29 April 2003
Continued Engagement of International Community Needed in Timor-Leste, Secretary-General's Special Representative Tells Security Council
NEW YORK, 28 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council could take satisfaction from its contribution to the progress in Timor-Leste, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for that country, Kamalesh Sharma, told the Council this afternoon.
Briefing on the Secretary-General's report on the situation in Timor-Leste -- which recommended extension of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) until 20 May 2004 -- he said the Council would have to look at the optimal form for association of the United Nations with Timor-Leste after the mission was over. The engagement of the international community in peace-building and institution-building would need to continue. Timor-Leste should proceed with faith and persistence on its chosen path, reflecting the central importance of governance based on the rule of law, personal freedoms and universal principles of human rights.
He said the strengthening of the police force and a more gradual drawdown of peacekeeping forces -- as decided in resolution 1473 of 4 April 2003 -- were of crucial importance. Those forces would be of enormous assistance as the international community sought to address the emerging threats identified in the Secretary-General's special report. Those included risk of civil disorder and the criminal and politically motivated violence in rural areas, which appeared to be a part of the strategy to encourage a perception of a crisis in governance and instil a fear of returning social unrest.
The UNMISET had initiated and supported actions by the Government of Timor-Leste to strengthen the national police, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other development partners, he said. Those efforts would build, in particular, on the foundation provided by the report of the Joint Assessment Mission on policing requirements. The Mission's recommendations would be reflected in the comprehensive road map under preparation for institutional strengthening.
The economic situation was slow to improve, and the path towards development would, therefore, be a long one, he said. According to UNDP's 2002 Human Development Report, more than two out of five people were living on less than 55 cents a day, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was less than $500. The majority of the people still practised subsistence agriculture, and the economy would need to focus on agriculture based on greater diversity, encouragement to small industries, creation of professional services and opportunities for self-employment. Favourable conditions for self-sufficiency included its dynamic neighbourhood and its reserves of natural resources. The ratification of the Timor Sea Treaty between Timor-Leste and Australia would enable the exploitation of an offshore oil and gas field.
During the ensuing debate, Council members supported the proposed extension of UNMISET's mandate, as well as the proposed strategy for its military component and the timetable. They welcomed continued improvement in bilateral relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, as well as the agreements with Australia regarding oil exploitation. They stressed the necessity of strengthening capacity of the National Police and the judicial sector and called for continued involvement of the international community in assisting Timor-Leste in its institution-building and economic and social development after the Mission's mandate expired. They also emphasized the importance of the reconciliation process. Several speakers expressed concern about the slow pace of economic activities.
The representative of Timor-Leste said UNMISET had been and continued to be effective. Much progress had been made in the capacity-building of Timorese police and military. Timor-Leste continued to strive for responsible governance and the furtherance of democratic institutions and traditions of pluralism that were necessary for a secure, stable democracy. It had deposited seven multilateral treaties and protocols relating to human rights. The Government was fully committed to building a robust and independent judiciary, but that sector continued to require support from the international community. The Reconciliation and Truth Commission continued its work, which might be completed next year.
He shared the Secretary-General's appeal for full support from the international community. The role of bilateral contributions and other assistance was still important. Significant progress had been made on relations with Indonesia, and his Government looked forward to completing negotiations by
30 June. It was expected that the next official visit of Timor-Leste Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to Indonesia would bring new impetus to the cooperation between the two countries.
Indonesia's representative also noted that bilateral relations between his country and Timor-Leste continued to flourish, including in the area of border demarcation. The substance and the priorities of the relations, however, should be fully determined by the two sovereign States. The two countries, as eternal neighbours, had no alternative but to strengthen their bilateral relations and, by doing so, any need for third party influence in that regard would be eliminated.
The representatives of Spain, Chile, Guinea, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Angola, Syria, France, Pakistan, Russian Federation, United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Portugal, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and Fiji also spoke.
At the end of the meeting, the Secretary-General's Special Representative addressed representatives' questions and comments.
The meeting began at 3:40 p.m. and adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
This afternoon, the Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (document S/2003/449), recommending an extension of UNMISET's mandate for another year, until 20 May 2004.
A disturbing series of security-related incidents occurred in the last month of 2002 and early months of 2003, leading to Council resolution 1473 endorsing adjustment of the downsizing of the Mission's police component and supporting a revised schedule for the downsizing of the military component.
According to the report, the search for a solution to the change in the security environment should be viewed in the context of the long-term process of establishing a viable, independent State. The strengthening of political institutions and a non-political, professional administration and a tradition of pluralistic, democratic debate are essential for the country's stability and social and economic progress.
