|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5432nd Meeting (AM)
RECENT TIMOR-LESTE VIOLENCE REMINDER DEMOCRACY ‘STILL FRAGILE’, UNITED NATIONS
PRESENCE NEEDED THROUGH 2007 ELECTIONS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Special Representative Briefs, Says 5 Killed in Dili Riot;
Timor-Leste Foreign Minister Describes Incident as Wake-Up Call for Leadership
Describing for the Security Council today recent events in Timor-Leste, in which a demonstration by former soldiers ended in rioting, with five people killed and thousands fleeing the capital, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there said the developments were a reminder that the country’s democracy was still fragile and the presence of an integrated United Nations office would be extremely important for maintaining the peace and stability necessary for free and fair national elections in 2007.
Sukehiro Hasegawa, Head of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), said that, despite the achievements of the past five years, State institutions were increasingly challenged to address the grievances of various groups and the rising expectations of the people, as well as the potential risks associated with the conduct of the first post-independence presidential and parliamentary elections next year. For that reason, the United Nations office proposed by the Secretary-General, as a follow-on to UNOTIL, would, among others, reinforce support for electoral bodies, continue United Nations police presence and provide military liaison officers to help the armed forces develop managerial capacity.
He said the internal problems afflicting the Timorese armed forces were mirrored by last week’s tragic violence in Dili, and indicated an acute need to develop that managerial capacity. Thus, the 10 military liaison officers, proposed by the Secretary-General as part of the integrated office, could support the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces in developing policies, rules and regulations, procedures, and principles governing all areas of defence. They would also assist the Ministry in developing statutory instruments governing military services.
According to UNOTIL estimates, he said, in addition to the five people killed in the Dili violence, at least 60 had been injured by gunfire, stone throwing and stabbing. However, the Mission’s Human Rights Unit and police advisers had found no credible evidence to support allegations that the number of deaths was far larger than officially announced. In addition to the deaths and injuries, Government offices had been damaged and numerous properties destroyed during the riots. And, while the physical damage remained minuscule in comparison with the destruction of 1999, the psychological impact on the people had turned out to be immense.
He said that the continued presence of United Nations police would be essential to ensure that law and order, as well as respect for human rights, was maintained, prior to and during the period leading up to the 2007 elections. United Nations police training and advisory personnel would be required: for training in electoral policing procedures and practices, including security responsibilities, during, and immediately following, the elections; to assist in monitoring and reporting on the conduct of the elections; and in the development and implementation of a comprehensive election security plan, thereby forestalling a volatile and possibly violent situation.
Also briefing the Council, José Ramos-Horta, Timor-Leste’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said that the incidents in Dili had been a wake-up call for the Timorese leadership, as well as the international community. Stakeholders must not take the country’s apparent tranquillity for granted, and urgent preventive measures must be resolutely taken to prevent a relapse into past violence and instability. He then recounted, candidly, the recent political and security developments in the country, as well as the requirements for a continued one-year United Nations presence in Timor-Leste, leading up to next year’s elections.
In a detailed account of the disturbances and the subsequent violent fallout, he said he had personally spent many days in dialogue with leaders of the ex-military group that had sparked the incidents. While they had seemed to express a willingness to cooperate with the Government, they had lost control of the demonstration and another group, “essentially a mob of hooligans”, had hijacked the demonstration. Though the situation had since calmed down, rumours and panic had sparked an exodus of 10,000 to 15,000 of Dili’s 180,000 residents to the rural areas, while a further 5,000 had taken shelter in churches. Dili was on the edge, fear was palpable among people already traumatized by past violence. There were concerns about the ability of the national police to maintain law and order, as well as concern about cohesion within the national army.
Despite the recent violence, however, the Government was moving swiftly to prepare for the upcoming elections, he said. With all that in mind, the most pertinent reasons for establishing an integrated office after the end of UNOTIL’s mandate included the fragile political environment and the challenge of upholding internal stability, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The political and security situation and the need to establish a reliable justice system had prompted the Government’s request for a United Nations office. A robust international police force, during the period leading up to the national elections, should also be considered.
While most Council members expressed their support for a United Nations follow-on presence in Timor-Leste, the representative of the United States said that the Secretary-General’s recommended establishment of a United Nations integrated office, no matter how well thought out, would not be timely at the present moment. A simple rollover of UNOTIL’s existing mandate for a one-month extension period would give the situation in Timor-Leste time to settle and provide time for the Council to consider the situation further.
Australia’s representative said that, while it was symbolically and politically important that the international community stand by Timor-Leste, it was clearly not the country’s preference that the United Nations conclude a Security Council-mandated presence at the present time. If the Council decided that a specially mandated successor mission to UNOTIL was required for a limited time, it should be focused and properly staffed to complement ongoing cooperation, as well as funded from the regular budget. The goal of the international community in Timor-Leste should be its people taking full control of their country’s affairs.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Argentina, France, Japan, Qatar, Peru, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Greece, Denmark, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, China, Ghana, Congo, Singapore, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Portugal, New Zealand, Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 1:25 p.m.
Before the Security Council was the Secretary-General’s end-of-mandate report on the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), dated 20 April, in which he recommends the establishment of a small integrated United Nations office for 12 months beginning on 21 May.
The report (document S/2006/251) notes that President Xanana Gusmão and Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta have requested the United Nations to establish a special political office, upon completion of UNOTIL’s mandate, to help the Government carry out free and fair elections. Representatives of political parties and other actors have also conveyed their desire for a continued United Nations political presence to provide not only impartial support for the conduct of free and fair elections, but also a stabilizing influence throughout the period leading up to the elections.
