Top Envoy, in Security Council, Praises Timor-Leste’s Achievements of Past Year, Including Elections, Urges ‘Innovative’ Engagement When UN Mission Concludes
Top Envoy, in Security Council, Praises Timor-Leste’s Achievements of Past Year, Including Elections, Urges ‘Innovative’ Engagement When UN Mission Concludes
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6858th & 6859th Meetings (PM)
Top Envoy, in Security Council, Praises Timor-Leste’s Achievements of Past Year,
Including Elections, Urges ‘Innovative’ Engagement When UN Mission Concludes
Head of Mission Stresses Country ‘Still Faces Many Challenges;’
South Africa Briefs on Council’s 3-6 November Mission to Country
With the mandate of the Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste set for completion at the end of this year, the top United Nations official in the country, along with the leader of the Security Council’s recent visit, celebrated the progress of the fledgling nation and urged further, “innovative” international engagement with it, in the Council Chamber this afternoon.
“What I see today is a young country of resilient people, with great potential, led with dedication and vision,” Finn Reske-Nielsen, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the Mission, known as UNMIT, said following a briefing by Baso Sangqu of South Africa, leader of the Council members’ mission.
“Timor-Leste still faces many challenges,” Mr. Reske-Nielsen said. “The Government has expressed its wish for an ‘innovative’ working relationship with the United Nations after UNMIT’s closure and we are working closely with the Government to shape that future partnership, first and foremost through the work of the UN agencies, funds and programmes,” he continued, noting that continued financial support would be required.
Also praising the Timorese people for what he called tremendous progress, Ambassador Sangqu said that “the key to the new phase will be national ownership,” in his briefing on the Council visit, which took place from 3 to 6 November and included representatives of Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Portugal and Togo. The mission had met with non-governmental organizations, agencies on the ground and Government officials, who told them that UNMIT’s role had run its course and expressed the desire for a unique relationship with the United Nations focused on development.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report (see Background), Mr. Reske-Nielsen said that UNMIT, which was established after a security crisis in Timor-Lest in 2006, was on track to withdraw by 31 December, with the implementation of the Joint Transition Plan proceeding well. The only notable area where its work could not be completed by the end of the year were related to investigations into serious crimes committed in 1999 as part of the violence that occurred before independence of which 61 investigations would not have been finished. The justice process for crimes committed in 2006 continued, as well, with the latest conviction coming in October.
The end of peacekeeping operations was justified by the successful completion of key benchmarks and a generally positive security situation, he said. In May, he recalled, Timor-Leste celebrated its tenth anniversary since its restoration of independence. The independence celebrations coincided with the inauguration of a new president, Taur Matan Ruak, who was voted into office in April. The country also held parliamentary elections in July, which were largely peaceful and held in an orderly manner, according to observers, and required much less assistance from UNMIT than previous elections.
Medium-term benchmarks had also seen progress, he said, noting those in security, stability, justice, rule of law and human rights, along with promotion of a culture of democratic governance and dialogue and socio-economic development.
Perhaps the most notable event in that regard, he said, was the certification of the full reconstitution of the National Police on 31 October, acknowledging that it was fully capable of conducting all police functions through the country, as the result of a considered assessment process. Despite the ongoing drawdown of UNMIT Police as described in the report, capacity-building activities for the police continued, aiming to be 95 per cent completed by the end of November. As significant policing capacity challenges would remain post-2012, however, United Nations agencies would continue to provide some support and he urged Member States to continue their strong engagement.
The police and the military had coordinated well during the election period, he said, and there had been no serious tension between the two security groups for the past several years. The military continued its own institutional development initiatives and, like the National Police, continued to make contributions to other peacekeeping missions.
Since its formation on 8 August, he said, the governing coalition had already demonstrated its stability, with the opposition taking an active and responsible part in parliamentary debates and proceedings and working constructively on budget matters. The President had begun a series of district visits to reach out to areas outside of the capital Dili. UNMIT had supported national and local leaders in some 175 events in the past four years, in which leaders met with communities to discuss themes such as accountability and leadership. He hoped that such dialogue would continue after UNMIT’s departure.
