Press Releases

         16 November 2004

    Security Council Speakers Support Extension of Timor-Leste Mission for Final Six Months, until 20 May 2005

    Special Representative Briefs Council, Describes Efforts Required for Smooth Transition From Peacekeeping to Nation-Building

    NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- General and broad agreement emerged in the Security Council today to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) for a final six months, until 20 May 2005, to consolidate the gains achieved and to provide for a viable transition strategy to a stable and prosperous State, anchored on the principles of democratic governance.

    Supporting the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the Mission’s mandate, which is due to expire on 20 November, Council members also agreed on the need for a clear exit strategy to minimize the impact on the young country of the Mission’s consolidation phase, which began last May, and to maximize Timorese ownership of the process.

    Expressing confidence that Timor-Leste, with the international community’s support, could reach the minimum threshold of self-sufficiency in the six-month period, Council members also stressed the need to address unresolved issues and remaining weaknesses in the country’s still fragile sectors, including in the areas of public administration and law enforcement.

    Briefing members on the latest developments in Timor-Leste, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Sukehiro Hasegawa, noted that following the Council’s last discussion in August, he had constituted eight working groups to address Member States’ concerns. The groups, which included the institutional capacity-building of public institutions and the justice sector, the future of the serious crimes process and the professional development of the Timorese national police, had already started identifying the measures required for a smooth transition from peacekeeping to more traditional nation-building assistance.

    More than 150 participants were involved in the process, including the President of Timor-Leste, who had agreed to chair the working group on security issues.

    The United States’ representative stressed the need for some level of accountability for the atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999. Given the limited jurisdiction of the Serious Crimes Unit and its inability to address crimes already perpetrated by the Indonesian military, additional remedial measures might be required. In that regard, he suggested that the Secretary-General send an independent expert assessment mission to East Timor and Indonesia to examine the current processes and make recommendations.

    Regarding the ongoing investigations by the Serious Crimes Unit, the representative of Malaysia said that the issue was best dealt with bilaterally between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Undue external pressure from the international community, and especially from the United Nations, might not be the right approach. He also continued to hope for a mutually beneficial arrangement concerning the maritime boundary with Australia, which permitted the successful exploitation of petroleum and natural gas.

    Commenting on the issue of land-border demarcation, the representative of Indonesia said both Indonesia and Timor-Leste continued to hold consultations on the matter. The foreign ministers’ meeting last June in Bali had negotiated a provisional agreement whereby some 90 per cent of the land-border demarcation had been settled. There had also been steady progress at the working level to settle the remaining 10 per cent, which consisted of nine unresolved segments.

    Despite the progress in laying the foundations of a State based on respect for the rule of law and democratic principles, the future of Timor-Leste was still fraught with many challenges, its representative said. The Serious Crimes Unit had worked hard to achieve the requirements set out in Security Council resolution 1543 (2004), but despite those efforts, it might not be possible for the serious crimes process to complete its work within the limited time frame and available resources. Justice and reconciliation remained the cornerstone of stable democracies. Resolving the veterans issue was of great importance and would contribute to the country’s stability, he added.

    Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Chile, United Kingdom, Algeria, China, Benin, France, Germany, Angola, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Thailand and the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union).

    The meeting began at 10:31 a.m. and adjourned at 1:09 p.m.


    When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (document S/2004/888), covering the period from 14 August to 9 November 2004. Over the last three months, Timor-Leste has made steady progress in its institution-building efforts, the report states. While preparations are under way for local elections, several initiatives have been taken by Timorese leaders to find solutions to the veterans issue and violence between martial arts groups so as to maintain peace and stability in the country.

    With the assistance of UNMISET and other bilateral and multilateral partners, the report says, the capacity of the public administration, the justice system and security agencies has grown. Much remains to be done, however, in key areas, from good governance and institution-building to security sector reform. The selection of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice, the establishment and consolidation of legal frameworks, and the resolution of border issues between Timor-Leste and its neighbours are examples of the challenging tasks ahead.

    The report notes that, in accordance with Council resolution 1543 (2004), an integrated technical assessment mission visited Timor-Leste in October to review the situation on the ground, with a view to determining the feasibility of modifying UNMISET’s size, composition and tasks, including the configuration of its police and military components. The mission sought the views of all stakeholders and also travelled to the border districts. It concluded that, despite the notable advances achieved during the UNMISET consolidation phase, Timor-Leste had not yet reached the critical threshold of self-sufficiency.

    The public administration –- particularly the finance, banking and justice sectors –- remains weak and fragile, the report notes. Some of the 58 UNMISET civilian advisers who provide most critical support, and should by now be serving as mentors, continue to perform line functions in key institutions today. In the area of law enforcement, the report notes, the national police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) still faces formidable challenges, including a lack of professional skills and values, policing experience, necessary equipment and infrastructure, and management and coordination capabilities.

    Further training is essential to bring it up to the desired level of professionalism, competence and skills, the report states. The key role played by the UNMISET civilian police advisers in providing training and mentoring of the national police remains indispensable. To complete the training programmes currently under way by May 2005, it will be necessary to retain the authorized strength of 157 civilian police for the coming six months.

    Regarding support to Timor-Leste’s security and stability, the country’s borders with Indonesia remain to be defined, the report adds. While bilateral relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste have improved, particularly at the highest level, the 42 military liaison officers are required to facilitate contacts between the border security agencies and to monitor security-related developments. This small international presence along the border, supported by the UNMISET military component, which has an authorized strength of 435, continues to be regarded as an important confidence-building mechanism by the Timorese population.

    In view of the above, the situation on the ground does not warrant any modification of the Mission’s tasks as mandated by the Security Council in resolution 1543 (2004). In the current circumstances, any change of the composition or size of UNMISET, including those of the police and military components, could compromise its ability to carry out its responsibilities. The President and Prime Minister of Timor-Leste have expressed the hope that there will be a six-month renewal of the Mission’s mandate in its current form and structure. The Secretary-General, therefore, recommends retaining the Mission with its current tasks, configuration and size until 20 May 2005. The final period of six months would allow UNMISET’s key tasks to be completed and gains made thus far to be consolidated.

    At the same time, the Mission will need to focus increasingly on preparing its exit strategy during the coming six months, the report continues. The objective is to ensure that, when the Mission departs, the country can continue to function without suffering significantly from the impact of its withdrawal. This requires that UNMISET redouble its efforts to encourage the increasing involvement and ownership of the Timorese in the Mission’s three programmes areas and to identify forthcoming bilateral or multilateral partners. In doing so, UNMISET will need to ensure that, when it leaves the country, its responsibilities can be taken over by the Timorese, with the continued assistance of the United Nations system and bilateral donors.

