Subject: TLGOV: Statement on the situation in Timor-Leste, SC, August 15, 2006


United Nations

S/PV.5512 Security Council

5512th meeting Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 10 a.m. New York Provisional

The situation in Timor-Leste

Mr. Guterres (Timor-Leste): It is a great honour to see you, my dear friend Ambassador Nana Effah- Apenteng, presiding over the Security Council for this month. I wish you and your country, Ghana, every success during these very challenging times.

Today I would like to share with the Council my Government’s views on the role of the future United Nations presence and of international assistance in Timor-Leste beyond the completion of the mandate of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), on 20 August 2006. Let me start by reiterating, on behalf of the Timorese people, our gratitude to the troop-contributing countries — Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal — for having so promptly and efficiently re-established and maintained law and order and saved many Timorese lives. That intervention was made at the request of the President of the Republic, Mr. Xanana Gusmăo; the President of the national Parliament, Mr. Francisco Lu’Olo Guterres; and the Prime Minister of the first constitutional Government, Mr. Mari Alkatiri.

Jose Luis Guterres (left), Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, addressing the Security Council, Aug. 15. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras  

We welcome the report of Secretary-General Kofi Annan (S/2006/628) and we commend the great contribution of Special Envoy Ian Martin and his team on the assessment mission. The report was the product of wide consultation in Timor-Leste. In that respect, we concur with its recommendations, which are in line with the spirit of the letters of President Xanana Gusmăo and other key leaders calling for the establishment of a robust United Nations police, military and civilian mission to assist the people of Timor-Leste. That was followed by a letter (S/2006/620, annex) by Prime Minister Ramos-Horta dated 4 August 2006, to you, Mr. President, and to the Secretary-General calling for the establishment of a multidimensional and integrated peacekeeping mission, with a police force of considerable strength and a small military force under the command and control of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General’s report provides a good account and a sound analysis of the events that took place in April and May of this year. For the sake of brevity, I shall not elaborate any further in that regard. Those events revealed the institutional failures of the security forces and the fragility of democratic institutions. It also revealed an acute need for continued long-term international assistance in the building of viable State institutions, notably in the areas of security, justice and development. Cognizant of the fact that institutional failures in the Timorese national police (PNTL) and the Timorese armed forces (F-FDTL) are at the core of the recent crisis in Timor-Leste, a holistic approach to security-sector reform will be required. International advisory support is important in reviewing the future role and needs of the defence sector, including both the F-FDTL and the Ministry of Defence.

In the area of justice, the funds made available under the Justice System Programme of the United Nations Development Programme are not sufficient to cover the support needed for the Office of the Prosecutor-General, particularly in the light of the recent violent incidents and the expected increase in the number of cases that the national judicial system will have to handle. Also, a significant number of human rights officers are needed to support our national institutions, including the Office of the Provedor and the national Parliament, as well as civil society, in monitoring, promoting and protecting human rights and promoting justice and reconciliation. It is of vital importance that the international community remain engaged in fostering the genuine commitment to justice and human rights that exists in the Government, in civil society and among the Timorese people.

At the same time, I wish to assure the members of the Security Council that the Government will expeditiously search for a solution to the grievances of the 594 petitioners by means of the recently invigorated national Commission of Investigation.

I wish to express my Government’s greatest appreciation for the work of the international Independent Special Commission of Inquiry, which is currently undertaking an investigation into the events of 28 and 29 April, 23 to 25 May and related events that contributed to the crisis. The establishment of the facts and circumstances relevant to those events will be critical if Timor-Leste is to achieve reconciliation and uphold the rule of law. The Commission will submit its findings and recommendations by 7 October. The Government considers the domestic justice system to be the primary avenue of accountability for any criminal acts and human rights violations identified by the Commission. We therefore welcome the report of the Secretary-General on justice and reconciliation (S/2006/580). The Government is considering the recommendations contained therein, and will take appropriate measures.

We believe that a strong international police presence will be vital if executive policing functions are to be performed in Dili and throughout Timor-Leste while the PNTL is being reconstituted. United Nations police officers will be equally important in assisting and further enhancing the capacity of our national police in the maintenance of law and respect for human rights throughout the districts and sub-districts. While the national police have been trained by United Nations police and bilateral partners and have the basic know-how to carry out routine policing, the most recent events demonstrated the inability of the PNTL to adequately deal with developments that are of a political nature. The impartiality of the PNTL in a tense political environment will be tested again when it deals with the first nationwide elections. The presence of United Nations police will be vital in providing advice and in supporting the national police in planning and carrying out their electoral-related security responsibilities, including through training and assistance in the development and implementation of a comprehensive election security plan aimed at forestalling volatility and possible violence throughout the electoral period.

The Government is moving to prepare for the upcoming elections. The draft electoral laws on presidential and parliamentary elections, which were submitted to the national Parliament for a broad public debate, are expected to be approved, after the Parliament’s annual recess, in mid-September. The President and the Government have agreed to hold both the parliamentary and presidential elections before May 2007.

The Government of Timor-Leste is committed to a free, fair and credible electoral process. Having consulted internally and having taken due consideration of concerns raised by civil society, the Church and other stakeholders, we have called upon the international community to assist us in that endeavour, including through the provision of technical and logistical support. We intend to continue discussions with the United Nations regarding the most appropriate type of assistance.

Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in the world. While the primary underlying causes of the current crisis are political and institutional, poverty and the related high urban unemployment and the absence of any prospects of employment opportunities, especially for young people, also contributed to the crisis. In order to ensure coordinated support for the economic development of our country, the new mission should work closely with the Government and its partners and provide assistance in the design of poverty-reduction and economic growth policies and strategies so as to promote the goals of our national development plan and work towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The 2006-2007 budget was adopted yesterday by the national Parliament; it represents an increase of 122 per cent compared with the previous fiscal year. As Prime Minister Ramos-Horta has said, the budget is pro-poor and pro-job-creation. We hope and pray that the combination of better economic and social policies and continuing international support in all areas will help us to overcome today’s crises.

We acknowledge that there are differences of opinion among Member States, but I am hopeful that the Council will take into account the seriousness of the situation confronting our people and our country today. While there are no more gunshots, many guns remain in civilian hands, and the underlying causes of the conflict have yet to be fully addressed. It will take time for us to reconstitute the defence and police forces. It will take many more years for those institutions to regain the confidence and trust of our people. We therefore believe that the recommendations of the Secretary-General, including the recommendations relating to the presence of a very small military force under the command and control of the United Nations, are important. That is the best option that we have in facing the current crisis in East Timor.

As a colleague who has for many years shared with Council members the corridors and meeting rooms of this House, I appeal to the Council to work with us in ensuring that Timor-Leste does not relapse into conflict again.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to UNOTIL and all of its staff, and, in particular, to Special Representative Hasegawa, for the excellent cooperation and support given to the Government and people during the crisis that we recently faced. We would also like to thank the international community for its support, and the embassies in East Timor for their cooperation and support during the crisis. We will work with determination with all of you to guarantee that our people have a great future — a future in peace, stability and development.

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