Timor-Leste ‘Very Different Place Today’, as 2012 Promises to be ‘Democracy Fest’ for Timorese, with Landmark Transition to New Government, Security Council Told
Timor-Leste ‘Very Different Place Today’, as 2012 Promises to be ‘Democracy Fest’ for Timorese, with Landmark Transition to New Government, Security Council Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6664th Meeting (AM)
Timor-Leste ‘Very Different Place Today’, as 2012 Promises to be ‘Democracy Fest’
for Timorese, with Landmark Transition to New Government, Security Council Told
Head of UN Mission Optimistic about Smooth Exit Next Year; Timorese Foreign
Minister Says Country Better Prepared, but Past Traumas Do Not Disappear Overnight
The current calm and stability were paving a smooth road ahead to the “democracy fest” anticipated for Timor-Leste with next year’s landmark elections, the United Nations top representative for that country told the Security Council today, introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on recent developments.
Timor-Leste was “a very different place today” and important milestones had already been reached, said Ameerah Haq, Special Representative for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission (UNMIT) there. Political leaders were unequivocal about the need for continued peace and stability, the national police had resumed its responsibilities, UNMIT officers had provided support, and Dili was now a vibrant, safe city.
Envisioning a peaceful transition to a new Government, she was optimistic that conditions would allow for UNMIT’s smooth departure by 31 December 2012. The Mission’s transition was well on its way with a Joint Transition Plan, which represented the first time a peacekeeping mission had jointly established such a mechanism with a host Government. Its planned conclusion was only one aspect of a successful transition; it was equally important to establish, in consultation with the Government, the form of United Nations engagement thereafter, she said.
While the Government’s 2011-2030 Strategic Development Plan included a long-term vision, and the electoral management bodies had strengthened their capacity and were heading preparations for 2012 elections, significant challenges remained, she said, including in institutional capacity-building, strengthening the security sector and socio-economic issues, such as youth employment.
Joining Ms. Haq in addressing the Council was Zacarias Albano da Costa, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, who said that Timor-Leste was without a doubt better prepared than five years ago to face the future, but progress was long-term and could not be measured in months. The traumas of the past did not disappear overnight. Some issues persisted, but they did not have the same social impact as in the past.
In 2012, noted the Foreign Minister, the first presidential elections would be held. Ten years of independence would be celebrated on 10 May and parliamentary elections would be held in June. There were positive signs that the political leaders would be committed to mutual respect for the promotion of peace and democracy and tolerance. It had been a long road, with several obstacles, but recent gains had included economic growth, security sector reform and a new elections law, requiring a quota for female candidates.
At the regional level, he reported, Timor-Leste had become an observer of the Melanesian Group and was considering application to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with the full support of Indonesia. He was confident that stability and security would remain a reality in Timor-Leste and that the elections would be run in an environment of tranquillity according to international standards.
Around the table, Council members noted UNMIT’s planned departure in 2012, which many hailed as a significant milestone after a decade of assistance. Most said, however, that the highest measure of success in Timor-Leste would be its self-sustainability, stressing the imperative for the elections in 2012 to be conducted in a transparent and peaceful manner.
Japan’s representative said “democratic elections are not simply a matter of maintaining security and conducting votes”; they were “a process through which a people entrusts its sovereignty to its representatives”. In order to foster a greater sense of public trust, they must be fair and transparent, he said, calling on political leaders to hold democratic dialogue and banish corruption. He commended the national police force for its resumption of authority countrywide and highlighted the supreme importance of security during the elections.
The representative of New Zealand called for the strengthening of the Timor-Leste National Police ahead of the United Nations police (UNPOL) drawdown, scheduled to follow the elections. Indeed, he supported a conditions-based approach to UNMIT’s withdrawal, and foresaw “a smooth drawdown following next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, and a transition to a post-UNMIT presence by the end of 2012”. Though the coming elections would provide the country’s “sternest test since 2006”, he was optimistic.
Echoing the view expressed by many today, the United Kingdom’s representative said 2012 would indeed be a pivotal year for the country. As UNMIT prepared to depart, he agreed that it would be crucial for the drawdown to go smoothly and that robust contingency planning was readily available. He felt the United Nations should maintain its efforts concerning UNMIT’s departure and a follow-up presence. Timor-Leste should also know that UNMIT’s withdrawal would not mean a lessening in the Security Council’s interest in Timor-Leste, he said.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal and the Vice-Minister for Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil also spoke.
Also speaking were the representatives of China, United States, Colombia, South Africa, France, Nigeria, India, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Germany, Australia, Angola (on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries), Philippines, and Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States).
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 1:16 p.m.
Meeting today to discuss the situation in Timor-Leste, the Security Council had before it the Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Integrated Mission in that country, known as UNMIT (document S/2011/641). Covering the period from 8 January 2011 to 20 September 2011, the report highlights major developments in Timor-Leste and the implementation of the Mission’s mandate.