    The Secretary-General also notes that the support of the funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system and other development partners will be even more critical in facilitating a smooth transition from peacekeeping operation to a sustainable, traditional, development assistance framework. He appeals to Timor-Leste’s bilateral and multilateral partners to enhance their cooperation with UNMISET to achieve such a transition. The Secretary-General also calls Timor-Leste and Indonesia to spare no efforts to solve their pending bilateral issues, in particular the demarcation of their land border.

    The Secretary-General also commended the efforts made by the Serious Crimes Unit to complete investigations by November 2004 and to conclude trials and other activities by May 2005 in accordance with Council resolution 1543 (2004). At the same time, he believes that the perpetrators of the serious crimes committed in 1999 in East Timor should be brought to justice. The Secretary-General calls for the full cooperation of Member States to ensure that impunity does not prevail, noting his intention to continue to explore possible ways to address the issue with a view to making proposals as appropriate.

    Statement by Special Representative of Secretary-General

    SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor and Head of Mission, said the successive United Nations peacekeeping operations in Timor-Leste were now widely recognized to be a major success story of the international community, largely due to the determination of Timor-Leste’s people and leaders to build peace and stability, anchored on the principles of democratic governance.

    Highlighting recent political security developments, he noted that since the beginning of the consolidation period, Timor-Leste had remained peaceful and stable except when the national police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) had made use of excessive force in arresting peaceful demonstrators of mostly former independence fighters on 20 July, raising widespread concern. At the same time, realizing the urgency and seriousness of the veterans issue, the Timorese leadership had taken initiatives to address grievances of former resistance members and other disgruntled groups. President Gusmao had organized in 21 August a national dialogue to bring together veterans and government leaders.

    He said the Timorese leaders and ex-combatants were trying to resolve their differences of views and expectations peacefully. Prime Minister Alkatiri, on 26 October in Dili, had appealed to the diplomatic corps for their support of a programme that would recognize the contributions made by veterans. International assistance would constitute a critical element for the successful resolution of the issue and thereby reduce the risk of future instability.

    Following a successful voter registration, preparations for the first “Suco” local elections had progressed further during the reporting period, he said. The National Electoral Commission was deliberating procedures to allow for the commencement of polling. Political parties had started organizing themselves to field candidates in the village elections, although many candidates were expected to run as independents. In promoting the elections, the President and Prime Minister were carrying out civic education through visits to districts.

    During the last three months, he said, there had been some setbacks such as the National Parliament’s failing to select the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice, despite two rounds of voting. The Parliament had also not completed its deliberations on the reports submitted by the Presidential Commissions on Veterans and Ex-combatants. Parliament’s competence and efficiency would be tested, as it would receive a number of important bills for adoption, including the Bill on Assembly and Demonstrations. The UNMISET shared concerns expressed by civil society organizations regarding the restrictions on the organization and conduct of demonstrations. It had become increasingly critical for the Government to secure transparency and accountability in its own financial operations, particularly in relation to the emerging petroleum sector. In that respect, it was essential to establish by legislation the key institution of fiscal accountability, the High Administrative, Tax and Audit Court, as envisioned by article 29 of the Constitution.

    On the diplomatic front, Timor-Leste continued to strengthen cordial relations with the countries of the region, he continued. Resident ambassadors of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines had now presented their credentials. Timor-Leste had now been admitted to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum and was hosting a trilateral meeting with Australia and Indonesia in December this year. Friendly relations with Indonesia had been enhanced by the visit of Prime Minister Alkatiri to Jakarta on 19-22 October for the swearing-in ceremony of the new Indonesian President. The participation of Foreign Minister Horta at the Indonesian independence day celebrations in West Timor in August was another sign of growing relations between the two countries. In spite of the overall amicable relationship, however, border demarcation talks had not resulted in a final agreement as expected earlier. It was hoped that the spirit of good relations would find concrete expression in the solution of important pending bilateral issues, including the operationalization of the transit facility linking Oecussi with the rest of Timor-Leste, in addition to agreement on the borderline.

    Turning to the status of the implementation of UNMISET’s mandate, he noted that institution-building efforts had continued to make progress. Some of the institutions were becoming less dependent on international experts. Nevertheless, several ministries and State institutions continued to rely on the international advisers to function effectively. That was most evident in the justice and finance sectors, in which highly specialized expertise was required.

    The 58 “Most Critical” civilian advisers were not only actively training and mentoring their East Timorese counterparts, but also formulating exit strategies with their counterparts so as to ensure a smooth transition at the end of UNMISET, he said. That would involve identifying bilateral or multilateral partners, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank that would takeover the functions beyond May 2005. While it would require several more weeks before exact needs and specific modality of meeting the requirements were known, it was clear that some form of continued international assistance would be indispensable in the finance and justice sectors beyond May.

    The prosecutors, defence lawyers and trial judges of the Serious Crimes Process were making strenuous efforts to complete investigations by November 2004 and the trials by May 2005, as stipulated by Security Council resolution 1543, he said. The Serious Crimes Process would not be able to respond fully to the desire for justice of all of the victims of the violence in 1999 with the limited time and resources available. There were several proposals ranging from continuation of the current serious crimes process to establishment of an international tribunal or an international truth and reconciliation commission. The Secretary-General would examine those proposals that had been put forward with a view to identifying the most appropriate arrangements for resolving the issue.

    Meanwhile, he added, he proposed to deploy additional data experts and specialists who could assist in the processing and archiving of all the evidentiary and testimonial materials obtained during investigations, hearings and trials.

    Identifying some pertinent developments concerning the second mandate and the strengthening of law enforcement capacity in Timor-Leste, he said UNMISET civilian police advisers continued to provide training and mentoring to the PNTL in close coordination with other bilateral and multilateral development partners. The second phase of training for the Police Reserve Unit had been successfully completed in late August. As a result of the concerted support of partners, officers of the PNTL were gradually improving their skills and gaining experience in many areas of policing. A number of key challenges remained, however, such as the lack of professional expertise, administrative management capability, equipment, infrastructure and logistic support, coordination mechanisms and other necessary legislation, in addition to the PNTL organic law. Some of the PNTL officers continued to show little respect for human rights. In view of the many shortcomings facing the PNTL, he was convinced of the need for retaining the current 157 civilian police advisers for six more months as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report.

    The Secretary-General had emphasized the importance of close coordination between bilateral and multilateral partners in providing assistance for the PNTL’s development, he said. Several joint initiatives were now under way, including a series of “train the trainers” courses and provision of assistance in specialized areas such as counter-insurgency.

