|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5457th Meeting (AM)
UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED NOT TO ABANDON TIMOR-LESTE AT CRITICAL TIME OF NEED,
SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS FOLLOWING RECENT VIOLENCE
Speakers Call for Strengthened, Restructured United Nations Mission;
Say Political Cleavages Revealed by Crisis Were Challenges to National Unity
As the Security Council met today to consider the future United Nations presence in Timor-Leste, after deadly incidents in April and May had displaced more than 100,000 people and troops had been deployed from four countries to quell the violence, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the unrest was particularly painful, because the country was a “child of the international community” that the United Nations was determined not to abandon at its critical time of need.
Through four successive missions, the Secretary-General recalled, the United Nations had played a key role in laying the foundation for Timor-Leste’s democratic institutions and processes. Today, however, those stood exposed. The sad events of recent weeks had reflected shortcomings not only on the part of Timor-Leste, but of the international community, in the nation building process.
“We have learned -- at a painful price for Timor-Leste -- that the building of institutions on the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law is not a simple process that can be completed within a few short years,” he went on to say. Clearly, tremendous work lay ahead, both for the Government and the international community. He, therefore, appealed to the Security Council to stand united in support of Timor-Leste’s return to normality, so that its citizens might resume their work towards building a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Noting the request on 8 June from the Timorese Government for the United Nations to establish an independent special inquiry commission “to review the incident on 28 and 29 April, 23, 24 and 25 May and other related events on issues which contributed to the crisis”, Mr. Annan said he was asking the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the lead in establishing such a commission.
Briefing the Council today, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Ian Martin, who had just returned from Timor-Leste, said the crisis had revealed “political cleavages not only between the defence force and the police service, which has long been the subject of concern, but also internally to each institution”. Initial recruitment to the defence force had been from the former fighters of FALINTIL (the National Armed Forces for the Liberation of East Timor), and that selection had been controversial at the time and ever since. Later, recruits had been mostly from western districts, and many of those had since alleged discriminatory practices against them by eastern officers.
The sudden elevation of east-west friction, Mr. Martin noted, was a central factor in the crises in the army and defence force and potentially the most dangerous of the cleavages for national unity. That had been reflected in the targeting of houses for arson attacks in Dili, and even in the tensions in the camps for internally displaced persons. He highlighted not only the immediate security challenges, which were perhaps the biggest challenge to future stability, but also the complex political situation and other problems facing the country, requiring the longer-term attention of the political leadership and support of the international community. He cautioned against viewing Timor-Leste as a failed State. Rather, it was a four year-old State “struggling to stand on its two feet and learn to practice democratic governance”, he said.
Jose Luis Guterres (Timor-Leste), delivering a statement on behalf of Jose Ramos Horta, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and the country’s Minister for Defence, called for sustained international support through the immediate deployment of a United Nations police force. He said that peace had been restored overall, but the security situation was precarious and the State institutions were still fragile. The Timorese were deeply indebted to the deploying countries –- Australia, Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia – but, as the emergency situation was nearing an end, attention should now be turned to the transition to an international peacekeeping force under the United Nations umbrella. Its period of engagement should be long enough to enable the country to move beyond its fledgling fragile stage.
The representative of Australia, whose country had deployed military and police to restore stability during the current crisis, said it was clear that a continuing presence would be necessary for some time. The international deployment was working closely with the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) on the ground to meet immediate security needs, and he saw no need for the broadening security force to come under United Nations control. With a separate, but United Nations-backed security force, the Organization would be free to focus on, and dedicate resources to, addressing the country’s longer-term needs, through a new Security Council-mandated mission. That should be designed and implemented immediately to address Timor-Leste’s “immediate and serious” needs.
Timor-Leste represented a very large international investment, Portugal’s speaker said, and, thus, everything possible should be done to secure that and strengthen the fragile peace and democracy. An assessment of the recent events should determine whether the United Nations had withdrawn its peacekeeping forces “too soon”. The Portuguese Gendarmerie Force, with a total of 120 troops, had arrived in Dili on Saturday, 3 June, to assist a sovereign country, on the basis of bilateral arrangements and with the support of the Security Council. However, the current turmoil clearly showed “the need for a renewed longstanding involvement of the United Nations in Timor-Leste”. In defining the future mandate, the international community should listen, first and foremost, to the Timorese.
As Timor-Leste’s closest neighbour, Indonesia was very keen for the crisis to come to an end, its representative said. For its part, Indonesia was doing its best to assist the country, including through the closure of its common land border to prevent any incident that could complicate the situation. In addition, it had dispatched aid to alleviate the humanitarian impact of the crisis on the Timorese. In view of the current developments, the United Nations should redouble its efforts to assist the Timorese Government. UNOTIL should evaluate its priorities and support the Government in the economic, social and administrative spheres, as that would help restore normalcy. The international community must remain responsive to the country’s needs for assistance and support.
Broad agreement emerged among Council members of the need to approve a technical rollover of UNOTIL’s mandate for 30 days, to give them time to decide the modalities of an expanded United Nations presence. The United States speaker said that, even after all the violence had been quelled and the situation had been brought fully under the control of the central Government, formidable challenges would remain. Therefore, UNOTIL should not be allowed to expire next week and, given that it was not structured to deal with the current unrest, it should only be extended for another 30 days to give the Council time to work out the structure of a follow-on United Nations mission. One thing was clear, however; the disintegration of the Timorese national police during the crisis had stemmed directly from its politicization and the lack of a central doctrine and training plan.
Worried that the Security Council had underestimated the “political cleavages” in Timorese society, France’s representative said it was clear, at this stage, that the United Nations would reinvest in Timor-Leste. Everyone was determined to do so, yet, everyone was aware that the Council needed some time to reflect on the modalities. It should be borne in mind that the United Nations must not withdraw prematurely from a situation in which it was clearly playing a crucial role, because doing so had consequences for the balance of local players, as well as repercussions for international donors. He had always had doubts about declaring Timor-Leste a success, because of the short time period, but, while it was too early to talk about success, it was much too early to talk about a failure.
For more than six years, China’s speaker said, Timor-Leste had been the pride of the United Nations, but the continuous recent turmoil was of concern, and people were asking if the success story had “gone with the wind”. Timor-Leste was the youngest country in Asia, with the lowest level of development. It had taken its first step as a toddler and, while gratifying, it still might fall. The international community should help it to stand again as soon as possible, help heal its wounds, and return it to the track of steady development. Political forces in Timor-Leste should put aside past disputes and solve their problems within the constitutional and democratic framework. The international community should continue to assist, while maintaining a fine balance and avoid becoming involved in the internal problems of Timor-Leste or imposing its own views and demands.
Additional speakers in today’s discussion were from New Zealand, Malaysia, Qatar, United Republic of Tanzania, Argentina, Peru, Ghana, Japan, Russian Federation, Congo, Slovakia, Greece, United Kingdom, Denmark, Brazil, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Philippines, Fiji, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.
The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and adjourned at 1:16 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning in a public meeting to consider the situation in Timor-Leste, in the light of the recent outbreak of violence there.
Before the Council was a letter dated 13 June from the Secretary-General to the Council President (document S/2006/383), to which he attaches a letter dated 11 June from the Government of Timor-Leste, signed by the President, the Speaker of the National Parliament and the Prime Minister.