The Secretary-General observes that, since the establishment of UNMISET and an independent Timor-Leste on 20 May 2002, much had been achieved. Building upon the foundations laid during the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), the Timorese public administration and police force are assuming increasing levels of responsibility with growing confidence. The relations between the country and Indonesia have continued to develop and there has been significant progress towards establishing their joint border.
Significant progress on agreements concerning petroleum resources should help pave the way for further economic development. On 6 March, Timor-Leste and Australia concluded the International Unitization Agreement on the Greater Sunrise field, straddling the Joint Petroleum Development Area in the Timor Gap. On 2 April, Australia and Timor-Leste ratified the Timor Sea Treaty, providing for the sharing of revenues between the two countries, 90 per cent being awarded to Timor-Leste.
However, the report continues, continued assistance by the international community will be crucial to enable the country to confront successfully political, practical and security challenges. Further bilateral efforts will be necessary in areas of civilian administration, judicial process, human rights capacity-building activities, defence and security. The Secretary-General urges the governments of countries where those accused of serious crimes committed in 1999 might be located to make every effort to ensure that such persons are brought to justice.
In the context of its progressive downsizing, UNMISET has established a mission-liquidation task force to help formulate recommendations for consideration by the appropriate bodies. The civilian, police, and military components of the operation would continue to discharge the tasks outlined in the mandate implementation plan, within the modified downsizing schedules authorized by resolution 1473.
The report provides a proposed strategy for the military component, as requested by the resolution, according to which UNMISET would retain the two composite infantry battalions currently deployed within the region adjoining the Tactical Coordination Line, together with associated force elements, including mobility. The military component would improve its ability to use information to assist in the tactical employment of available infantry forces; assist in greater coordination and exchange of information with UNMISET police and with the Timor-Leste security agencies; enhance public understanding of the military component's role; and seek a more timely response in the event of incidents requiring employment of peacekeeping forces.
The military component would aim to reach a total of 1,750 by the end of 2003, reducing its strength to 3,500 by July and to 3,300 by October. [By resolution 1440 (2002), the military component of UNMISET was put at 5,000 personnel.] When the military component reaches 1,750, it will be structured around two infantry battalions, with responsibility for the western and eastern parts of the country. The component would act as a deterrent and respond preventively to threats to the security environment. It would also seek to retain the trust and confidence of the Timorese people, including through public information activities.
In the context of the downsizing process, the effectiveness of the military component will depend largely on the degree to which it has mobility. It will be crucial for troop-contributing countries to minimize the restrictions placed on the use of their forces.
Briefing by Secretary-General's Special Representative
Briefing the Council, KAMALESH SHARMA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, first of all, expressed appreciation for its recognition of the pivotal requirement of international support for the stability of Timor-Leste, as reflected in its adoption of resolution 1473 (2003). The strengthening of the police force, on the one hand, and a more gradual drawdown of peacekeeping forces, on the other, were of crucial importance. They would be of enormous assistance as the international community sought to address the emergent threats identified in the Secretary-General's special report: the risk of civil disorder, and the criminal and politically motivated violence in rural areas, which appeared to be a part of the strategy to encourage a perception of a crisis in governance and instil a fear of returning social unrest. A slower drawdown of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) military component would contribute to reducing the threat of such efforts, while also ensuring that the police force had adequate time to develop.
The UNMISET had initiated and supported actions by the Government of Timor-Leste to strengthen the national police, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other development partners, he said. Those efforts would build, in particular, on the foundation provided by the report of the Joint Assessment Mission on policing requirements. The Mission's recommendations would be reflected in the comprehensive road map under preparation for institutional strengthening, and their implementation would be overseen by a committee on institutional strengthening of the police chaired by the Minister of the Interior. Also important in that process were the discussions during a just-concluded major international workshop on the subject.
Continuing, he stressed the importance of learning appropriate lessons from the civic riots in Dili and the armed attacks in the district of Ermera, as well as subsequent instances of armed banditry in other districts. Those first instances of security threats to the State had provided additional impetus for recasting, planning and augmenting readiness to make such challenges difficult to mount in the future. However, Timor-Leste was now on the path where it could be quick to respond effectively to such situations through appropriate security, political and economic measures. The process of handing over policing functions to the Timor-Leste Police Force (PNTL) continued, with some adjustments, and the responsibility for policing more than half of the country's districts was now in its hands. The United Nations was strengthening its advisory presence in all districts to ensure smooth transition till all responsibility had been transferred by mid-2004.
The growing and constructive relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia had been a great asset, he said. High-level visits had been exchanged, and the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste would be making his first official visit to Indonesia in early June. The two countries had resolved upon cooperation in a variety of areas and were striving to meet the target for delineation of the land border by 30 June. However, it would require substantial efforts on both sides to achieve that target date, and some financial and technical support was needed to complete the joint actions in that respect. The process of handing over border oversight and control to the Border Control Unit of Timor-Leste police had commenced.