    While the capacity of the East Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) continued to grow with assistance provided by UNMISET and bilateral partners through the Skills and Knowledge Transfer and other programmes, it was evident that the F-FDTL remained hampered by a lack of experienced personnel, appropriate training regimes, equipment and limited logistic capacity. It was also clear that the East Timorese border security agencies had not yet gained sufficient capacity to manage the border affairs alone, nor had they reached the point where they could interact with Indonesian border security agencies on their own. In view of the lack of border agreement and insufficient capacity of national security agencies, it was necessary to retain the 477 military personnel for the next six months, including 42 military liaison officers, who played a pivotal role in monitoring security-related developments along the border and in facilitating contacts between the East Timorese and Indonesian border-security agencies.

    Timor-Leste had made steady progress in its peace and nation-building efforts, he added, demonstrating what could be achieved by constructive partnership between a newly independent country and the international community. Much remained to be done, however, within the remaining period of UMMISET’s consolidation phase. In accordance with resolution 1543, an integrated assessment mission had visited Timor-Leste in early October to assess the situation on the ground. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s recommendation, based on observation of the assessment mission, that the situation on the ground did not justify any modification of UNMISET’s tasks and any reduction in size.

    At the same time, he fully recognized that UNMISET needed to increasingly focus on implementing its transition strategy in the next six months. The UNMISET was redoubling its efforts to encourage increasing Timorese involvement and ownership of the three programme operations. Following the Council’s discussion in August, he had constituted eight working groups to address the concerns addressed by Member States. They had already started identifying special measures required for a smooth transition from peacekeeping operations to more traditional nation-building and sustainable developmental assistance.

    The eight working groups had more than 150 participants, including ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives based in Dili, and East Timorese leaders, including President Gusmao, who had agreed to chair the working group on security issues. The final reports from the working groups would be ready by 15 January, and their recommendations would be reflected in the next Secretary-General’s report. National ownership was a primary determining factor for the success and national building of any post-conflict country. The commitment of the Timorese people and the balanced leadership of the Timorese authorities showed that the post-conflict country could learn to govern itself and develop anchored to the principles of democracy.


    HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said he had been pleased with the recent good news, particularly the overall achievements made by the people and Government of Timor-Leste. In the last six months, there had been a further significant evolution in several areas, including justice and security, human rights, and political and legal affairs. At the same time, the invaluable assistance of the international community, particularly of the United Nations system, had been acknowledged. He was particularly thankful to the country’s neighbours for their support. Timor-Leste had already paid back the investment made by individual countries and the international community. The country was already committed to a democratic environment and close and constructive relations with its neighbours. The next step was economic development, which would get under way as revenues from oil exploitation started to contribute.

    Noting that UNMISET’s consolidation phase would come to an end in six months, he said he hoped the Security Council text tomorrow would extend the Mission for a further six-month period. Much work remained, given the still weak and fragile sectors, mainly in the areas of public administration and law enforcement, which required further attention. He was confident of the progress the Government would make in that regard, and in six months, the minimum threshold of self-sufficiency would likely be reached. The day after the Mission departed would show how innovative the Council had been in evolving a peace-building model and a thoroughly sustainable partnership. He encouraged the Secretary-General and his team, as well as all members of the United Nations development family, to look at Timor with an innovative and sensitive vision. That was essential for the country and for the international community’s own record in peacekeeping and peace-building efforts worldwide.

    The United Nations was already giving due attention to renewing its presence in Timor-Leste on the basis of a different structure and philosophy, he said. In the upcoming report in three months, he hoped all would be ready to engage in a deeper exchange of views on that issue. Meanwhile, consultations might begin, in order to assist the Secretary-General on the recommendations he might wish to present on that occasion. He urged the international community to remain fully engaged in Timor-Leste, especially in light of its legitimate call for inclusion in the international community as a full partner in business, trade, politics and economic and social development.

    HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) highlighted progress achieved in key areas during the consolidation phase, including achievements of the Timor-Leste Government, which had assumed responsibility for security. He also hailed progress in the enactment of laws and progress in the electoral field. Despite such achievements, however, Timor-Leste was not yet self-sufficient. In that regard, he agreed that a further six-month extension was the proper response. The information provided by the technical missions was very important. The structure and development of public administration still had clear requirements and needed to be supported. Timor-Leste needed properly functioning public administration structures.

    He shared the Secretary-General’s concern regarding the lengthy delays in the administration of justice and agreed with the need to promote capacity in that area. UNMISET’s contribution was important in that regard. Another important element was economic recovery. He hoped that cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia would continue, and that they would agree soon on the issue of border demarcation. Those responsible for serious crimes carried out in 1999 must pay for their acts. In the human rights area, he welcomed the Mission’s assistance through the serious crimes unit, and its efforts in carrying out investigations, and he supported also the strategy prepared for May 2005. The Secretary-General’s report pointed out that additional requirements might be required.

    Regarding the national police, he agreed with the need for the training, monitoring and supervision of the Timor-Leste police. In the area of security, he welcomed the fact that the country had been rather stable, although some hotbeds of tension could not be ignored. He also recognized the valuable work of other actors, in particular, international donors, who continued to show a strong commitment to the country. Chile had provided troops and equipment and would continue to be committed to Timor Leste, with the hope that the young country could be an international example of hope.

    ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said that the Secretary-General’s report had made it clear that the country continued to progress towards self-sufficiency, but it had also pointed out that major challenges remained. He acknowledged the important role of UNMISET in helping the people and Government address those challenges in the months ahead, and he noted the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Mission should retain its current tasks, composition and size until May 2005. If there was to be no further drawdown of UNMISET before its final departure, then it was all the more important that the Mission should prepare and begin implementation of an effective exit strategy, without further delay. He welcomed the continued strengthening of Timor-Leste’s relations with Indonesia, but he noted with disappointment that the agreement on delineation of the land border was still outstanding. He encouraged both countries to work together to resolve that issue now.

    He said he also recognized the difficulties facing the Government of Timor-Leste in addressing the veterans issue, as well as the continued violence between martial arts groups. He urged the Government to continue efforts to address those issues in a manner consistent with humanitarian law. He welcomed the Government’s launch of a reporting process on implementation of seven core human rights treaties, to which it had acceded. That had been an important signal of the Government’s determination to ensure those instruments’ full implementation. He also welcomed both the work of the United Nations agencies and the role of bilateral and multilateral assistance. All of that had played an important role in facilitating the transition from a peacekeeping operation to a transitional, sustainable development assistance framework. For its part, the United Kingdom was working with Australia and the Timorese Government and people on training of and assistance to the Timorese police. Under the programme, the first in a series of “train the trainers” had begun on 11 October, he reported.

    ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) welcomed the outstanding progress made in Timor-Leste and congratulated UNMISET for its outstanding work in building peace. Relations between Timor-Leste and neighbouring countries remained essential in the current consolidation phase. He welcomed progress in that regard, and expressed the hope that Timor-Leste and Indonesia would reach agreement on the final demarcation of their land borders, given its importance to the stability of the whole region. He also hoped that negotiations with Australia on maritime borders and the sharing of natural resources would make resolute and quick progress.

    In spite of the progress achieved, Timor-Leste had not yet achieved the desired threshold of autonomy, he said. Public administration remained fragile, and the police still showed weakness, particularly in the area of training. In that regard, he said UNMISET’s tasks should not be modified to allow for progress to consolidate. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the Mission’s mandate for a further six months without any change in its tasks.

    ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that the recent period in the country had remained stable, the economy had shown some signs of recovery, and people’s lives had improved. It was also worth noting that institution-building had been making steady progress in important State institutions and in the security apparatus. In public administration, the judiciary and security systems, capacities had been upgraded and a series of important laws had been adopted. He was very gratified by that progress and he congratulated the Government and the people on their achievements. He also paid tribute to UNMISET, under the Special Representative’s leadership. At the same time, he noted the Secretary-General’s view that, despite noticeable progress, important challenges remained, which required international assistance.

    He said, therefore, that he supported the renewal of UNMISET’s mandate for a further six months, unchanged in tasks, size and composition, in order to consolidate the gains. Before the termination of its mandate, however, there should be a sense of urgency in preparing a satisfactory exit strategy, so that Timor-Leste could achieve self-sufficiency at an early date. The United Nations system, as well as international financial institutions, should continue to support and ensure the country’s sustainable development. Outstanding issues should also be settled between Timor-Leste and its neighbours.

    JOEL ADECHI (Benin) welcomed progress achieved by the Government and the people of Timor-Leste, which showed that they were responding well to the international community’s support. He stressed the need for the consolidation of the basis for proper public administration, the continued efforts of the police and improved relations with other countries in the region. He also welcomed efforts to adopt laws in the private sector as such measures would ensure a smooth transition to the establishment of development. The efforts of United Nations institutions to strengthen institutions in the socio-economic fabric of the society were also praiseworthy. Goals had not been reached in all areas, however. Much remained to be done to ensure that achievements made were well rooted, in particular, the strengthening of professionalism in the police force and the strengthening of the justice sector.

    He said he was perplexed by the fact that progress in the maritime and land border demarcation had not progressed further. He shared the view that the situation in Timor-Leste did not justify any modification in the Mission’s tasks, and he supported UNMISET’s staff in the consolidation phase. The adoption of a draft resolution would reaffirm the Council’s will to renew the Mission’s mandate until May 2005. The international community must remain committed to the young nation in its development. The views of the international community must also be retained by the Timorese authorities. Timor-Leste was one of the least developed countries and, as such required substantial support to set up basic structures to ensure socio-economic development.

    JEAN NOËL POIRIER (France) said that despite remaining challenges, developments had been largely positive in constructing an effective State and in integrating overall the South-East Asian region. He favoured extending UNMISET’s mandate for a further six months, as proposed by the Secretary-General, so that the Mission might be able to fulfil its mandate in support of the Timorese authorities. His country was, and would remain, sensitive to efforts carried out in the upcoming six months by both the Government and the Mission on the ground to eliminate any impunity, as described in paragraph 69 of the Secretary-General’s report. He supported the draft resolution submitted by the delegation of Brazil. France had presented some amendments this morning, which were currently under discussion among the experts.

    WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) commended the steady progress achieved by the people and the Mission in the last three months. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative deserved support for constituting eight working groups, following up on Member States’ concerns. He agreed with the conclusions of the Special Representative and the Secretary-General’s report. While progress had been made, the finishing line had not yet been reached. Further development of the veterans issue, the broadening of dialogue with civil society, and the focus on reconciliation were all important elements in nation-building.

    The efforts of the Timor-Leste Government to resolve outstanding external problems required continued attention, he said. He believed that further progress towards concrete agreement on border demarcation could and would be achieved in the next few months. Regarding the role of the United Nations system, he shared the view that it would have to focus on preparing an exit strategy aimed at promoting Timorese ownership. The donor’s conference would be instrumental in that regard. In light of domestic and international challenges, he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to retain the Mission with its current tasks and configuration. Timor-Leste had rightly been described as a possible exemplary model for nation-building. The administration of justice would be a part of a reconciliatory progress and successful nation-building based on the rule of law.

    JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola), turning to some crucial aspects in the Secretary-General’s report, said he supported the recommendation to extend the Mission until next May, allowing it to complete its key tasks and consolidate the gains made thus far. He was in full agreement, therefore, with the draft resolution presented by Brazil. Despite the great progress made by UNMISET during the consolidation phase, the country had not yet reached its critical threshold of self-sufficiency. The public administration and justice systems were still weak and fragile, demanding continued international assistance and a clear exit strategy, which ensured that advances in those key areas were not jeopardized. The report had also underlined the need for further police training to bring that up to the desired level of professionalism. In that regard, he called for the full implementation of the training programmes already under way.

    He stressed that further efforts were also needed to elaborate a sustainable development assistance framework. Timor-Leste would begin a new phase as an independent nation, concurrent with basic changes in international assistance. He urged bilateral and multilateral donors to continue to provide timely assistance, and he noted with satisfaction that the donors’ conference had been scheduled for March 2005. He expected that it would not fail the Timorese people and that it would be a full instrument in the framework for development assistance. He meanwhile commended the United Nations system in promoting the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, for enhancing public services, ensuring full security and institutional capacity-development. Timor-Leste’s relationship with its neighbours, particularly Indonesia and Australia, were very important factors in the overall country situation. He praised the commitments made by those two countries to Timor-Leste’s future.

    MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress. The credit for that success was largely due to the people and Government of Timor-Leste. He appreciated the bold efforts of the Timorese leadership to encourage national reconciliation. He hoped it would strive to heal the deep wounds of the past. He supported the Mission’s efforts to assist in institutional development, especially in key areas such as the development of law enforcement. Such tasks remained critical in the transition from peacekeeping to peace-building. The Secretary-General’s report provided an update in progress in each of the programme areas.

    While some progress had been made in some areas, much more remained to be done, he continued. The Timorese public administration sector required international assistance in the short and medium term. The lack of a suitable framework continued to hamper the training of the national police. The Timorese defence forces, in spite of progress, were hampered by the lack of experienced personnel, among other things, underscoring the need for UNMISET’s close engagement with its Timorese counterparts.