In the letter, the Timorese leaders requested the Secretary-General to propose to the Security Council “to immediately establish a United Nations police force in Timor-Leste to maintain law and order in Dili and other parts of the country as necessary and re-establish confidence amongst the people, until the Timorese police (PNTL) has undergone reorganization and restructuring so that it can act as an independent and professional law enforcement agency”.
In view of the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007, the letter recommends that the proposed United Nations police force should remain in Timor-Leste for a minimum of one year and undertake the tasks specified therein. The letter also expresses the view that “a robust United Nations police, military and civilian mission is indispensable, in order to assist the Timorese people to consolidate [their] hard won peace and freedom”.
KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said he was deeply concerned about the evolution of the situation in Timor-Leste since the incident of 28 and 29 April. The violence and unrest was particularly painful, because, in many respects, Timor-Leste was “a child of the international community”. Through four successive missions, the United Nations had played a key role in laying the foundation for Timor-Leste’s democratic institutions and processes. Today, those stood exposed. The sad events of recent weeks had reflected shortcomings not only on the part of Timor-Leste, but of the international community, in the country’s nation-building process.
“We have learned -- at a painful price for Timor-Leste -- that the building of institutions on the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law is not a simple process that can be completed within a few short years,” he said. Clearly, tremendous work lay ahead, both for the Government and the international community. But, as he had told the Timorese people in a video message on 1 June, the United Nations was determined not to abandon them at that critical time of need. He, therefore, appealed to the Security Council to stand united in support of Timor-Leste’s return to normality, so that its citizens might resume their work towards building a peaceful and prosperous nation.
In that context, the Secretary-General said that, last month, he had dispatched his Special Envoy to the country, Ian Martin. Since his return last Friday, the Secretary-General had benefited greatly from his assessment. Mr. Martin’s report had highlighted not only the immediate security challenges, but also the complex political situation and other problems faced by Timor-Leste.
On 8 June, he said he had received a letter from senior ministers of Timor-Leste on behalf of the Government, inviting the United Nations to establish an independent special inquiry commission “to review the incident on 28 and 29 April, 23, 24 and 25 May, and other related events on issues which contributed to the crisis”. In response, he was asking the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the lead in establishing such a commission.
IAN MARTIN, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, said that he had been in Timor-Leste from 29 May to 7 June, during which time he had held extensive discussions across the political spectrum, including with senior Timorese officials and key members of the opposition parties, as well as the Commander of the Defence Force (F-FDTL), the Bishop of Dili, civil society representatives and the diplomatic community. Since the Council had been regularly briefed on the unfolding crisis, he would focus today on how successfully it was now being addressed, what were the underlying causes that required longer-term attention of the political leadership and support of the international community, and what expectations there were now for the United Nations.
While he had been in Dili, the two senior constitutional bodies that advised the President -- the Council of State and the Superior Council for Defence and Security -- had agreed upon a framework and a plan of action, within which the political leadership was addressing the security crisis. That involved the President assuming the main responsibility for defence and security, in close collaboration and “permanent interaction”, with the Prime Minister and the President of the Parliament. The ministers of defence and the interior had resigned and were replaced. All those who now shared the responsibility for security matters had expressed to him their commitment to work together within that framework.
He had left Dili just as the Portuguese-led police force had begun its operations, and before the advance parties of police from Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand had been joined by the numbers necessary to begin patrolling. As they did so, he believed that the arson and looting in Dili would be brought fully under control. But, all that in itself would not end the security crisis, he said, adding that the leaders of the soldiers or ex-soldiers outside the command of the defence force had told him that they would take no offensive armed action and would respect the President’s authority. However, weapons from the defence force and from the police service had been distributed to civilians, including former resistance fighters. The President’s Action Plan provided for the controlled return of weapons, but, as long as the groups that remained armed, or had access to arms, remained disaffected, the security situation could not be said to have been resolved.
He went on to say that the parliamentary and presidential elections set for May 2007 were where political competition should be democratically resolved. But sections of the population were not accepting that the present Government should remain in place until then. Such opposition was reported to be widespread in western districts and within the Church. Following the resignations of the ministers of defence and interior, there had been one sizeable demonstration in Dili, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Alkatiri. At times, soldiers, their leaders and ex-soldiers outside the army’s command had called that a precondition for dialogue. Such demonstrations carried the prospect of those loyal to FRENTILIN, the ruling party, staging counter-demonstrations. There, thus, remained the potential for violent clashes between different groups of demonstrators, at what remained a “tense time” in the capital.
But the most serious underlying cause of the current crisis, and perhaps the biggest challenge for future stability, lay in the security sector, he said. “The crisis has revealed political cleavages not only between the defence force and the police service, which has long been the subject of concern, but also internally to each institution,” he said, stressing that initial recruitment to the defence force had been from the former FALINTIL fighters, and that selection had been controversial, at the time and ever since. Among other things, later recruits had been mostly from western districts, and it was many of them who had since alleged discriminatory practices against them by eastern officers.
Long before independence, Xanana Gusmão, as FALANTIL commander, had taken the resistance forces outside FRETILIN to be the army of the nation, rather than that of a political party, but it was now being alleged that FRETILIN had been trying to draw the defence force command closer to itself. As for the police service, he said that initial recruitment had also been controversial, with criticism of the absorption of men, and particularly officers, from the Indonesian police. Among other problems, the national command structure and at least two of the Dili police’s special units had disintegrated during the recent violence, although the police in the districts had largely continued their regular duties.
“The immediate issues are, thus, the future of soldiers or ex-soldiers, and the re-establishment of a national police command structure and a Dili police force,” he said, adding that, at the same time, many people with whom he had spoken had seen the need for fundamental reconsideration of the role of the defence force, the existence of special units within the police service and the nature of its weaponry. He went on to say that the sudden elevation of east-west friction as a central factor in the crises in the army and defence force was potentially the most dangerous of the cleavages for national unity. That had been reflected in the targeting of houses for arson attacks in Dili, and even in the tensions in the camps for internally displaced persons.
Although that division had some historical roots, he said political and religious leaders maintained that it was not deep-seated. “But, it is going to require their active leadership to heal the recent wounds, in which regional tensions have played a part,” he said. In political terms, the current crisis was centred upon the dominance of the ruling FRETILIN party and the challenges to it. Critics accused FRETILIN leadership of heading the country towards a one-party system, by using its dominant position in Parliament and its superior political machinery, further strengthened by access to power and State resources. But the FRETILIN leadership’s perspective was that the current crisis stemmed from the failure of the opposition parties and domestic critics, including the Church, to challenge the Government democratically.
That crisis had been exacerbated by the fact that FRETILIN’s opposition saw President Gusmão as a guarantor of pluralism, as, indeed, he saw himself. And, while he remained the country’s most important national figure and had the political legitimacy of direct election, the presidency was “constitutionally almost powerless”, and the current crisis had thus led to pressure on the President to act outside the Constitution, which he had resisted.
Turning to what role the Timorese people would like to have the United Nations play in the period ahead, he said there was a pressing need for an impartial investigation of recent events, particularly the disputed number of killings that occurred in Dili on 28 and 29 April, and the killing by soldiers of unarmed police officers under United Nations escort on 25 may, as well as several other incidents involving the use of lethal force between those dates, which had been part of the spiral of violence between soldiers, police and civilians. Each party to the conflict had its own accusations to make against others, so there was not only a need for accountability for serious human rights violations, there would be no political reconciliation, unless those accusations were investigated, and the truth established and made known.
