solutions to their country’s remaining challenges.

Timor-Leste saw its relationship with the United Nations and the international community at large as one of interdependence not dependence, he said.  The mission’s report clearly indicated that the challenges ahead, such as institution-building, reconciliation and the lack of progress in people’s socio-economic livelihoods, had culminated in the 2006 crisis.  Italy emphasized the importance of active participation to help Timor-Leste raise its international profile, and had, alongside its European Union partners, consistently supported Timorese democracy at all stages.  Italy would remain committed to that end.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.