For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1239
Release Date: 27 June 2000
Security Council Briefed by Sergio Vieira De Mello,
Special Representative for East Timor

  NEW YORK, 27 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Secretary-General's Special Representative for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, told the Security Council today that he expected elections for a constituent assembly to be held in the second half of next year.

 Briefing the Council on the situation in the territory, Mr. Vieira de Mello said it was most likely that, prior to the elections, the National Council for East Timorese Resistance would recommend the establishment of a broad constitutional commission to draft a constitution.

 The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had tried in recent weeks to determine the minimum criteria necessary for East Timor’s independence, including the establishment of mechanisms to maintain security, establish a credible judiciary and the completion of sufficient reconstruction to allow the administration to function after independence, he said.  He invited the Council to visit East Timor to help members better understand the unique nature of UNTAET's task.

 Council members and other States praised UNTAET and the East Timorese people for their efforts during the territory's transition.  Universal support was expressed for recent initiatives to upgrade East Timorese involvement in the political and administrative processes. 

 Concern was expressed about an incident that resulted in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees suspending activities in three refugee camps in West Timor, and also about several recent attacks on UNTAET troops on the border between East and West Timor.  

 There was widespread acknowledgement that, while much had been accomplished, much remained to be done, notably in the areas of reconstruction, reconciliation, development and employment.  Council members expressed appreciation of commitments made at the recent Lisbon pledging conference, and encouraged continued support from the international community.

 Statements were made by the representatives of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Malaysia, China, Namibia, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Jamaica, Ukraine, Argentina, Tunisia, Mali, France, Japan, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Norway.

 The UNTAET was created by Security Council resolution 1272 (1999) of 25 October 1999 with a mandate, among others, to establish an effective administration, assist in the development of civil and social services and to support capacity-building for self-government.  It is also empowered to exercise all legislative and executive authority, including the administration of justice.   

 The meeting, which began at 10:47 a.m., was adjourned at 2:08 p.m.   

Work Programme

 The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Briefing by Special Representative

 SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor and head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), said the complexity of the task faced by UNTAET was now understood by the mission.  The mission’s success would depend on how involved East Timorese themselves were in the efforts.  The main East Timorese interlocutors had developed an understanding that it was not just participation, but responsibility they must exercise.

Regarding the mission’s mandate, words were not enough to describe the challenges faced day by day, and the United Nations was poorly equipped to meet some of them, he said.  The standard ways of thinking about administration, and the mechanisms the United Nations normally used for administering, would have to be reviewed if any future mission of such scope was to be successful.  The United Nations had only shared responsibility for administration of territory in the past, he explained. 

Imperatives to act speedily were in conflict with sound management practices and the need for consultation, he said.  The acknowledged need to recruit locals was challenged by the dearth of qualified candidates.  In addition, more staff had fallen ill in East Timor than in any previous United Nations mission. 

The requirements of governance were becoming clear, but that had taken time, he said.  The mission’s needs had highlighted weakness in United Nations administrative practices that must be altered.  Criticism of the mission would continue as long as United Nations engineers were prohibited by rules from fixing buildings used by Timorese officials, for example.  Despite the budget, there was, at present, no possibility of the construction of border control posts, or the creation and refurbishment of prisons or courts.  The budget rules would not allow the mission to purchase a boat to fight contraband, although the mission had been instructed in the same budget process to raise income. 

The mission must be given the authority to use its budget as flexibly as necessary, he said.  It could only undertake the task with which it was charged if administrative procedures were adapted. 

In recent weeks, UNTAET had tried to take stock and determine the minimum criteria necessary for East Timor’s independence, he said.  Those criteria included establishing mechanisms to maintain security after independence, help repatriate refugees and remedy their poverty.  Among the other criteria was the need to establish a credible judiciary and the completion of sufficient reconstruction to allow the administration to function post-independence. 

It was remarkable that so much had been achieved on the security front so short a time after last year's violence, he said.  East Timor was now in a state of peace.  However, grave incidents continued here and there, such as the grenade attack on a border post in May, and another attack on 21 June in which six grenades were launched against Australian soldiers.  Those incidents took place on the border.

Good relations now existed between UNTAET and the Indonesian armed forces, he said, following the signing earlier this year of a memorandum of understanding.  As a result of the improved security situation and the deployment of civilian police to maintain law and order, a reduction in the numbers of infantry troops in the eastern sector had begun.  Proposals for the military expertise still needed would be included in the Secretary-General’s July report to the Council. 

UNTAET continued to review the composition of its military component and its findings would be presented to the Council on a regular basis, he said.  It should be possible to divert savings that resulted from the reduction in troop numbers to other projects, such as the establishment of patrols to fight against contraband, and the development of roads used by UNTAET’s heavy vehicles.  As for future defence needs, he was awaiting an independent assessment team from Kings College in London, he said. 

The previous resistance fighters -- Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor (Falintil)-- remained disciplined, but they were showing signs of growing impatience, he said, because they were not working and there was uncertainty about their futures. Measures must be taken to address their dissatisfaction. 

Regarding the territory’s relations with its neighbours, the Indonesian Government had opened a diplomatic mission in Dili, he noted, and Indonesian President Wahid had made a fruitful visit to Dili in February.  The Special Representative and the East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmao, had travelled to Indonesia on several occasions.  A great deal remained to be done on the engagement with Indonesia, especially to follow up on the recently signed communiqué. 

He was encouraging the creation of a transit corridor through West Timor to the East Timorese enclave of Oekussi, he explained, and also working on the means by which East Timorese who had been employed in the Indonesian civil service would obtain their pensions, and by which East Timorese students could gain access to Indonesian universities.  The pension issue must be addressed to encourage the return of refugees, he said. 

UNTAET was encouraging contact between East Timor and western Timor, he said.  It had recently arranged a visit to Dili by a former high official of the pro-integration militia.  The Governor of Indonesian West Timor had visited East Timor and the East Timorese Bishop of Baucau had visited the western part of the island.  He hoped those visits would encourage the return of refugees, and that former integration leaders would see that their future was in East Timor. 