Following those briefings, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste agreed that much progress had been made after 2009, in which the Government moved to end the cyclical problems of the country’s past, facilitating local ownership and leadership to ensure that everyone became an agent of peace and development. Detailing many areas in which progress had been made, he said those successes were attributable to the country’s own efforts and to the United Nations, which he said had provided vital assistance in the areas of rule of law, governance, justice and human rights. The country was sharing the lessons it had learned in its road to democracy so that other countries could benefit from its experience.
After those statements, the representatives of Council members and other interested countries congratulated the people of Timor-Leste on the progress they had made. Speakers commended the work of UNMIT, as well as the commitment of neighbouring States to assist the building of democracy in the country. They stressed that the nature of the future United Nations presence should be determined by the Government in consultation with the Organization, with ownership of the country of all efforts.
The representative of the United Kingdom stressed, in addition, that, even if the country was taken off the agenda of the Security Council as the Government had requested, the Council should be updated on progress in the country after UNMIT’s withdrawal, particularly on any warning signs of a relapse into conflict that could threaten the hard-won gains. Regional partners and others expressed their continued commitment to the country’s progress.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of South Africa, Morocco, Togo, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Germany, Colombia, China, Portugal, United Kingdom, Pakistan, United States, France, India, Brazil, Japan, Mozambique (on behalf of the Portuguese-Speaking Community), New Zealand and Australia.
The head of the European Union delegation also spoke.
The first meeting, in which Mr. Sangqu gave his briefing, opened at 3:07 p.m. and closed at 3:20 p.m. The meeting that included Mr. Reske-Nielsen’s briefing and the debate started at 3:22 p.m. and ended at 5:46 p.m.
The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nation Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (for the period 7 January through 20 September 2012 (document S/2012/765). In the context of “substantial progress shown in multiple spheres” in the country, as well as nationally owned efforts to overcome the remaining challenges, the Secretary-General recommends in the report that the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) continue to proceed with its phased drawdown through the next three months until the completion of its mandate on 31 December 2012, consistent with the views of the Government and as envisaged in the Joint Transition Plan agreed upon with the United Nations. Considering the long-standing support provided by the Mission and the United Nations country team to Timor-Leste over the past years, he welcomes the establishment of a working group formed by the Government to start discussions with the United Nations on matters identified in the Plan.
Milestones reached during the reporting period include the tenth anniversary of independence, the conducting three rounds of elections in a calm and secure environment, demonstration of international leadership as Co-Chair of both the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and State-building and the Group of Seven Fragile States, promoting the implementation of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The ending of the United Nations peacekeeping presence in Timor-Leste presented another milestone. At the same time, he stressed that the United Nations embraces the Government’s proposal for the United Nations to continue to be an important partner in the new phase of the country’s development and to establish an innovative working relationship of cooperation for the post-UNMIT phase focusing on institutional strengthening and development.
In 2010, he recalled, the United Nations technical assessment mission said that the country had recovered from the 2006 crisis insofar as the immediate challenges had been resolved, including, with stability and security restored, the return of about 150,000 internally displaced persons and the closure of all tented camps, and the gradual reintegration of the dismissed “petitioners” into civilian life. The security situation has remained calm and stable since the attacks on the President and the Prime Minister in February 2008. The National Police have exercised responsibility for the conduct of all police operations in Timor-Leste in the past 18 months, and the reported crime rate has remained low, with UNMIT police focusing on further institutional development and capacity-building while providing operational support in certain areas.
Operational support to the national police by UNMIT will end by the close of the year, the Secretary-General projects. Out of the 1,149 officers deployed as of 20 September, it is currently expected that approximately 70 police officers will leave in October, 540 in November and 30 in December. In addition, it is planned that UNMIT’s formed police units will be withdrawn during the two weeks following the end of operational support to the National Police Force of Timor-Leste, with the Malaysian, Bangladeshi, Portuguese and Pakistani units due to leave on 8, 10, 12 and 14 November respectively. It is planned that UNMIT’s international civilian personnel (totalling 332 as at 20 September) will be reduced by approximately 59 staff in October, 81 in November and 132 in December, with about 67staff to be retained for the liquidation team.