He strongly supported the Government’s request that the United Nations should establish an independent special inquiry commission to conduct the necessary investigation. He added that many of those with whom he had spoken believed that the evidence of criminal responsibility should be conveyed to, further investigated by and prosecuted in the Timorese justice system, which had the participation of international judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers provided by the United Nations. There was also a strong consensus that the United Nations should play a major role in the organization of the 2007 elections, and in ensuring confidence that the ballot would be free and fair.
He also said the review and restoration of the security sector was a crucial task. International support had in the past been a combination of United Nations and bilateral arrangements. His visit had revealed a clear consensus that the United Nations should play a major role in relation to the police. He added that police arrangements for the elections required special attention. The crisis appeared to have led many Timorese leaders to see a greater need for international support to State institutions than had previously been envisaged, and a greater desire for the United Nations to offer its good offices, sensitivity and, with full respect for national sovereignty, to foster political and community reconciliation.
He said that it had been a great personal sadness for him to, again, witness, as he had in 1999, houses burning in Dili and families displaced from their homes by fear, and to know that many people had been killed. “But, this is not about Timor-Leste being a failed State. Rather, it is about a four-year-old State struggling to stand on its two feet and lean to practice democratic governance,” he said. The message he had carried from the Secretary-General was that this was not a time for despair, but for action -- a time for leaders to act together, and a time for the international community to remain focused and engaged in Timor-Leste. “If this crisis leads to the necessary reflection, acceptance of responsibility and renewed commitment, then I believe it can prove to have been a terrible wake-up call, which sets Timor-Leste back on its path to a united and prosperous nation,” he concluded.
JOSE LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) read out a statement by Jose Ramos Horta, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and the country’s Minister for Defence. As the Council met today, Mr. Ramos Horta was visiting rural areas of the country, in an effort to “take the State” to the people. He thanked the Council for its continued concern for the Timorese people and for its presidential statement of 24 May. That text had given international legitimacy to the deployment of the multinational forces of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal, to whom he offered his profuse thanks. Thus far, the humanitarian situation in the country had been managed very well, and he thanked the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for its coordination assistance and for the launch yesterday of the flash appeal. He also noted with deep appreciation, the bilateral assistance from the country’s friends, including its closest neighbour, Indonesia, which, in its own time of suffering caused by natural disasters, had reached out to Timor-Leste with the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid.
After a detailed review of progress on the ground, including continuing efforts by the international forces to collect weapons, he said that the graveness of the current crisis caused him great sadness. He wished to assure the Council members, however, that the situation was “redeemable”. The good work of the United Nations and the international community, with the help of the Timorese leadership and Timorese people, had taken root in the form of State institutions, which had the capacity to continue operations, even during the height of the current crisis. Ministries and associated agencies had continued to function, contrary to some reports that had characterized Timor-Leste as a failing State. Many shops and restaurants were open, many had stayed open, and some taxis and microlets continued to operate. The fact that the private sector continued alongside the public sector was indicative of the gains made so far. In addition, the Government had kept the 2006-2007 budget process on track, and, tomorrow, the Council of Ministers would meet to consider a revised budget.
He said he wished to distinguish the areas of Timor-Leste affected by the crisis. That was primarily limited to the capital of Dili, while the 12 districts had continued to function with all services operating, including the Policia Nacional of Timor-Leste (PNTL), whose basic infrastructure had remained intact in the districts. There was, of course, no guarantee that an outbreak of violence would not happen in the regions, with the country in a politically precarious state. The shared border area with Indonesia had remained calm. Political peace was a necessary precondition to “democratic health” and physical security. He had personally been in contact with every key person and group involved in the conflict, and the President had begun to meet with them individually, as well, as a first step towards reaching an all-inclusive political dialogue. That dialogue would begin within the next two weeks and would be co-chaired by the country’s President and its two Bishops from Dili and Baucau.
Parallel to the all-inclusive dialogue, would be the special inquiry commission, which his Government had requested the Secretary-General to establish, he said. Religious leaders and civil society also welcomed an impartial and independent inquiry as an important step towards reaching a settlement and upholding the rule of law. It was his fervent desire that the inquiry commission commence work immediately. In the interim, Australia, through its Federal Police Service, in collaboration with the Prosecutor General’s Office, was undertaking preliminary work to secure some crime scenes and preserve evidence. He had taken on the sensitive defence portfolio and he was, as a Nobel Peace Laureate, a most reluctant Defence Minister. His motivation was to lift the standing of the F-FDTL and to help heal the wounds between it and the PNTL, and both forces and the community.
He went on to say that peace had been restored overall, but the security and law and order situation remained precarious. State institutions and democratic culture were also fragile. Sustained international support, by way of a United Nations police force under United Nations command, and with the PNTL working under its auspices, should be deployed without delay. The Timorese were deeply indebted to the deploying countries, but, as the emergency situation was nearing an end, it was important that attention now be turned to the issue of transition to a peacekeeping force under the United Nations umbrella, as had been the case with INTERFET in 1999. It was essential to have an international presence under the United Nations flag to reduce political and diplomatic tensions. Hence, it was his Government’s considered view that the current force in Timor-Leste should, in due course, be replaced by a United Nations-mandated peacekeeping force.
At the same time, he said, it had not been possible to undertake a comprehensive needs assessment of such a mission. It was his Government’s intention, however, to enter into detailed discussions with the United Nations on that matter in the immediate future. Nevertheless, he could offer some preliminary comments. First, the timeframe had to be “long enough” to enable the country’s institutions to move beyond the fragile stage, consistent with being an “infant State”. Regarding UNTAET, everyone had been hopeful that its two-year life span would have been sufficient to help build a nation; some in the Government had also been keen to have the United Nations depart, not for any other reason than they were keen to have independence as soon as possible.
He said he favoured a five-year United Nations mission, with a five-year transition time. That had not been a popular position before, but that position should be factored into consideration of the establishment of a new United Nations mission. It was indeed a Herculean task to build a nation almost from scratch, and, while Timor-Leste had succeeded, it was still an infant nation. Collectively, everyone had done a remarkable job of nation-building, initially under the stewardship of the late Sergio Veira de Mello. The main focus of a new mission should be the maintenance of a secure environment. That involved, among other things, a multinational military presence, a United Nations police force, and United Nations-organized, administered and conducted presidential and parliamentary elections and key civilian advisory positions.
The decision was in the Security Council’s hands, he said. Timor-Leste required the world body’s sustained engagement, and its people awaited the Council’s consideration.
ROERT HILL ( Australia) said that, since 1999, the United Nations had been integrally involved in first bringing security to Timor-Leste and then beginning the process of nation-building. Australia had been playing a central role, he said, adding that there had been notable success along the way, but the recent crisis had demonstrated how fragile those successes had been. It had also demonstrated the need for prompt and effective action by the international community, including, importantly, the United Nations itself, to consolidate those successes. Australia, along with Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal, had deployed military and police to restore stability during the current crisis. That deployment had significantly stabilized the situation in Dili, but, it was clear that a continuing presence would be necessary for some time.