Despite the efforts by both countries and the international community, some 30,000 refugees remained in West Timor, he continued. Voluntary resettlement in other parts of Indonesia continued to be the policy of that country. The return of refugees to Timor-Leste had virtually ceased since last December, after the announcement of the cessation clause by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), though a significant decline in returns had been perceptible even in the preceding months.
No less a challenge for the new State, he said, was the task of developing a professional and responsive public administration from the ground level. Mandated with preparing the groundwork for the national administration structure, UNMISET could report satisfactory progress in that respect. One of the constraining features, however, was the uneven situation in respect of counterparts that could be provided, given the undeveloped skills inherited by the Timorese society. The Mission had begun to identify the areas where continuing support would be required.
He went on to say that a Serious Crimes Unit had been set up under UNTAET for the judicial handling of cases of egregious crimes surrounding the popular consultation of 1999. Investigations had been completed in nine out of 10 priority cases, and eight additional major cases of crimes against humanity had been fully investigated and indicted so far. Several cases had been judged at the first instance.
The economic situation was slow to improve, given the legacy of underdevelopment inherited by the newly independent State, he continued. The path towards development would, therefore, be a long one. Indicators of poverty, according to UNDP's 2002 Human Development Report, included infant mortality rate of 80 in 1,000 live births, adult literacy rate of 43 per cent, more than two out of five people living on less than 55 cents a day, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of less than $500 and a GDP of $380 million. The majority of the people still practised subsistence agriculture.
He said the economy needed to focus on diversified agriculture, encouragement to small industries, creation of professional services and opportunities for self-employment. Timor-Leste sought to achieve self-sufficiency in the medium term. Favourable conditions for that consisted in terms of its dynamic neighbourhood and reserves of natural resources. The ratification of the Timor Sea Treaty between Timor-Leste and Australia would enable the exploitation of an offshore oil and gas field.
The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) had prepared a report on five metallic ores and three types of industrial clays, which had been surveyed and believed to exist in commercial quantities. The potential of fisheries and tourism also remained to be exploited. Timor-Leste had formally applied for recognition as a least developed country. Concessions granted to those countries could potentially attract some investors. The national exercise of identifying policy priorities on the basis of popular consultation had evinced close compatibility with the Millennium Development Goals. The role being played by the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes would contribute to a smooth transition towards a traditional development assistance framework after UNMISET's mandate ended.
The Council could take satisfaction from the contribution its decisions had made, he noted. However, the Council would have to look at the optimal form for association of the United Nations with Timor-Leste after the UNMISET mission is over. The engagement of the international community in peace-building and institution-building would need to continue. Timor-Leste should proceed on its chosen path, reflecting the central importance of an ethos of governance based on the rule of law, personal freedoms and universal principles of human rights, with faith and persistence.
ANA MARÍA MENÉNDEZ (Spain) said that the progress made in Timor-Leste, with the support of UNMISET, was enormous and quite encouraging. The foundations had been laid for the development of a democratic State, which would be recognized regionally and have good relations with Indonesia. Still, much remained to be done and the assistance of the international community remained crucial. The country's public institutions needed to be strengthened. The administration, including the judicial authorities, needed to be professional and chosen in a transparent fashion.
Spain was pleased with the efforts in the area of human rights and welcomed the establishment of the office for the curator of justice and human rights, which, she hoped, would begin functioning soon. Border demarcation and the establishment of a flexible border regime were also important. She hoped the relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia would further improve, and she acknowledged the important step of bringing those responsible for crimes before the ad hoc tribunal for human rights. At the same time, it was important to improve the judicial process in order to guarantee that justice was done in a proper way.
The reconciliation process must be completed, she continued. She hoped the treaties recently signed with Australia would continue to promote the much-needed economic development of Timor-Leste. Also important were the efforts to reduce poverty and rehabilitate the basic infrastructure of the country. Spain had included Timor-Leste in its international cooperation plan.
In conclusion, she said that resolution 1473 called for an adjustment of police and military components of UNMISET. She supported the revised strategy, which had been proposed by the Secretary-General, and the extension of the UNMISET mandate, so that it could successfully complete its work.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said, last March, the Council had commented on the special report of the Secretary-General describing serious disturbances and adjustments had been made to the downsizing plan of UNMISET. He acknowledged the work done by the Civil Support Group and urged it to develop a strategic plan to identify areas which would require bilateral support. The National Police should continue to take up the more difficult challenges to internal security, in particular, civil disturbances and handling armed groups, as well as the development of a rapid deployment group.