    He supported the extension of the Mission’s mandate at its present strength to consolidate the gains made thus far. In addition to the Mission’s efforts, the most imposing long-term challenge was the country’s socio-economic recovery. Serious structural problems and the development of the private sector continued to hamper progress in key economic areas. It would continue to be difficult for Timor-Leste to sustain its economic recovery without international support. The continued support of Timor Leste’s neighbours was also vital. The development of close and friendly relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia was critical and in the best interests of both countries. Timor-Leste was widely considered a success story for United Nations peacekeeping. Real success, however, was not measured in years but in decades. All efforts must be made to assure that gains made were consolidated and not lost.

    LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said that concrete advancements, although modest, had been moving in the right direction. Among those, Timor-Leste continued to nurture its relations with its neighbours, although no concrete border agreements had been reached. Also, several important bills had been presented to the National Parliament, including on assembly and demonstrations and an extension of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. In addition, the holding of local elections before July 2005 appeared within reach. Recruitment of Timorese counterparts to certain key posts had been improving; development of the national police and of the Timorese defence force was progressing; and the economy was starting to show signs of recovery. Notwithstanding that modest progress, he noted the Secretary-General’s caution that much remained to be done in key areas, from good governance and institution-building to security reform.

    He recalled that the Secretary-General had also noted the dramatic rate of urbanization, which would challenge the Government, not only in providing basic services, but also in ensuring peace and order in the capital. Continuing international assistance, particularly after UMISET’s departure, was needed. Bilateral or multilateral assistance should be identified early on to ensure a seamless transition as part of the Mission’s exit strategy. Taking into account the Secretary-General’s conclusion that the country had not yet reached the critical threshold of self-sufficiency, he supported the recommendation to retain UNMISET’s current tasks, configuration and size for a further six months to allow for a completion and consolidation phase and to map out an exit strategy.

    He said he welcomed the creation by the Special Representative of eight working groups to assist in the timely identification of activities for the transition period, from peacekeeping and peace-building to institution-building and sustainable development assistance. He sought specific information on the nature of the eight areas of work. Meanwhile, he welcomed the early scheduling of the donors’ conference in March, as that could contribute to the smooth transition of forthcoming bilateral and multilateral partners for Timor-Leste. The Secretary-General’s call for the full cooperation of Member States to ensure that the perpetrators of the serious crimes committed in 1999 be brought to justice should be done in the most practical, appropriate and effective manner possible, bearing in mind the views, sensitivities and cooperation of the parties concerned.

    MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said his delegation hoped the continued strengthening of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia would generate concrete progress on the pending issue of demarcation of their border. It also welcomed and supported the outstanding role being played by UNMISET in its capacity-building efforts in Timor-Leste.

    He said that despite important progress in developing key State institutions, enhancing the legislative framework and advancing security sector reform, major challenges remained, requiring further international assistance. He emphasized the need for sustained support from bilateral and multilateral partners to complement the current efforts of UNMISET, and beyond the departure of UNMISET, to continue to provide necessary assistance to the Timorese. Romania also encouraged the Secretary-General to further explore ways for bringing to justice the perpetrators of serious crimes committed in 1999. The cooperation of Member States remained essential in that regard.

    KONSTANTIN DOLGOV (Russian Federation) agreed that progress had been made in Timor-Leste and stressed the need for consistent efforts to strengthen the country’s sovereignty. Building proper infrastructure and law enforcement structures would require further progress, however. The Timorese authorities had to make substantial efforts to ensure that the country became self-sufficient before May. He welcomed measures to solve urgent social issues, including the problem of the veterans of the former independence structure.

    He also welcomed relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, and called on both States to resolve remaining issues, including border demarcation. The observance of human rights was also vital. He supported the recommendation for the final extension of the Mission’s mandate until 20 May 2005 with its current size, mandate and composition. Maximum attention must be given to the downgrading of the operation so as not to create gaps once the Mission had left. He was grateful to Brazil for preparing a draft, which he fully supported.

    JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said that, in recent months, Timor-Leste had continued to make progress in building its institutions and developing its legal framework. With the support of UNMISET and bilateral and multilateral organizations, those improvements had been further strengthened. From the Secretary-General’s report, however, he could see that a number of important tasks were still pending. He highlighted, among them, the holding of local elections, the appointment of the defender of human rights and justice, adoption of important legislative bills for the development of the State of law, the formation of a public civil service in public administration and financial areas, and improving the police and armed forces. He, thus, wholeheartedly supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations and felt that UNMISET’s mandate must be extended for a final six months, retaining its present tasks, configuration and size.

    He thanked Brazil for submission of the draft. The initiative undertaken by the Special Representative to set up some ad hoc working groups to prepare for the transition had been quite wise. The support and coordination role being played by the United Nations, in conjunction with other multilateral institutions, had been outstanding. In addition, he hoped that the international donors’ conference next March would ensure that assistance would be provided to the Timorese people in the new phase. Regarding human rights, he welcomed efforts by the serious crimes unit to finalize their activities on time. All of the perpetrators of serious crimes in 1999 in Timor-Leste must be tried, and he was awaiting proposals from the Secretary-General on ways to avoid impunity. Also noteworthy had been the good relations among neighbours.

    JOHN C. DANFORTH (United States), speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission and the presentation of his Special Representative. He supported the recommendation to extend the Mission for a final six months until 20 May 2005. During the last six months of the mandate, UNMISET personnel should continue transferring skills and prepare to transfer responsibility for civil administration, justice and security to their East Timor counterparts, bilateral donors and other United Nations agencies. As the end of a successful peacekeeping mission approached, outstanding issues must be considered. Most important, the international community should consider what measures should be taken to ensure accountability for the atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999.

    Stressing the need for accountability for the human rights violations committed in East Timor, he said the international community had a responsibility to address the issue. The recent ruling by an appeals court in Indonesia overturning another Ad Hoc Tribunal conviction, bringing the total of those convicted down to a single individual, directly impacted the larger issue of achieving that accountability. The ad hoc tribunal process was seriously flawed and had failed to provide a full and credible accounting for the crimes committed in 1999.

    He said there must be some level of accountability for those atrocities to create a climate conducive to the development of democratic institutions in both Indonesia and East Timor. Given the limited jurisdiction of the Serious Crimes Unit and its inability to address crimes already perpetrated by the Indonesian military, additional remedial measures might be required. The Secretary-General should send an independent expert assessment mission to East Timor and Indonesia to examine the current processes, and make recommendations.

    JOSE LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) said that, despite the progress in establishing democratic institutions and laying the foundations of a State based on respect for the rule of law and democratic principles, the future of Timor-Leste was still fraught with many challenges. Development of capacities in sectors such as public administration, finance and justice continued to progress, albeit at a slow pace and in varying degrees. He encouraged Council members, the international community and development partners to continue to support his country through the provision of civilian advisers in those key areas to build the capacities of Timorese nationals, as well as institutional capacity. It was critical that the civilian advisers for the UNDP-managed assistance programme be recruited as soon as possible, since only 50 of the 102 civilian adviser posts had been filled. Reducing the number of advisers now would not only be premature, but would impact on key functions and the stability of government institutions.

