SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR STRONG POST-INDEPENDENCE INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE IN EAST TIMOR
NEW YORK, 30 July (UN Headquarters) -- In the difficult days after the United Nations flag came down in East Timor, the United Nations must remain fully engaged in the country, but the Organization's involvement in East Timor should not be allowed to continue for longer than was absolutely necessary, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator in East Timor, told the Security Council today as it reviewed progress towards that country's independence.
Briefing the Council on the situation in East Timor, Mr. de Mello told Members that the "end is in sight", but that there was much further to go if East Timor was truly and fully to benefit from its independence. The priority was to ensure that the Organization was positioned to complete the job set by the Council, as quickly and economically as possible. To equate the political transition, which was so close to completion, with the establishment of an effective administration was quite simply wrong.
Moreover, he warned, it would be wrong to disengage from the task prematurely, or to proclaim too early the full implementation of the Council's mandate. "We cannot simply walk away" and risk that enormous investment, he said. The United Nations had done well in East Timor, and even the harshest critics must be surprised that it had turned ashes and debris into a functioning State, heading fast towards a democratic future. The United Nations was not seeking to outstay its welcome, but its presence remained an "absolute necessity".
Jose Ramos Horta, member of the Transitional Cabinet of East Timor responsible for Foreign Affairs, said that despite positive developments, peace was still fragile, and a hasty withdrawal by the United Nations could undermine achievements. His country was conscious of the need to downsize the military and civilian components of the United Nations Mission, and had never desired an indefinite foreign peacekeeping presence. Indeed, after 25 years of violence, the people of East Timor wanted to be masters of their own fates.
Several speakers during the day-long debate described the situation in East Timor as tentative, and echoed the call made by Mr. de Mello for a "cautious right-sizing" of the international presence.
The representative of Singapore said that although the coming elections were an important milestone for the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET), they were not its final destination. Given the potential vulnerability of the post-election period, the elections were not an opportunity for an early exit. The achievements were still fragile and reversible. Their unravelling would be costlier than sustaining an international presence until the new country could stand on its own two feet.
In the final analysis, the representative of Indonesia asserted, the whole issue revolved around the question of maintaining and promoting security of the territory. In that connection, the new Indonesian Government had remained fully committed to fulfilling the obligations and responsibilities stemming from international and bilateral agreements on East Timor. It would exert its efforts towards resolving the residual issues, while, at the same time, forging a mutually fruitful bilateral relationship with the leaders of East Timor.
He expressed his heartfelt thanks for the full support extended to his new Government in addressing the challenges ahead. But he called it "unacceptable" that the latest report of the Secretary-General sought to justify the need for a "robust United Nations presence in the border areas" and in East Timor by asserting inaction by the Indonesian Government in disbanding militia groups. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indonesia had officially disbanded and disarmed what had been called the "militia".
Mr. de Mello responded to questions and comments on behalf of himself and Mr. Ramos Horta. He said he appreciated today’s unanimous support for the mission and the people of East Timor. That had been a source of inspiration and encouragement to them, to their leadership and to the international community. The East Timorese had been privileged to enjoy such broad, unreserved support from the Council and the United Nations as a whole. They would continue to endeavour to deserve that confidence.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Tunisia, United States, Russian Federation, Jamaica, France, Colombia, Mali, Norway, Ireland, Ukraine, Mauritius, China, Portugal, Australia, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Japan, Philippines, Brazil, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Canada and Thailand.
Before the Council was the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), dated 24 July. The Secretary-General says that the United Nations will continue to refine plans for the successor mission of UNTAET, as East Timor goes through the current critical phase of the transition period. He will closely follow developments in the coming months, and revert to the Council with a further report towards the end of October, following elections and once a clear picture of future requirements will have emerged.
The report (document S/2001/719) recalls that the Council, on 31 January, decided to extend UNTAET's mandate until 31 January 2002. Also by resolution 1338 (2001), the Council stressed the need for a substantial international presence in East Timor, and requested the Secretary-General to submit detailed recommendations in this regard within six months. The current report covers the activities of UNTAET, developments in East Timor and the progress made in planning for an international presence in the country after independence. During this period, the Council received a briefing on developments in East Timor.