The violence faced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kupang was intolerable, he said, and he appealed to Indonesian authorities to neutralize it.  The international community would have to help Indonesia resettle those refugees who wanted to stay in Indonesia, he added. 

Perhaps the most progress to date had been made in the humanitarian area, he said.  Having completed its emergency phase, UNTAET’s humanitarian pillar would merge with its governance pillar by the end of the year. 

Regarding justice, he explained that hearings were commencing even as courts were being built.  Recruitment and training of judges, prosecutors and defenders continued, along with police training at the Police Training College.  A memorandum of understanding signed in April with Indonesia on legal judicial and human rights matters was far reaching.  In early July UNTAET expected a visit from the Indonesian Attorney General’s office to tackle matters related to the pursuit of justice.  Efforts were also underway to establish a national reconciliation commission. 

He was concerned by recent attacks on minority communities of Muslims, Chinese and Protestants, he said.  Their targeting tended to be economic and political, rather than ethnic.  There was a perception that those communities had been too close to the previous Indonesian authorities.  Many Chinese, for example, were caught in the middle while the territory was under Indonesian rule.  Mature thinking was needed in dealing with the wounds of the past, and the protection of minorities and the promotion of tolerance must become more than a rhetorical refrain. 

Reconstruction was the most exasperating area of UNTAET’s activity, he said.  The process had begun, but both he and the East Timorese people were frustrated by its slow pace.  The situation in Suai, in the wake of heavy flooding in May, was truly depressing.  The town was cut off from Dili by land and would likely continue to be so for some six months.  Those previously traumatized by the violence in that area had now been forced to face the destruction of even their temporary homes. 

Acceleration of reconstruction was required, he said, and it would depend on continued international generosity.  The slow rate of disbursement into the World Bank Trust Fund had been a cause of frustration, but he believed it was being remedied.  On the other hand, the recent Lisbon donors’ conference was source of optimism.  Under the budget recently approved by the Consultative Council, quarterly performance information would be provided to donors and a committee-based mechanism for approving development and reconstruction proposals, with full East Timorese participation, was about to be established. 

The sheer lack of qualified East Timorese people was an acute problem, he said.  A functional education system was a necessity.  The education system was rapidly being rebuilt and a normal school calendar should be operational by October this year.  He was seeking funding for a Human Resources Development Centre.  Civil service training was difficult.  All management positions prior to UNTAET’s administration had been held by Indonesians.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had presented an ambitious programme in Lisbon for management training, which was fully supported by UNTAET. 

A considerable amount of on-the-job training was taking place within the mission, with UNTAET staff working alongside East Timorese civil servants.  East Timorese representation was scheduled to increase dramatically through a recruitment drive in the next few weeks. 

Politically, two components were needed for the transition, he said.  Those were a constitutional process with democratic elections, as well as a political culture that required the political leadership to make transparent decisions for which it was willing to take responsibility.  The final say about the political structure would lie with the East Timorese.  He could safely predict that elections and possibly independence would take place between 30 August and December next year.  A final decision would depend on progress in reaching the benchmarks. 

The elections would be for a Constituent Assembly, he explained.  Prior to that the National Council for East Timorese Resistance (CNRT) would most likely recommend the establishment of a broad constitutional commission to engage with UNTAET in consultations on drafting a constitution. 

The transition period required much more than UNTAET assistance and recruitment of a civil service, he said.  UNTAET must also assist in the creation of political leadership.  The East Timorese people should not only staff the government, but also take political responsibility for it. 

At a week-long conference held in May, he had presented two options to the East Timorese leaders for future UNTAET-East Timorese relations, he explained.  He had offered a technocratic model, by which the administration would be fully staffed with East Timorese, so a fully national civil service would be in place at independence. 

He had also offered them a political model, whereby East Timorese people would also share responsibility for government in coalition with UNTAET, he continued.  That would involve several portfolios in the interim government held by East Timorese, who would enjoy political responsibility for their portfolios.  He had explained to the conference that the latter option was a mixed blessing, as those East Timorese would also share UNTAET’s role as a “punching bag”. 

The CNRT had welcomed the political model enthusiastically, he said, and he was in the process of implementing it.  East Timorese appointees would manage internal administration and infrastructure development, and economic and social affairs, taking CNRT's role into account.  Other areas would be managed by UNTAET. 

As a consequence of the decision, a new national Legislative Council would soon be appointed to replace the current Consultative Council, he said.  It would have 33 members -- one from each district.  Seven representatives would be from CNRT, with other positions held by representatives of other political parties, women, youth and representatives of minorities and sectors of society. 

Nothing in the plan would affect the overall responsibility for the territory that Council resolution 1272 had given to UNTAET, he explained.  However it would enhance the priority established in that resolution of supporting capacity-building for self-government. 

The new structure had been agreed upon, and he hoped to implement it in July, he said. 

He invited the Council to visit East Timor to help them better understand the unique nature of UNTAET's task.  The Council would see things there that were uplifting, and others that were depressing, he noted, but the overall impression they would take away from such a visit would be the determination of the East Timorese people to find their own future; a determination that UNTAET was, perhaps imperfectly, trying to support.


 RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States)said he had been struck by the progress made, noting the shift from emergency needs to reconstruction.  That effort was what the United Nations should be doing.  He had been frustrated by the situation of refugees.  The United States strongly supported the decision to downsize the military component of UNTAET, and would like to know when that would begin.  His Government would like that to start as soon as possible.  He hoped the Special Representative would inform the Council how the downsizing would be carried out.

 He associated his Government with the timetable for the independence of East Timor between 31 August and 31 December next year announced at the Lisbon donors conference.  That date should be made public, so that the people of East Timor would adjust to it, and be prepared to work towards that goal.  Independence should also mean that the United Nations would continue to assist the territory.  The United Nations should not, however, overstay its role.  He could not speak for the next United States administration, but said the current one would support an independent East Timor.