    He said his country was committed to the establishment of an effective, professional and accountable police force. The promulgation of the Police Organic Law and the Disciplinary Code was indicative of that commitment, but the effective implementation of those laws required technical and financial assistance from the international community. Much needed to be done to establish a society based on respect for the rule of law and human rights. Also crucial was the creation of an impartial, accountable and responsive police service and development of an independent judiciary. The provision of police technical advisers and judge mentors, through a programme of assistance to core administrative structures and to the justice system, would promote achievement of those common goals. He commended the efforts of UNMISET to respond to the training needs of the police, but in order to build on the gains and achieve the objectives, the number of police advisers should remain at the current authorized level of up to 157.

    Noting that his country had acceded to the core human rights treaties, he said that the Government, with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNMISET and other United Nations agencies, had had a workshop in September to build capacities in the areas of data collection and report writing, in an effort to meet its reporting obligations. The Serious Crimes Unit had worked hard to achieve the requirements set out in paragraph 8 of Security Council resolution 1543 (2004), but despite those efforts, it might not be possible for the serious crimes process to complete its work within the limited time frame and available resources. The question of justice in post-conflict societies was complex and difficult to address. He, thus, appreciated the Secretary-General’s efforts to explore ways to address that issue.

    He stressed that justice and reconciliation remained the cornerstone of stable democracies. The work undertaken by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation had contributed to healing past wound and enabling communities to move forward. Furthermore, resolving the veterans issue was of great importance and would contribute to the country’s stability. Efforts were being made by the President, the parliament and the Government through ongoing dialogue with veterans’ representatives to find an appropriate and sustainable solution. Turning to the economy, he said that important sector was showing signs of recovery, and the Government was committed to creating an attractive environment for investors and job creation. In other gains, preparations for local elections were well under way for 2005, and civic education on the elections was being carried out by the President and Government throughout the districts.

    Relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia continued to strengthen and were characterized by commitment at the highest levels, he said. Both countries continued to work towards finalizing the land border agreement, among other residual matters. Finalizing of the land border, in particular, would facilitate cross-border links between residents in border areas and that would build mutual trust and confidence. At a recent meeting of the Technical Subcommittee on Border Demarcation, in Indonesia, agreement had been reached on a number of segments along the border, and, presently, only 5 per cent of the border remained unresolved. Negotiations with Australia on the maritime boundary had also been held in September and October. A just and fair resolution of that issue was essential to ensuring Timor-Leste’s future economic viability and stability.

    REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said his country had always maintained as a fundamental principle that UNMISET provide the necessary assistance for Timor-Leste to meet the goals of political stability, security and self-reliance in the shortest possible time. Timor-Leste was now generally peaceful and stable, with the Government making considerable efforts to address pressing internal issues confronting the country, including the veterans issue and violence between martial arts groups. In the consolidation phase of UNMISET, which began last May, steps had been taken, including the establishment of eight working groups to address the key areas of concern highlighted by Member States in the Council on 24 August. Properly implemented, the working groups could help in the desired identification of activities necessary for a smooth transition from peacekeeping to institution-building and sustainable development assistance, further creating a steady and conducive opportunity to end the Mission’s mandate within a secure time frame.

    He said an integrated technical assessment missions from the United Nations had visited Timor-Leste in early October, and had returned with favourable reports of further progress in the development of key State institutions and security agencies, including the adoption of some important legislation. The technical assessment team had also reported that Timor-Leste had yet to reach the threshold of self-sufficiency. Areas of public administration, particularly the finance, banking and justice sectors, remained weak and fragile. He hoped the United Nations and the international community would continue to stand by the Government of Timor-Leste and, through appropriate developmental assistance mechanisms, support its efforts.

    Indonesia placed great value on its relationship with Timor-Leste, he said. Regarding the issue of land border demarcation, both nations had continued to hold consultations. At the Bali meeting of Foreign Ministers last June, they had reached a provisional agreement to be submitted to their heads of government whereby some 90 per cent of the land border demarcation had been agreed upon. There had also been steady progress at the working level to settle the remaining 10 per cent, which consisted of nine unresolved segments. At the last meeting of the Technical Subcommittee on Border Demarcation on 29-30 October, the two sides had further concluded six of those segments, leading to a total conclusion of about 96 per cent of the land border demarcation. They were scheduled to meet again on 21 and 22 December, to try to resolve the outstanding 4 per cent –- or three unresolved segments. That meeting would also determine further work of densification of coordinates and, later on, schedule demarcation work.

    When considering the Secretary-General’s report, one should realize that both Indonesia and Timor-Leste understood that more field work was needed to arrive at the final agreement, he said. In that context, Indonesia had not expected that the final agreement could have been concluded at the technical meeting in October. It did not believe that its partner, Timor-Leste, had expected that either. In that regard, Indonesia reiterated its position that to facilitate border management activities as soon as possible, Indonesia stood ready to sign a provisional agreement at any time, while continuing to seek agreement on the remaining issues in the not-too-distant future.

    He said he wished to clarify the matter of an Indonesian naval ship that had entered Timor-Leste territorial waters on 19 September in pursuit of a private tour boat. On that day, an Indonesian naval ship had detected an unattended floating boat near the Indonesian maritime boundary with Timor Leste. She had sailed towards the boat in order to ascertain the nature of its presence. After repeated request for contact, the boat had sped away at a high speed. During the event, the ship had experienced a mechanical problem and was brought by the currents into the “territorial waters” of Timor-Leste unintentionally. After a while, the mechanical problem had been fixed, and the ship had turned back. While fixing the problem, the ship had unsuccessfully tried to contact local authorities to avoid misunderstanding.

    He said the Indonesian Government had clarified the matter with the Government of Timor-Leste. It was important to point out that no hostile intention on the part of the naval ship had been evident. To avoid similar misunderstandings in the future, however, tourist boats, especially those unattended ones by divers in the border areas, needed to give clear signs on their activities.