According to the report, the past six months have been a "most productive" period, during which the East Timorese people, in partnership with the United Nations, but increasingly on their own, have made broad advances on the path to independence and self-government. While a number of serious incidents have occurred, the overall security situation in East Timor has been stable. Meanwhile, UNTAET is making sure that the election for the Constituent Assembly to prepare a constitution for an independent and democratic East Timor is free, fair and orderly.
The district-level public hearings of the past two months, in which thousands took part, were an extraordinary expression of popular participation in the political process of East Timor, the report finds. It is clear that the debate on the future Constitution is drawing intense interest from broad segments of the population. The East Timorese leaders have acted with great responsibility to promote peace, tolerance and mutual respect, as reflected in their pact of national unity. This augurs well for East Timor's future. Of course, many difficulties and challenges lie ahead for the fledging nation.
A key task, the report continues, is the establishment of effective administrative institutions that are fiscally sustainable. It will be essential to "stay a steady course", to ensure the smooth formation of the Constituent Assembly and the new Cabinet and to maintain a peaceful environment for the debate over the first Constitution of East Timor and the transition to independence. In his report of 16 January, the Secretary-General had stated that, once independent, East Timor would still require "substantial international support" to be provided through an integrated mission mandated by the Council and funded from assessed contributions.
The present report states that planning for such an international presence has been undertaken by the Working Group on the Post-UNTAET Planning in East Timor, together with the Integrated Mission Task Force in New York. Significant progress has been made in identifying those areas requiring ongoing support. Efforts are now focused on identifying specific functions and timelines, and consultations continue. The plan will be refined to reflect the structure of an independent Government of East Timor, which will only become clear once the Constituent Assembly's deliberations have progressed. Clearly, however, there will be a substantial reduction in the overall presence.
The report says that the civilian component of the mission would include the essential elements of a sizeable operation headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General. The mission should also retain a liaison office in Jakarta. The Secretary-General is convinced that an effective human rights component should be an essential part of the mission. It is likely that an electoral assistance component will also be required. Despite considerable progress in the recruitment of Timorese civil servants, most of them will have been in place, at independence, for only six to 12 months, and the systems they work with will still be new and fragile.
It will, therefore, be necessary to maintain within the mission a small team of professionals in various fields, to continue the work of Timorization and skills transfer, the report states. These officers would provide the Timorese authorities with assistance in areas that are absolutely critical to effective government, such as executive and central management, financial resource management, justice and human rights and security, as well as areas of national sovereignty such as border control. It is anticipated that these functions will not be required for longer than two years, and the majority for shorter periods.
Without prejudice to ongoing planning, the report notes that it is estimated that training staff funded from assessed contributions will be reduced by approximately 35 per cent by the end of October. By the end of the current mandate, it should be possible to eliminate about 75 per cent of the international civilian training staff, and up to 20 per cent of the international civilian staff now working in the UNTAET administration. The Secretary-General's Special Representative will provide details of this downsizing in the context of the budget discussions that will take place later in the year, and will be reported to the Council in October.
The report says that the development and training of the East Timor Police Service is proceeding in accordance with a phased plan that provides for the achievement of its full strength of 3,000 by the end of April 2003. Once all 3,000 East Timorese police officers are fully trained and able to take on normal policing functions, a United Nations civilian police presence will be required for executive policing. That will gradually shift to mentoring and monitoring, as the East Timorese police assume increased responsibility for public security functions. Subject to review, it is envisaged that, while the United Nations civilian police will be reduced, it should maintain a substantial strength until the East Timorese police are fully trained and deployed.
There is continuing concern about security in East Timor, the report states. Infiltration by militia groups remains at a relatively low level, but, as long as they have not been disbanded by the Indonesian Government, they will continue to pose a threat to both the internal stability of East Timor and the well-being and security of refugees remaining in West Timor. There will, thus, be a need for a United Nations force to continue, in close coordination with the Government of East Timor, to maintain a secure environment, with particular emphasis on a robust presence in the border areas.