 Referring to the security situation, he said it must be asked again whether the Indonesian Government could not control its troops in West Timor to prevent attacks on refugees.  The United States strongly believed that UNTAET should use pre-emptive force to show that attacks would not be tolerated. 

 ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said his country shared the concerns that the UNHCR had felt compelled to suspend activities in three of the largest refugee camps in West Timor because of increasing violence and intimidation.  Attacks such as those perpetrated against UNHCR staff last week were unacceptable.  Canada agreed that militia leaders must be pressured into honouring their commitments not to interfere with the safe return of refugees.

 He asked what progress was being made in separating the militia elements from the general population in those camps, and what additional security guarantees, specifically, would the United Nations be looking for.

 He asked whether, in the assessment of the Special Representative, conditions in East Timor were becoming more attractive to East Timorese refugees, in terms of providing an incentive to return.  What progress had been achieved in investigating human rights abuses that occurred prior to and during the referendum period, he asked.  What progress, he also asked, had been achieved in establishing a domestic human rights infrastructure in East Timor? 

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that despite the difficulties, UNTAET was responding impressively to the challenge of building an administration from the bottom up.  They deserved the fullest international support.  He recalled his reference during the March meeting of the Security Council to continuing reports of militia activity as more serious than problems of increasing criminality.  Those disturbing reports of militia incidents continued.  UNTAET contingents clearly remained at considerable risk.  His Government had urged the Government of Indonesia to get a grip on the situation.  That message must go out from the whole Council, he said.

The United Kingdom was equally concerned about the refugees in West Timor, he said.  The Government of Indonesia had to do more to allow those refugees who still wished to return to East Timor to do so swiftly and speedily.  Action should be taken both to provide pensions for former civil servants wishing to return and to curb the malignant influence of pro-integration extremists in the refugee camps.

Last week’s East Timor donor conference in Lisbon was an important milestone in the international community’s efforts in East Timor, he continued.  The conference had approved the World Bank’s and UNTAET Trust Fund work programmes for 2000 and 2001.  It had set up specific output measures for implementation of sectoral programmes, UNTAET staffing and the political process over the next six months.

UNTAET’s efforts to simplify bureaucratic procedures was encouraging, but there were still problems and bottlenecks, he said.  All donors must create a comprehensive, coherent development effort, rather than a multitude of unconnected bilateral projects.  It would be helpful if UNTAET and the World Bank set out clear, measurable performance indicators of progress for the coming months and provided regular progress reports. 

In the same vein, he said UNTAET would benefit from an even greater level of autonomy.  Clarity within the donor community about UNTAET’s mandate, both in the field and in New York, and within UNTAET about its own political and financial responsibilities, was also essential.  In the continuing search for administrative improvements, he looked to UNDP to take the lead in developing capacity-building for the East Timorese public administration, in line with Security Council resolution 1272.

The United Kingdom welcomed the proposals for sharing power between the East Timorese and UNTAET, he said.  Those would lay the accent on sound governance and open communication, bring the Timorese people closer to the decision-making process and prepare them for assuming government.  He fully supported UNTAET’s engagement on East Timorese strategic defence options and on the status of Falintil.  An independent study was set to begin on 7 July on the subject.  His Government would take a detailed view once the study was complete.  The final decision on security arrangements for an independent East Timor was for the East Timorese themselves.

In the meantime, he encouraged UNTAET to address Falintil’s immediate humanitarian needs.  His Government remained committed to helping the people of East Timor at a crucial point in the development of their nation.  The international community must continue to do all in its power to bring them comprehensive and coherent support, he said.

 ARNOLD PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said Netherlands was a party to the presentation that would be made to the Council on behalf of the European Union, so he would only speak of matters that were not covered in the Union's intervention. 

In Lisbon, Mr. Gusmao had observed that participation by the East Timorese in the administration of the territory was increasing, he noted.  That was welcome as it gave them ownership of the process, and was a necessary ingredient of the preparation for independence.  He was also pleased at initiatives aimed at ensuring the broadest East Timorese involvement, so all sectors of the community could play a role. 

Mr. De Mello mentioned the frustration felt by Falintil fighters, he said.  Mr. Gusmao had told the donors' conference in Lisbon that those people were living in difficult circumstances and were “almost in a state of revolt”.  Short-term measures had been mentioned to assist them, but he was concerned that if their dissatisfaction boiled over, the scene in East Timor would radically change.  Everything should be done to keep that from happening. 

That led him to the question of a self-defence force, he said.  Such a force would be a useful measure to strengthen East Timorese defence.  It would be established whether the international community liked it or not, so UNTAET should not resist its creation, but rather try to manage it.  United Nations participation would encourage such a force to meet international standards.  It could also go a long way to solving the Falintil issue.  If Falintil could be absorbed in a self-defence force, it would lessen the likelihood that they would opt for another path. 

The security situation still gave rise to concern, he said.  UNHCR’s suspension of activities in three refugee camps was worrying.  He asked what effect those incidents had on the rate of return of refugees.  He would also welcome information on the outcome of the investigation into last week's attack with rifles and grenades on an UNTAET post. 

He believed that any downsizing of UNTAET’s military component must be done after taking full account of the risks inherent in the West Timor situation, he said.  There should be no pressure applied to downsize the mission on account of other crises in the world.  In few other instances had the United Nations assumed such a total responsibility for a situation, and the international community should not withdraw prematurely.  He noted that there had recently been, in Indonesia’s vast territory, instances where authorities appeared unable to check violence.  The Netherlands expected a serious briefing by military experts before any final decision on downsizing the military component was taken.  He asked the Special Representative whether the elections he anticipated would take place in the second half of 2001 would be immediately followed by independence. 

 HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that the East Timorese people and UNTAET deserved the continued support of the Council. He noted the positive response from the international community to the donors' conference held last week, which had exceeded his expectations.  He commended Portugal for holding the meeting, which he believed marked a turning point in support for the operation.  As a neighbour, Malaysia would continue to assist both UNTAET and East Timor. 