He said the international deployment was working closely with the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) on the ground to meet immediate security needs. Still, Australia saw no need for the broadening security force to come under United Nations control. With a separate, but United Nations-backed, security force, the Organization would be free to focus on, and dedicate resources to, addressing the country’s longer-term needs, through a new Security Council-mandated mission. Following the dispatch of the Secretary-General’s Envoy to the country, as well as frequent discussion and attention in the Security Council, the international community must build on the current momentum to address the crisis. To that end, Australia was willing to support a further 28-day extension of UNOTIL’s mandate.
At the same time, he encouraged the Council, with the Secretariat, to move immediately to design and implement a new mission. Indeed, Timor-Leste’s needs were “immediate and serious,” and Australia believed any new mission should be established under Chapter VII. The Council should also recognize that Timor-Leste’s needs were fundamentally different today than they had been in 1999. They were chiefly of internal governance and failure of law and order. A new mission should complement the international deployment, and address key challenges comprising three elements: political and community reconciliation; strengthening the judicial sector; and strengthening Government machinery. It would be essential for those efforts to be coordinated with the Timorese Government and other multilateral and bilateral partners. The mission should also be sufficiently flexible to operate in a “fluid political environment.”
JOAO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) said that when he had addressed the Council in its public meeting of 5 May, he had underlined that Timor-Leste had been an important responsibility and a very large investment by the international community and the United Nations. He had also said that everything possible should be done to secure that investment and strengthen the fragile peace and democracy. In the light of recent events, the lessons of the current unrest must be carefully assessed, in order to determine whether the United Nations had withdrawn its peacekeeping forces “too soon”. The Portuguese Gendarmerie Force, with a total of 120 troops, had arrived in Dili on Saturday, 3 June. In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between his Government and Timor-Leste of 25 May, that paramilitary force was to operate in Dili and its surroundings, under the authority of the Timorese President and Prime Minister, and with Portuguese operational command. That would also provide, in the future, assistance and training to the Unit of Rapid Intervention of the PNTL.
He said that, in an attempt to improve the cooperation and coordination between forces on the ground, an interim arrangement had been agreed. The international forces had been deployed to assist a sovereign country, on the basis of bilateral arrangements and with the support of the Security Council. However, the current turmoil clearly showed “the need for a renewed longstanding involvement of the United Nations in Timor-Leste”. In defining the future mandate of such a presence, the international community should listen, first and foremost, to the views of the Timorese. It should respect Timorese ownership, since the Timor-Leste of today was not the Timor-Leste of 1999. Since 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste had been an independent, sovereign country, which had made impressive progress in many areas of governance and institution-building, with the support of UNOTIL and bilateral and multilateral partners.
“Timor-Leste needs our help. Timor-Leste is not a failed State,” he said. Rather, the international community was dealing with a deep political crisis, which was having very serious security and humanitarian repercussions. The crisis was far from over. Also, thousands of weapons were missing and could serve the purpose of further violent destabilization. Reconciliation would be a long and difficult process, but it was a much needed first step for the Timorese society to take hold. Political solutions could then be searched and, hopefully, found by the Timorese themselves. The Timorese should remain “the masters of the choices” regarding the governance of their country. The support of Portugal to Timor-Leste would continue to be guided by that fundamental principle. There was a clear need for continued multilateral and bilateral assistance and support, but, as in any other sovereign and independent State, in the end, it would be up to the Timorese to decide issues of justice, the nature and role of the armed forces and police, economic governance and administration, and so forth.
He said that “Timor-Leste was a child of the United Nations,” and, thus, it needed the universality and impartiality of the United Nations, which must again take a leading role. The new mission should be able to facilitate political dialogue and reconciliation, to restore and maintain security, and to ensure that the 2007 elections were peaceful, free and fair. That was what the Timorese expected from the United Nations, and that should be the Organization’s mission, as soon as possible. Portugal stood ready to contribute with forces to serve under the United Nations command and control. Justice was another key element for lasting political reconciliation. It was important, therefore, to establish the truth regarding the recent violence. He, thus, welcomed the request for a special inquiry commission. At the same time, he was concerned by the recent attacks and looting of the Justice Ministry, the General Prosecutor’s Offices, and the records of the Serious Crimes Unit, particularly those regarding the crimes of 1999. It was reassuring to know that the United Nations had back-up copies of those records, but those sad events underlined the need to ensure that all those responsible for the serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste were held accountable.
ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand) said that, while the situation in Timor-Leste had improved somewhat since the arrival of forces from four countries, it, nevertheless, remained fragile. New Zealand’s deployment currently included some 176 troops, and the Government was still considering the shape and duration of that force, but it expected that it would remain there as long as it was needed. Overall, as the situation had changed dramatically over the past few weeks, the Timorese Government and the international community now needed time to assess options for the way ahead. Among other things, New Zealand noted that any further United Nations mission, and all multilateral and bilateral partners, must work with the Timorese Government to build up the country’s institutional capacity.
She said that New Zealand supported the extension of UNOTIL’s mandate for a further period, to allow sufficient time for the needs assessment mission to visit and report back expeditiously. The Timorese Government had a decisive role to play throughout the process, especially given that true stabilization could only occur once underlying political issues were resolved. She sympathized with the challenges being faced. Many of those were the result of the complex nation-building process, with its attendant vulnerabilities.
She encouraged the Timorese leadership to address those challenges constructively, constitutionally and in a manner that promoted trust and respect. Finally, she stressed that matters beyond security and policing needed careful attention in the days and weeks ahead. The investment of the Timorese people, bilateral partners and the international community had been significant. It was important that the United Nations system, and the wider international community, send the message of long-term commitment to supporting and assisting Timor-Leste.
RADZI RAHMAN ( Malaysia) said it was not long ago that Timor-Leste had gained its independence, with the assistance of the United Nations. With the continuing active involvement of the world body and the determination of the Timorese leaders and people, the young nation was acclaimed as a success story for United Nations peacebuilding and nation-building efforts. The recent eruption of violence and civil unrest, however, had threatened to unravel the painstaking efforts and sacrifices to bring progress and development to the people of that sovereign nation. The international community, through the Security Council, had an obligation to ensure that peace and stability continued to prevail in Timor-Leste. Only then would that young nation be able to proceed with implementation of its national development programmes and attain its development goals.
He said his country, with its limited capacity, had responded positively and promptly to the emergency request by the Timorese Government to assist in restoring law and order there. Currently, there were 33 Malaysian military personnel being deployed, operating closely with the defence and security forces of Australia, New Zealand and Portugal. Despite the welcome signs of improvement beginning to emerge, it should not be forgotten that the unexpected disturbances and civil disorder was a “wake-up call” that Timor-Leste was still in the fragile stages of nation-building, and the United Nations should stand ready to come to its aid when needed. He, therefore, had welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to send Ian Martin to the country to assess the situation and facilitate political dialogue. He called on the Security Council to continue to conduct a thorough assessment of the underlying problems, in order to find long-lasting solutions. The Council, working closely with Timor-Leste, should examine all possible elements that could impede peace and development, and address them through the establishment of a broad-based United Nations presence and engagement.