The revised military strategies as described in the report were relevant and detailed. He urged UNMISET to continue to strongly support Falintil-FDTL in order to overcome its limits, such as the need to improve its mobility. The development of the judicial process would need more external support in order to prosecute those accused of serious crimes in 1999.
He welcomed efforts for regional integration, such as joining the Non-Aligned Movement and ESCAP. Also, agreements with Australia on oil resources were important for the country's development. Although there had been important progress, assistance by the international community in the future was crucial. He supported the extension of the mandate for 12 months.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said that consideration of the Secretary-General's special report in March had allowed his delegation to voice its concern about the security threats in Timor-Leste. He was still concerned over the difficulties faced by the international community in that country. It was important to avoid jeopardizing the progress achieved so far.
Among the encouraging developments, he mentioned the advancement of administration and justice and positive developments in relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Indonesia. He was also encouraged by the drawing up of the strategic plan for Timor-Leste. The programme related to security and maintenance of order required more police training, and he welcomed the actions by the Government, the United Nations and the donor community to strengthen the institutional capacity of the national police. Also important were the consolidation of territorial security and integrity of the country, as was the demarcation of the border. Supporting the proposals before the Council, he said that international military means would remain an essential factor in the months to come.
Continuing, he said that his delegation deplored the slow pace of economic activities in the country. United Nations programmes and bodies should increase their efforts to strengthen the economic activities in the country. The commitment of the international community was indispensable to supplement the efforts of the people of Timor-Leste. His delegation hoped the Assembly would consider positively the revised proposed budget of UNMISET. He supported the renewal of the mandate of the Mission so that activities already under way could be successfully completed. He also supported the efforts of UNMISET aimed at strengthening the stability and development of Timor-Leste.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said the Council must remain committed to the situation in Timor-Leste. He hoped the changes in UNMISET's strategy would make it possible to have a more rapid deployment of the National Police. Stability and peace in Timor-Leste must be considered in the broader context of, among other things, the establishment of a more efficient judicial system and the development of human rights measures. He valued the President's efforts to promote national dialogue and to integrate ex-combatants in society. He also supported the Secretary-General's appeal to neighbouring States to bring those accused of serious crimes committed during 1999 to justice.
He said bilateral relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste were important to the future of the young country, and welcomed positive developments in that regard. The support of the international community was crucial for the economic and social development of the country. The UNMISET and the UNDP had an important role to play in developing a strategy in which bilateral support would be very important. Bulgaria was preparing a programme to assist the new armed forces of Timor-Leste. He supported extending the mandate of UNMISET for 12 months.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that he had been following carefully the events in the young State of Timor-Leste, which represented the success of United Nations efforts in the maintenance of international peace and security. Following some disturbing events, the situation in the country had now been restored to normalcy. Administrative and political problems, reconstruction and the economy were among the issues, which required vigilance and the support of the United Nations and the international community.
Unemployment and weak institutional structures were among the main problems encountered by the administration of Timor-Leste, he said. It was important to strengthen the process of recruitment and training so that the country's administration would retain its apolitical nature. The weakness of judicial structures was a source of genuine concern in a country where citizens needed to be reassured about justice. Reflected in the report before the Council was the drastic lack of qualified personnel, which had led to the slowness of the administration of justice.
Human rights organizations had expressed concern over the management of justice, he continued, and it was imperative for Timor-Leste and Indonesia to strengthen their cooperation on that matter. It was also necessary to make further efforts to induce Indonesia to send more positive signals, in the extradition of persons prosecuted and the administration of its special tribunal. It was necessary to give thought to follow-up on that issue when UNMISET ended next year.
In the area of security, his country reiterated its support for resolution 1473 (2003) and the proposals contained in the report before the Council, he said. Rapid economic and social development of Timor-Leste would determine its future stability, and the struggle against poverty must be the highest priority there. The so-called support programme for the transition should have more support from the donor community.
In conclusion, he said that there were good reasons for optimism regarding the future of Timor-Leste as long as the United Nations, the financial institutions and bilateral partners continued to step up their support for the country. He supported the renewal of UNMISET's mandate for one year.
CHEN XU (China) said the general situation in Timor-Leste had been encouraging and the Timorese people continued their nation-building in an orderly manner. The country was integrating into the international community and had improved relations with Indonesia. The situation in the country, however, did not allow the Council to lower its guard.
He said UNMISET had contributed to enhancing Timor-Leste's judicial system and helped in creating conditions for the national defence force and police to take over defence and security measures. He endorsed extending the mandate of UNMISET, as Timor-Leste still confronted various challenges in defending national security and stability and promoting economic development. He agreed with the Secretary-General that efforts for nation-building were inseparable from assistance from the international community. His country would support the Timorese people in efforts to maintain stability and to develop the economy.
ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said progress in public administration, the functioning of the justice system, the conduct of investigations into serious crimes and the role of the National Police in Timor-Leste were noteworthy developments. Advisers had played a crucial role in the UNMISET Civilian Support Group and the transfer of knowledge and skills to Timorese counterparts, which was critical for stability. The Timorese Government was also enhancing peace and stability by engaging all social sectors in a wide political debate.
The adjustment strategy for downsizing UNMISET's military component, as outlined in the Secretary-General's report, was the appropriate basis for implementing resolution 1473 (2003), he said. Also deserving support were the Special Representative's efforts in the priority areas of training in public administration and justice, strengthening human rights and the rule of law, and providing a monitoring and advisory presence in districts where policing authority had been handed to the Timor-Leste Police Force. Recent events had shown the need for a vigorous and sustained effort to solve limitations on police capacities. Finally, since UNMISET was a joint success story, bilateral support should go into supplementing its efforts for a sustainable and efficient administration and a viable economy. United Nations agencies must coordinate efforts with the international community of donors. Timor-Leste and Indonesia should also continue to develop friendly relations to strengthen security in the region.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) stressed the importance of the efforts to ensure independence, security and development in Timor-Leste and the role of the international community in that respect. A series of disturbing events had made it necessary to review the plans of the international community, and by adopting resolution 1473, the Council had taken measures to adjust the downsizing of the Mission's police component and revise the schedule for the downsizing of the military component. The Council had also showed its determination to continue providing its support to Timor-Leste. He supported extending UNMISET's mandate until May 2004.
He hoped the positive developments would culminate in the settlement of all outstanding issues between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. It was important to continue providing financial support to Timor-Leste, and he hoped that the donor community would continue to do so.
EMMANUELLE D'ACHON (France) said the report on the situation in Timor-Leste was encouraging. She hoped the United Nations would continue to support the efforts of Indonesia and Timor-Leste to improve their relations. The remaining challenges in Timor-Leste were numerous and included strengthening of police capacity and developing the judicial sector.
She supported the military strategy and timetable for troop reduction as proposed in the report, as well as renewal of the mandate of UNMISET. To ensure the development of Timor-Leste, she said, bilateral and multilateral donors had to remain present and work together. She asked the Special Representative for clarification regarding the specific division of competencies on internal security between the international and national security forces.
MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said the biggest challenge for Timor-Leste was its economic future, as it was the poorest country in South-East Asia. In that regard, he welcomed the signing of the Timor Sea Treaty and the Agreement on the Greater Sunrise field, as well as Timor-Leste's admission to ESCAP. Nevertheless, much more help was needed immediately to allow the country to stand on its own feet.
He said international assistance was also required in the area of security. He was concerned that, to date, the country had not been able to make further progress in defence and security through bilateral arrangements. There were also resource constraints on matters relating to internal security and the justice sectors. The international community must step in to fill the gap. He fully supported the extension of UNMISET's mandate for 12 months. Timor-Leste was a success story for the United Nations. It was also a case in point of how the principle of self-determination was successfully implemented. There were other parts of the world, especially Jammu and Kashmir, which awaited the exercise of the right of self-determination, promised to them by resolutions of the Council.
ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said that the report on the work of UNMISET correctly reflected the implementation of the Mission's mandate and the problems in Timor-Leste. He shared the concern over a series of recent events provoked by extremists in Dili and activities of former militias, which were extremely disturbing. In that situation, UNMISET must intensify its efforts to neutralize such threats.
He hoped the revised programme and timetable for the drawdown of the Mission's police component and a revised schedule for the downsizing of the military component would allow for a full transfer of responsibilities to the national army and police, and create the conditions, which would make it difficult to destabilize the young State. He welcomed the efforts to prepare and train the military and police forces of Timor-Leste, which were taking place on schedule. He recognized the progress in the establishment of the administration of Timor-Leste and assistance for social and economic development of the country. It was important to intensify donor assistance, which was very important for long-term stability in Timor-Leste.
In conclusion, he welcomed the positive developments in the relationship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia and the establishment of good relations with neighbouring countries. He supported the extension of the UNMISET mandate through May 2004.
RICHARD S. WILLIAMSON (United States) said he was pleased that the predicted increase in violence had not materialized, as well as with continued improvement in relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. He encouraged the two countries to finalize their border by the agreed date. The Liquidation Task Force for UNMISET had demonstrated good planning, and he supported the 12-month extension for the Mission.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said he supported the proposal to extend the UNMISET mandate for another year and to promote further bilateral support both during the mission and afterwards. The common success story of Timor-Leste deserved common support.