    Another point of concern was the statement that on 2 November Indonesian military personnel had crossed the Tactical Coordination Line in the Cruz area in Oecussi, he said. Up until now, the Indonesian Government had never received any communication or complaint on the issue from the Government of Timor-Leste or UNMISET. Pending the land border agreement, both security personnel used a tactical coordination line agreed upon by the field officers. Under the tactical coordination line, there were three zones, namely, Zone I that was patrolled by Indonesia, and Zone 3, by the Timor Leste. Both sides also agreed that in Zone 2, no one was allowed to conduct patrols or any other activities. On 2 November, while patrolling Zone 1, Indonesian security officers had spotted three people from Timor-Leste who were clearing and burning bushes in Zone 2. While the Indonesian side, still in Zone 1, had walked towards them, they had gone away. The Indonesian security officers then continued their patrol in Zone 1. Some time afterwards, however, those people who were burning bushes earlier had returned with a bigger group of about 30 people and had begun to throw stones at the Indonesian security officers who were patrolling in Zone 1. To avoid problems, the Indonesian security officers had left their patrolling area, which actually was in Zone 1.

    Given those facts, the portrayal of the incident by the Secretary-General would have been different had clarification from all the parties been sought. As a result, the account in the report was capable of creating unnecessary negative perceptions towards Indonesia, which he regretted. The United Nations should work to facilitate forward-looking relations between the two countries.

    VANU GOPALA MENON (Singapore) said that assistance from international judges and United Nations civilian advisers was vital in developing Timor-Leste’s judicial and other governmental institutions. Given the significant increase in the number of returnees and growing population in Dili, programmes focusing on education, job creation, utilities and health care must be continuously developed and sustained. In addition, UNMISET security forces were needed to provide a secure developmental framework until the capacities of the Timorese National Police and Defence Force were fully realized. Possible challenges to internal security included the police and defence forces’ lack of professional experience, the slow resolution of grievances raised by ex-combatants and veterans, and the growing voice of martial arts groups.

    He stressed that UNMISET’s current tasks, configuration and size should be retained until its mandate expired on 20 May 2005, and that it should focus on strengthening local institutions. The United Nations must also consider how current programmes by the UNDP, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) could be deepened to ensure a smooth transition to Timorese ownership. He urged the Council to further evaluate Timor-Leste’s self-sufficiency before UNMISET’s expiry, so that it could make an objective decision on support and assistance needed.

    JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that, despite notable advances, Timor-Leste had not yet achieved self-sufficiency. More needed to be done to develop public administration capacity and the professionalism and competency of security institutions. It was clear that Timor-Leste required the ongoing assistance of the international community and the United Nations. He, therefore, strongly endorsed the Secretary-General’s key recommendation that UNMISET be retained with its current task, configuration and size until 20 May 2005. Any precipitous withdrawal would undermine the many gains that had been made to date. Most importantly, the Mission would continue to play a critical role in enabling Timor-Leste to further develop the capacity of key institutions. He very much hoped the Council would support the Secretary-General’s recommendations and agree to extend UNMISET’s mandate for six more months.

    During that time, he said it would be important for UNMISET to accomplish as much as possible and to implement a viable transition strategy, taking into account Timor-Leste’s development needs. Further along, it would also be critical for United Nations’ development agencies and the broader international community to remain engaged in a coordinated way and assist Timor-Leste with its many development challenges. He hoped the next report would address those important issues. Australia, meanwhile, remained firmly committed to assisting Timor-Leste in meeting its development needs. It would continue to provide strong support to UNMISET, including through the contribution of personnel to the military liaison officer and police adviser contingents. His country would also remain a major provider of bilateral development assistance to Timor-Leste, especially in the areas of policing and good governance.

    Also supporting UNMISET’s extension for a further six months, KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) stressed that that would be a very important period for the successful conclusion of the peacekeeping tasks. Japan would continue to extend its utmost support so as to ensure that the peace was firmly established and UNMISET was able to successfully complete its mandate. It had become Japan’s special duty to do so because the final phase of the Mission’s activities coincided with the period in which Japan took up its duties as an elected member of the Security Council. There was no question that Timor-Leste required continued assistance for its nation-building. It was essential, therefore, to ensure that related tasks carried out by UNMISET were taken over by bilateral assistance schemes or international development institutions. In that connection, he welcomed the establishment of the eight working groups, aimed at facilitating a smooth transition from a peacekeeping and peace-building operation into more traditional institution-building and sustainable development assistance.

    He said he highly regarded the initiatives of the Timorese leadership to properly address veteran’s grievances, which were a clear expression of a sense of ownership on the part of Timor-Leste. Although several tasks remained in the area of nation-building, the Japanese Government was confident that further progress for the consolidation of peace would be made through the continuing efforts of the Timorese people, with the assistance of the United Nations and the international community. In that connection, he welcomed the convening of the donor’s conference, at which the international community would discuss issues of nation-building, following the completion of the peacekeeping operations. During the course of the peace operation’s departure, it was particularly important to ensure the peace and security of Timor-Leste. Regrettably, the delineation of the land boundary with Indonesia had yet to be finalized, and he hoped that the countries would make their best efforts to do so at the earliest opportunity.

    Japan, as a neighbour in the Asian region, had been actively assisting Timor-Leste in building a sustainable nation and was determined to continue its contribution in that regard, he said. Japan had pledged assistance in the amount of $60 million over the first three years following independence, and had been steadily implementing that aid with the focus on peace-building and reconstruction in the following key areas: agriculture; infrastructure; and human resources development. It had already invested $57 million in infrastructure projects, such as road, electricity and water supply in the Dili district, and it was dispatching “civil power”, or groups composed of military and non-military engineers, to train the Timor-Leste Government staff to operate, maintain and manage the equipment and materiel, which Japan’s Engineer Group had donated. Hopefully, such support would help to improve the lives of the Timorese people.

    DON MACKAY (New Zealand) noted Timor-Leste’s progress in setting up essential State institutions and security agencies, adopting important legislation and moving forward with negotiations on a border agreement with Indonesia. He expressed hope that negotiations between Timor-Leste and Australia on maritime rights would be positive. Until May 2005, UNMISET must make good use of its mandate under its current structure, ensure a smooth handover to the Timor-Leste Government and, where appropriate, ensure necessary assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors. A successful transition from conflict resolution and peacekeeping to consolidation and nation-building was paramount, he said, stressing the importance of cooperation among the Timor-Leste Government, UNMISET, United Nations agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions, non-governmental organizations and donor partners.

    He strongly supported the work of the Serious Cries Unit and Special Panels, saying it was essential in bringing crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999 to justice in a manner consistent with international law standards. The international community could not tolerate impunity. He encouraged all effort to continue addressing that issue and welcomed the Secretary-General’s insights into how best to address those challenges effectively.

    GONÇALO AIRES DE SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said that the report set out clearly that Timor-Leste had made significant advances towards self-sufficiency. Nevertheless, major challenges remained, and continuing international assistance was essential. He agreed with the Secretary-General that, under the current circumstances, any change in the composition or size of UNMISET, including those of the police and military components, should be avoided. A significant part of the equipment used by the former Portuguese military contingent in the Mission had been donated by Portugal to the Timor-Leste Government.