He was pleased that the National Consultative Council had agreed to a budget and that the World Bank and UNTAET had signed the first instalment of a grant to perform the reconstruction it covered. 

He also commended the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for accelerating East Timorese participation in administration, and noted that East Timorese leaders Jose Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmao had reacted positively to his initiatives.  Resolution 1272 gave sufficient latitude to make those changes, which should lead to a real partnership between the United Nation and the people of East Timor.  He was also pleased at the decision to double the size of the Consultative Council and make it more representative. 

He was also pleased at efforts to consolidate relations with East Timor's nearest and most important neighbour -- Indonesia -- and commended the Indonesian President for his efforts in that regard.  Even closer and more concrete cooperation -- especially regarding the militia -- should follow. 

Regarding the refugees, he urged the facilitation of their return.  The future of East Timor could only be guaranteed by reconciliation of the two sides.  To that end, he welcomed the establishment of a national reconciliation council. 

Information dissemination had an important part to play, he said, especially with regard to the situation in the refugee camps.  More border reunions between families would also be helpful.  He hoped there would soon be an amicable resolution to the issue of pensions. 

Practical measures must be worked out to open a corridor between Oekussi and the rest of East Timor, he said.  He noted Indonesia's efforts to relocate former pro-integration militias to a distance of some 20 kilometres from the border, and asked the Special Representative for a comment on the effect of those relocations. 

Recent incidents suggested a pattern of attempts to disrupt the humanitarian efforts, he said.  He also condemned the sacking of the office of an East Timorese non-governmental organization in Jakarta in May.  The recent upsurge in violence was a sign of the frustration of the militias, who were being denied their aim of perpetrating acts of violence against East Timorese leaders during the transition. 

Remarkable progress had been made in a short period, he said.  Progress towards independence had been sure and steady, under United Nations tutelage.  On the timing of independence, Malaysia supported an early date, but it should only take place when the East Timorese were ready and able to assume governance. 

SHEN GUOFANG (China) expressed appreciation for the enormous work of the Special Representative and his team under difficult circumstances.  He said UNTAET had scored notable achievements.  China was pleased that the Special Representative had maintained good relations with the Indonesian Government.  It also welcomed the outcome of the recent donor conference.  China supported the work of UNTAET and was ready to contribute civilian police and experts to it.

China was concerned about the problems of refugees in West Timor and hoped the problems they faced would be resolved in cooperation with the Indonesian Government.  China was also concerned about the situation of ethnic minorities.  The United Nations should show a sense of urgency in ensuring their security.  The interest of East Timorese should be placed above everything else.  He endorsed the efforts to involve the East Timorese in their development during the transitional period, so that they could stand on their own at independence.

GERHARD THERON (Namibia) said the briefing had proved that, despite obstacles, considerable progress had been achieved in East Timor.  Serious challenges remained, however, for the implementation of the reconstruction programmes.  With support pledged at the donor conference, he was confident that those programmes would be implemented successfully and timely.  He was gratified to learn today that many of the earlier obstacles that hampered rehabilitation work, such as slow disbursement of funds, had been overcome.

He supported the work of the National Consultative Council and noted its recent change in composition.  Also of striking significance to his delegation was the convening of the first national congress on women’s issues in Dili.  It was a commendable early start for the women to ensure that their views were fully taken into consideration during the development of the territory.

The Government of Namibia deplored the recent attacks on the peacekeeping forces.  It further deplored the assaults on UNHCR personnel in three major camps in the Kupang area.  Namibia trusted that concrete steps would be taken to ensure the safety and security of relief workers.  It was also concerned about reports of continuing militia activities in the refugee camps in West Timor.

F.A SHAMIM AHMED (Bangladesh) said his delegation had since early May noticed a drag on the process of repatriation.  There appeared to be some difficulty in determining the number of refugees in the camps in West Timor.  Bangladesh remained concerned at the sluggish repatriation of refugees and urged all those involved to redouble their efforts for a speedy solution of the problem.

Bangladesh welcomed the encouraging results of the various income-generation projects.  It commended the contribution of the quick impact projects and the transitional employment projects resulting in the improvement of unemployment and poverty eradication.  For the long-term, issues of investment and trade must be addressed.  Small enterprises and private business were the key to substantial progress and he urged the investment promotion unit of UNTAET to be more innovative in addressing the situation.

He commended the organizers of the first national congress on women’s issues in Dili and hoped that the theme of equitable development in national reconstruction would provide the opportunity for future discourse on women’s roles in education, health, development and reconciliation.  He urged the East Timorese leadership and UNTAET officials to investigate every incidence of intolerance towards ethnic minorities, and to take measures to prevent their recurrence.
 VLADIMIR N. SERGEEV (Russian Federation) said the dynamic in East Timor was positive, although it was not without problems, and the Special Representative had given a clear idea of those problems.  He was pleased that cooperation between UNTAET and the East Timorese people continued to improve.  He noted the 162 scholarships the Indonesian Government had provided for East Timorese students.  He also welcomed the decision to go forward with investigations on the five most awful crimes committed during the troubles in East Timor and presumably committed by the Indonesian military. 

However he also noted that UNHCR had been forced to cease action in three camps in West Timor, he said.  Local authorities should take all measures to prevent such acts in the future.  Such steps would be in the interest of both Indonesia and East Timor.  A major aim of UNTAET continued to be reconciliation in East Timor, he added.  Measures taken thus far in that regard were deserving of the Council’s support, and to the credit of UNTAET.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the Special Representative had addressed the central objectives of the process leading to independence.  As she had said before, the participation of the East Timorese in building governance and institutions was important and she was therefore heartened by the sharing of that responsibility with them -– and notably the initiatives on sharing political responsibility.  She also agreed that the process of co-government was in keeping with resolution 1272. 

The expansion of the Consultative Council from 15 to 33 members, with a wider range of representation, was also important, she said.  Plans to allow East Timorese to plan and approve development were worthy of applause.  Similarly welcome was the focus on health, education and community empowerment.  The grant of $12.7 million from the World Bank for the rehabilitation of hospitals and clinics should pave the way for a functional health system.  The positive response of the donor community was also important and she hoped early disbursement of funds would continue. 