Also according to the report, a strong combat force should be deployed at its current level in East Timor's border regions and in the Oecussi enclave. In the eastern sector, the number of infantry battalions could be reduced from three to one, provided the security situation remains stable. Subsequently, a similar reduction could take place in the central sector, bearing in mind its more complex security profile. The peacekeeping force should be highly mobile and able to counter any external threat and provide security support at any trouble spot. Sufficient troop-by-troop capacity, engineer, aviation and communications resources to maintain a high level of tactical mobility in the border regions and to other parts of the country would be necessary, as well as appropriate logistic support.
Once the conditions are met for withdrawal from the central and eastern sectors, the report continues, engineer support would then be reduced to half its current level. Streamlining of other areas of support would allow further reductions in personnel within force units and headquarters. The military observer group would also be reduced from its current size, and its focus would be on the border regions. The security situation will be kept under constant review, and the Secretary-General shall inform the Council accordingly. He intends to make further recommendations on the size of the police and military components in a later report to the Council, in line with the security and threat assessment conducted after the election.
SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator in East Timor, said the Council had never shirked its full responsibility to ensure that the East Timor Mission was a success. In the past six months, many projects had come to fruition and many more were on the way. The mandate in East Timor, however, was much more than a list of tasks or a catalogue of problems to be solved. It had meant working with the traumatized and brutalized people of East Timor and, together, creating an independent sovereign State.
In East Timor, he said, the United Nations was engaged in something truly historic. Never before had the international community embarked on such a noble venture from such a bleak beginning. The Mission started, quite literally, from nothing and -– because it had never done that before -– it had felt its way carefully and come a long way towards preparing East Timor for the ultimate goal of independence. The end was in sight, but his message today was that while the international community had indeed come a long way on an extraordinary adventure, it still had much further to go if East Timor was to be able to benefit truly and fully from its independence. Now was not the time for complacency, but a time to buckle down and complete the mandate.
His overriding priority, he continued, was to ensure that the United Nations was positioned to complete the job set by the Council, as quickly as was sensible, and as economically as was prudent. To do that required addressing four major objectives: to consolidate the secure and stable environment; to steer East Timor through the creation of democratic institutions and successful, peaceful elections; to put in place the building blocks for the management of public finances and policy-making; and to establish the framework for a sustainable and effective administration.
Continuing, he said there was still some disquiet among much of the population, which might lead the political process towards civil unrest and violence. But the United Nations and the leadership of East Timor had made it absolutely clear that politically motivated violence in the territory would not be tolerated. At the beginning of July, to reinforce that point, 14 of the 16 parties competing in the election signed a Pact of National Unity to demonstrate unequivocally their commitment to peaceful non-violence and mature democratic competition. Following the election, it was clearly appropriate to move to a further stage of "Timorization".
That was an ugly word that had entered into common usage, he said. Behind it, however, lay the basic guideline that had underpinned the Mission from the early months of last year, namely, that a people could not be prepared for self-government without first being exposed to experience of government. Any other approach simply would not have worked. In public administration, he intended to follow much the same pattern as in the political transition. He wished to spend the time between now and independence bringing the international component of the public administration down to a size and shape that would allow a seamless transfer of power to a national structure that was credible, effective, and adequately staffed. There was still a way to go, and over the next few months and years, capacity building must be the main endeavour and the highest priority.
Critics of the United Nations had often said that the hardest thing to persuade its staff to do was to leave, he noted. In the past, that had often been the case, but in East Timor, he did not think he was seeking to outstay his welcome. The international presence was, in his view, an "absolute necessity". The arguments for a continued military and police presence had been well presented in the Secretary-General’s report. The planning in that critical area should be predicated solely on the security conditions prevailing in East Timor; no other factor could be allowed to influence judgment. The report entertained a scaled draw down of the international military presence, starting sometime in the near future and beginning in the east. If the current stable conditions continued through the election period and the formation of the Constituent Assembly, that process could commence, cautiously, prior to independence.