He calls on all involved, including the Timorese authorities and other national stakeholders, UNMIT and the United Nations country team, as well as bilateral and multilateral partners, to continue to work together and intensify their efforts to facilitate the effective implementation of the Plan’s remaining activities. He commends efforts by Timor-Leste to ensure that the foundation and parameters for sustainable peace and development are nationally driven and that international assistance is responsive to meeting its most pressing needs. UNMIT and the United Nations country team have supported Timor-Leste’s efforts to implement its New Deal development plan at the country level, and the United Nations will remain its steadfast partner in the period ahead, he says.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa), who had led the Mission to Timor-Leste with Security Council members from Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Portugal, Togo and his country from 3 to 6 November 2012, said the team had met with key political officials, non-governmental organizations and other agencies on the ground.
“Timor-Leste is a very different place than it was six years ago,” he said. “Due to the resilience of the Timorese, the country has made tremendous progress.”
Among those achievements, he said elections had taken place, a new government had been formed and stability had been achieved.
Yet, challenges were ahead, including the need for continued assistance to the National Police Force of Timor-Leste and related activities. During the visit, he said Council members engaged in meetings with National Police officials and with officers, and had witnessed that it had been transformed into a professional force, which had already certified officers, including women candidates. There were gaps, he said, but authorities were willing to address them.
In February 2012, the Security Council adopted resolution 2037, which had extended UNMIT until 31 December 2012, but in September, the Prime Minister had sent a letter to the Secretary-General, acknowledging that Timor-Leste no longer required the Mission’s support after the end of its mandate. The Prime Minister, however, had expressed a desire to establish a cooperating working relationship with the United Nations, with a future role possibly being a through a special adviser, Mr. Sangqu said.
The Government of Timor-Leste had made its position very clear, he continued, adding that it sought a unique relationship with the United Nations focused on development. UNMIT’s role had run its course, he said.
Strengthening institutions, addressing crimes of the past and bolstering development were among the main challenges ahead. Once UNMIT had withdrawn, the Government must have the capacity to meet these challenges, he said.
“The withdrawal of UNMIT will not end the United Nations’ relationship with Timor-Leste,” he said. “However, key to this new phase would be national ownership.”
Statement by Foreign Minister
JOSÉ LUÍS GUTERRES, Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, (Timor-Leste) said that 10 years ago, the world witnessed the birth of a new country. “From hope, courage and a good dose of optimism, we started the extraordinary work of building a country,” he said, and since then “we have learned from our own problems.” From an inclusive dialog among State institutions and with civil society, following the 2006 crisis, it learned that peacebuilding and State-building went hand in hand. In 2009, the Government moved to end the cyclical problems of the country’s past, facilitating local ownership and leadership to ensure that everyone became an agent of peace and development. Reforms promoted good governance and the rule of law, and in 2011, a Strategic Development Plan was launched to turn a low-income country into a medium high-income one by 2030.
He detailed progress in life expectancy, per capita Gross National Product (GNP), and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). School enrolment for basic education had jumped from 63 to 90 per cent. Timor-Leste would proclaim full adult literacy by 2015. Infant mortality and mortality of children under five years had been halved, and the incidence of malaria and dengue fever had decreased significantly. The World Health Organization (WHO) considered leprosy to be medically eliminated in the country. While still high, poverty had declined from 49 per cent in 2007 to 41 per cent. Among key priorities for the next five years were access to clean water, public health and education, and investment in infrastructure.