In addition to a political process, the Secretary-General says the leaders have also requested that the follow-on United Nations office should include an electoral assistance unit, police training advisers, military advisers and civilian advisers in critical areas requiring continued assistance. Furthermore, President Gusmão specifically indicated, in a letter dated 2 April (document S/2006/230), that the Government would welcome the deployment of human rights officers to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the run-up to the elections.
The Secretary-General says the integrated United Nations office would be mandated to assist the Government of Timor-Leste with: support, in all aspects, concerning the organization of the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections; support and guidance to the Government and relevant institutions, with a view to consolidating democratic development and political stability; and facilitating dialogue among Timorese stakeholders. It would also assist and support the leadership of the national police in planning and preparing election-related security arrangements; assist the Government, through the impartial presence of United Nations military liaison officers, in liaising with the Indonesian military and assist the Border Control Unit in planning and conducting border security operations; help in further building the capacity of State and Government institutions in areas requiring specialized expertise; and help strengthen further the national capacity for human rights protection and the promotion of justice and reconciliation.
According to the report, the integrated office would be headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who would also serve as the Organization’s resident coordinator, so as to ensure a cohesive and coordinated approach and facilitate integration with all developmental activities undertaken by United Nations system partners. The integrated office would comprise a small office to support the Special Representative and six sections focusing on providing assistance to Timor-Leste in the key areas of its mandate. In order to achieve the objectives of the mandate, the integrated office should include an electoral support and advisory section comprising seven electoral advisers, as well as two to three United Nations Volunteers in each district, to provide technical and logistical advice and support to State and Government institutions involved in elections. It would also include a political advisory section, with three political affairs officers to monitor and report on progress in consolidating peace and democracy.
The integrated office would also have a police training and advisory section with 25 police advisers (reduced from the current 60) to advise and support the Timorese police, the report states. Other components would include a military liaison and advisory section, with 10 Dili-based military liaison officers (reduced from the current 15) who would travel regularly to the three border districts; a civil advisory section, with 8 to 10 civilian advisers for the further strengthening and development of critical State institutions; a Human rights support section, with four human rights officers (reduced from the current 10) to promote respect for human rights within State institutions and civil society; and a small office to support the Special Representative in carrying out his duties, and coordinate the activities of all United Nations system partners operating in Timor-Leste.
Given the considerable United Nations investment in the country over more than six years, the Secretary-General notes that it is in the international community’s interest to assist Timor-Leste in consolidating the achievements made, thus far. With provision of assistance through the proposed integrated office, the Organization can better enable the Government to make further advances in fostering peace, stability and democracy in the critical juncture leading to the country’s first post-independence elections. Hopefully, the United Nations will be able to provide further support to Timor-Leste, together with other bilateral and multilateral partners, by responding fully to the request of the Timorese leadership for post-UNOTIL assistance.
Statement by Special Representative
SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), began with an account of the security and political situation relating to the dismissal of 594 soldiers from the Timorese defence forces, since mid-March. The dismissed soldiers had staged a demonstration, demanding an independent commission to address the issue of discrimination and an investigation into their grievances. While they had remained peaceful throughout the four-day demonstration, last Friday a mob of non-“594” youth and some political elements had broken off and attacked Government buildings. As the police force had been unable to deal with the situation, the Government had decided to deploy the military to restore law and order.
Government offices had been damaged and numerous properties, including cars, shops and houses, destroyed during the riots, he said. While the physical damage remained minuscule in comparison with the destruction of 1999, the psychological impact on the people had turned out to be immense. As many as 14,000 people had been internally displaced, as they had sought refuge in churches and other public buildings throughout Dili. The situation had also had an impact on the UNOTIL headquarters compound, where more than 1,000 people had taken refuge yesterday. Today, thousands had moved out of Dili into the surrounding mountains and outer districts.
According to estimates by UNOTIL, five people had been killed and at least 60 injured by gunfire, stone throwing and stabbing, he said. However, there had been repeated assertions, by the leader of the “594-Group”, that the number of deaths was far larger than officially announced. The UNOTIL Human Rights Unit and police advisers had found no credible evidence to support those allegations. Yet, there was a need to address the grievances through the Independent Commission, and to strengthen the institutional foundations and capacity of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces to manage their human resources development.
Turning to the implementation of UNOTIL’s capacity-building programme for State institutions, he said it had been largely successful. The transition to a sustainable development assistance framework had been completed in almost all areas and, out of 45 positions that the Security Council had established a year ago under resolution 1599 (2005), the Government and other State institutions had identified bilateral and multilateral development partners to take over all, but 1 of the remaining 40 positions. Timorese nationals had acquired sufficient expertise to take over the remaining five positions. Even in the most challenging justice sector, the international legal advisers had succeeded in providing cross-ministerial legal training for 32 national legal officers, including 11 judges, 9 prosecutors and 7 public defence lawyers, who were now fit to practise in their respective areas.
He said that UNOTIL police advisers had completed a series of training programmes and assisted in developing 19 operational and training manuals on the conduct of community police and specialized police forces. The manuals constituted an invaluable asset for the police force, as its national trainers would take over the training functions upon the departure of the UNOTIL training advisers. While a great deal of progress had been made in enhancing the professionalism of Timorese police officers, there remained a need for further intensive training to acquire the required levels of professionalism and competency. Furthermore, there was a need to strengthen the Professional Ethics Office of the National Police Force (PNTL), as well as other human rights mechanisms, that would serve to curb the potential for abuse of power.
UNOTIL’s military training advisers, together with United Nations police training advisers, had worked successfully towards the transfer of individual border management skills to the Border Patrol Unit, he said. However, the Unit would continue to struggle with its task of managing a 172-kilometre-long border, with an insufficient number of just 296 officers, rudimentary equipment and limited resources and formal education. The Unit’s officers were expected to face challenges during the 2007 electoral period and would benefit from additional international assistance, to prevent further tensions and conflicts arising along the border during that crucial period.
