|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, Addressing Parliament, Hails Timor-Leste Transformation
from Recipient of United Nations Peacekeeping to Active Contributor
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address as delivered to the National Parliament in Dili today, 15 August:
Boa tarde, hau haksolok mai iha Dili [Tetun for “Good afternoon, I am happy to be here in Dili”]. Thank you for this profound honour.
This is my second visit to Timor-Leste as United Nations Secretary-General, and my second opportunity to address this Parliament. I was here last time in 2007. Five years later, I return to the same chamber but to a new Timor-Leste.
Today Dili is much more vibrant and safe. The national economy is growing. Private businesses are opening. Development is on the rise. Your country’s institutions are ever stronger. You are reforming ministries, the civil service, the judiciary. Timorese security forces have shown growing professionalism in maintaining public security. And, of course, this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections were a great success.
Your national institutions have shown increasing ability to undertake future elections without international support. And for the first time ever, the national police were solely responsible for security during the electoral period. I commend the Timorese people for going to the polls in a peaceful and orderly manner — and I am greatly encouraged that the election results were accepted by all, leading to the formation of a new Government and the inauguration of this new Parliament.
All of this progress reflects Timor-Leste’s strong commitment to democratic governance, the rule of law and building a secure and stable future. Above all, the credit belongs to you — the leaders and people of Timor-Leste. I wanted to come to this house of the people to salute your achievements since the restoration of independence 10 years ago — and your tenth anniversary as a member of the United Nations.
But in many ways, the difficult [work] begins now — and it starts right here in this chamber. And it starts with you. As elected parliamentarians, you have been bestowed with a solemn trust. You have a great responsibility to debate issues, to listen to opposing views, to reconcile differing views, and to reflect the will and concerns of all Timorese. They expect you to work together to achieve common goals and to build a better society for all the people of Timor-Leste. They demand accountable and transparent institutions that continue to root out corruption and work for the common good.
Together, you are identifying common challenges; these include providing hope and opportunity for young people, and taking care of the elderly and disadvantaged groups. You must make the best use of available natural resources, and continue reforms in the justice and security sectors. And you are striving to strengthen your regional links through your important efforts to join the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). I urge you to keep the focus on these overarching goals in a spirit of cooperation.
The United Nations will continue to partner with you as you forge a new future. And as we look together to some of the big challenges of our era, I believe Timor-Leste has much to share with the world. Let me point to three areas.
First, advancing development; the events and experiences of the past several years have convinced me that we need to rethink our approach to development. Growth is not enough. We need inclusive growth that reduces inequalities — growth that integrates the economic, social and environmental instead of growth that pits these goals against each other. That is why we have made sustainable development the leading priority of the United Nations.
The 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals is fast approaching, and the United Nations is committed to helping countries make as much progress as possible in the next three years. At the same time, we must start defining a development framework that looks beyond 2015. The voice and experience of Timor-Leste is vital. And I was pleased that your Finance Minister, Emilia Pires, accepted my invitation to serve on my Global High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Second, you have much to contribute in promoting peace and security. Timor-Leste is moving from a recipient of United Nations peacekeeping to an active contributor. Your brave forces are serving from South Sudan to the Middle East. I also want to thank Timor-Leste for its leadership of the g7+ [group of fragile States], providing a platform to highlight the special needs of fragile and conflict-affected countries around the world — which is so critical to consolidating peace.
Third, empowering women and young people; we must do more to open doors of opportunity for women and young people. You are showing the way. I pay tribute to this Parliament for ensuring that at least one third of the parliamentarians is women. And Timorese women now make up almost 20 per cent of the country’s police service.
Of course, one of the best ways to empower a young, dynamic democracy is by empowering its young, dynamic citizens. Tomorrow I will address university students and highlight education as a building block of every society. Education lies at the heart of economic development. Better education means more productivity and less poverty, more economic activity and less unemployment. Better education means better health care and less malnutrition, less maternal health problems, less exposure to disease.
In short, education powers decent jobs, opportunities and hope for a nation. That is why I am now here, travelling together with Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Madam Irena Bokova, and Special Envoy of the United Nations for Global Education Mr. Gordon Brown, a former Prime Minister of United Kingdom.
I’m sure that with my political leadership and their political leadership, we can mobilize necessary political awareness and necessary resources. And I am pleased to inform you that we have taken Timor-Leste as our first country to raise this education issue as our number one priority.
There is no limit to Timor-Leste’s future if you continue to show a strong commitment to democratic values, meaningful participation, peace and stability. It is in this positive atmosphere that the United Nations is preparing for the withdrawal of UNMIT at the end of the year. We have consulted with a wide range of Timorese partners on a new form of engagement in Timor-Leste in view of UNMIT’s anticipated departure.
The United Nations itself has gained so much from our relationship with Timor-Leste through the years. As the UN now reduces its footprint in the country, you are continuing to set a global example of how to successfully emerge from conflict to lasting peace. As we shape our new relationship, Timor-Leste can count on the United Nations’ steady support as you lead the way forward.
You have begun an important journey that will shape Timor-Leste for generations to come. It will take time and patience and hard work. The process is not a sprint. It is a marathon. But Timor-Leste knows a thing or two about the marathon.
I attended the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. I was there as your marathon runners — Augusto Ramos Soares and Juventina Napoleao — entered the stadium, proudly representing Timor-Leste on the global stage. The world saw more than two Olympic runners; we saw the Timorese spirit of independence, dedication, perseverance on full display.
I see in them what I now feel in this country: a determination to have big dreams; a promise to keep striving to reach your goals; and a commitment to share your strengths with the world. The people of Timor-Leste are on the right track for prosperity, security and stability for all. And like all good marathon runners, I know you will reach the finish line successfully.
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