During the reporting period, the overall situation in Timor-Leste remained generally calm, with continued progress towards the consolidation of peace, stability and development. Political parties intensified their internal organizational activities in preparation for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.
President José Ramos-Horta continued his efforts to foster national unity and stability by means of issuing public messages and organizing high-profile events, while Parliament continued to serve as a vital forum for democratic debate. Several initiatives reflected the active engagement of Timor-Leste as a bilateral and regional partner, as well as its strong relationship with Indonesia.
The report notes that 27 March marked the resumption by the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) of responsibility for the conducts, command and control of all police operations in the country. That resumption did not affect the continuing low crime rate. UNMIT police continued to provide operational support to the Timorese national police force in such areas as close protection, joint patrols and border policing. A number of incidents involving martial arts and youth groups occurred, as well as some friction between PNTL and members of the defence forces, the Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL).
Meanwhile, UNMIT police were reduced, according to plan, to 1,195 officers — including 79 women — 485 of them in formed police units. Timor-Leste continues to be a leader in the region in terms of women in the police service, who currently comprise 575 of the 3,146 PNTL officers, or 18 per cent.
On 29 April, the Border Management Information System was launched with the continuing support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). According to the report, that System is designed to help the Timorese Migration Service record and manage border movements.
The report goes on to say that the F-FDTL completed the recruitment process in May for 600 additional members and continued to strengthen implementation of internal disciplinary procedures. Various training and capacity-building activities were undertaken to further strengthen its institutional and human resource capacities, with support from UNMIT and other partners. The Government also made further progress in developing the overarching legislative and policy framework for the security sector.
During the reporting period, the United Nations Integrated Mission received allegations of 76 cases of human rights violations by members of PNTL and of eight by members of F-FDTL. Progress continued to be slow with respect to holding accountable those responsible for crimes and serious human rights violations that occurred during the 2006 crisis. Final judgements were rendered in seven cases while four cases were closed. On 8 June, the organic law for the Office of the Provedor entered into force. That Office, together with 55 civil society organizations, submitted a joint report for the universal periodic review by the Human Rights Council.
The report notes that public expenditure continued to drive the strong economic growth of the country. The Petroleum Fund reached $8.3 billion on 30 June. The 2011 State budget of $1.3 billion, promulgated on 14 February, included provisions for the establishment of an infrastructure fund ($506 million) and a human capital development fund ($25 million). An amendment to the 2005 Petroleum Fund Law allows for increased flexibility of investment in various financial instruments and the possibility of obtaining loans. The Council of Ministers approved establishing Timor Gas and Petroleum as a public company to manage assets of the petroleum sector that are State property.
The Secretary-General observes that, given the generally calm security situation and positive political climate, as well as commitments to a peaceful electoral process, UNMIT, jointly with the Government, is proceeding with the transition process on the assumption that the overall situation will remain stable and peaceful, allowing for continued planning for the Mission’s departure by the end of 2012.
A joint transition plan sets out four possible models for United Nations engagement after the withdrawal of the Integrated Mission, three of them based on experience gained in other countries and one suggested by the Timorese Government: a political office with a separate United Nations country team; an integrated United Nations office headed by an executive representative of the Secretary-General, who would also serve as the resident coordinator; a United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office; and a political mission tailored to the specific needs of Timor-Leste.
AMEERAH HAQ, Special Representative for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the Mission, covering the period of 8 January to 20 September 2011 (document S/2011/641). She said the calm situation and overall positive trend showed the country was making progress towards sustainable peace and development, a marked difference from when the Mission had been established in 2006 at a time of fragile security, a weak Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste, and thousands of internally displaced persons.
The country is a very different place today, she said. Political leaders were unequivocal about the need for continued peace, dialogue and stability. PNTL had resumed its responsibilities, UNMIT police had provided support to the national police, and Dili was a vibrant, safe city. In addition, the Government’s 2011-2030 Strategic Development Plan included a long-term vision, and the electoral management bodies had strengthened their capacity and were heading preparations for 2012 elections.
However, significant challenges remained, including in institutional capacity-building, strengthening the security sector and socio-economic issues, such as youth employment. Political leaders were largely responsible for contributing positively to the current environment, promoting tolerance, mutual respect, and commitment to the democratic process. The report notes good progress made in the Mission’s mandate, with policing and elections being the key elements for continued peace and stability.
The resumption of responsibilities by the National Police in March was a milestone, she said. UNMIT police had been supporting the national police, including in terms of capacity-building and training. Indeed, a key challenge for meeting the Mission’s goals was retaining UNMIT police officers and selecting others with the expertise needed for effective implementation of the PNTL-UNMIT Police Joint Development Plan.