Further, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative rated Timor-Leste the best performer in Asia and third in the world in terms of accountability and transparency in managing its petroleum resources, he continued. The country had a multi-party democracy, with women comprising 33 per cent of elected Members of Parliament and had ratified all major human rights treaties. It had among the freest media in the region. Those successes were attributable to the country’s own efforts and to the United Nations, which had provided vital assistance in the areas of rule of law, governance, justice and human rights. Further, Timor-Leste would host the Asia and Pacific, Asia Development Bank (ADB)/Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) initiative on anti-Corruption next year. The country had held peaceful and credible presidential and parliamentary elections this year and was sharing its experience and lessons learned.
Mr. SANGQU ( South Africa) said the state of affairs in Timor-Leste was a milestone. Since its struggle for independence, it had become a nation that had made significant strides in peace and development. The United Nations had closely partnered with Timor-Leste in that journey, he said.
In defining the United Nations’ future role, goals achieved must be noted, he said, pointing to the elections and the training of National Police Force of Timor-Leste. The Government’s adoption of its five-year plan highlighted efforts to support development and the leadership role it took in supporting efforts to assist other fragile countries was commendable, he said. But now, Timor-Leste had indicated that it did not wish to remain on the Council’s agenda, he said. It was now time for the country to work on, among other things, strengthening institutions and economic development, which were challenges facing many countries. For its part, the international community should support the success story, he concluded.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) commended the recent positive political developments, including the elections and Parliament’s adoption of a five-year plan. At the current time, the international community must provide the needed support to assist in the country’s efforts to strengthen State institutions, and the security and justice sectors.
Regarding UNMIT’s withdrawal, he said resolution 2037 (2012) had prepared the ground for transferring duties from United Nations mission staff to Timorese authorities concerning the maintenance of stability. After the Council members’ visit, it was clear that progress had been made in a number of areas. It was important to conduct the transition according to the letter sent by the Prime Minister to the Secretary-General in September.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) said six years after the adoption of resolution 1704 (2006), important progress had been achieved and results had been obtained. The recent Council visit, of which he took part, had noted a high level of cooperation and confidence between the United Nations and the Government of Timor-Leste.
Among the achievements were the transparent and fair elections, he said. He also remarked on the climate of confidence, cooperation, dialogue and reconciliation among political actors. In the same vein, democracy had been reinforced with the adoption and implementation of public projects and further achievements had been gained in fighting corruption. More needed to be done, however, in several areas, including national reconciliation.
PETER ILICHEV ( Russian Federation) welcomed the successful completion of the work of UNMIT, which he said was only possible because the Timorese people embraced facing their challenges. Much of the Mission’s work was a model for successful peacekeeping and peacebuilding, he commented. He called on the Timorese to share their experiences, as well, and continue their contributions to peacebuilding and peacekeeping. The final decisions on the nature of the future role of the United Nations in Timor-Leste must be made by the country’s leadership.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) also welcomed the advances in the country as confirmed by the recent visit in which his country had participated. There was, nevertheless, a need for further international support in tackling the challenges of poverty, malnutrition, institution-building and other areas. He took note of the Government’s view of the post-2012 role of the United Nations and supported the transition from peacekeeping to a focus on further institution-building and development. The gains made so far should be consolidated.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) expressed admiration for the achievements of Timor-Leste, thanking its partners for their commitment to peace and stability there. Consolidation of democracy was a long-term process, but the accomplishments there so far showed a firm resolve on the part of the people to achieve that goal. He emphasized how important it was for the Government to adopt a firm decision on the nature of the role of the United Nations after UNMIT, as soon as possible. Consolidation of institutions, continuation of investigations of serious crimes, management of resources, strengthening of the educational system and other challenges were suitable focuses for further assistance.
CHRISTOPHE EICK ( Germany) applauded Timor-Leste’s achievements, including its positive elections and the formation of a new government. He said UNMIT should continue to proceed with its drawdown, and that, given the current stable situation, the mission’s presence had served its purpose and was no longer required, he said.