He said that, in preparation for the elections, the Government had moved swiftly with international assistance towards finalizing the draft electoral laws for submission to the Parliament. As the first post-independence national elections approached, additional support should be provided in a systematic manner to all the State institutions involved in the electoral process, including the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Activities and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Court of Appeals and other organs. In order to ensure a credible process, the Electoral Commission, in particular, needed adequate resources, including human and material resources, for monitoring and voter education throughout the 13 districts. The transparency of the electoral process would directly affect the legitimacy of the election outcome and the prospects for the development of a healthy multiparty democratic system.
The continued presence of United Nations police would be essential to ensure that law and order, as well as respect for human rights, was maintained, prior to and during the campaign period, he said. The impartiality of the Timorese police could not be guaranteed in a tense political electoral environment. United Nations police training and advisory personnel would be required for training in electoral policing procedures and practices, including security responsibilities, during and immediately following the elections, and to assist in the monitoring of and reporting on the conduct of the elections, as the well as the development and implementation of a comprehensive election security plan, thereby forestalling the development of a volatile and possibly violent situation.
He said that the maladies afflicting the armed forces internally, which were mirrored by the tragic events of last week, indicated an acute need for the development of managerial capacity, he said. Given the latest developments, the Secretary-General’s recommendation for 10 military liaison officers was particularly relevant. They may support the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces in developing policies, rules and regulations, instructions, procedures and principles governing all areas of defence and military services, such as personnel administration, personnel services, training and doctrinal development, operations, logistics, combat arms, communications, and engineering. The military liaison officers would be needed, in addition to the three civilian advisers, who would assist the Ministry of Defence in developing organic law and other statutory instruments governing military services.
With the proposed four human rights officers and two human rights advisers under the Civilian Advisory Group, he said, the Human Rights Section would be engaged in promoting respect for human rights within State institutions and civil society, through capacity-building, advice and training, before, during and after the elections. The provision of an adequate number of human rights officers and advisers should be considered as an absolute necessity, particularly during the lead up to the elections.
Noting that the Secretary-General had recommended the retention of a small civilian advisory section, he said that, while the main focus of the United Nations integrated office would be electoral assistance, it was expected to play a more active role in interacting with the Timorese authorities, including on the issue of a reliable justice system and respect for human rights. To that end, it was essential that the international community continue to foster the genuine national commitment to justice and human rights existing in the Government, in civil society and among the Timorese people.
Statement by Foreign Minister
JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for Timor-Leste, said that, in 1999, those serving on the Council had acted swiftly on the Secretary-General’s advice to end the violence in Timor-Leste. That had been one of the Organization’s finest moments. And, although the international response had not been able to prevent destruction in the country, it had prevented a greater human tragedy. The Council’s decisive actions had saved many thousands of lives, and the humanitarian response lead by the late Sergio Vieira de Mello had also swung into action, helping to avert a much-feared humanitarian tragedy. Since that time, concrete arguments had been made for the continued engagement of the international community in the long term.
And, while everyone must be cognizant of the political and financial restraints that militated against “ideal” solutions, he believed that a long term plan and commitment was most effective in securing peace, and was much less costly. He said he was here to argue for a small, but robust, United Nations presence in his country from May 2006 to May 2007. He would do so against a backdrop of the most recent developments there, and would speak candidly about the risks ahead, as well as the possibilities of continuing progress in consolidating Timor-Leste’s still-fragile democracy. He was grateful that successive United Missions had been launched in his country, which had helped consolidate peace and promote development. He very much hoped that the Council would give serious consideration to his Government’s request for the establishment of a small, integrated United Nations office for one year, starting on 21 May.
He said that the incidents in Dili last week had been a wake-up call for the country’s leadership, as well as the international community, that all stakeholders must not take for granted the apparent tranquillity in the country, and that urgent preventive measures must be taken, in a resolute manner, to prevent a relapse into past violence and instability. He then recounted, candidly, the recent political and security developments in the country, as well as the requirements for a continued one-year United Nations presence in Timor-Leste, leading up to the first presidential and parliamentary elections since the restoration of independence five years ago.
During his detailed account of the months-long disturbance, which began with 8 February demonstrations, and the subsequent violent fallout, he said that he had personally spent many days in dialogue with leaders of the ex-military group that had sparked the incident. And, while they had seemed to express a willingness to cooperate with the Government, he felt that the ex-military had lost control of the demonstration. Indeed, he believed another group, “essentially a mob of hooligans”, had hijacked the demonstration and the military’s agenda. Though the situation had since calmed down, he said that rumours and panic had sparked an exodus from Dili to the districts. He said that he would issue an invitation to the appropriate United Nations rapporteurs to carry out a thorough investigation into allegations that many more than five individuals had been killed during incidents that had taken place in late April.
As he spoke today, Dili was on the edge; fear was palpable among people already traumatized from past violence. There were concerns about the ability of the National Police (PNTL) to maintain law and order, as well as concern about the cohesion within the remaining National Army (F-FTDL). He reassured the Council, however, that the same leadership that had guided the Timorese people through the last 30 years was determined to overcome this new challenge.
Indeed, despite the recent violence, the Government was moving swiftly to prepare for the upcoming elections. With all that in mind, he outlined the most pertinent reasons for establishing an integrated office, following the completion of UNOTIL’s mandate, noting the fragile political environment, the challenge in upholding internal stability, the rule of law and respect for human rights, among others. The political and security situation, and the need to establish a reliable justice system, had prompted the request for a United Nations office. A robust international police force, during the period leading up to the national elections, should also be considered. Such a force, which should be at least one company in strength with appropriate logistical means, was required, on account of the fragility and volatility of the situation. “The decision is in your hands, Mr. President, and the decision will decisively influence the course of events in my country, for good or bad,” he said.
