Subject: UNOTIL: Transparency and Accountability Mission arrives in Timor -Leste

Transparency and Accountability Mission arrives in Timor -Leste

16 January 2006, DILI –Advancing on the “Alkatiri Initiative,” the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Dr. Mari Alkatiri, has invited a Senior Experts Mission on Transparency and Accountability, to assess the current status of transparency and accountability in Timor-Leste, particularly in the area of public administration. The five-member team of experts will be led by Mr G. Shabbir Cheema, Principal Advisor and Programme Director (Governance Systems and Institutions) Department of Economics and Social Affairs, United Nations and currently a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Commencing today, the team will spend the next two weeks until the 28 January, meeting with the Prime Minister and other officials of government and state institutions, members of the diplomatic community and UN agencies. It is anticipated that further meetings will take place between the mission and members of civil society such as non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, parliamentary members from several political parties and other representatives of the citizens of Timor-Leste. The mission will not be restricted to Dili, but will travel throughout the various districts of the country to gather the largest picture of the nation.

Building on past initiatives aimed at good governance, the goal of the mission is to bolster transparency and accountability and to propose a practical strategy with a long-term view of a stable and sustainable democracy in Timor –Leste.

In March 2005, an International Conference on Integrity in Public Administration was held with, among others, experts in the area of anticorruption and integrity systems. “This is not because we have a problem with this,” Prime Minister Alkatiri stated at a latter conference, “but because we want to establish mechanisms to avoid it becoming a curse as it has in many developing countries.”

SRSG Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa, commended PM Alkatiri “for taking this initiative toward advancing an open and transparent government as it is essential for good governance.” The SRSG hopes that the team of experts will propose practical recommendations for the Timorese Government that will pave the way forward for a long-lasting framework on transparency and accountability.

Known as the Mari Alkari Initiative, the mission will be a joint effort between the United Nations, the World Bank and the Government of Finland, a country distinguished as ranking among one of the top in the world on the Transparency Index. In addition to Mr. Cheema, other members of the team include Mr. Peter Blunt of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), an international management consultant and an Adjunct Professor of Management at the Northern Territory University, Australia, Mr. Bertrand de Speveille of the World Bank and a principal in de Speville and Associates, an anti-corruption consultancy firm based in London and Ms. Terhi Nieminen-Makynen of Finland. Ms. Makynen is a veteran of Finland’s Parliament and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In preparation for their assessment, the team will meet with the Prime Minister on Monday, 16 January to discuss with him the programme of assessment activities. The mission will complete with a presentation of their observations and recommendations at a Consultative meeting on Transparency and Accountability held on the 27 January.

For additional information, please contact: Donna Cusumano, Chief, Public Information Office, UNOTIL; +670 723 0749

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