She appealed to police-contributing countries to provide qualified officers and reiterated the Secretary-General’s request that the countries concerned approve extensions of deployment of officers serving in key UNMIT positions. In the long-term, the enduring effectiveness of the National Police would depend on its ability to maintain public trust, she said. The report outlines the challenge in meeting the National Police’s logistical requirements, and she urged the Government and Parliament to work together to ensure adequate financial allocations to overcome existing logistical gaps.
Regarding elections, she said 2012 would undoubtedly be another major milestone. Preparations were proceeding and subsidiary electoral legislation had been drafted. It was commendable that women made up 22 of 65 Members of Parliament. To enhance their participation in elections, a national steering committee had been formed and the Government, local authorities, civil society and the United Nations and partners were making multi-pronged efforts to include women in political, electoral and other decision-making processes.
She encouraged international partners to show their commitment to the country by sending electoral observers and providing the financial support still needed for United Nations electoral activities conducted at the Government’s request. Envisioning a peaceful transition to a new Government, she was optimistic that conditions would allow for UNMIT’s smooth departure by 31 December 2012.
In September, the Government had submitted a $1.76 billion State budget to Parliament and a plenary debate was expected to conclude this week, she said. Those discussions were an example of democratic debate. Parliament’s approval of the Strategic Development Plan could transform Timor-Leste into an upper-middle-income country by 2030. As the plan moved ahead, public investments to promote sustainable growth and job creation for young people would contribute to long-term stability and prosperity.
She said political leaders were tackling those issues, making good progress on several Millennium Development Goals. Timor-Leste was also at the forefront of the global policy agenda on strategies for enhancing aid effectiveness to fragile and conflict-affected States, contributing significantly to the elaboration of objectives to consolidate peacebuilding and state-building efforts. There had also been advances in strengthening the anti-corruption infrastructure.
The report also stated that the smooth transfer of a new F-FDTL Commander was a promising sign for the Force’s continued institutional stability. Progress had also been made concerning human rights.
The Mission’s transition was well on its way with a Joint Transition Plan, which represented the first time a peacekeeping mission had jointly established such a mechanism with a host Government, she noted. The planned conclusion of a peacekeeping mission was only one aspect of a successful transition, and it was equally important to establish, in consultation with the Government, what form of United Nations engagement would be needed thereafter by the country, she said.
The coming year would be an eventful one for the country, she said. The public and UNMIT looked forward to what was being called “the democracy fest” expected in 2012. Credible and peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections would be a further demonstration of progress made and test the capacity of Timorese security institutions, particularly PNTL, to ensure public safety and security across the country.
Timor-Leste still faced several long-term challenges to achieve its development aspirations. Additional support would be needed particularly in areas such as access to justice, oversight and accountability, youth employment and health, she said.
ZACARIAS ALBANO DA COSTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said the Timor-Leste issue had been on the United Nations agenda for 36 years, with the first General Assembly resolution on the matter on 12 December 1975. Since then, the relationship had grown. The Council had been decisive in its desire to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and independence. Now, political and social stability was a reality in the country, as was development. It had been a long road, with several obstacles, and there were still more ahead.
He said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) development index had placed Timor-Leste as one of five at the bottom. The strong economic growth of recent years, however, had contributed to “social peace”. There had also been progress in security sector reform, with UNMIT’s valuable support. Since the resumption of responsibility for security by the National Police, it had invested heavily in training and logistical infrastructures. The Government’s commitment as well to professional training and logistics was reflected in its national budget, approved last week by Parliament.
He was proud to announce that the police force had the largest percentage of women police in the entire region. The new elections law required a mandatory quota of one woman for each of three candidates. Women’s contribution had been broadly recognized on a national level, and a Timorese woman — Filomena Barros dos Reis -- had recently won an “N-Peace” award.
The country had also had its first periodic review in the Human Rights Council, he noted. Martial arts groups that operated outside the sports world were being brought under control. Isolated incidents were the result of old issues between villages as a consequence of the martial arts groups’ activities. He announced that, for the first time, 12 members of the armed forces would participate in a peace mission of the United Nations, namely in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and two national police officers were part of the United Nations mission in Guinea-Bissau.
Timor-Leste was without a doubt better prepared than five years ago to face the future, he said, but progress was long-term and could not be measured in months. The traumas of the past did not disappear overnight. Some issues persisted, but they did not have the same social impact as in the past. Timor-Leste was the first Asian country to meet the transparency criteria for the extractive industry. Social justice began with sustained development, with ambitious goals in its Development Plan that aimed to transform an oil economy into a non-oil-based economy.