FERNANDO APPARICIO DA SILVA ( Argentina) said that, as the mandate of UNOTIL was coming to an end, peace and democracy had not yet been consolidated. A continued United Nations presence in Timor-Leste was, therefore, fundamental. As the first elections after gaining independence would be held before 20 May 2007, it was indispensable to support the country against eventual destabilization intents during the election period. The threat of militias had not been totally eliminated, and the unrest within the armed forces and recent violent protests indicated that progress, so far, had not solved the problems of the country. He asked, in that regard, for information on the root causes of recent incidents in Dili.
Hoping that an agreement on management of boundaries between Timor-Leste and West Timor would be possible soon, he said maintaining United Nations liaison officers was important, as border demarcation was not yet complete. There was also a need to strengthen legal institutions. Support of the international community in the fight against poverty and the promotion of development continued to be essential. Although Timor-Leste had achieved impressive progress during the last years in the field of education and health, 41 per cent of the population still lived below the poverty line.
He said the Timorese people continued on their way towards peace and democracy, but the challenges were still immense. The Council must, therefore, support the establishment of a new political mission, as recommended, that would include elements of electoral assistance, civil advisers, police training and liaison officers for the borders. Issues of capacity-building and the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the promotion of justice and reconciliation, should also be considered.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE ( France) said the recent tragic events in Timor-Leste highlighted, beyond the recent progress in the country, that the situation there still remained fragile. It was unfortunate that the incident had had to occur, in order for the Council to realize that that was the case. There was a need for a continued United Nations presence in the wake of the Organization’s successive missions the country, and as the most recent, UNOTIL, would complete its mandate. The maintenance of assistance, which had been requested by the country’s leadership, could not be ignored, particularly in light of political, border and human rights concerns, as well as the upcoming elections.
He said that France supported the establishment of a United Nations follow-on presence, in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations, which contained electoral, political, security and civilian components. Such a mission should also have a human rights section, specifically to ensure follow-up on matters related to justice and reconciliation. France believed it was important that, during this peacebuilding phase, the United Nations should not act alone. The Timorese authorities should continue their actions, as bilateral and multilateral partners. The international financial institutions needed to strengthen their role, as well. He went on to praise the work undertaken by UNOTIL, and stressed that much still remained to be done. But, while a continued United Nations presence would be needed for some time to come, Timor-Leste remained one of the Organization’s success stories.
KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) said that peacebuilding and nation-building in any country would be most successful, if pursued with a firm belief in, and the actual practice of, the concept of ownership. That was being actively and successfully pursued in Timor-Leste. The complementary bilateral and multilateral assistance, including support from the United Nations, had helped to promote the Timorese ownership of their nation-building, and that should continue to consolidate the gains achieved so far.
The presidential and parliamentary elections planned for 2007 would be the first general election since independence and, thus, bore critical importance for the further consolidation of democracy, he said. For that reason, appropriate support was needed from the United Nations and the international community, with a view to ensuring that the elections would be free, fair and safe. Japan supported, in principle, the Secretary-General’s recommendation to establish an integrated United Nations office, with electoral assistance as its central function.
He said that, although Timor-Leste had made encouraging, steady progress towards self-reliance, fragility remained, as the recent violent incidents in and around Dili had clearly shown. Those incidents had occurred just as the consolidation of peace in Timor-Leste was about to take root, and the transfer of tasks from UNOTIL accelerated. Japan viewed that as a matter of serious concern. All the efforts of the past six years of international assistance and cooperation, and the tangible gains that those efforts had produced, must not be wasted in the final stages of international engagement. As UNOTIL’s mandate was about to expire, the Council must take immediate action.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said that Timor-Leste’s journey had been proof that the investments the United Nations had made in that country were beginning to bear fruit. Indeed, the Organization’s latest mission, UNOTIL, was helping consolidate political progress, ahead of upcoming elections in 2007. With that ballot approaching -- the first general presidential and parliamentary elections since the country’s independence -- a United Nations presence would be necessary. Qatar was closely considering the Secretary-General’s assessments and recommendations. Indeed, Qatar believed those recommendations were in keeping with past United Nations involvement in the country. He urged the Timorese Government to set the date for elections as soon as possible, to press ahead with efforts to demarcate the country’s borders, and to pursue truth and reconciliation.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru), expressing his country’s firm support for the Government of Timor-Leste, highlighted the progress that the country had made in recent years, in strengthening democracy and the rule of law, as well as its agreement with Australia on the sharing of maritime natural resources. However, in spite of that progress, there were still only limited perspectives for economic independence. Timor-Leste remained one of the world’s least developed countries, where half of the population lacked access to clean drinking water, child mortality was high and life expectancy was only 55 years, according to figures published by the Timorese Government and the United Nations Development Programme UNDP). In view of those indicators, the lack of political stability should not be surprising.
Peru regretted the incidents of last week, as well as reports that Dili’s people feared still more violence, he said. The United Nations, friends of Timor-Leste and the international community should provide resources under a compact, by which the Government must prepare a realistic and feasible development plan to be backed by resources raised from oil and gas. It was important for the Government to ensure that the distribution of wealth was to the benefit of the population at large. Peru was pleased with plans to deposit all oil income and devote it to the country’s development. Peru firmly supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the establishment of a United Nations integrated office, comprising civil, police and military elements. While the country had made progress in establishing basic public administration institutions, most of them lacked trained personnel.
KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said his delegation welcomed the steady progress of nation-building in Timor-Leste. At the same time, it was necessary to recognize that the country still needed multifaceted international assistance. That had been made clear by the recent incidents there. The Country’s leadership must continue to seek solutions that would prevent further such incidents. Given the need to boost security structures in the country, and in light of the upcoming elections, as well as the need to press ahead on issues regarding the border, human rights and national reconciliation, he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a small, one-year United Nations integrated office in the country.
WILLIAM J. BRENCICK ( United States) expressed concern over the recent developments in Dili, and urged a peaceful settlement to the situation that would take due consideration of protection of property, strict adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Regarding the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he said that the establishment of a United Nations integrated office, no matter how well thought out, would not be timely at the present moment. A simple rollover of UNOTIL’s existing mandate, for a one-month extension period, would give the situation in Timor-Leste time to settle and provide time for the Council to consider the situation further.
PETER BURIAN (Slovakia), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, commended the progress that had been made in many areas of State-building with UNOTIL’s support. However, formidable challenges remained for the Government, in consolidating peace and democracy. The recent eruption of violence in Dili was a sad reminder of the terrible history and ordeal the Timorese people had gone through in 1999, and a warning that peace and stability was far from guaranteed, if the people of Timor-Leste did not achieve an improvement of their difficult economic and social situation, and the fragile democracy was not strengthened.
He said the United Nations should continue to pay close attention and provide focused assistance to Timor-Leste, in order to consolidate the investment the Organization had already made over the past six years. In that regard, Slovakia supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to extend the United Nations presence in Timor-Leste by establishing a small follow-on integrated office for 12 months, after UNOTIL’s mandate expired. Slovakia also agreed with the Secretary-General that the primary task of the United Nations should be to create favourable conditions and a level playing field for truly free, fair and democratic elections. It should also provide a stabilizing influence on all segments of the population, throughout the lead-up to elections. Besides providing electoral support to relevant State institutions, the new office should also continue to assist the Government in addressing the problems of security sector reform, strengthening judicial capacities, protecting human rights and promoting justice. Further strengthening and development of critical State institutions could not be underestimated, and must be properly supported by donor countries.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said his country was pleased with the drafting of a National Human Rights Action Plan, to be adopted this month. However, dealing with the fight against impunity for human rights crimes and abuses committed in 1999, remained an open issue. Greece, therefore, looked forward to the relevant report of the Secretary-General, as requested by the Council. On the other hand, the dismissal of approximately 600 soldiers, and the ensuing demonstrations and violent incidents, clearly showed the fragile security situation and the need to reinforce the capacity of the Timorese defence institutions.
He said that the Secretary-General had clearly defined the remaining serious challenges in the fields of defence, police, justice, human rights, public administration and border control, especially in light of preparing and holding next year’s first presidential and parliamentary elections since independence. The Secretary-General’s report underlined all activities related to the transfer of certain UNOTIL tasks to other international actors on the ground. The question, though, was whether that kind of arrangement, in providing further international assistance, was sufficient for the next crucial one-year period.
The Secretary-General’s proposals were well structured and tailored not only to the challenges of organizing and holding Timor-Leste’s first national elections, he noted, but also to the need for further strengthening of State institutions and the country’s human resource capacity. The latter was indispensable to the viability of a new democratic State. Greece fully supported the establishment of an integrated United Nations office.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ ( Denmark) said that Timor-Leste and the work that had been accomplished there had been one of the United Nations peacekeeping success stories. Denmark had been saddened to learn of the violence that had erupted there, earlier this week. It showed that, while the overall situation in Timor-Leste had improved greatly in recent years, the international community could not afford to lose sight of the tasks still ahead. Denmark hoped that the recent incidents would only slightly delay the country’s march toward peace and democracy.
She said the next major step would be the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2007, which would require continued international support to ensure that democracy in the country would be further consolidated. That being the case, Denmark supported Timor-Leste’s request for a continued United Nations political presence. But, seeing that many of UNOTIL’s functions were already being taken over by development partners, the size of such a presence should be limited, leaving the Timorese in the “driver’s seat”.
Denmark supported the elements for the new mission proposed in the Secretary-General’s report, including, in particular, the electoral, political and human rights elements, while the size of the security component and the number of civilian advisors should be carefully considered, in light of the already considerable bilateral and multilateral commitments that had been made for Timor-Leste. Denmark also supported the suggestion, in the Secretary-General’s report, that the proposed United Nations mission, as part of its human rights component, should assist in strengthening national capacity and mechanisms for promoting justice and reconciliation.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, expressed his delegation’s extreme concern over the violence in Dili, and emphasized that events in the capital had demonstrated that the remarkable progress made since independence should not, in any way, be taken for granted. The international community must intensify its support for the Government and country in their efforts to move towards lasting peace and stability. Despite the darkness of the present hour, the Council must send the message that the international community stood alongside Timor-Leste.
Recalling Foreign Minister Horta’s words, that Dili was on the edge and that fear in the capital was palpable, he said those words must remind the international community of the essential need to stay the course and remain united in addressing the longer-term issues facing Timor-Leste. It was important to recognize the progress that the country had made, as well as encourage its steps towards establishing democracy and the continued cordial relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. However, it continued to be incumbent upon the Council to address institutional failures within the military and police. In particular, there was a need to examine those with an eye to next year’s elections. The most important role in addressing the current situation would be played by the Government, which was why it was imperative that the United Nations strengthen and consolidate indigenous capacity and encourage the Government to take the lead. That was why the United Kingdom supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation on a follow-on United Nations presence.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) joined others in praising the progress made by Timor-Leste in the past five years. But, he stressed that, at the same time, the country’s institutions were young and fragile, and in need of considerable ongoing support. Of particular concern were the preparations for, and conduct of, the upcoming elections, the first presidential and parliamentary ballot since the country’s independence. Given the importance of the work in that regard, his delegation supported the recommendations for a small, one-year United Nations mission in the country.