Elaborating, he said the security environment had become increasingly stable. Also welcome were the downsizing of UNMISET personnel in accordance with resolution 1473 (2003), the strengthening of the National Police and the idea of a common border control between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Planning a gradual transfer of policing authority to the Timor-Leste Police Force was among the targets in paving the way for a democratic Timor-Leste independent of international assistance, as was support for actors engaged in strengthening the political and administrative institutions. An adequate judicial system was particularly important, especially to guarantee free and fair trials and to promote the rule of law as essential elements in the new democracy.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) encouraged Indonesia and Timor-Leste to work together towards agreement on border delineation by the end of June. The economic and social prospects of the country were also crucial. Timor-Leste's economic future looked brighter with the ratification of the Timor Sea Treaty and its potential revenue streams. No less important was the development of the quality of Government, and he saluted the progress made so far in that respect. Particularly important was the development of the justice and police sectors. He also stressed the importance of future UNDP assistance to the judicial system and preparation of the three- to five-year technical assistance programme. It would be useful if Mr. Sharma could provide the Council with an indication of UNMISET's expected completion date.
On the police, he welcomed the Timorese ownership of the process of developing their police force and expressed hope that resolution of all outstanding issues could be achieved at the next workshop on the matter in June. He encouraged full implementation of the recommendations of the Joint Assessment Mission report and urged careful consideration of the sustainability of the Timorese Rapid Deployment Group and other specialist police groups, given the finite budget available. Donors must remain responsive to the main problems in the development of the police sector.
He supported the extension of UNMISET's mandate for 12 months. The United Kingdom recognized, however, that even after the Mission had completed its mandate, the international community must continue providing assistance to Timor-Leste. It intended to play its part in that respect.
The Council's President, ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico), speaking in his national capacity, said the report had noted positive developments in Timor-Leste, but also reminded the Council of the necessity of carefully monitoring developments. The efforts of the United Nations in Timor-Leste could provide experiences and conclusions, which could be utilized in other situations that required building of a new State or rebuilding institutions. As had been demonstrated, the determination of the international community to help in nation-building alone was not sufficient. It had to be accompanied by the necessary commitment involving all sectors of Timorese society. He, therefore, supported the President's initiative to start a national dialogue with all political forces.
He welcomed efforts by Indonesia and Timor-Leste to achieve border delineation. It was important to continue to strengthen national capabilities and United Nations' participation in that was essential. The strategic plan of UNMISET and the UNDP was a step in that direction. Additional efforts were required to strengthen the judicial sector. Timor-Leste also needed to further strengthen its institutions, which required the continued assistance of the donor community. National capabilities for internal security had to be developed. He stressed, in that regard, the training of police in the area of human rights. He also supported the extension of UNMISET's mandate for another year.
JOSÉ LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) said the violence of last December and the subsequent terrorist activities of January 2003 created some fears about the country's future security. However, the firm and transparent response of the United Nations and his Government provided reassurance and had reasserted confidence and stability. The UNMISET had been and continued to be effective. Much progress had been made in the capacity-building of Timorese police and military. Timor-Leste fully endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendation about the further extension of UNMISET's mandate.
Timor-Leste continued to strive for responsible governance and the furtherance of democratic institutions and traditions of pluralism that were necessary for a secure, stable democracy. On 16 April, Timor-Leste deposited with the Secretary-General seven multilateral treaties and protocols relating to human rights. Its Parliament had also ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty plus other treaties concerning weapons of mass destruction, all of which would be deposited in the coming days.
The recent appointment of the President of the Appeal Court by Timorese President Gusmao was a step forward for strengthening the country's justice sector, he said. The Government was fully committed to building a robust and independent judiciary. That sector continued to require support from the international community. The Reconciliation and Truth Commission continued its work, which might be completed next year.
In less than a year, he noted, the Government had had to, with help from the international community, decisively address the basic needs of the people. It inherited a country with a per capita income of less than $400, an infant mortality rate of 80 to 149 per 1,000 live births, a 20 per cent unemployment rate, and with 80 per cent of the country's infrastructure destroyed in September 1999.