In 2012, the first presidential elections would be held. Ten years of independence would be celebrated on 10 May and parliamentary elections would be held in June. He hoped those would be conducted in a climate of peace, stability and celebration. There were positive signs that the political leaders would be committed to mutual respect for the promotion of peace and democracy and tolerance.
He noted that the completion of UNMIT’s mandate was foreseen at the end of next year. At the regional level, Timor-Leste had become an observer of the Melanesian Group and was considering application to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with the full support of Indonesia. He was confident that stability and security would remain a reality in Timor-Leste and that the elections would be run in an environment of tranquillity according to international standards.
VERA LÚCIA BARROUIN CRIVANO MACHADO, Vice-Minister for Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil, said Timor-Leste had shown a remarkable capacity to overcome past difficulties. The current situation proved wrong those who had doubted the Timorese people’s ability to progress towards political stability, security and development. She lauded the transfer of police responsibilities to the National Police and UNMIT’s role in consolidating those forces through capacity-building. The fact that the country’s current goals were socio-economic and institutional in nature showed that past challenges of conflict and instability had been overcome. New obstacles were already being surpassed. The country had expedited growth and set the foundation for investment and infrastructure development. Social indicators had improved significantly. The Timorese Government had made efforts to create human rights protection mechanisms and programmes to fight corruption and promote transparency — marked signs of an active political class and a society conscious of what was needed to move forward.
She expressed hope that Timor-Leste’s growing international integration would benefit the country and the entire international community. The integration of Timorese military officers into the Portuguese contingents of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was an example of Timor-Leste’s growing contribution to the international community. The political process in place to prepare for elections next year was the “utmost sign” of the country’s maturity. The constructive political debate between the Government and the opposition was exemplary. He stressed the need for continuously achieving good results, with the help of UNMIT in transition and capacity-building. The Joint Transition Plan would allow for adequate planning during the post-UNMIT period and the continuity of international cooperation in areas in need of assistance. Brazil supported Timor-Leste through a large number of bilateral and trilateral cooperation projects. The two nations would continue to work together in a broad range of areas such as agriculture, education, justice and security.
She concluded by saying “the country’s victorious trajectory is not always the rule in similar situations”, and added, “the case of Timor-Leste stands out as an example in post-conflict situations”.
WANG MIN ( China) said the Government and the international community’s efforts had made progress possible during the reporting period. However, the country still faced challenges, including maintaining stability. Focusing on three areas, he said his first hope was that the leaders of political parties would continue to solve difficulties through dialogue, communication and cooperation and that the 2012 elections would provide a fresh opportunity for the people to consolidate political stability.
Secondly, he said, the country should continue to strengthen security. While the national police had resumed its responsibilities, the country should continue to strengthen its autonomous forces. It was important to ensure that the 2012 elections were conducted in an atmosphere of security. He also hoped UNMIT would strengthen the capacity of the Timorese police through training. Thirdly, he said that to ensure lasting peace and stability, the economy should be developed and social conditions improved, including building infrastructure. China would continue to support Timor-Leste along its development path. He appreciated the Joint Transition Plan and hoped the Government and UNMIT would cooperate closely in the process to enable Timor-Leste to become a success story.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said the collaboration among the United Nations, bilateral and multilateral actors had paid dividends in Timor-Leste. The Secretary-General’s report provided an opportunity to discuss the needs of the country, to reflect on UNMIT’s withdrawal and to begin planning long-term United Nations engagement. He was encouraged that the security situation remained stable and that security sector reform efforts continued to bear fruit. The transition of security responsibility from UNMIT to the National Police had been a critical step in that regard. He commended the commitment of the Timorese defence forces to enhance its professionalism and its ability to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. It was necessary for the Government to clearly define the roles of the police and the armed forces.
He urged all political parties to respect the outcome of the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2012. Reiterating the importance of capacity-building for Government institutions, he said the rate of participation of women in the police was laudable and should be replicated in all Timorese institutions. He urged work on institutionalizing Government accountability and truth and reconciliation issues, including the establishment of a “memory institute”. There was now an opportunity to think about future engagement of the United Nations — including of the Council — with Timor-Leste. International support would remain critical for the country and, therefore, a post-UNMIT presence was necessary. Noting that Timor-Leste now contributed to United Nations peace missions, he commended the country’s role as an international leader of fragile States to the founding of the “G-7” post-conflict countries.
FERNANDO ALZATE (Colombia), expressing satisfaction with the situation, noted that the whole United Nations system was strengthened by the progress made towards peace, stability and development in Timor-Leste. Appreciating the willingness and commitment of the political leaders to stability during the electoral process, he said the holding of free, transparent and peaceful elections would be a milestone in the transition to democracy. The continued interest of the various sectors of the country in maintaining a dialogue would be the genesis for reconciliation and well-being.
