10/12/2002
Press Briefing



PRESS CONFERENCE BY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF TIMOR-LESTE


Timor-Leste was celebrating International Human Rights Day by ratifying all major United Nations human rights treaties, said Jose Luis Guterres, Permanent Representative of Timor-Leste, at a Headquarters Press Conference this morning.


Appearing with Sergio Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he told correspondents his Government was now party to the following treaties and instruments:  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; and four optional protocols.


He also highlighted the fact that Timor-Leste had become the 20th State party to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.  The Convention had, thus, been brought into force 12 years after its adoption by the General Assembly.


Speaking after Mr. Guterres, Mr. de Mello said the actions of Timor-Leste represented the best possible celebration of the ideals embodied by International Human Rights Day.  He also remarked that the fact that Timor-Leste was ratifying the treaties less than three months after its independence demonstrated that small and weak nations that had “just emerged from darkness and suffering” were as committed to international law as powerful, developed and well-established democracies.


He pointed out that the ratifications came just one week after eruptions of violence in Dili, the country’s capital.  That unrest proved that there was still much to be done in fostering a culture of peace in a land that had known only violence for centuries.  In that context, he stressed that the only way to truly protect civilians was to strengthen international law.


* *** *