Talking about Justice for
10 December 2009
Click on any of the images on this page to see them larger.
Since May 1999, the United Nations Security Council has held more than 55 meetings about Timor-Leste. La’o Hamutuk counted how often certain words – justice, impunity, accountability and rule of law – were used during this debate, showing what diplomats and U.N. officials want people to believe they care about.
During 125 hours of Security Council meetings, diplomats mentioned “justice” 816 times and “rule of law” 279 times (usually after 2006). Other concepts, such as “impunity” (131 times) and “accountability” (143 times), received little mention before 2004.
The "word-cloud" at left shows what was said during the meeting on 23 October 2009. The size of the type indicates how often each word was spoken.
The graph at right shows which justice-related words were said most often in each Security Council meeting and how this has changed over time, as counted from the 1,300 pages of transcripts.
“Justice” dominates the Security Council debate at particular times, especially in late 2000 (after UN staffers were killed in Atambua), August 2004 (after the UN decided to phase out the Serious Crimes Unit and Special Panels), and January 2006 (when President Xanana Gusmão told the Security Council about restorative justice). After the Independent Commission of Inquiry report on the 2006 Crisis, combating “impunity” (for 2006 crimes) was a popular topic. During the last three years, delegates have increasingly mentioned “rule of law” and “accountability,” perhaps because achieving them is increasingly unlikely.
After Maternus Bere was freed in early November, the U.N. Secretary-General’s spokesperson told journalists: “The United Nations position that there should be no impunity, especially for serious crimes, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, is well known.” A month earlier, the Secretary-General told the Security Council of his “hope that the Governments of both Timor-Leste and Indonesia will ensure that Martenus (sic) Bere is brought to justice…”
The governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia have repeatedly shown that they will not or cannot end impunity for Indonesian perpetrators of Crimes against Humanity in Timor-Leste during 24 years of Indonesian occupation. People all over the world who believe in justice and accountability urge the international community to put action behind their words by establishing an international tribunal.Some other aspects of these meetings are interesting, as shown at left. Diplomats talked about “peace” 853 times, “reconciliation” 581 times and “human rights” 279 times. Many delegates mentioned “reconciliation” (often together with “justice”) after the 2006 Crisis and the Secretary-General’s report on “justice and reconciliation.” “Peace” was popular in December 2007, hopefully to be consolidated (along with stability) by the newly-elected government. Human rights was popular from 2004 until it fell during the Crisis, but it has been slowly moving up since the beginning of 2007.
During this decade the Security Council enacted 25 resolutions on Timor-Leste, although some of them were very brief. The graph at right tabulates how often these words were used in the texts of the resolutions.La'o Hamutuk encourages others to use our data to further explore the words and resolutions used in the UN Security Council, and their implications for Timor-Leste. As we explained in our October 2009 letter to the Security Council, we feel that it important for the diplomats to have as complete information as possible. We also believe that the public, especially the citizens of Timor-Leste and the countries which are members of the Security Council, should know what is being said by and about their Governments.
The table below contains links to all transcripts of Security Council meetings and resolutions related to Timor-Leste. In addition to those from 1999 to the present, the Security Council passed resolutions 384 on 22 December 1975 and 389 on 22 April 1976. These are not included in the analysis on this page.
 This analysis does not count the phrase "justice sector" when tabulating the word "justice."
 "Reconciliation" does not count "Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission" or similar phrases.
Other resources on this website
The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)