At this stage, it was key that the full transfer of UNMIT’s responsibilities to the Government or partners was smooth and that stability prevailed. He assured the Government of Timor-Leste of Germany’s support and noted that future cooperation was needed to further advance and consolidate development and reconciliation initiatives.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said 2012 had been a significant year that had seen a new government and the tenth anniversary of independence in Timor-Leste. The United Nations had been at work for more than a decade, supporting the Timorese efforts to consolidate lasting peace and security, he said, noting a string of positive achievements.
Even though UNMIT’s mandate was drawing to an end, Colombia would continue to offer Timor-Leste its support. Among the achievements, policing had expanded and improved, resulting in a drop in crime, and an active parliament had been established. Challenges existed, he said, noting that crimes of the past must be addressed, and work must continue in the future to intensify efforts to bring about a firm and lasting peace.
WANG MIN ( China) said the year marking the tenth anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence had seen great progress. The country had held elections and established a new parliament and government, which had enabled the maintenance of stability.
He highly appreciated the fact that police were fully responsible for security. Keeping in mind that economic development and the improvement of people’s well-being were key, he supported efforts to strengthen institutions to improve those areas. Timor-Leste was a successful example of the work missions could do, he said, adding that China would continue to provide assistance and support to Timor-Leste.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said Timor-Leste had achieved much in the current historical year. It was a success in many areas, including democracy and international cooperation. The democratic elections were proof and showed that parliamentary democracy had taken root in the country. Significant progress had also been achieved in capacity-building, among other areas, he said.
Preparation for its participation in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other activities, were signs of bolstered involvement in bi- and multilateralism. The Security Council mission was timely, contributing to verifications already made and to the role the United Nations would play in the future. The Timorese Government’s letter sent to the Secretary-General in September deserved the Council’s support.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) commending the people of Timor-Leste on their achievements, said that the United Nations had played an essential role in the progress. Welcoming UNMIT’s exemplary role, as well as its completion this year, he added that the relationship with the international community should continue to evolve and the transition plan should be considered further in that regard. The Country Team should be strengthened in that context. The lessons learned in the drawdown of UNMIT, given its successes, should be mined for other missions. Even if the country was taken off the agenda of the Security Council, the Council should be updated on progress in the country after UNMIT’s withdrawal, he stressed, requesting the Secretary-General to consider a mode for such updates. He hoped such updates would pick up any warning signs of a relapse into conflict that threatened the hard won gains.
RAZA TARAR ( Pakistan) welcomed the turnaround in Timor-Leste, which he attributed to both the work of the Timorese people and UNMIT. Noting that the country had requested to be taken off the agenda of the Security Council and its wish for a relationship with the United Nations focused on development, he said that the shape of a further United Nations presence should be determined in close consultation between the Organization and the Government. The Government, he said, must manage the country’s natural resources in a way that encouraged inclusive, equitable development. A solid foundation had been built with the help of the international community, which should allow the Timorese people to build on it further.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) agreed that Timor-Leste had come a long way, but stressed that the remaining challenges must be addressed, lest instability be allowed to return. The focus must be on providing the country with tools that would bolster long-term stability. He strongly encouraged the completion of the investigations on past crimes, that work continue on promoting human rights, and tools be provided to pick up sources of fragility and instability. Also, UNMIT’s successful story should be used to find lessons for strengthening other peacekeeping missions. Further, he welcomed the participation of Timor-Leste on the international stage.
PHILIPPE BERTOUX ( France) commended Timor-Leste for organizing free and democratic elections in a climate of peace and with high voter turnout, and for the transfer of responsibilities regarding security. Further, the country’s diplomacy was displaying great dynamism, including the g7+, and that was another achievement. Further, he applauded the current stability within its borders.
Challenges today were, among other things, fighting poverty, bolstering economic development and combating gender discrimination and corruption. Preparations for the departure of UNMIT were a model to follow in other countries, he said. The type of presence the United Nations maintained in Timor-Leste must be defined by local authorities, keeping in mind budgetary implications.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India), President of the Council, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the country had made amazing progress. He complimented the National Police Force of Timor-Leste for efforts to strengthen its capacity building and appreciated the resilience and determination of the Timorese people to travel on a path of peace, security and democracy. He also appreciated UNMIT’s efforts in making the situation in Timor-Leste a success story.