Timor-Leste shared the Secretary-General's appeal for full support from the international community. The role of bilateral contributions and other assistance was still important. The full amount of 228 development advisers must be provided. The Government hoped Timor-Leste would soon be admitted as an observer in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It had recently signed the Timor Sea Treaty with Australia, which would bring economic benefits to the people. Discussions on the internationally recognized border lines on the sea and land would continue. Significant progress had been made on relations with Indonesia, and his Government looked forward to completing negotiations by 30 June. It was expected that the next official visit of Timor-Leste Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to Indonesia would bring new impetus to the cooperation between the two countries.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said a critical stage had been reached regarding United Nations' role in Timor-Leste, and the United Nations needed to focus on what the Mission would leave behind in terms of solid and sustainable indigenous capacity in civil administration, law and justice, and defence and security. He, therefore, strongly supported extension of the mandate for a further 12 months.
He said a good deal of essential and basic work remained to be done in the area of policing. It was crucial that commitments made on paper were translated into solid and lasting progress. The changes in the drawdown plan approved by the Council on 4 April should help provide a secure backdrop for a renewed United Nations-coordinated effort in that crucial area.
GONÇALO DE SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said that in spite of the many complex political and security problems initially unforeseen, much had been achieved since the establishment of UNMISET. It was gratifying that the Council's action on those political developments and a disturbing series of security-related incidents, some of them of a terrorist nature, which had taken place in Timor-Leste in the last months of 2002 and the early months of this year, had led to the Timorese public administration and police force assuming increased responsibility. Also commendable were the steady and significant positive developments in the relationship of the country with its neighbours Indonesia and Australia, particularly regarding border and petroleum resources issues, respectively.
He further noted UNMISET's efforts and progress in the indictments and investigation of those responsible for the crimes that occurred in 1999. However, he expressed concern that the Secretary-General's report had noted that the judicial process in those crimes were expected to remain incomplete by June 2004. That report stated that a strong political commitment was essential as the majority of those accused remained outside of Timor-Leste, including nearly 90 per cent of those accused of crimes against humanity. He thus backed the Secretary-General as he urged the governments of countries where those accused may reside to make every effort to bring them to justice.
Concluding, he said continued international assistance would be crucial to enabling the country to face the serious political, practical and security challenges that lay ahead.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said there remained various political and security challenges to overcome in Timor-Leste. Further bilateral assistance would be needed in such areas as public administration, the judiciary, police and national security after UNMISET left. He was concerned about recent incidents such as riots and armed attacks and supported extension of UNMISET's mandate for 12 months. Japan would enable its Engineer Group to continue contributing to the successful completion of the Mission's mandate, as well as to Timor-Leste's nation-building efforts. Improving the overall capabilities of the National Police was a key priority. He hoped the workshop on capacity-building of the police, for which his country had provided funding, would contribute to implementing the recommendations of the Joint Assessment Mission on policing.
Last week, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste had visited Japan. He had emphasized that security in Timor-Leste could not be maintained solely by training and strengthening the police force. It was also necessary to invite investment and create job opportunities. Japan had been playing a major role in providing assistance for building a self-sustainable nation. Its assistance of up to $60 million for three years focused on peace-building, as well as reconstruction in the three key areas of agriculture, infrastructure and human resources development. It would also extend an additional $470,000 for the Commission of Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that Timor-Leste was often referred to as a success story. More than eight months had gone by since the country had become a Member of the United Nations, but that did not mean that the role of the Organization there was over. The report before the Council reflected both the problems and successes in Timor-Leste. Continued support of the international community was fundamental for the plans to be successful there.
The report listed the difficulties in terms of economic and social development and indicated the main challenges in the area of administration, judicial efforts and police-building, he continued. Timor-Leste still faced serious law and order threats, and on 4 April the Council had postponed the downsizing of the Mission. That was a good decision, which would allow more time to build and train the police and military force in order to ensure security and territorial integrity of the country. He supported the extension of the mandate of UNMISET for 12 months.
The results achieved in Timor-Leste showed the effectiveness of multilateral coordinated action and the ability of the international community to act through the Council, he said. Resolution 1473 was a proper immediate reaction to the situation. Brazil would continue to provide its support to the United Nations and Timor-Leste to foster the development of the country.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) commended the Security Council on its response to security developments on the ground in Timor-Leste and the adoption of Council resolution 1473 (2003) of 4 April which, among others, provided for measures to strengthen the police sector in Timor-Leste. New Zealand, in talks with the Timor-Leste Government, had pledged to focus part of its bilateral assistance programme on the development of the country's police force through projects, especially in the areas of community policing and civilian support.
New Zealand congratulated the Timor-Leste Government on its initiative to develop a more open system of government. It welcomed the work of United Nations Serious Crime Unit in Timor-Leste and noted the recent series of indictments issued by the Unit for crimes against humanity. It also commended the leadership of the Special Representative in implementing UNMISET's mandate and endorsed its renewal for a further 12 months.