The unemployment situation continued to be of concern, she said.  Long-term solutions must be found, through the development of private enterprise, and she asked what action UNTAET had taken to promote such enterprises. 

The optimism about the situation was tempered by reports on the status of refugees and on militia action, she said.  Security guarantees must be provided to allow UNHCR staff to continue their work.  Also unacceptable were the reported attacks on United Nations peacekeepers, particularly along the border.  She noted the increased cooperation between Indonesia and UNTAET, and hoped those issues would be addressed with a sense of urgency. 

The status of minorities was another cause for concern, she said, and the proposed reconciliation council should be an important catalyst to address problems, she said.  She commended the East Timorese people and UNTAET for their efforts.

 VOLODYMYR G. KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said he strongly supported the involvement of East Timorese people in the management and governance of the process of building their country, and UNTAET's activities in that respect were welcome. 

The National Consultative Council should play a very important role, he said.  He noted with satisfaction that UNTAET and the CNRT had agreed on the changed composition of the Council, which would enhance transparency and improve decision-making. 

Despite improvement in the general security situation, a number of serious incidents had been reported, he said.  He was pleased to note that deployment of the main part of UNTAET's civilian police component had been completed, and that had contributed to security and to the development of a local police force.  Ukraine would continue to support UNTAET civilian police activities. 

The questions of refugees was central to the reconciliation process, he said.  Their safe return remained one of the main problems faced by UNTAET, and conditions in camps were of concern, as was the decrease in the numbers of returnees. 

Poverty and unemployment were also threats to stability, he said, and measures to address them were critical.  Improved coordination between UNTAET and the World Bank was needed.  He also welcomed the Lisbon donors’ meeting, and the conclusion of a grant agreement on education and agriculture between the World Bank and UNTAET. 

LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said Argentina strongly supported open meetings of the Council such as this one. 

It had been eight months since the Council established UNTAET, he noted, so it was a good time to review accomplishments and the future.  The magnitude of UNTAET’s task was notable, as was its achievements.  United Nations initiatives in establishing political and social institutions as the basis for a future State were praiseworthy.  It was a positive feature of those activities that the East Timorese leadership was always consulted. 

The tasks still facing the United Nations were also impressive, he said, notably those consolidating current gains and reconstructing the territory.  The Lisbon donors' conference demonstrated that the international community’s commitment remained intact, which should mean that reconstruction in key sectors was possible.  The World Bank projects were extremely useful.  The East Timorese initiative to provide a new structure for consultation was also important, he added. 

However, those welcome aspects did not mean that the humanitarian problems no longer required attention, he continued.  The suffering of refugees must end -- an outcome that required cooperation from all parties concerned.  He was also concerned at the grave situation in the camps where UNHCR had been forced to suspend its activities.  He hoped the Indonesian authorities would respond constructively, and help overcome the current impasse.  Conditions on the border were also precarious and needed attention.  Argentina appealed to the Indonesian Government to continue to fulfil the commitments it had undertaken, he said. 

 OTHMANE JERANDI (Tunisia) commended the efforts of the Special representative and UNTAET.  He noted the concrete cooperation between UNTAET and the Indonesian Government.  It was regrettable that the UNHCR and other organizations had suspended their activities in three camps in the territory.  His delegation welcomed the decision on the repatriation of refugees from West Timor.  He said the recent donor conference was important for the territory, and believed the conference could be a catalyst for all concerned in the beginning of a new administration in the territory.  Tunisia hoped the forthcoming talks between UNTAET's administration and the Indonesian Government would help resolve all outstanding problems.

CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali) said the progress achieved in East Timor was a source of satisfaction to his delegation -- something that had not been anticipated.  Some issues were still of concern though, particularly in the economic field.

The donor conference and the commitment of donors would help in the start-up of projects leading to economic stability.  He called for the strengthening of UNTAET troops at the borders to encourage the return of refugees.  He condemned the recent attacks on UNHCR refugee camps and urged the continued training of local police.  He also welcomed efforts towards the establishment of local administration.  He said the planned elections should take place in a calm manner.  The people of East Timor must gradually take responsibility for their future.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, noted the considerable work carried out by the Special Representative and his team, and the stabilization of the situation in East Timor with the help of the United Nations.  France unreservedly supported United Nations actions there. 

On the refugee situation, he said that those who wished to return from West Timor should be free to do so.  The Indonesian authorities should ensure that that was achieved.  France welcomed consultations regarding the territory’s transition to independence, including the establishment of a legislative body and organization of elections before the end of next year.  He emphasized the importance of the United Nations presence in another form after the territory’s independence.

France was satisfied with the downsizing of UNTAET personnel initiated by the Special Representative.  The improvement in the situation in East Timor should allow for substantial and gradual reduction of the UNTAET military component from now until the first part of 2001.  The training of an efficient local police force must become a priority if the transition process were to continue peacefully.  The UNTAET should not withdraw abruptly, as it would destabilize a newly independent country.  

 The Security Council must ensure that East Timor became a viable State after the transition period.  East Timor should be self-sufficient in agriculture, and must develop its export capacity, especially of oil.  He asked the Special Representative about the status of negotiations on the exploration of oil in East Timor.  He also wanted information on progress in the development of the private sector, particularly the financing of small projects by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

 YUKIO SATOH (Japan) welcomed UNTAET's achievements, while acknowledging that all problems had not yet been solved, and the way ahead would not be easy.  The fate of East Timorese refugees remained a grave concern and he commended UNHCR efforts.  Japan remained determined to extend assistance to UNTAET and to the people of East Timor, and it hoped other States would also. 

Today’s meeting was important as a means of maintaining interest in East Timor, he said.  Japan was also aiming to keep East Timor on the international agenda, and would raise it at the Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in July. 