He urged the Government to move quickly to address human rights and national reconciliation issues. He was concerned by the recent violent incidents in Timor-Leste, after five years of such solid progress. The Government ought to restore confidence among the civilian population, and encourage them to return and restore their property. In that regard, any United Nations follow-on office must continue to monitor the security situation, as well as judicial and human rights matters. Its ancillary activities could also include, among others, conducting seminars and workshops for the media, and facilitating meetings between Indonesian and Timorese leaders. He stressed the importance of post-UNOTIL international support. A critical requirement for peacebuilding was continued attention by the international community to the areas and priorities requested by the country itself. “We must support such requests,” he added.
WANG YISHAN ( China) said that, in another 15 days, Timor-Leste would mark the fourth anniversary of its independence. The country was firmly on the road to peaceful nation-building, and China congratulated its Government and people. They had jointly written a proud success story, which provided valuable experience for United Nations peace operations in post-conflict reconstruction.
While China took pleasure in those achievements, Timor-Leste remained one of the world’s youngest and poorest countries, and the road ahead was still full of challenges. Next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections would be a real test of the result of the support provided by the United Nations and the international community. That test must be successful.
The unfortunate incidents of violence warned, once more, that there was still a vulnerable side to Timor-Leste, he said. There must be a redoubling of efforts in support of Timor-Leste’s fragile democracy, especially since success was in sight. China fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the establishment of a United Nations integrated office.
NANA EFFAH-APENTANG ( Ghana) said that, with the international community’s undoubted successes in Timor-Leste, everyone should recognize that there was an invaluable lesson to be learned; that no price was too high for peace and stability, which, in turn, could be guaranteed most effectively by good governance, the rule of law and improved living conditions. At the heart of the residual problems of instability facing Timor-Leste’s Government was the unfinished business of creating viable institutions, so that the State could meet the needs of its people. Saddened by the recent demonstrations in Timor-Leste, involving nearly 600 dismissed military personnel, which had degenerated into violence leading to the loss of lives, he said the role of the United Nations remained indispensable, as the country struggled to put in place the governance structures that would lead to greater transparency and inclusiveness.
Considering the sensitivities surrounding the findings of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, Ghana also believed that the United Nations could help manage the delicate process of balancing the imperatives of accountability with those of positive engagement and fruitful cooperation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. He said his delegation welcomed, in that regard, the determination of both Indonesia and Timor-Leste to put friendship, cooperation and peaceful coexistence above the bitterness of the past, and would urge them to resolve all outstanding issues relating to the demarcation of a common border. Again, the sense of alienation felt by the inhabitants of the Oecussi, who apparently were cut off from the rest of the country because of poor infrastructure, did not argue well for national stability, and must be addressed sooner, rather than later.
Council President BASILE IKOUBE (Congo), speaking in his national capacity, said his country was an old friend of the Timorese people, and recalled that, as a young civil servant, he had met Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta in Brazzaville, when he had been a member of a Timorese delegation that had visited Congo to express gratitude for Congolese support for Timor-Leste.
He said the Council should have an opportunity to reaffirm its solidarity with a people who had shown courage and determination in confronting the challenges of their struggle to win their freedom. While the international community welcomed the progress achieved since independence, there was concern over the recent violence that could upset the young nation, particularly the forthcoming elections.
He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding the establishment of a United Nations integrated office, which would be the bare minimum requirement for Timor-Leste’s immediate needs, he said. However, there must also be action in the context of a long-term plan. He thanked the Secretary-General for the quality of his report, the Special Representative for his excellent briefing and UNOTIL for its good work.
KEVIN CHEOK ( Singapore) said that, while Timor-Leste’s development had been impressive, the international community needed to stay the course. As a State that had also had independence suddenly thrust upon it, Singapore knew that nation-building was a “delicate thing”, where nothing was irreversible, especially in the formative years. That was not a cliché and, indeed, the Secretary-General’s report had referred to a “fragile security situation”. There had been recent demonstrations and riots in Dili involving Timorese armed forces personnel, among others. In addition, the country’s first presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled for next year. Therefore, the country would require electoral, organizational and security-related advice, prior to the ballot.
He went on to say that the Secretary-General’s report also mentioned other areas where the United Nations could help build capacity, including defence, police, border control, the legal system, finance and development planning. And, while the report commended the country’s impressive progress, it added that “many of the country’s institutions are at a nascent stage and will require the continued assistance and support of the international community”. Timorese leaders seemed to share that same view, he said, urging the Council to seriously consider the report’s recommendations.
“This is about commitment,” he said, adding: “We should not jeopardize what we have achieved so far in Timor-Leste.” The phrase “penny wise, pound foolish” hade come to mind, especially given statistics showing how easily societies that had experienced civil strife could return to those situations. Everyone spoke about successful peacebuilding. This was an opportunity for the international community to remain involved and help ensure continued success, he declared.
GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the recent dispute within the defence forces, and the ensuing riots in Dili, showed that the situation in Timor-Leste remained volatile. Much remained to be done, in particular in the security sector. The National Police was still a nascent force with insufficient experience and resources. Reports about increasing mistreatment and intimidation by the police were worrying. The 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections would be the centrepiece in the consolidation of democracy in Timor-Leste, and a test for its maturity. International support during the campaign and election periods would be crucial. A small, integrated United Nations office for one year was a good starting point for discussion on the nature of a follow-on mission.