Since the police force had taken over responsibility for security, the crime rate had continued to go down, he said, expressing confidence that the police would be able to face the challenges during the electoral process. Reiterating his support for the transition process put forth by UNMIT and the Government, he stressed that strengthening capacity-building was necessary to achieve a growth that was fair and sustainable over the long term.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa) commended the Government of Timor-Leste and said the 2012 elections would see the participation of the largest number of young first-time voters. He called upon the international community to support the election process. He noted a report in September from the Deputy Prime Minister on progress attained, which was also reflected in the Secretary-General’s report. He welcomed those achievements, including efforts to promote gender equality and the country’s 2011-2030 long-term development plan.
He called upon UNMIT to continue to support capacity-building in the national police. Regarding concerns over local groups in conflict, he appealed to all parties to refrain from violence and to employ a peaceful means to find solutions. He supported the coming elections and was encouraged by governmental preparations as well as the transitional plan for UNMIT’s departure in 2012.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France) said Security Council resolution 1969 (2011) had seen Timor-Leste become a secure country. The level of crime had remained low and the political maturity shown by leaders was one of the hopeful signs for a successful election campaign next year. He noted the importance for the presence of observers during the voting process.
He said the Secretary-General’s report highlighted the Strategic Development Plan, and Council resolution 1969 (2011) had set out a reconfiguration of UNMIT’s task, including providing a credible presence during the elections and a departure soon after. He welcomed the transition plan, as that would help to define the nature of cooperation for Timor-Leste in the future. Developments on the ground should be taken into account and a strategic view of needs was necessary. Each of the four options identified in the Secretary-General’s report had its own merits. The important element would be dialogue with the authorities over which option should be chosen.
KIO SOLOMON AMIEYEOFORI (Nigeria) said the political and security situation in Timor-Leste was calm and stability continued to characterize the prevailing landscape. The 2012 elections would be a milestone on the road to peace consolidation and democratic transformation. With the transfer of command to the National Police, Timor-Leste had entered a critical phase that would determine the sustainability of progress in the security sector. Development of a credible military was also critical, and he underlined the importance of a clear delineation between the armed forces and police under civilian control.
He said that Timor-Leste’s social and economic development would continue with the promulgation of the National Development Plan 2010-2030. There was, however, still a need to invest in rural development and youth unemployment, as well as in education. Measures taken to strengthen the justice and correctional sectors would reduce the number of pending criminal cases and improve the prison infrastructure. The Government should emphasize ending impunity and ensure respect for the independence of the judiciary.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said the overall situation in Timor-Leste remained calm and the country was well on its way to long-term peace, stability and development. The National Police had successfully assumed the responsibility for conduct, command and control of all police operations in the country. He urged UNMIT to remain steadfast in its commitment to building police capacity and encouraged a clear delineation of authority between the military and police under civilian control.
He said the elections would be a major milestone in the consolidation of democracy in Timor-Leste and urged UNMIT’s support in that regard. He supported the enhanced regional engagement of the country and noted that economic growth remained robust. India had sought to contribute to the country’s development by providing training in areas where there was complementarity. As UNNIT moved towards a drawdown by the end of 2012, the United Nations agencies in the field must work in a coherent manner and the Joint Transition Plan should be finalized in accordance with Government priorities.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) highlighted democratic governance, stable dialogue and the Mission’s mandate as key elements to the success that had been achieved. He applauded the Timorese President’s strong commitment to promote democratic values and trust, as well as the Government’s preparations for the 2012 elections and the promotion of unity, respect and women’s integration, including the increasing number of women on the ballot. Also welcome were the healthy parliamentary debates. He hoped the 2012 elections would respect the rules of democracy. He supported the Maubisse initiative, which should be institutionalized like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Progress in the judicial framework, including corruption cases, was also welcome.
He was pleased with UNMIT’s role, and he approved of the national development plan to keep Timor-Leste on track with its goals. The Joint Transitional Plan was a positive step. Gabon supported the Mission, and appreciated the work of the Special Representative and her team, which had contributed to making Timor-Leste a prosperous and stable nation.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said 2012 would be a pivotal year. As the country worked towards that election milestone, he was pleased to note Timor-Leste’s economic growth and the sound security situation. He welcomed the Joint Transitional Plan, produced by the Mission and Government working together on those issues. Those parties should outline the role the United Nations would play in the post-Mission period. He welcomed a United Nations strategic assessment, which would, among other things, draw on the input of the Department of Political Affairs. As UNMIT prepared to depart, it would be crucial that the drawdown go smoothly and that robust contingency planning was readily available.