Given the fragile security situation and the need to rebuild confidence, especially in the period leading to the elections, he urged the Council to establish a full-fledged peacekeeping operation, as appropriate. Deployment of such a mission, along with the immediate establishment of a police force under the United Nations auspices to sustain law and order, was essential until the United Nations was confident that cohesive national police and defence forces had been fully re-established. On the proposal for the rollover of UNOTIL’s mandate to allow for sufficient time to carefully assess the situation, he agreed that a serious evaluation was necessary on any proposal for an extension. He supported Timor-Leste’s suggestion that a robust United Nations police, military and civilian mission was indispensable in helping the Timorese to consolidate their hard-won peace and freedom. Concerned about the more than 133,000 internally displaced persons, priority must be given to protecting them and providing them with food, water, sanitation, health care and shelter. He called on the United Nations system to continue providing for the needs of those people. He also called on all parties in Timor-Leste to continue their political dialogue and engagement, and to peacefully settle their differences.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said that events had accelerated over the past few weeks and had taken on a new dimension, which many feared might lead to a humanitarian crisis in a situation already characterized by poverty and insecurity. The international community must act quickly to stave off any serious or prolonged humanitarian consequences, but all concerned must act with equal speed and resolve to return the country to stability. The United Nations had been intricately involved in the forming of this young State, and everyone concerned must work to ensure that that good work was not undermined, particularly ahead of upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said the recent violence was clearly a product of the deep-seated grievances of various groups and the rising expectations of the people in a complex political situation. It was an urgent call for all parties concerned to move swiftly in restoring order and addressing the root causes of the current spate of violence. He commended the quick action taken by the Secretary-General in sending his Special Envoy, Ian Martin, to Dili, and his Special Representative for his efforts to forge a dialogue for peace, particularly between the eastern and western districts of the country. He also applauded Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal for sending forces.
He said that, as a result of the violence, many people had sought refuge in crowded camps. Thanking all those who had quickly provided food, water and shelter and ensured sanitary conditions in the camps, he appealed to the Timorese leadership to take urgent action to begin addressing the root causes. Unless the underlying, deep-seated problems were brought to the open, violence was likely to continue, as rival gangs and revenge seekers continued to act violently. The United Nations, together with countries in the region, had an obligation to promote national dialogue in the country.
The relapse of Timor-Leste was tragic, he said. In hindsight, it could be said that the peacekeepers had been pulled out prematurely. That could be remedied, however, by helping the country address social and economic problems. Timor-Leste had become one of the compelling candidates for the Peacebuilding Commission. The country needed an extended United Nations presence. He, therefore, called for the strengthening of UNOTIL and a mandate extension for 12 months.
CESAR MAYORAL ( Argentina) called on the people and leaders of Timor-Leste to solve all existing differences by peaceful means, in the framework of democratic institutions and processes, and fully respecting human rights. Additional efforts should be made to achieve a genuine national reconciliation, he said. The elements that had been expelled from the armed forces were not the only ones responsible for the upsurge of violence. Other bands and illegal groups had exploited the situation and the proliferation of small arms was an additional cause for concern.
He said the Organization’s assessment regarding future assistance should be reviewed in order to ensure the consolidation of progress achieved and to avoid jeopardizing or reversing that progress. It was increasingly evident that, during the coming months, the continued presence of international military and police troops would be essential. It should not be ruled out that military and police components be included in the mandate of the mission that would replace UNOTIL. UNOTIL’s mandate should be extended, in order to give the Secretariat some time to prepare the concept and details of a new operation. The presence of international troops under current bilateral arrangements would be necessary until new multilateral arrangements were implemented.
ROMY TINCOPA ( Peru) said the recent violent incidents only confirmed the serious problems still facing Timor-Leste. She recognized the contribution of all actors to re-establish peace and security, especially the four countries that had dispatched defence and security forces under bilateral arrangements -- Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal. The situation of instability in Timor-Leste required international support. The United Nations could not abandon Timor-Leste in its moment of need. Timor-Leste needed a compact, whereby the United Nations, the friends and associates of Timor-Leste, and the international community, including the international financial institutions, provided the necessary support for ensuring stability, development and growth.
She urged the Government to present a political and development plan, which should include policies and actions of good governance, as well as programmes related to the distribution of incomes stemming from the oil and gas sector. That would contribute to development and combat poverty. The Government must ensure that resources were managed in a way that benefited the neediest, as that was a fundamental step towards sustainable development and the creation of a viable nation. The Council should do everything possible to secure the United Nations investment in Timor-Leste. A successor to UNOTIL should include a strong mandate, focused on revitalizing the fragile democracy, strengthening the capacity of national institutions and stabilizing countrywide security. The success of the 2007 elections would be another decisive step towards consolidating democracy and peace. She appealed to all leaders of Timor-Leste to act responsibly through dialogue. Also, it was crucial to investigate the causes of the violence and deny impunity to the responsible parties.
L.K. CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) took note of the updates and assessments by Australia, Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia, which were currently leading the international effort to restore normalcy to Timor-Leste, and said that their initiatives deserved encouragement and support. Hopefully, the people of Timor-Leste would quickly put the unfortunate events of the past few weeks behind them. He appealed to those still bent on fomenting trouble to realize that a sharply polarized, unstable and impoverished country was ultimately not in anyone’s best interest. They must, therefore, lay down their arms and revert to a frank and open dialogue to address the root causes of the problems.
The setbacks notwithstanding, the international community could help the people of Timor-Leste step back from the dangerous course they had taken lately, he continued. Restoring law and order was an immediate challenge of the utmost priority under such circumstances. He also supported a call for urgent humanitarian relief for displaced persons.
At the same time, there was no question that lasting peace and stability could be achieved in Timor-Leste, only when the country’s long-term development was addressed with a higher sense of urgency, he added. While a carefully designed programme of institutional development and capacity-building must be rigorously implemented, the fact remained that, for each citizen to live at peace with his or her neighbour, the basic needs of the people must be met. That, in turn, required that Timor-Leste be given a genuine economic space to develop. It was also necessary to take into account the need for the country’s resources to be harnessed and managed in a manner that would benefit future generations.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said that, while Timor-Leste, during the past four years, had been a proud success story and the Timorese people had demonstrated a remarkable resilience and sense of ownership in all the processes that had paved the way towards peace and democracy, the events and disturbances over the past few weeks in Dili and the rest of the country had revealed a certain fragility and even political conflict and divisions among the Timorese leadership, which had, regrettably, only made the situation worse. Following the quick action of four countries to restore order on the ground, it was clear that resolving the problems now facing the Timorese people must go beyond that immediacy and must entail measures to address the root causes of those problems.
It was important, in that regard, that internal political reconciliation be achieved through ownership by the Timorese themselves. Japan believed that the United Nations could play a useful role in facilitating that process, but the Timorese people should, nevertheless, own it. It was Japan’s hope that Timor-Leste’s political leaders would recognize their responsibility and strive to create a constructive and forward-looking relationship among them, putting unity and the best interest of the country above all. In parallel with a political solution, the international community should closely monitor the humanitarian situation sparked by recent events, and should also take a closer look at the underlying economic and social problems that might have left the society fragile or had created causes for the current unrest.