He said the long-term success of Timor-Leste would, to a large degree, depend on economic success. The European Union, which had contributed more than €700 million, or half of all the external assistance, congratulated the country on completing the ratification process of the Cotonou Agreement, by which it became a full member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of Countries. That new partnership reinforced the central cooperation objective of poverty reduction, and added a political dimension, as well as an innovative trade relation. Timor-Leste would now benefit from Union support in the framework of the European Development Fund (EDF).
Timor-Leste was widely regarded as one of the success stories of United Nations peacebuilding and an example for others, he said. However, it still faced considerable challenges on the way ahead. Everything possible must be done to consolidate peace and democracy in Timor-Leste and to continue to make progress towards long-term, sustainable stability and development.
JOÃO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) noted that “it’s fair to say that, from 1999, up until this day, Timor-Leste has probably been the major success story of the United Nations”. Paying tribute to all who had been directly involved in that success, he evoked the memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello, “a man who did an outstanding job in Timor-Leste and became a symbol for all of us; he embodied the principles and highest values of this Organization and paid the ultimate price in its service”. Timor-Leste had made impressive progress in many areas of governance, institution-building and capacity-building, with the support of UNOTIL and bilateral and multilateral partners. Solidarity with Timor-Leste was the reason why Portugal remained, by far, the largest donor.
He said peace and democracy in the country needed to be further consolidated. There had been some alarming developments in the political and security situation, involving ex-soldiers and the police. The United Nations should provide assistance to the Government in addressing some of the systemic problems within the security forces. Regarding human rights, he looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report on a “legally sound and feasible” approach to the question of accountability in the country. There was a need to ensure that all those responsible for the serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste were held accountable.
Timor-Leste still had the lowest level of human development in East Asia and the Pacific, and remained among the 20 poorest countries in the world, he said. It could not count on any miraculous solutions arising from the potential revenues from oil and gas exploitation. Timor-Leste had been an investment of high return for the Security Council. The case of Timor-Leste was referred, in academia and the media, as an example of the indispensable role and efficiency of the United Nations. The time had not yet come for Timor-Leste to be off the Council’s radar. “We should do everything in our power to secure this investment and strengthen the fragile democracy in the world’s newest country.”
ROBERT HILL ( Australia) said his country had been at the forefront of international efforts to support Timor-Leste’s transition to an independent and secure State. Australia had contributed to all United Nations missions in the country, and was currently contributing three military liaison officers and four civilian police advisers to UNOTIL. Through those missions, the United Nations had helped to establish a foundation, on which the people of Timor-Leste could build a nation. There continued to be a role for the United Nations in assisting the world’s newest nation.
Noting that Timor-Leste continued to be a major development partner of his country, he said that, in 2005-2006, Australia had provided more than $30 million in bilateral development assistance, including working through its Timorese partners to improve health, provide basic services to rural areas, improve governance and strengthen the justice sector. Australia had also provided policing assistance, including through training and other means of practical support, and was committed to a significant defence cooperation programme with Timor-Leste. In January, Australia and Timor-Leste had successfully concluded a bilateral treaty on maritime arrangements in the Timor Sea. Once it was ratified, Timor-Leste would reap billions of dollars in extra revenue, which could be employed to improve the lot of its citizens.
Turning to the future involvement of the United Nations, he said it was important that the international community remain willing to assist Timor-Leste in facing the many challenges ahead, of which recent unrest in Dili was but one example. It was essential to recognize that those challenges were domestic in nature and that assistance should be focused on helping the Timorese people to develop sustainable institutions and policies that supported their country’s new democracy, its political stability, the rule of law, the future security of its people and economic growth. It was important, both symbolically and politically, that the United Nations and the international community stand beside Timor-Leste in that work.
However, it was clearly not the preference of Timor-Leste for the United Nations to conclude a Security Council-mandated presence at the present time, he said. If the Council decided that a specially-mandated successor mission to UNOTIL was required for a limited time, it should be focused and properly staffed to complement ongoing cooperation, as well as funded from the regular budget. If such a mission was agreed, Australia would consider making a contribution. The goal of the international community in Timor-Leste should be its people taking full control of their country’s affairs.
ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand) said her delegation supported the extension of the United Nations mandate in Timor-Leste and the establishment of a new special political mission, with a specific focus on assisting the country during the run up to next year’s elections. It supported the shape and scope of such a mission, as set out in the report of the Secretary-General. The United Nations role in Timor-Leste was in transition, from the full-scale operations of the past, to the current UNOTIL arrangements, and now to a United Nations integrated office. However, as last week’s events attested, everyone should recognize that neither the current arrangements, nor a proposed integrated mission, were designed to guarantee peace and security in Timor-Leste.
She said that the engagement of bilateral partners, and appropriate multilateral agencies, would be key in supporting the rule of law and building the institutions of democracy in Timor-Leste. That included training and support for the police and military, as well as helping the Government achieve socio-economic goals. Looking ahead, she said that the Organization’s specialized agencies would eventually become long-term cornerstones of the United Nations presence in the country. New Zealand would call on those agencies to work with the proposed integrated office to ensure a coordinated, system-wide approach to the eventual transition.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG ( Brazil) said that, as a country that had been engaged in assisting Timor-Leste ever since the beginning of its crisis in 1999, Brazil was particularly encouraged to witness the remarkable progress it had made in the last six years. The ravaged scenario of those gloomy days had changed into a hopeful nascent nation. Brazil looked forward to the 2007 elections, the first since independence, and the holding of which would represent a major step towards consolidating democratic institutions.
