20 May 2003


Unanimously Adopts Resolution 1480 (2003)

NEW YORK, 19 May (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning extended the current mandate of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) until 20 May 2004.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1480 (2003), the Council recognized the importance of efforts to transfer skills and authority from UNMISET to the Government of Timor-Leste prior to the Mission’s withdrawal, and stressed the need for continued international support for that country.

The Secretary-General’s report of 21 April (document S/2003/449) noted that, while much had been achieved in the year since the establishment of an independent Timor-Leste, continued assistance by the international community would be crucial to enable the country to confront successfully the serious political, practical and security challenges that lay ahead. The Council today also took note of the military strategy outlined in that report.

The meeting started at 1:20 p.m. and was adjourned at 1:23 p.m.


The full text of resolution 1480 (2003) reads, as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming its previous resolutions on Timor-Leste, in particular resolutions 1410 (2002) of 17 May 2002 and 1473 (2003) of 4 April 2003,

"Commending the efforts of the people and Government of Timor-Leste and the progress achieved in developing the institutions of an independent State and in promoting a stable, equitable society based on democratic values and respect for human rights,

"Commending also the work of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), under the leadership of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, in assisting the Government of Timor-Leste in developing the nation’s infrastructure, public administration, law enforcement and defence capacities, and in planning for the completion of UNMISET’s mandate, including through the creation of a mission liquidation task force,

"Stressing that improving the overall capabilities of the Timor-Leste police force is a key priority,

"Welcoming the continuing progress in developing a positive bilateral relationship between the Governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia which is crucial for the future stability of Timor-Leste, and encouraging continued efforts by both governments to secure agreement on the issue of border demarcation; to promote security in the border area; to facilitate the resettlement of East Timorese remaining in West Timor; and to bring to justice those responsible for serious crimes committed in 1999,

"Recognizing the importance of continued efforts to transfer skills and authority from UNMISET to the government of Timor-Leste in a coordinated and structured manner in the run-up to UNMISET’s withdrawal, with the aim of helping ensure the long-term security and stability of Timor-Leste,

"Noting the planned end-date for UNMISET of 20 May 2004, as indicated in the Mandate Implementation Plan set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 17 April 2002 (S/2002/432), and in the special report of the Secretary-General of 3 March 2003 (S/2003/243),

"Stressing the need for continued international support for Timor-Leste, and encouraging continued bilateral and multilateral development assistance,

"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 21 April 2003 (S/2003/449),

"Taking note of the military strategy outlined in paragraphs 38 to 51 of that report,

1. "Decides to extend the current mandate of UNMISET until 20 May 2004;

2. "Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Secretary-General’s Report

Before the Council was the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), in which he recommends an extension of the Mission’s mandate for a further year. The report refers to resolution 1473 (2003), by which the Council endorsed proposals for the adjustment of the downsizing of the Mission’s police component, supported a revised schedule for the downsizing of the military component, and requested a detailed military strategy for the revised schedule.

Within the capacity provided by the revised downsizing schedule, the report states that the military component would adopt the following strategy: improve its ability to use information to assist in the tactical employment of the infantry forces available; assist in greater coordination and exchange of information with UNMISET police and with Timor-Leste security agencies to improve effectiveness; promote relations with the public and enhance public understanding of the military component’s role; and make more effective use of the forces available and seek a more timely response in the event of incidents requiring employment of peacekeeping forces.

The report also notes that, in accordance with Council guidelines, the military component would aim to reach a total of 1,750 by the end of this year.

In the interim, the military component would be reduced to a total strength of 3,500 by July 2003 and to 3,300 by October 2003.

It goes on to state that, when the military component reaches a strength of 1,750, it will be structured around two infantry battalions, with responsibility for the western and eastern parts of the country respectively. Once the requisite Timor-Leste capability and capacity is operational and able to take a lead responsibility in addressing the challenges identified above, the reconfigured military 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, through public information activities, for example, and to maintain cooperation and information-sharing with Timorese agencies.

The report suggests that, in order to maintain the effectiveness of the downsized military component, greater mobility would be needed, and, therefore, it would be crucial for troop-contributing countries to minimize the restrictions placed on the use of their forces.

Noting that relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia have continued to develop, the report states that further bilateral efforts will be necessary alongside and after the contribution of UNMISET, in such areas as specific sectors of civilian administration; judicial process to deal with serious crimes committed in 1999 and other human rights capacity-building activities; the continuing development of a non-political, professional police force; and defence and security cooperation. In that context, it urges the Governments of countries where those accused of serious crimes may be located to make every effort to ensure that such persons are brought to justice. It further states that continued traditional development assistance will also be required.

* *** *