    He said that, even as that country’s relations with its neighbours evolved, he was concerned that border delineation –- a major aspect of relations with neighbouring States -- had not yet resulted in any concrete agreement. Stable relationships with its neighbours and timely access to natural resources were essential to Timor-Leste’s peaceful and economically sustainable development, but so was the settlement of both land and maritime borders. The justice sector also continued to show serious shortcomings, demanding international assistance. Portugal had contributed funds to the Justice Ministry, which, together with the UNDP and UMMISET, had launched the Judicial Training Centre for all in the justice system. While a draft criminal code and criminal procedures were under consideration, he remained seriously concerned that it might not be possible for the serious crimes process to respond fully to the needs and desires for justice to all those affected by the events of 1999.

    In the present important and final stretch of Timor’s development, it was important that UNMISET be terminated, as planned, in May 2005, but it was even more important that Timor-Leste continue to benefit from the organized and coherent support of the United Nations system, thereafter, he said. Everyone was aware that, despite the gigantic steps the country had taken in institution- building and in becoming a viable State, much more remained to be done. International support, bilateral and multilateral, must be forthcoming. Much had been achieved, and the international community’s investment must be safeguarded. His country believed that the time was ripe to envision a smooth transition for Timor-Leste, without peacekeeping, but with a solid and coordinated United Nations presence to support those who would remain beyond May 2005.

    RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said that UNMISET was still playing an important role in Timor-Leste providing security and facilitating the country’s advancement towards progress and development. The Mission had assisted in nurturing the development of political, economic, social, legal and judicial institutions. Since the inception of UNMISET’s consolidation phase in May, Timor-Leste had made further progress in developing key State institutions and security agencies, which included the adoption of several important pieces of legislation. Voter registration had been completed, in preparation for the local elections to be conducted before July 2005. Those advances could not have been achieved without the full commitment, determination and strong resolve of the country’s leadership and the support of the Timorese, in general, coupled with the sustained assistance and cooperation from the international community.

    He said he agreed that the coming final six-month period would allow key tasks of UNMISET to be completed and the gains made, thus far, consolidated. It was essential that the transition from peacekeeping and conflict resolution to development be conducted with the cooperation and contribution of all bilateral and multilateral partners. In that regard, Malaysia would do its utmost, within its capacity, to assist Timor-Leste in fulfilling its nation-building endeavour, including through the continuation of bilateral technical assistance. The next six months, during which the Mission would also focus on its exit strategy, was a crucial period, aimed at ensuring that the country continued to function without any significant impact from the Mission’s withdrawal. It was important, therefore, for a thorough assessment of whether Timor-Leste had achieved self-reliance before UNMISET’s responsibilities were handed over to the Timorese.

    Regarding to the ongoing investigations by the Serious Crimes Unit, he said that the issue was best dealt with bilaterally between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Undue external pressure from the international community, and especially from the United Nations, might not be the right approach. He also continued to hope for a mutually beneficial arrangement concerning the maritime boundary with Australia, which permitted the successful exploitation of petroleum and natural gas. That could provide badly needed financial resources for Timor-Leste. Concerned that Timor-Leste had yet to reach the critical threshold of self-sufficiency, his country continued to offer assistance in training and development for senior and middle management of the Timorese police force, apart from the assistance given in the “training of trainers” at the Police College and to the newly formed Police Reserve Unit and the rapid Intervention Unit.

    LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said UNMISET should maintain its presence in Timor-Leste, with the same composition and size, until 20 May 2005. The closure of UNMISET’s mandates in Timor-Leste, she stressed, did not imply the country’s readiness or ability effectively to run its public administration. Timor-Leste would continue to rely on the support and assistance of international experts in strengthening its international capacity, including in the areas of public administration and the justice system, law enforcement and security, as noted in the report of the Secretary-General.

    The international community, she added, must be realistic about its expectations for Timor-Leste. Regarding the deadline for the Serious Crimes Unit to complete all trials related to human rights abuses that occurred in East Timor in 1999, it remained improbable that the provision could actually be implemented by 20 May 2005, given the backlog of cases, limited availability of judges and shortness of time. There might also be a need to reassess expectations regarding integration of veterans into civilian life.

    She noted in conclusion that the vital role of development in contributing to durable peace in post-conflict nation-building could not be overstated. Efforts by the United Nations system –- especially the World Bank, UNDP and UNICEF –- would be more necessary than ever, given that the country continued to suffer from rampant poverty and an inadequate health system and high birth rate, while unemployment and illiteracy remained prevalent, and half the population remained below the age of 15, unable to contribute productively to the economy’s growth.

    On behalf of the European Union, ARJAN PAUL HAMBURGER (Netherlands) said that since the previous Council meeting on Timor-Leste in August, the Union had not significantly changed its position on the way forward for that country. It congratulated the Government for the tremendous progress it had made in rebuilding a functioning civil administration, training security and police forces, adopting important legislation and preparing for local elections. It also commended UNMISET’s invaluable contributions and exemplary function as a “true multilateral effort” at peace-building and reconstruction. The Union also paid tribute to the multilateral institutions and bodies that had jointly contributed to the recent economic recovery there. Although the first signs of growth had been modest, the encouraging upward trend gave hope for further economic consolidation. More efforts should be aimed at developing and expanding private sector activity.

    He said the Union also praised both Timor-Leste and Indonesia for their steadily improving relationship, which it hoped would result in the early determination of their joint land border. The Secretary-General’s report clearly outlined the various reasons why the country had not yet reached the critical threshold of self-sufficiency. The Union shared the Secretary-General’s conclusion, therefore, that UNMISET was to be maintained in accordance with Council resolution 1543 (2004). Moreover, the Union could support the recommendation that the Mission focus on an exit strategy during the coming six months, aimed at increasing Timorese ownership. It trusted that the United Nations system would continue to support the country after UNMISET’s departure.

    Mr. HASEGAWA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said he had taken note of the Council’s comments and would follow up on many of the suggestions. The working groups included institutional capacity-building of public institutions; institution building of the justice sector; the future of the serious crime process; professional development and democratic police training of the PNTL; the roles and working relationship of the national security agencies, including the FDTL and the PNTL; support to marginalized groups; enhancement of transparency and accountability; and transition from peacekeeping to sustainable development in Timor-Leste.

    The international community had made remarkable contributions to the Timor-Leste in building the peace required for nation-building, he said. It was now critically important to provide continued support to sustain not only the political development, but also economic growth and human development in order to maintain peace and stability in the nation-country. The working groups had been established to identify specific measures for the smooth transition from peacekeeping to institution building and sustainable development assistance.

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