The Timorese Government had stated that it did not want to be on the Council’s agenda, and that wish should be supported, he said. Economic growth remained robust and the Government’s focus on infrastructure development would help to usher in further growth, he said. For its part, India had sought to contribute to the country’s development in areas of training and others, and had lent support to help the Government expand its bilateral and regional cooperation.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), calling 2012 a milestone for Timor-Leste, said that 10 years after the country’s independence, the Timorese people were able to hold two elections and ensure a smooth and democratic transition of power. Progress had also been made in the security sector, with the transfer of policing responsibilities to the national police, and in the country’s economy, which had experienced accelerated growth. The Timorese had also worked hard to strengthen mechanisms for protecting human rights, implement programmes to fight corruption and promote transparency, and ensure social progress and good governance. Additionally, women’s participation in the nation-building process was remarkable, with women assuming 38 per cent of seats in Parliament, the highest proportion in the Asia-Pacific region.
Recalling UNMIT’s important contributions to Timor-Leste, she said it was important that the international community and the United Nations continued to cooperate with the Timorese to consolidate those positive gains. In that regard, she expressed confidence that the country’s future relationship with the United Nations would be based on mutually beneficial dialogue and concentrated on the country’s priorities and concerns. She encouraged the prompt discussion of issues identified in the Joint Transition Plan, noting that Brazil would further develop its ties with Timor-Leste, particularly through cooperation projects in agriculture, education, justice and security. In conclusion, she pointed out the work of Sergio Viera de Mello, a Brazilian national, who, in his role as head of United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, had assisted Timor-Leste during its early stages of independence.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said after Timor-Leste’s independence, the United Nations missions operating there had evolved according to the country’s progress. The result had become proof of the effectiveness of peacekeeping for international peace and security. Japan had been part of those efforts, with engineering units participating in the missions and in establishing the foundation for the country’s development, as well as civilian police personnel to support Timorese efforts to build policing capacity.
Timorese achievements had opened the door to a new stage for further development. Now a seamless transition was vital, he said, adding that a strong partnership between Timor-Leste and the mission would add a positive transition to their success story, as well. The future would require more coordinated, harmonized and strengthened efforts by all relevant entities under the strong ownership of the Timorese.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), speaking as Chair of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, said two important events characterizing the mission’s progress were the springtime presidential elections and the parliamentary elections in July. The implementation of the framework of cooperation between the United Nations and Timor-Leste demonstrated a positive experience in the stabilization of the country, and brought with it knowledge that would contribute to solving conflicts and building an increasingly peaceful and stable world.
He appealed to the international community to continue providing its valuable contributions to the political and economic development of Timor-Leste. Acknowledging the importance of the Council members’ visit this month and the Secretary-General’s trip last August, he said they, along with other initiatives, would help to identify better ways to overcome existing challenges, such as economic and social development and capacity building. Alongside international efforts, he said members of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries would continue to redouble efforts aimed at strengthening the political and economic stability of the country.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) recalled that in early September 1999 Asia Pacific leaders had gathered at Auckland, New Zealand for their annual Summit. Less than two weeks earlier the people of Timor-Leste had overwhelmingly chosen independence in a United Nations-supervised referendum, following which the territory was plunged into several week of violent chaos. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders were able to discuss options for ending the violence, and on 13 September agreed to deploy an international peacekeeping force to stabilize the situation. Thus began a process which three years later saw Timor-Leste’s emergence as an independent nation. So also began a period of intense New Zealand partnership with the Timorese people, a partnership so intense and so real it had become part of the country’s national identity.
New Zealand had participated in the International Force for East Timor, which was dispatched to Timor-Leste shortly after the 1999 Summit, and it had played a significant role in every international force in the country since then. Indeed, more than 6,000 New Zealand military personnel had served there since 1999, and it was proud to be one of the first countries to commit to supporting the post-referendum transition to independence. “We’ve been privileged to walk with the Timorese people on their journey out of conflict and out of fragility,” he said.