To that end, he called for particular attention to be paid to Timor-Leste’s acute youth unemployment. Efforts to alleviate that and other social problems might not be in the direct purview of the Council, but discussing such issues could not be avoided, because of the impact on the outcome of United Nations peacekeeping activities in the country and could provide lessons in peacebuilding in other countries. He also stressed that, although the international community had continuously provided its support for Timor-Leste’s reconstruction and development through bilateral and multilateral channels, it was now important to effectively and efficiently utilize those sources of international assistance more effectively, so that the Timor-Leste’s social problems could be comprehensively addressed. He said that his delegation supported the recommendation to rollover UNOTIL’s mandate for an appropriate period.
KONSTANTIN DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said he had listened with great interest to the statement made on behalf of Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister. His country was disturbed by the continuing serious crisis in Timor-Leste. The situation in that country remained very complex and unstable. Of particular concern was the increasing friction in society around ethnic lines, together with an increase in internal political conflicts. He noted the prompt deployment of military police and national forces of the four countries, as well as the efforts undertaken by the United Nations to help resolve the crisis. He greatly appreciated the activities of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy and Representative, and of all staff of UNOTIL. Of course, there was still much work before them. The crisis had clearly shown how weak and unstable the main State institutions remained. It was essential, therefore, that a future United Nations presence be equal to the tasks and requirements of the country. The Secretary-General would soon make specific recommendations in that regard, which he hoped would take into account the lessons of the recent crisis and the wishes of the country.
LI JUNHUA ( China) said that, with the relapse of turbulence, four countries had decided, at Timor-Leste’s request, to send in military and police. That rapid deployment had played an important role in restoring stability and order on the ground. He appreciated the efforts of those countries, and he paid tribute to the staff of UNOTIL for their work under difficult circumstances. For more than six years, Timor-Leste had been a success story and pride of the United Nations, but the continuous recent turmoil was of concern, and people were asking if the success story had “gone with the wind”, and whether the international inputs would “go down the drain”. When the Chinese delegation had last spoken about the situation, it had described the youngest country in Asia, with the lowest level of development, as a toddler that had taken its first step; while gratifying, it still might fall. The international community should help “her” stand again as soon as possible, help heal her wounds, and return her to the track of steady development.
He said that all political forces in Timor-Leste should base themselves on national stability and security, put aside past disputes, seek common understanding, and solve problems within the constitutional and democratic framework. The international community should continue to provide the country with various kinds of assistance at this moment of great difficulty. At the same time, it should be fully aware of the sensitive and fragile situation and, within the limits of propriety, maintain a fine balance and avoid becoming involved in the internal problems of Timor-Leste or of imposing its own views and demands. The United Nations should carefully study the causes of the resurgence of conflict and take targeted measures to solve it, on the basis of the full consideration of the Government’s view. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations. In view of the fact that the situation was not yet fully stable, and in order that the Secretariat had enough time to prepare the next step, he agreed with a technical rollover of UNOTIL’s mandate.
JACKIE WOLCOTT SANDERS ( United States) said that her delegation was pleased that the coordination among the international forces in Dili continued to improve, and that that collective effort had led to a substantial reduction in the level of violence in the Timorese capital. But, even after all the violence had been quelled and the situation had been brought fully under the control of the central Government, formidable challenges would remain. Therefore, UNOTIL should not be allowed to expire next week, and, given that that Office was not structured to deal with the current unrest, it should only be extended for another 30 days, giving the Council time to work out the structure of a follow-on United Nations mission.
Because solving the current crisis required “sound, credible information” regarding its causes, and because of the urgent need to investigate the deaths that took place in Dili during the disturbances of late April and late May, she concurred with the Timorese Government’s request that the United Nations conduct an independent inquiry into those matters. She added that the resolution extending UNOTIL’s mandate should include provisions for such an inquiry to begin immediately.
While the remaining details of such a follow-on mission would be the subject of much discussion in the weeks to come, she said that one thing was clear; the disintegration of the Timorese national police during the crisis stemmed directly from its politicization and the lack of a central doctrine and training plan. The police would need to be retrained, with one country assuming responsibility, so the exercise would be uniform across all ranks and units. She added that Chapter VII authority might be necessary for the international community to provide the robust assistance needed to help the country overcome the current crisis. She went on to deplore the pilfering of the Serious Crime Unit’s files during the current unrest, and strongly urged that the copies of the files be sent to the United Nations as directed in UNOTIL’s founding resolution.
PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo) said that United Nations involvement over the past four years had laid the groundwork for peace, stability and institution-building in Timor-Leste. That had made the recent events, which had centred in Dili and had been perpetrated almost one year after the departure of United Nations troops, all the more disturbing. The hopes of the international community, which had worked hard to bolster Timor-Leste’s progress, were at stake, and all concerned must pull together to build on the momentum generated by the Council’s meetings and presidential statements, and the most recent recommendations proffered by the Secretary-General in his latest report. He called on the Timorese parties for calm and noted the efforts already under way to promote reconciliation, particularly towards ensuring peace and calm as the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections approached.
MICHEL DUCLOS ( France) said that what was affecting Timor-Leste affected the Security Council in a special way. He had closely followed the recent events there with a great deal of apprehension, as well as with sympathy, which he asked the Ambassador to convey. In terms of the immediate lessons to be drawn and a decision about what to do next, he could draw a few conclusions. First, the United Nations must not withdraw prematurely from a situation in which it was clearly playing a crucial role. The second lesson was that, when the United Nations did withdraw from that type of situation, it had consequences for the balance of local players, as well as repercussions for international donors. A poorly planned withdrawal, therefore, could have negative repercussions on the ground, as well as discouraging repercussions for donors. In the Security Council, everyone was looking for an exit strategy. Accompanying that quest should be an impact analysis, however.
He said that the third lesson to be borne in mind was that the Council could depart from many of its habits. In the case of Timor-Leste, the Council had not had an in-depth analysis of the political problems. He thanked Ian Martin for his briefing, in which he had heard the extent to which the Council had underestimated the “political cleavages” that existed in Timorese society. That had given him food for thought. It was clear at this stage that the United Nations would reinvest in Timor-Leste. Everyone was determined to do so, yet everyone was aware that the Council needed some time to reflect on the modalities. He expected that, during that time, the Secretariat would continue its assessment begun by Mr. Martin and especially continue contacts with all of the authorities concerned. The Secretariat should propose several options, which would have to be carefully vetted with the Timorese partners.
In terms of the message to be sent during the present crisis, he said he had always had doubts about declaring success, because the period had been quite short. It was too early, therefore, to talk about success, but it was much too early to talk about a failure. The message to be sent to the world was that it had not been abnormal or unusual for Timor-Leste to have encountered difficulties, since it had achieved independence only four years ago. What was important was for Timor-Leste to return to the path of progress and nation-building. Also important was for the international community to be mobilized. The United Nations must remain mobilized, alongside Timor-Leste, and be absolutely determined to do its share to help that nation.
DUSAN MATULAY ( Slovakia) said that, after so many years of suffering, and in the wake of multiple United Nations missions launched since 1999, Timor-Leste was just beginning to show signs of progress. But, ethnic and regional grievances and deep political rifts in recent weeks were unravelling much of the progress that had been made. Foreign troops had returned to Timor-Leste last month, as the worst violence in four years had threatened to tip Asia’s youngest nation into chaos. Slovakia was very concerned over the deterioration of the situation, particularly the loss of lives and the condition of the thousands that had been displaced.