During the coming elections, he hoped all actors would refrain from unhelpful rhetoric. The Government should ensure an adequate budget for domestic policing. Next year would present a variety of challenges for Timor-Leste, and he asked the United Nations to maintain its efforts concerning UNMIT’s departure and a follow-up presence. The country should know that UNMIT’s withdrawal would not mean a lessening in the Security Council’s interest in Timor-Leste.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), commending the significant progress made in many important areas in Timor-Leste, said that the resumption by the National Police of primary responsibilities for the conduct and command of all police operations represented a major step in ensuring sustainable security. As the democratic transition gathered momentum, the successful organization and conduct of credible and peaceful elections would be of paramount importance. The United Nations must continue to support the electoral process, including by providing technical and logistical support. It was imperative to ensure that the National police had the ability to respond to potential security challenges in the electoral period and beyond.
He said that as conditions improved, it was quite rational to start planning the transition period and the Mission’s eventual departure, and he endorsed the Secretary-General’s emphasis on the need to optimize UNMIT’s effort and focus on priority needs and activities identified jointly with the Government. In order to support overall political and social transition processes, there must be sustainable development, in particular, regarding rural and infrastructure development, and promotion of the role of the private sector, which should provide more employment opportunities, in particular, for the youth.
NIKITA Y. ZHUKOV ( Russian Federation) welcomed the positive political trends in Timor-Leste where the security situation was stable. The transition of law enforcement responsibility to the National Police had been smooth, and next year would be a milestone in state-building. He hoped in that regard that the elections would take place in a calm climate. The year 2012 would also be a sort of “exit exam” for UNMIT. Strengthening peace and developing State institutions had required significant efforts, but results were encouraging. The Mission should be a guarantor of stability during the elections. Efforts of the international community and the United Nations in settling crises and post-conflict peacebuilding had shown results.
He said the final decision on UNMIT’s withdrawal should be taken after the elections, taking into account the then-prevailing political and security situation. Arrangements for a subsequent United Nations presence should be subjected to substantive discussions with the newly elected Government.
CAROLINE ZIADE ( Lebanon) said Timor-Leste had been a success story and reaffirmed her country’s support for UNMIT to complete its tasks before the end of its mandate. Challenges remained, and building security institutions was a necessary precondition to consolidate the rule of law. She commended the role of the Mission police in building the capacity of the national police. The judicial authorities should also be strengthened to avoid impunity.
The coming elections were a milestone in the democratic path for the Government, she said, urging all political parties to contribute constructively to preparations, and hoping the police would ensure security and stability. She congratulated Timor-Leste for its development plan and hoped it would achieve the Millennium Development Goals. She also called upon youth to participate constructively in developing their country. She also thanked the Timorese military presence in UNIFIL.
MIGUEL BERGER ( Germany) noted that the overall situation remained calm and stable. Certain volatilities remained, but there were reasons for confidence. He was sure that the police would weather the upcoming election and post-election seasons. He noted that close coordination regarding the modalities of the withdrawal of the UNMIT forces was critical. Despite the calm, the National Police should always operate based on the highest standards, and he hoped logistics gaps would be closed in the remaining time before elections.
He welcomed the first Timorese military contribution to a United Nations peacekeeping operation, namely, UNIFIL. He also welcomed the Joint Transition Plan. However, if the current positive trend were to be sustained, the post-UNMIT stage, fast approaching, should be addressed. The crucial question was: what came after transition? He called for attention to be dedicated to the post-UNMIT phase, with the Government leading the way. He supported the fight against impunity and the strengthening of the justice system, and noted that other areas with support needs included governance and sustainable economic development. The role of women could not be overestimated, he said.
PAULO PORTAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, speaking in his national capacity, said it was a happy coincidence that the debate took place during Portugal’s presidency of the Council, one year before the celebration of Timor-Leste’s 10 years of independence. Progress made by Timor-Leste gave hope for its future and was also a success story for the United Nations. He congratulated the Timorese authorities for taking over the responsibility for security countrywide and noted the positive developments in police training and discipline.
He said the efforts in economic planning and investments in a non-oil economy, essential for ensuring sustainable growth, were also noteworthy. The adoption of the Joint Transition Plan was a good example of the close cooperation between the Government and UNMIT. The necessary conditions were now in place for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections in which some 150,000 new voters would participate. Portugal would pledge to having police personnel assist in the elections and remained committed to bilateral cooperation. In the area of justice, Portugal cooperated in human resource development and advised in legislation. Education was another key area of cooperation. Portugal had also cooperated in the development of the military, he said, noting that Timorese military and police participated in United Nations and European Union missions.
A new phase for the United Nations presence in Timor-Leste had arrived, he said. It was up to Timor-Leste, in dialogue with the United Nations, to decide on the format of that presence after UNMIT’s withdrawal. He was confident that the transition process would take place as planned and that the work of the United Nations Mission would be consolidated. Although Timor-Leste was a success story, it had still a long way to go before achieving its goals for economic development. It was important, therefore, that the international community, the United Nations and the Council remained firmly committed to the country. Ten years since its independence, Timor-Leste had now shown that it was a viable State.