It was essential that East Timorese build a relationship with its neighbours, to lay the ground for successful independence and prosperity, he said.  The Foreign Ministers of Japan and Singapore had recently agreed to provide human resources development assistance.  He also believed it would be worthwhile for East Timor and UNTAET to liaise with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and seek other areas of regional cooperation. 

It was important for UNTAET to improve its public information efforts to inform East Timorese, he said.  The frustration that the East Timorese felt was sometimes directed against UNTAET and efforts must be made to understand the nature and limits of United Nations activities.  To that end, Japan recently funded the distribution of radio sets among the population. 

The East Timorese people must recognize that their nation-building depended on their own efforts and UNTAET must foster a culture of self-help, he said.  He, therefore, supported UNTAET’s decision to enlarge East Timorese involvement. 

Nation-building was painstaking and slow and would have to continue after independence, he said.  He, therefore, cautioned against setting the benchmarks for independence too high.  Donor countries must continue their efforts, and he welcomed the reaffirmation of donor pledges in Lisbon last week, and donors' commitment to the timely disbursement of their pledges.  Donors must give priority to addressing immediate needs and projects that would show quick results.  In the reconstruction of UNTAET currently under consideration, its aid coordination capacities should be strengthened, to avoid duplication and to ensure donor funds were put to the best possible use.

Security must be constantly maintained if nation-building was to continue smoothly, he noted.  He was relieved that incidents on the border had decreased because of Indonesian efforts, but recent incidents raised some concerns.  He hoped Indonesia would continue efforts to stop those threats. 

 ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, reaffirmed the Union's solidarity with the people of East Timor, a position that had been reiterated by the Union’s Council of Ministers.  They supported UNTAET in its efforts to meet one of the greatest challenges facing the United Nations:  leading East Timor towards independence.

 The support and assistance of the international community for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the territory was essential.  The UNTAET needed effective funding.  It also needed to carefully manage the resources that had already been allocated.  He urged the United Nations Secretariat and UNTAET to swiftly take concrete steps to overcome barriers to disbursement.  He then stressed the need to reinforce coordination efforts within the United Nations system -- with UNTAET, the World Bank and also non-governmental organizations working in the field.

 The Union reiterated its commitment to assist the territory, he said.  It was contributing 19 million Euros in 2000 and 20 million in 2001.  A total contribution of 60 million Euros was envisaged over the next three years.  Those funds were intended to support rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in East Timor through the World Bank Trust Fund.  Overall, aid from the European Union amounted to 162 million Euros. 

 The situation of refugees in West Timor required urgent action, he said, commending the efforts of UNTAET, the UNHCR and non-governmental organizations.  He urged Indonesia to make good its commitment to assist those who wanted to return, and welcomed the assurances of the Indonesian Government that end.  The investigation process and the bringing to account of all those involved in the atrocities that followed the popular consultation must not be delayed.  The European Union encouraged the Indonesian judicial authorities to continue the cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 The Union strongly supported efforts to accelerate “timorization” of the transitional administration.  It was essential to involve the East Timorese -- in a broad representative manner, including women and youth -- in the policy-making and administrative structure at a higher level during the transition period.  He took note of the decision announced by the Special Representative to establish benchmarks to be achieved by the transition administration before transfer of power to the East Timorese.

 Certain objectives should be achieved before independence, he said.  A road map should be defined in areas like the pace of reconstruction, the setting up of mechanisms indispensable for the management of a modern and democratic State, the evolution of the political process and the safeguard and security of the borders.  Considering the need for a swift transition, a tentative date for independence should be fixed after consultations with the parties involved, he added. 

 MOHAMMAD HAMZAH THAYEB (Indonesia) said Indonesia, too, was dismayed by the recent incident that led to UNHCR’s suspension of activities in three camps in West Timor.  However, the incident was contained and there were no injuries to United Nations personnel. 

 Calm had previously existed, he noted, but those incidents seemed to occur on the eve of every Council meeting on East Timor.  Indonesia shared the position that threats could not be condoned under any circumstances.  However, the problems were complex. 

 That many people were still awaiting their return to East Timor was a source of frustration, he explained.  Despite the efforts of Indonesia, the United Nations and others, the pace and progress of returns had not met the expectation of East Timorese.  The lack of job opportunities and scarcity of food and shelter presented a bleak picture of what the future held for the refugees should they return to East Timor, and, at the same time, flooding had worsened their situation in the camps.  At the time of the recent floods, the Indonesian Government had taken swift action, in concert with action taken by the United Nations, which had alleviated some of the hardship experienced by refugees. 

 There was no easy solution to the refugee problem, he said.  West Timor found its resources stretched to the limits by their presence and, in some areas, refugees outnumbered the local population.  Indonesia acknowledged the assistance that had been provided by non-governmental organizations and was also mindful of UNHCR’s contributions.  He called for the full resumption of UNHCR activities.  In addition, he hoped the international community would provide assistance for those who wished to remain in Indonesia. 

 Indonesia remained steadfast in its commitment to the East Timorese people, he said.  It looked forward to building the foundations for strong bilateral relations between the two countries.  Despite Indonesia's limited capacity to contribute resources for East Timorese development, it would adopt whatever policies it could to assist. 

 Obstacles and challenges remained in East Timor, he said, but Indonesia would fulfil its long-standing commitments, and would promote reconciliation.  Reconciliation activities must be initiated by the United Nations in East Timor as a matter of priority, if East Timor was to become a peaceful and viable State. 

 LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said the effectiveness of the United Nations efforts in East Timor and its resolve should be gauged against the backdrop of the plight of the population and the devastation of the territory.  United Nations efforts there, described by some analysts as a test case, must be turned into a success story.  UNTAET had managed to halt political violence and the embryo of the future State was already in place.  The positive aspects notwithstanding, it seemed that for the regular Timorese the changes had not kept pace with the expectations.

 He singled out several problem areas that should be tackled as a matter of priority.  The main challenge in the area of the economy and employment was the transition from relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation to long-term development.  It was important that an enabling environment be created for business and the sectors with good prospects for sustainability be developed, such as coffee and seafood exports.  He welcomed the negotiations between UNTAET and the East Timorese leadership with Australia on the exploration of oil and gas on the Timor seabed.