Today, Timor-Leste was more stable, more peaceful and more prosperous, and its future appeared brighter than at any time in the country’s short history. And, with the conduct of this year’s elections and the formation of a new government, it appeared that the time was now ripe for Timor-Leste to assume full responsibility for its security. However, as the report of the Secretary-General noted, the next phase also presented its own daunting challenges. Timorese access to health and education services must be enhanced and jobs were urgently needed for the country’s young and rapidly growing population, which required the emergence of a vibrant private sector in the non-oil economy. Recent gains in the areas of security and democratic governance must also be consolidated and extended, and further progress was needed ensure that those gains were not “just anchored in strong and wise leadership, but also in effective, resilient and sustainable solutions.” New Zealand would remain a reliable partner to Timor-Leste, including through its $22 million bilateral development assistance programme, assistance focused on private sector investment and other measures. In closing, he paid tribute to the courage, wisdom and determination of the Timorese people, who had carried the young country such an extraordinary distance since the dark and dramatic days of 1999.
PHILIPPA KING ( Australia) said Timor-Leste, working closely with UNMIT and bilateral partners, had made great progress since 2006. The Timor-Leste National Police Force had been fully reconstituted, the threat posed by disaffected groups had dissipated and the Timorese-led political reconciliation processes had contributed to peaceful elections this year. Expressing agreement with the Timorese Prime Minister, she said that security conditions in Timor-Leste had improved markedly and that, following the very successful elections held during 2012, it was time for the international security forces to depart the country, adding that Australia agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that UNMIT conclude its mission at the end of 2012.
She said UNMIT had successfully integrated many functions of the United Nations into a single mission structure, reconstituting and supporting the National Police Force of Timor-Leste, promoting and supporting political reconciliation, human rights development and awareness of justice issues. Stressing that the end of the United Nations peacekeeping and political presence should not signal the end of the Organization’s engagement with Timor-Leste, she said the country wanted to shape an innovative development relationship with the United Nations. Further, the country’s partnership with Australia, its first development partner in the “New Deal”, was now firmly rooted in its principles. Her country was partnering with the Ministry of Finance to provide development assistance and would begin undertaking the drawdown of the International Stabilisation Force in coordination with the Governments of Timor-Leste and New Zealand, and UNMIT. It would also continue its work with Timor’s police force, and engage in efforts to alleviate poverty, including through providing education and employment opportunities to young Timorese.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, head of the European Union delegation, said that over the past decade, Timor-Leste had made impressive progress in the areas of stability, democracy, rule of law, human rights and economic growth. Since the Security Council debate on UNMIT in February, the State had witnessed several new milestones, including successful and peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections. The withdrawal of the Mission by the end of this year, 10 years after the country reinstated its independence, was “a logical step” and “a clear sign of its commitment to consolidate the capacity of its institutions”. However, several challenges remained in socioeconomic development and justice due to human resource capacity constraints.
Stressing the importance of building on the progress already made and focusing on the effective implementation of the rest of the Joint Transition Plan, he welcomed the new government’s five-year programme and the Strategic Development Plan. In that regard, he underlined the need for a continuous focus on the rule of law, human rights and access to justice. Reconciliation was another important precondition for long-term stability. The Union looked forward to the National Parliament’s renewed discussions on the two draft laws on the Memorial Institute and Reparations, and on the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. The United Nations presence in the coming years should be designed to support the ongoing consolidation efforts and to build on the significant achievements to date, in close coordination with the Timorese authorities. The Union was currently preparing its development support for 2014-2020 in line with Timor-Leste’s national strategic development plan. With the focus shifting from security and stability to development issues, he encouraged other delegations to remain strongly engaged in Timor-Leste’s development process. “We are confident that Timor-Leste will continue to be a successful example of national leadership in institution-building and socioeconomic development,” he said.
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