He said his country’s contribution to United Nations missions in Timor-Leste was only a part of its cooperation. Brazil maintained bilateral projects in such diverse areas as eradication of illiteracy and the fight against HIV/AIDS, in structuring the judiciary and agriculture, in professional training and institution-building. Brazil had recently renewed electoral cooperation with Timor-Leste, which was essential to strengthen institutions for the upcoming elections. Brazil’s cooperation with the Timorese Government and people stemmed from the conscience of a common historic heritage and solidarity, as well as Brazil’s confidence in the principle of self-determination.
There was a consensus that Timor-Leste was meant to be a success story for the United Nations, he said, adding that the Organization’s enormous investment in the last six years had obtained a very positive return. The Secretary-General’s proposal represented the minimum necessary, to ensure that Timor-Leste continued to be a success story. The structure proposed was meant to strengthen local institutions and to make the security apparatus fully functional. Thus, the Security Council should create a new integrated office, comprising military, police, civil, electoral and human rights components, as proposed by the Secretary-General.
In spite of the positive evolution, the situation in Timor-Leste remained fragile, he said, noting that State institutions and democratic practices were still evolving, and required United Nations assistance. Evidence was rife that security was still a source of concern. More than just bilateral cooperation would be needed to enable Timor-Leste to overcome its present difficulties. Moreover, restricting the scope of United Nations activities would be interpreted, by those who did not abide by democratic principles and practices, as a sure sign that the Organization was reconsidering its commitment.
Pointing out that the boundaries between Timor-Leste and Indonesia were yet to be fully demarcated, he said military liaison officers were needed to defuse incidents and to promote dialogue between the Indonesian armed forces and the Timorese Border Control Unit. Providing advisers to improve the national police was another fundamental task to ensure the rule of law. The United Nations and its Member States were not in a position to waste the human and financial investment made in recent years, by not joining in efforts to avoid a relapse into instability. No budgetary saving would be justifiable, if it were to allow a predictable resumption of problems that would entail further human suffering and increased future expenditure.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said his delegation was pleased to note that the activities carried out by the United Nations system and the recent contributions by UNOTIL continued to provide a window of opportunity for progress in Timor-Leste, particularly towards the transition to a sustainable development assistance framework. At the same time, many of the country’s institutions were still nascent and would require the continued assistance and support of the international community. He noted that, as UNOTIL’s mandate came to an end, one of the main challenges facing Timor-Leste was the need to consolidate progress that had been made in laying the foundations for a democratic system.
The upcoming general election would be a significant step forward, as well as a test for the maturity of Timorese democracy. The Security Council and the wider international community should take note of that fact. Indeed, the continued presence of the United Nations was needed to both provide impartial support for the conduct of a free and fair ballot, and act as a stabilizing influence on all segments of society throughout the run-up period. In that regard, Malaysia supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations for the establishment of an integrated United Nations office in the country, starting on 21 May. He added that his delegation was concerned by the recent incidents involving disgruntled factions of the Timorese armed forces, and noted that little progress had been made in resolving those issues. He urged the Government to take steps in containing the disturbances and to find amicable solutions to end the impasse.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LOAHAPHAN (Thailand) said that, although much progress had been made, due to the valuable contributions of UNOTIL, United Nations agencies, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and international donors, as well as through the strong determination of the Government, the work was not yet completed. “As an emerging democracy, Timor-Leste is a small plant, which needs all the care and tending from all of us to help it grow into a big tree, and for its roots of democracy to grow stronger and deeper.”
She said the long-term benefits of the development dimensions of assistance, an area to which less attention had been paid, were as important as those of the security and justice dimensions. While there was a need to create a safe and secure environment, there was, at the same time, a need to improve the livelihoods and quality of life of the Timorese people. The United Nations and the international community would soon have to withdraw, but that time had not yet come, as it would be some time before the country could stand on its own. Phasing out should be done in a “step-by-step” manner. She, therefore, supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a reduced-sized office in Timor-Leste to continue the work of the United Nations.
REZLAN I. JENIE ( Indonesia) said his delegation recognized that, as UNOTIL’s important work in Timor-Leste was coming to an end, continued international assistance and support would be needed to help the country face the challenges before it, especially to consolidate the progress already made in laying down a stronger foundation for a democratic system. Another enormous challenge ahead was preparing for the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, he said, emphasizing that the international community must respond favourably to the needs of the Timorese Government during the run-up period.
He went on to say that his Government was satisfied with the “excellent level” of its bilateral relations with Timor-Leste, and the close rapport between the two countries was continuing to grow. Indeed, just last month, Indonesian Foreign Minister Wirayudha had welcomed Timorese Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta to Jakarta, for discussions on matters that were of importance to both countries. That, and other ongoing discussions, attested to the maturity of bilateral relations, which enabled both countries to deal effectively with any issues and problems that may arise between them.
On matters relating to the border, he was pleased to inform the Council that the delineation of the remaining 1 per cent of the both countries’ land border was expected to be completed by August. Indonesia looked forward to finalizing a new border arrangement with Timor-Leste to replace the military liaison arrangement between the Indonesian military and UNMISET, which had expired in June 2005. Meanwhile, cooperation on border security continued to be strengthened, and the absence of incidents along the border during the UNOTIL reporting period attested to that.
Response by Special Representative
Mr. HASEGAWA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOTIL, spoke in response to queries raised by the representative of Argentina, regarding the root causes of the recent violence in Dili. There were three main root causes: institutional incapability to address grievances, due to lack of viable policies regarding human resources management, mostly in the armed forces; poverty and unemployment, particularly among the youth, who had nothing to lose; and the mindset of certain interest groups with a propensity to resort to violence and incite the population for the purpose of increasing their political influence.
* *** *For information media • not an official record
Transcript of this meeting
La'o Hamutuk page on establishing UNMIT Mission in Timor-Leste