ISIKIA R. SAVUA (Fiji) said the recent ratification of a host of international human rights instruments by Timor-Leste was a major accomplishment, signalling the Government's growing confidence in current developments in the legal and social arenas. Concerned about increased activities of armed groups and former militia elements, he supported the Secretary-General's call for international military capability. His country stood ready to boost its present commitment. He warned that the planned drawdown of military security personnel should not be the window of opportunity for destabilizing elements to re-establish their interests in Timor-Leste.
He said there was a need to execute downsizing of the Mission in a way that was sensitive to the Government's desire to assume responsibility for security issues. The primary concern was not to compromise the confidence, capacity and capability of the fledgling military and security forces with a rushed timeline. He supported the proposal to strengthen the role of the civilian police. While the military could provide deterrence of further violence, it was the police that would establish the foundations for long-term peace and stability.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said bilateral relations between his country and Timor-Leste continued to flourish, including in the area of border demarcation. The phase, the substance and the priorities of the relations, however, should be fully determined by the two sovereign States. The international community and UNISET should be fully supportive of that principle. The two countries, as eternal neighbours, had no alternative but to strengthen their bilateral relations, and by doing so, any need for third party influence in that regard would be eliminated.
As the first anniversary of Timor-Leste's independence drew closer, it was time for the international community to permit a more progressive transfer of operational responsibilities to the East Timorese. The UNMISET was to provide assistance to a sovereign entity. He noted with concern some prejudices in the report concerning security at the border and justice. His Government's position and strong commitment in those endeavours needed no repetition, he stressed. The steadily growing relationship between Indonesia and Timor-Leste was far too important to allow any issue to disrupt that relationship.
Responding to comments from the floor, Mr. SHARMA thanked all the delegations for their views, points of emphasis and advice on the work in Timor-Leste. He would take careful note of them. He also thanked the delegations for their support and appreciation for the work of UNMISET. He assured the Council that the Mission would continue to strive to fulfil the mandate to the best of its capacity.
Noting numerous observations made by speakers, he particularly recalled the comments that stressed the need to build public institutions and provide continued international support to Timor-Leste. He fully supported the emphasis on human rights and assured the Council the Government of Timor-Leste intended to follow up on that issue. The rule of law was a key requirement.
In November, the Government and the UNDP had conducted a joint assessment of the country's judicial system and were now preparing projects to strengthen the capacity of the judicial system. In many respects, the country's courts were in need of assistance, he added. Among the problems, he listed illegal detention, expired detention warrants and the courts' failure to function in a timely and efficient manner. It was particularly important to address such a situation since legislation passed by the Parliament would be tested through litigation in the courts.
It was clear that internal will and discipline, along with significant multilateral and bilateral assistance, would be required both before and after the completion of the UNMISET mandate, he said. The Court of Appeals had been established by UNTAET, but had been largely non-functional. Efforts were being made to locate and employ suitable judges. The President of the Court had already been appointed and would be sworn in by the end of this week.
It was also important to meet the deadline for the demarcation of the border, he continued. Both sides had agreed on the work plan for conducting a joint survey of the border. A meeting had been held in March in Dili, where it had been decided that field work would start in April. That date had now been postponed until 5 May. To achieve the target for completion of that work, a strong commitment from both sides was needed, and further delays should not be allowed. The UNMISET was trying to be as helpful as possible in that regard.
Some delegations had asked about the readiness of the National Police to take over security challenges in Timor-Leste, he said. First and foremost, it was necessary to create an efficient and accountable police force. The Government, UNMISET and troop-contributing countries were trying to address the issues involved. It was necessary to consider in depth the issue of creating rapid deployment groups, their standard operating procedures, training and supply of appropriate armaments. Development of police could be effective only against a backdrop of genuine respect for the rule of law. Improvements in the delivery of justice were critical if the police were to grow into the social and professional role expected from it.
He went on to say that a recent workshop, which had attracted high-level representatives, had promoted a sense of ownership among all stakeholders and had demonstrated the Government's commitment to creating an effective police force. Another workshop would be held by the end of May or beginning of June, where relevant issues would be further discussed.
While recent attacks by armed groups may have looked not too serious, it was important to look at them in the context of the country's immediate past and the effect they could have on stability in Timor-Leste, he said. They needed to be dealt with by the military forces, and in the long term, largely by the augmented Timorese forces. Any perception of possible return to violence and disorder could exacerbate the sense of insecurity among the population.
Following recent attacks and incidents, the Government had encouraged the creation of village-based security groups, he said. Since January, high-ranking government officials had spoken about the importance of the population being "the eyes and ears" of the police. There were grounds for concern, however, that some of those groups could take vigilance to the point of vigilantism, and the Government was aware of such concerns. The national police force must remain at the centre of the efforts to establish the rule of law.
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