He called on all sides in Timor-Leste to act in the interest of the people. The Government and the international community must undertake intense efforts to overcome institutional and political problems, rectify underlying defects and ensure the protection of civilians, in cooperation with United Nations and international troops. He stressed that, when the immediate crisis was over, the Timorese leadership still faced severe challenges. Its combination of weak governance, grinding poverty and nascent democracy meant that it would struggle to find its way for years to come.
With the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, the country was rapidly approaching yet another crucial crossroad in its young life, he said, stressing that the 2007 ballot would be of utmost importance to Timor-Leste’s future stability and democratic development. Those elections must be conducted in a free and fair manner. Slovakia was convinced of the need for the United Nations to remain involved in the consolidation of peace and democracy in Timor-Leste, before the country could function independently. He added that there could not be full reconciliation, unless those responsible for the atrocities in 1999 were brought to justice.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS ( Greece) deplored the unfortunate violent incidents and regretted that such a short period of time had been enough to overturn successes and gains of the past four years. It had been a clear manifestation of the fragility of the country’s political, security and social situation. There was not doubt that Timor-Leste needed a new, reinforced mission so that the defence, security and justice institutions would be able to regain their functional capacity. It was also important that all recent crimes and abuses be brought to justice.
He said that, under the current circumstances, the Council’s main task was to safeguard the viability of the democratic institutions of Timor-Leste. In that regard, he paid particular attention to the Secretary-General’s proposals regarding renewal of UNOTIL’s mandate and the United Nations follow-up presence in the country. He would also give due consideration to the views of the country’s Government, especially in the context of the preparation and holding of presidential and parliamentary elections next year. He hoped that political reconciliation and disarmament of all illegal groups could be achieved in the near future.
EMYR JONES PARRY ( United Kingdom) said the meeting had heard from the four countries that had responded so quickly to the crisis. The stability achieved in that bilateral arrangement argued for the status quo. He looked to those countries to coordinate with the Timorese Government and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, so that they had a maximum impact on the ground. The United Nations should do more on a sustainable basis in Timor-Leste. It was important that all parties work together to achieve the best common outcome for that “child of the international community” and to assist it in meeting the challenges associated with preparations for the elections in 2007. Frankly, everyone must be prepared to do whatever it took to take the situation to the next logical state, namely one in which stability, political progress and economic development were secured. It would be a challenge to keep that process on track, and the elections were not an end in themselves. A sustainable political solution meant that much more needed to be done now in the areas of governance, rule of law and capacity-building, leading up to the elections.
However, he said, that did not happen overnight, and the Security Council must consider how to respond, following today’s briefing. But, it should decide what it would do, carefully and quickly. He supported a 30-day extension of UNOTIL’s mandate, to allow time for such discussions, but any further delay to establish a follow-on mission would jeopardize the country and the reputation of the United Nations there, as well as its collective ability to work effectively. A United Nations police and political mission would be a solution, but, meanwhile, messages of calm and support should continue. The Secretary-General’s initiative in a video message had been very welcome, but more of that should take place. Then, an urgent analysis was needed to assess exactly what was required. More offers of bilateral assistance might come forward, which the United Nations could coordinate. The example set by Japan in that regard should be emulated.
He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations, but, one way or the other, the United Nations would have to be involved in the investigative process. What Timor-Leste’s situation had demonstrated was the difficulty of peacebuilding as a subject. Developing stability in a post-conflict situation was inherently difficult and was a reminder of the responsibility of the United Nations, across the board, to do more to build peace, to allow sufficient time for its involvement, and to ensure that it sufficiently covered the key elements with which peace could be sustained. That was what the Peacebuilding Commission was all about, and why everyone had to do better.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ ( Denmark) associated herself with the position of the European Union and paid tribute to the four States that had so rapidly heeded Timor-Leste’s call for assistance. However, the situation remained tense, and additional United Nations assistance would be required to help reorganize and rebuild Timor-Leste’s security sector. She welcomed the efforts by the Government of Timor-Leste to clarify responsibilities within the Government, and to reach out to the dismissed soldiers, in order to find a solution to the crisis. Political reconciliation was key to resolving the conflict. She also understood that Foreign and Defence Minister Ramos-Horta had requested the United Nations assistance in investigating the events of 28-29 April and 25 May, where a number of people had been killed. Denmark fully supported the independent investigation of recent events and called for those responsible for the killings to be brought to justice.
On the Organization’s future presence in Timor-Leste, she said that her delegation looked forward to receiving more detailed proposals from Timor-Leste and the Secretary-General. In the meantime, Denmark supported a relatively short extension of the present UNOTIL mandate. Among other elements, a future United Nations mission should contain a robust policing and police-training element, assistance to the upcoming elections and support for justice and reconciliation. It was also important to rapidly address the humanitarian needs arising from the conflict, as well as the socio-economic problems that had been a contributing factor to it. Recent events were a strong indication that the international community needed to continue to provide strong support to Timor-Leste. With the combination of such support and the efforts of the country’s Government and people, Timor-Leste would hopefully soon be back on track towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG ( Brazil) said that, ever since the Council’s public meeting on Timor-Leste last month, the serious deterioration on the ground had confirmed the ever-gloomier assessments about the country. Indeed, its institutions had proved fragile, and violent and broad based political disagreement had emerged. And, while he welcomed the prompt response by Portugal, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia to the Timorese Government’s request for assistance, Brazil was, nevertheless, concerned by reports of recurring looting, banditry and other forms of violence. At this juncture, it was essential for all the country’s people and political factions to engage in peace negotiations and strive to lay the foundations for political and legal institutions strong enough to allow different groups to express their opinions and advance their claims, without resorting to violence.
He recalled that, at the Council’s May debate on Timor-Leste, he had closed his statement by emphasizing that piecemeal solutions would neither be positive nor viable, and that the Council must deliver a “strong and unequivocal” message of support for Timor-Leste. That sentiment was still true, and the United Nations must act in such a way that the Timorese people were reassured of the Organization’s commitment to the country and were provided with the necessary means to overcome the current crisis.
Among other things, he suggested that the Council should work closely with the four countries already on the ground in Timor-Leste and “place their contributions under the UN umbrella”, with proper mechanisms of command, control and accountability. Also, he said that, at this point, the Council should give priority to restoring security, with the 2007 elections as a timeline for positive domestic and international actions. Proactive United Nations engagement was also needed to address the underlying elements of the current crisis. Beyond security, other areas requiring attention were strengthening the rule of law, assisting in humanitarian relief, addressing issues related to human rights and promoting institution building, he added.
GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Union was very concerned about the security situation in Timor-Leste. He called on all parties involved to refrain from any further violence and to contribute to re-establishing public order. The Union also called on relevant actors from all sides to engage in dialogue to find a solution to the current crisis and its underlying problems. He applauded the leadership of Timor-Leste for their decision to ask for help in trying to contain the situation, and commended the countries that had been asked for help for their quick reaction to that appeal.
Events of the last two months had revealed a serious political crisis and shortcomings in the approach to the security-sector reform in Timor-Leste, he said. Now, after the confrontation between different parts of the security sector and the looting of equipment, including weapons, a lot more work needed to be done. It was necessary to address, in a comprehensive manner, the issues and grievances that had led to the current crisis. At the same time, one should not forget that there were sectors of the administration in Timor-Leste that had successfully taken up the provision of State services prior to the riots and whose functioning had been interrupted. Those parts of the administration must be enabled to take up their vital functions again.