GARY QUINLAN (Australia) said stability in Timor-Leste had allowed the Government to strengthen State institutions, improve services, build infrastructure and boost the economy. He welcomed the Strategic Development Plan, which was an “appropriately ambitious vision for Timor-Leste’s future”, and pledged Australia’s support for it through assistance in areas including health, education, infrastructure, and rural development. The 2012 national elections would “test the strength of Timor-Leste’s institutions”, he said, expressing confidence in a fair and transparent vote. He was impressed by political leaders’ commitment to the Maubisse dialogues, which reinforced the importance of continued peace to all parties.
Citing concerns over sporadic outbreaks of violence, he praised the National Police for containing recent incidents, while cautioning that the elections would be a serious test. The resumption by the National Police of full responsibility for policing had coincided with pre-election capacity-building, which Australia had supported through specialist trainers and its own capacity-building programme. He hoped the Timorese Government would provide the police with adequate budgetary support ahead of the elections.
It was tensions between the police and military that had caused the 2006 violence that had led to deployment of UNMIT, he recalled, praising recent progress in rebuilding the relationship. The transition from UNMIT would depend on Timor-Leste’s democratic performance, he said, calling for extension of the Mission’s mandate until at least the end of 2012. He praised the work of the Timorese Government and UNMIT in building the Joint Transition Plan, and looked forward to continued dialogue on implementation. The Plan could prompt discussion over the United Nations future in Timor-Leste, but the nature of its role should be “guided by the views of the next Government of Timor-Leste itself”. He supported an ongoing United Nations presence in strengthening the country’s democratic foundations.
TSUNEO NISHIDA ( Japan) said UNMIT’s departure in 2012 would mark a significant milestone after a decade of assistance. The highest measure of success would be the self-sustainability of Timor-Leste. It was essential that the elections were conducted in a smooth and peaceful manner, he said, noting Japan’s $1.66 million grant to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for that endeavour. He appealed to the international community to accelerate support for Timor-Leste at the current historical juncture.
He commended the national police force and highlighted the supreme importance of security during the elections. He also called for further improvement of police and army capabilities and enhanced Government and UNMIT support. “Democratic elections are not simply a matter of maintaining security and conducting votes,” he said. “They are a process through which a people entrusts its sovereignty to its representatives.” In order to foster a sense of trust, elections must be fair and transparent. He called on political leaders to hold democratic dialogue and banish corruption.
Japan welcomed the Joint Transition Plan and was pleased to note that it provided a certain degree of flexibility, allowing for modifications based on the situation on the ground. He hoped the best decision for post-UNMIT plans would be found through dialogue between the Government and the United Nations.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, said Timor-Leste and the Community’s Executive Secretariat were working to create a Permanent Representative for the Community in Dili. He welcomed the Timorese authorities’ commitment to that process, noting they had recently allocated space for the representative and funds to build the Foreign Ministry. He expressed hope that those moves would lead to implementation of the Community’s Strategic Plan, especially promotion of Portuguese as a method of communication and an everyday language of work and business, as well as institutional capacity-building in justice and administration. He recalled the importance of the Community’s Eighth Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Luanda in July 2010, where leaders had decided to reshape the future mandate of the Permanent Representative’s office in Dili to ensure that it also had a strong cultural component to support the use of Portuguese in Timor-Leste.
He said that Timor-Leste’s commitment to forge a strong relationship with the Community was evident in its performance as the current president of the Community’s Parliamentary Assembly and in the good results achieved at its third session in Dili in late September. The Community’s members remained committed to excellent cooperation with Timor-Leste to strengthen its stability and to consolidate its institutions and economic growth. The country’s progress was further demonstrated by ASEAN’s recent acceptance of Timor-Leste’s application for membership and its appointment of a working group to analyze the accession process itself.
He lauded Timor-Leste’s first steps to contribute to global peace and security, including the integration of F-FDTL soldiers into UNIFIL and into the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), and the placement of a military observer in South Sudan. He also commended Timor-Leste’s peaceful demobilization of veterans of the liberation struggle, recruitment of new military personnel and creation of a new legislative framework for F-FDTL integration as important contributions to a more peaceful, secure world. Timor-Leste was consistently improving its position in the human development index, as shown by UNDP’s latest report. Its recently adopted national strategic development plan would further boost the country’s strong economic growth and help combat poverty.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, welcomed Timor-Leste’s preparations for elections in 2012, which he said were an “important milestone” on the path to consolidated democracy. Broad commitment to democracy and dialogue under the Maubisse initiative was particularly encouraging, and the European Union was considering a request for an election observation mission, which could be of “tremendous value”. He hoped for free, fair, peaceful elections and praised progress towards strengthening security in Timor-Leste to meet potential security challenges in the run-up to and immediately after the elections. The successful handover of primary policing responsibility to the National Police was particularly positive, and no negative impact on the crime situation had been observed.