 The challenge in the area of education and training was equally huge, he continued.  Renewed efforts were necessary to eradicate illiteracy, provide basic education, train the workforce and qualify the Timorese people to take the helm of the private and public sectors.  The country would need institutions capable of upholding the rule of law and settling controversies.  The enthusiasm for taking their destiny in their own hands must be instilled in all Timorese.  The National Consultative Council had played a pivotal role in the decision-making process under the aegis of UNTAET.

 Despite its budgetary constraints, Brazil was committed to support concretely the development of East Timor, he said.  It had established a representation office in Dili that was intended to lay down the foundations of bilateral cooperation.  The Brazilian Agency of Cooperation was sending a mission to East Timor to strengthen the implementation of projects in education, capacity-building and public health.  

 DAVID STUART (Australia) said Australia supported the work done by UNTAET.  The mission had made creditable progress, in the face of enormous challenges and limited resources.  It was important to the long-term success of the transition to independence that East Timorese took key roles at the earliest possible stage.  So, he welcomed UNTAET efforts to that end. 

 A successful transition to independence would require detailed planning, he said, including the development of an exit strategy.  Such a strategy should be developed for UNTAET.  It should include detailed benchmarks that must be met, prior to the exit, if East Timor was to become a functional State. 

 The bar should not be set unrealistically high, he said, but should provide a focus for the path to independence.  A stable security environment would be a key.  Improvements had occurred, but security problems remained.  The recent attacks on UNTAET troops highlighted the need to disarm the militia and curb their activities, and also the need for continued vigilance by UNTAET. 

 Australia was also concerned about recent attacks in refugee camps, he said.  He urged Indonesia to take steps to prevent their recurrence, such as separating the militia from refugees, guaranteeing access for humanitarian agencies and instituting a plan for resettlement for those that did not wish to return. 

 The security situation in eastern East Timor provided a sound basis for downsizing the peacekeeping force over the next few months, he said.  Australia supported downsizing troop numbers in the eastern sector, and welcomed the initiation of the independent study on future defence options. 

 UNTAET's future would depend on the United Nations ability to deliver the resources necessary for it to fulfil its mandates, he said.  To that end, Australia urged the development of streamlined recruitment and procurement procedures. 

 Australia -- as a neighbour and a partner -- had made a large commitment to support East Timor’s transition, he said.  It had recently announced that it would provide 150 million Australian dollars over the next four years, to provide some certainty to the East Timor budget in the medium-term. 

 The results of the Lisbon conference were a source of optimism, he said.  A good start had also been made in identifying domestic sources of revenue, which must now be pursued.  The international community must also continue to provide the resources to allow the administration to continue.  Resolution 1272 recognized that UNTAET would need expertise from Member States and United Nations and other international agencies, he said in conclusion.  Australia urged the international community to continue its involvement.

 SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said it was only 13 months ago, with the conclusion of the 5 May Agreement, that the long-cherished historic aspirations of the East Timorese people began to be fulfilled.  No one at that time, however, was quite sure about the prospect of the process the United Nations and directly concerned parties had agreed to embark on.  Indeed, there had been many uncertainties, untold sacrifices and unexpected tragedies along the way.  Yet the overall situation in East Timor was now stable and nation-building, including reconstruction and development, was taking place.  No one deserved more credit than the East Timorese themselves.  The Secretary-General had also played a crucial role in that historic endeavour with his bold and timely initiatives.  Certainly, without the cooperation of the Indonesian Government the progress would not have been possible.

 There were still challenges, he continued.  Considering the high rate of joblessness and social instability, economic development and employment should be put at the top of the Council’s agenda.  Social and economic stability should be made a reality.  Although some progress had been made, more effort should be made to accelerate disbursement of the World Bank’s Trust Funds.  There must be greater participation by the East Timorese in decision-making process of both UNTAET and World Bank projects.  Without a sense of ownership, even the most well-designed programme would not be sustainable.  The long-term benchmarks for nation-building in East Timor should be suggested as soon as possible, after consultation with the East Timorese people.

 He said UNTAET and the Indonesian Government must take more decisive steps to implement repatriation and to ensure the safety of the refugees.  That was especially important in light of the heavy casualties of East Timorese refugees in West Timor during recent floods.  Contributions from the international community were crucial if the dream of a new, independent and viable country was to be realized.  It was especially imperative that contributing States fulfilled their pledges.  He welcomed the results of the donors’ meeting held in Lisbon.

 He said his country had actively participated in the efforts of the international community to help East Timor, sending more than 400 peacekeepers and other personnel.  His Government had also provided $250,000 in humanitarian assistance and $400,000 to the UNTAET Trust Fund.  Further, his Government would contribute $600,000 for the training of East Timorese, in close consultation with UNTAET, beginning in 2001 and continuing for the next two to three years.  The Republic of Korea remained committed to supporting the important objectives of the United Nations in East Timor, and to the ultimate success of its historic mission.  

 MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand) said UNTAET had made considerable progress on the security and humanitarian aspects of its mandate.  New Zealand was, however, concerned about recent incursions by militia and attacks on United Nations peacekeepers, including the wounding of an Australian peacekeeper.  New Zealand currently had over 600 of its Defence Force personnel patrolling the western border of East Timor under a United Nations flag, so its interest was real and direct.  It was also concerned about the deteriorating security situation in some refugee camps in West Timor, which had led to the suspension of United Nations relief assistance.  It acknowledged the actions taken by the Indonesian Government to reign in the militias in West Timor.

 New Zealand welcomed the UNTAET and National Council of Timorese Resistance proposal for co-government in East Timor.  It represented a significant step towards greater participation by the East Timorese in government and shared political responsibility.  He encouraged UNTAET and the East Timorese people to develop further the necessary constitutional and political frameworks to prepare the territory for full independence.  That process must have East Timorese ownership and be driven by them, but it would also require active input by UNTAET.

 OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said UNTAET leadership had the confidence of his country in laying the foundation for a new, democratic and prosperous nation.  Norway realized the difficulties and recognized the need for appropriate planning and coordination.  It also shared the frustration of the East Timorese over a process that at times had been slow.  All the parties involved must, however, focus on a speedy implementation of programmes that facilitated a rapid recovery of the economy and created employment and activity.

 He urged the United Nations to increase East Timorese participation in the building of the new nation.  He called for the coordination of aid, and welcomed the cooperation between the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank in establishing the Trust Fund for East Timor jointly.  He urged the donor community to ensure that pledges and commitments were translated into disbursements.  Norway, which had long before the crisis of 1999 supported East Timor, remained firmly committed to continue to assist its reconstruction and development.  It was increasingly addressing the reconstruction and longer-term development needs of East Timor through contributions to the World Bank Trust Fund, the UNTAET Trust Fund and through United Nations agencies and international organizations.

 Mr. VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, then answered questions raised by Member States in the meeting.  He thanked those who had addressed the Council for their expressions of support for UNTAET.  He was particularly grateful for the unanimous support for recent UNTAET initiatives to expand East Timorese participation, he said. 

 On the reduction of UNTAET’s military component, he said a plan had been drafted and would be given to the Secretary-General soon.  It was not yet endorsed, but it anticipated a reduction of 487 troops by October, some 1,050 by February 2001, and 1,405 by April 2001.  The time-table would, of course, be reviewed along with security conditions, and he hoped those conditions would continue to support the downsizing. 

 An awareness of the capacities of civilian police must also be taken into account in determining changes to troop levels, he acknowledged.  In addition, some new requirements had been identified, including requirements for engineers skilled in road repair and for border and other patrols.  He noted the calls for a detailed presentation to the Council by military experts before any reduction took place, and would pass that on to the Secretary-General. 

 He had been asked whether independence would immediately follow the elections, he said.  As it was currently envisaged, those elections next year would be for Constituent Assembly, he explained.  That Assembly would then consider -- and hopefully approve -- a constitution for an independent State.  Thus, independence would not immediately follow the election. 

 Regarding action that could be taken to improve the security situation in the refugee camps and along the border, he said that he had been informed by the military district commander responsible for West Timor that some 600 weapons had been confiscated from camps and that the militia were now prohibited from training in the camps. He had also received outside confirmation of those welcome developments. 

Additional measures could include the transfer of police and military formerly stationed in East Timor away from the island, he said.  Discussions were underway on the means to speed up the process of reintegration or return of refugees, which could also help. 

He was actively pursuing ways to address the humanitarian needs of Falintil, he said, despite the difficulties many humanitarian agencies had in supplying food and other resources to uniformed and armed personnel.  Imaginative solutions were being sought. 

Regarding a new security force, he was awaiting the outcome of the pending study, which he hoped would present options for the configuration and size of a future defence force, he said.  He had taken note of comments about the role Falintil might play in such a force.  As part of the establishment of such a force, UNTAET must determine which Falintil members should be absorbed into it, and which should be reabsorbed into civil society.  Falintil leaders had clearly stated they did not want a piecemeal approach taken to the future of their men, so any decision must await the review and the choice of a permanent solution. 

He did not yet have the results of the investigation into the recent attacks on UNTAET troops, he explained.  Those arrested were being interrogated.  He promised to make the results available as soon as he had them. 

The slow disbursement of funds was of concern to him, he said.  There were two main reasons for that at the UNTAET end of the process. First, UNTAET had not had a government procurement capacity in Dili.  That absence provided a lesson that could be carried over into any future nation-building mission.  The second reason was that, until three weeks ago UNTAET did not have a consolidated budget.  It had, therefore, been impossible to properly prioritize expenditures.  UNTAET had been bombarded with requests for funds -– all justified -– but without a consolidated budget it had been impossible to determine what activities should receive priority.  The rate of disbursement would now increase rapidly. 

 Regarding the number of refugees, he explained that the long-awaited census had been suspended due to the recent problems, so the figure of 120,000 refugees was still an estimate.  His sense was that at least half to two thirds would choose to return, if they could choose freely and if certain other conditions were met.

 Regarding the impact of the relocation of integrationists away from the border, he had no confirmation that it was happening, he said.  In addition, 20 kilometres may be an insufficient distance from the border.  UNTAET would prefer that the extreme elements were relocated to a safe distance, and preferably away from West Timor. 

 On measures to tackle his "nightmare" -- unemployment -- he said the impending recruitment of some 10,000 new civil servants in the coming fiscal year would be a boost, although, of course, the public sector could not solve the problem. 

Bilateral programmes might help bridge the gap, he added.  Reconstruction programmes would provide some employment opportunities in the short-term.  The private sector would ultimately have to be the main provider of employment and, therefore, the promotion of investment was essential.  For successful promotion of investment, however, the question of ownership of land and property must be resolved.  There were no records of ownership for East Timor, he said, and there were many competing claims to property.  Until those could be resolved, probably by an independent tribunal, few investors would be prepared to invest. 

Requests of some $30 million for assistance in starting businesses had been made by East Timorese, he said, which meant there was no shortage of desire.  The $4 million available for that purpose was clearly not enough.  He was, therefore, encouraging enterprises to create joint ventures with the East Timorese to build local capacity in the private sector. 

Mass communication was one of UNTAET's greatest weaknesses, he said.  There was no television, and radio coverage was limited.  It took time to repair repeaters, antennae and generators.  However, the mission was conscious of the need and proceeding with repair and development of telecommunications infrastructure.  Other options, such as town hall meetings and soliciting the support of the Church, were also being used. 

Regarding progress in negotiations on the use of East Timor's natural resources, such as oil and natural gas, he explained that East Timor's leaders had called for a renegotiation of the important Timor Gap treaty with Australia.  Negotiations were taking place, and the attitude of the Australian Government was both flexible and understanding.  He was optimistic that it could be concluded before independence.

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