With the mandate of UNOTIL up for renewal, it was necessary to examine the future role of the United Nations in Timor-Leste, he continued. An international security presence would also have to remain in the country for some time, to provide security and stability. The role of the United Nations would have to be strong, in order to promote and facilitate the process of political reconciliation to heal the divisions that had become apparent, uphold law and order, and to redouble international efforts in capacity-building for the administration in Timor-Leste. In the light of recent events, the holding of elections in 2007 was a formidable challenge, and international support would be crucial for their success. Concerning the form that the future United Nations mission might take, he said that the wishes of the Government and the assessment of the Special Envoy should be among the guiding principles, and would have to be closely taken into account.
Since 1999, the European Union and its Member States had been reliable development partners for Timor-Leste, he said. Just last Friday, an agreement had been signed between the European Commission and the Government allotting €18 million to economic and democratic development projects in the near future. A further
€63 million in financial aid had been earmarked for the period 2008 to 2013. The Union was also engaged in the field of humanitarian assistance.
LAURO L. BAJA ( Philippines) said he supported the plan to hold an all-inclusive dialogue and create a special inquiry commission. He commended Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal for their speedy response to assist Timor-Leste in restoring law and order. That country was, once again, at a critical juncture in its history. After much effort by the international community to build that nation, it seemed that the recent violence had set back the progress. But, that was a temporary speed bump; there was no smooth path on the road to building a nation. It took time for progress to become irreversible, and the international community’s involvement was crucial in that regard. It should not abdicate its role in building Timor-Leste, which was a United Nations success story. What was needed now was strategic planning to bring the country back on track and ensure that the significant gains made thus far were not wasted.
Hopefully, he said, a return to calm, following the violent outbreak, would give decision-makers time for adequate planning. The United Nations should continue to work to strengthen institutional capacity-building, particularly with respect to the Government’s provision of basic services, for economic development, and election preparations. Law and order was a major concern, for which a robust police component of any new mission was essential. That force should train and build Timor-Leste’s own independent law enforcement agency. He took note of the Government’s request for deployment of police units under the United Nations umbrella, and his country would seek to supply them. Prior to the events of the past two months, the experience of the United Nations in Timor-Leste had been one of the best examples of a successful international enterprise, involving regional players and United Nations partners. The present situation should be viewed through a prism of optimism; recent events should serve as valuable lessons of the fragility of peacebuilding in the United Nations context.
FILIMONE KAU ( Fiji) said recent events in Timor-Leste had revealed a young country struggling to stand up to the challenges of nationhood. Challenges both “vivid and vague” had been revealed and, like in most developing countries, the events in Timor-Leste had showed that it did not take much wanton destruction or major rioting to upset carefully planed Government processes or undercut peoples’ hopes for the future. So, five years after attaining independence, events in Timor-Leste were not going as smoothly as many had hoped. But, efforts to reorient the mindset of a people or jumpstart the process of nation-building were never easy, he said, stressing that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were key consideration that needed to be examined closely.
In the case of Timor-Leste, it had been that very process -- the demobilization and reintegration of the security forces -- that had sparked the current impasse. A volatile mix had resulted, when the challenge of reintegration had combined with feelings of marginalization among the people. Fiji looked forward to the action of the Security Council to pave the way for an extended United Nations presence in Timor-Leste, and hoped that, in due course, the newly established Peacebuilding Commission could provide the advice and support that would be needed to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country.
PRAYONO ATIYANTO ( Indonesia) said that, as Timor-Leste’s closest neighbour, his country was very keen for the crisis to come to an end and for the situation to return to normal very soon. He was heartened to learn, therefore, that the security situation was improving and that progress was being made to address problems in that area. He continued to support the Timorese leaders in their efforts to find a durable solution to the crisis, and he was confident that, under their wise leadership, Timor-Leste would be able to resume its national development on a sounder foundation. Indonesia, for its part, was doing its best to assist the country, including through the closure of its common land border to prevent any incident that could complicate the situation. In addition, it had dispatched aid to alleviate the humanitarian impact of the crisis on the Timorese.
He said that, in view of the current developments, the United Nations should redouble its efforts to assist the Timorese Government. While UNOTIL certainly needed to evaluate its programme priorities, it should, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), continue to support the Government in the economic, social and administrative spheres. That would help restore normalcy to the country. Similarly, the international community must remain responsive to the needs for assistance and support. Indonesia, as a neighbour that shared a forward-looking vision with Timor-Leste based on the principles of peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and mutually beneficial relations, would continue to assist Timor-Leste to ensure its continued peace, stability and democracy.
VANU GOPALA MENON ( Singapore) said that Timor-Leste had slid into instability just days after the celebration of the fourth anniversary of its independence. Two key institutions -- the FDTL and PNLT -- had unravelled before the international community’s very eyes, and appalling sense of looting and violence had been a stark reminder of how easily the peace and serenity of a new country could be disrupted. And, while the deployment of police and troops from four countries had restored calm, massive displacement of people remained to be addressed and law and order still needed to be fully restored. He stressed that the armed gangs must be apprehended and disarmed. That would be an integral step in the restoration of peace and security, so that people could return to their homes and jobs.
He went on to say that there was also an urgent need to resolve the differences between rival factions and to help rebuild Government institutions. The United Nations could assist with a thorough review of what had caused the breakdown of law and order. That would hopefully prevent the current problem from recurring, particularly with the 2007 parliamentary and presidential elections approaching. He called on the people and leaders of Timor-Leste to speed up the process of national reconciliation and to act in concert with the international community to address the problems on the ground.
CHOI YOUNG-JUN ( Republic of Korea) said that everyone had recognized Timor-Leste as one of the United Nations most remarkable successes in nation-building, but recent political developments and the outbreak of fresh violence was a reminder that the country’s democracy was still fragile and that the continued United Nations presence was very important for maintaining peace and stability there. Since its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste had moved forward on the road to peace, democracy and development, but that journey had just begun. The situation remained fluid, and much remained to be done to ensure security and stability for the future. Timor-Leste could and should stand on its own. The international community’s goal there should be to help the Timorese take full control of their country’s affairs. Assistance should be focused on helping them develop sustainable institutions and policies that supported the new democracy, political stability, rule of law, and security and economic growth for all people.
He said that, in light of the recent events, efforts should be redoubled to help the country stay on the path to peace, democracy and development. The biggest challenge was the restoration of stability and order. With the end of UNOTIL’s mandate approaching, the United Nations should strengthen its involvement in Timor-Leste to help overcome the current challenge. Another formidable challenge ahead was the preparation and conduct of the country’s first presidential and parliamentary elections, slated for 2007. International support for the election process was crucial and, thus, the international community should respond favourably to the needs of the Timorese in that regard. He reiterated his Government’s firm commitment to continuing its strong support of Timor-Leste. Approximately 700 troops from the Republic of Korea had participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations for four years, and it had provided humanitarian and electoral assistance, as well as economic and technical cooperation. Its collaboration with Timorese authorities to enhance food production by developing a new kind of corn was particularly gratifying. His Government was also ready to join the international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.
* *** *For information media • not an official record
Transcript of this meeting
La'o Hamutuk page on establishing UNMIT Mission in Timor-Leste