He said that the Joint Transition Plan held capacity-building and strengthening of institutional and human capacities at its core, and he looked ahead to more discussions on the future United Nations presence after UNMIT’s departure. He hoped those would result in a decisive definition of future modalities. He gave special mention to Timor-Leste’s participation in the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, and praised progress made in improving accountability for past human rights violations. Reconciliation was vital to long-term stability, he said, calling on the National Parliament to resume discussions on the Memorial Institute and Reparations as soon as possible.
Despite challenges in Timor-Leste’s economic and social development, the national Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030 was a valuable framework for coordinating and channeling support, and the European Union was highly committed to it, he said. ASEAN’s working group for Timorese membership was a significant step towards developing closer regional ties.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) commended the Timor-Leste Government for achieving a degree of calm and stability, but expressed concern that the country was still vulnerable to politically motivated violence as the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections drew near. The elections were taking place after the expiration of UNMIT’s mandate, and he said that to avoid repeating what had happened in 2006 when premature United Nations disengagement had triggered chaos and violence, the UNMIT drawdown must be gradual and based on an objective assessment of the situation on the ground. He called on all stakeholders to work closely to ensure the transition was as peaceful as possible.
He noted that the Secretary-General had underscored in his report the recent economic growth in Timor-Leste, largely due to the Government’s management of the oil industry and investment of public infrastructure. Converting the country’s oil wealth into human and physical capital to improve the quality of life for the Timorese people would remain a key challenge for the incoming government. Socio-economic development was a main priority for a young nation like Timor-Leste, as it struggled to establish political stability and rule of law. He assured the Council that the Philippines would continue to assist the people and Government of Timor-Leste. The current Philippine contingent in Timor-Leste was 89 police officers and three military advisers, who assisted mainly in humanitarian activities and investigation of incidents and violations.
ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, said Timor-Leste was putting remarkable effort in ensuring a stable, peaceful, and democratic transition. He was pleased to note that multiple parties had all underscored the need to sustain national unity and to concentrate on longer-term socio-economic and development strategies. The upcoming elections in Timor-Leste represented a cornerstone for the island’s people and a unique opportunity for the nation to secure a democracy. In order for the elections to be a success with a sustainable outcome, domestic public security must be a priority. The resumption of responsibility by the National Police earlier this year proved to be an important step.
He also noted progress made by the Timor-Leste Government in developing legislation that reinforced the security sector in areas of civil protection and border management. Progress had also been made in areas of law, justice, and human rights, and the participation of women in the political process was an important issue currently under discussion. In addition, Timor-Leste had experienced a steady rate of economic growth and he welcomed the Strategic Development Plan for 2011-2030, which showed the country’s commitment in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Lastly, he reiterated the dedication and commitment of Pacific Small Island Developing States to staying involved in Timor-Leste. A Pacific contingent had served in the country over the years, coming from Palau, Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu. Success in Timor-Leste was beneficial to Pacific small island developing States, which, not only shared the same vulnerabilities and challenges, but also common values and opportunities.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) supported a conditions-based approach to UNMIT’s withdrawal, and foresaw “a smooth drawdown following next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, and a transition to a post-UNMIT presence by the end of 2012”. Though the coming elections would provide the country’s “sternest test since 2006”, he was optimistic. Timor-Leste’s electoral management bodies were growing in capacity, reflected in reduced and more targeted requests for international support. Respect for electoral rules and institutions had improved, with Timorese-led and owned dialogue processes, such as The Retreat, representing consolidation of those gains. The elections would be the real test, but it was time to intensify strengthening of core Timorese institutions and to conclude Mission activities. Effective and sustainable implementation of the Joint Transition Plan could help achieve that, he said, noting that the Plan should “remain a living document, to be adjusted as required”.
He called for the strengthening of the Timor-Leste National Police ahead of the United Nations police (UNPOL) drawdown, scheduled to follow the elections. New Zealand had already scaled-up assistance, with a community policing programme to begin in January 2012. With UNMIT’s mandate running out, time was also limited to call on its support in strengthening public sector oversight and accountability bodies, the justice sector and civilian oversight of security institutions. He welcomed the establishment of a joint UNPOL-Timor-Leste National Police investigative team to address allegations of serious crimes by security forces. The post-UNMIT United Nations presence should be carefully assessed against needs and should begin after the elections and the establishment of a new Government. He called for a “real shift in emphasis of international assistance”, with more focus on long-term development. The Strategic Development Plan set a framework that met national priorities. New Zealand’s own bilateral aid framework focused on strengthening security and justice sectors, facilitating private sector investment, and providing education and training.
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