Subject: RT: UNSC Authorizes UN Troops for East Timor

Monday October 25 12:12 PM ET

UN Council Authorizes U.N. Troops For East Timor

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Monday to authorize nearly 11,000 U.N. soldiers and police for East Timor to shepherd the devastated territory to independence in two to three years.

The U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor, to be known as UNTAET, also includes a large, unspecified number of civilian officials to administer virtually all public services, emptied by the departure of Indonesian civil servants.

The British-drafted resolution followed a blueprint recommended by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier this month that would include up to 8,950 blue-helmeted troops, 200 military observers and 1,640 civilian police.

The East Timor force will be the second major peacekeeping operation approved by the council in three days. Friday, the 15-member body established 6,000 troops to Sierra Leone to help keep the peace after a ferocious eight-year civil war.

When deployed, the two missions will more than double the current number of peacekeepers, numbering about 14,000 this year from a high of nearly 79,000 in 1993.

Shortly after the vote, Annan named Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian diplomat, as his special representative to lead the mission for at least six months. Vieira de Mello is the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony that Indonesia invaded in 1975 was engulfed in an orgy of killing and violence by pro-Jakarta militias after nearly 80 percent of voters in an Aug. 30 election opted for independence from Jakarta.

An Australian-led force, called INTERFET, was hurriedly deployed on September 20 to keep order on an interim basis, with the Security Council's endorsement.

Many of the 7,500 INTERFET troops will be integrated into the new U.N. command, expected to be deployed early next year. This means costs will be borne by all U.N. members rather than by countries contributing troops.

Undecided yet is who will lead the U.N. force, although most diplomats say it will be Australia as Canberra is expected to contribute the largest contingent of troops.

The U.N. troops, like those in INTERFET, have a robust mandate, authorized under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the use of force. Their initial mandate is until January 31, 2001.

The council's resolution expressed concern at reports of systematic, widespread and flagrant human rights violations and called on all parties to cooperate with investigations.

But at the insistence of China, members deleted references to the inquiry set up by Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, including a call for all parties to cooperate with her probe. China was one of 12 countries in the 53-member Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission that voted last month against launching the inquiry.

Costs of the new U.N. operation, however, are expected to be problematic with Bernard Miyet, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping estimating expenses at $700 million to $1 billion during its first year of operation.

Portugal has offered to contribute large amounts to the operation but monies are expected to be scarce to pay civil servants once funded by Jakarta. The U.N. administration in Kosovo, set up in June, has had difficulty raising funds for this purpose.

Its ambassador, Antonio Monteiro, emphasized that commitment and told the council, ``We look forward to helping East Timor become a land of life, not death, of hope, not despair, of the future, not the past.''

Last week Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly ratified the result of the Aug. 30 vote, clearing the way for the official hand over to the United Nations as agreed in a May 5 accord between Indonesia and Portugal.


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