Another struggle, he said, had been bringing fully to life the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year with Indonesia concerning cooperation in legal, judicial and human rights-related matters. Bilateral relations continued to move forward in a generally positive direction. However, the Indonesian Government was urged to reissue the decree creating the ad hoc human rights tribunal to bring to justice those first 223 suspects publicly named by the Indonesian Attorney-General in early September 2000, following thorough joint investigations. For that process to be credible, it was imperative that the tribunal should have jurisdiction over crimes that occurred not just after the popular consultation, but also before it. True justice required that the architects of crime faced their day in court.
He said he saw the United Nations role in East Timor as a continuum. It had been directed to do a job and that job was not yet complete. To equate the political transition, which was now so close to completion, with the establishment of an effective administration for East Timor, was quite simply wrong. The event of political independence was on a parallel path to the progressive achievement of what might be called administrative independence. It would be wrong to disengage from that activity prematurely, to declare too early the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1272. On independence, there was unfinished business, which must be done in order to ensure that the work so far completed -– and for which the Council should take much of the credit -– remained firmly in place.
The reality today that that there was not yet a fully effective East Timor administration, and there would not be one early next year when independence was likely to come. The current machine was a hybrid which contained large numbers of international staff. That was being reduced in size and rationalized, but there would still be many gaps needing to be filled. "We cannot simply walk away" and thus risk the enormous investment made so far. While it was true that East Timor must rely on bilateral and multilateral partners, there were vital areas of government where it would be entirely justified to place advisory staff and a small number of line managers. With the consent and active support of the East Timorese, those experts would continue the process of skills transfer and ensure the proper functioning of departments for a specified time.
Undoubtedly, he went on, the United Nations had done well in East Timor. Historians would be able, with hindsight, to say how much better they would have done "in our shoes". But even the harshest critics must be surprised that the United Nations had turned ashes and debris into a functioning State, heading fast towards a democratic future. There was a price, however, and that was the baggage that a United Nations mission and the donors and others brought with them on such a venture. The downsizing of a mission took away a complicated culture of technology and comfort, such as cars, computers and air conditioners. Over the next few months, the "rightsizing" of the government machine would require some hard and even harsh choices; the answers would affect people’s lives and livelihoods.
The challenge for the East Timorese was obvious, he said. The one faced by the United Nations would be equally daunting, for it must exercise its responsibilities in full harmony with new organs that would enjoy, for the first time in East Timor’s history, democratic legitimacy. The interface between the United Nations and East Timor should not be allowed to continue for longer than was absolutely necessary to meet the benchmarks for East Timor to achieve its independence. Conversely, to justify its pride in that endeavour, the United Nations must remain fully engaged in those early difficult days after the United Nations flag came down.
JOSE RAMOS HORTA, member of the Transitional Cabinet of East Timor responsible for Foreign Affairs, said that East Timor had come a long way in the last two years. Two years after the historic referendum in 1999, on 30 August, the people of East Timor would vote on the Constitutional Assembly, which would set the legal framework for the future of East Timor. The UNTAET had been doing an important job in providing security and organizing the elections. He assured the Council that on their part the authorities of East Timor would do their best to provide for orderly elections.
In June, the National Council for Timorese Resistance had been dissolved, he continued. Despite the concerns that there would be violence, the transition to a multi-party system had proceeded smoothly. A Pact of National Unity had been signed by most political parties, which had committed themselves to accept the results of the elections regardless of their results. The situation in the border region had been relatively quiet, despite several isolated incidents. Xanana Gusmão had met with militia leaders on the border in early July 2001, and Bishop Basilio Nascimento of Baucau, together with six local chiefs from East Timor, had visited West Timor in May. The dialogue with the pro-autonomy groups there was continuing. Preparations were under way for Mr. Gusmão to travel to the border region and maybe to West Timor, as well, to continue the dialogue.
At the recent ministerial meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi, East Timor had reaffirmed its commitment to continue neighbourly relations with other countries of the region, he continued, including Indonesia, for only such relations could guarantee a secure future. An interim arrangement with Australia had been achieved regarding the use of oil. He hoped that alternative sources of wealth for East Timor would be developed to cut back its dependence on a handful of commodities. A strategic development task force, with the participation of donor countries and international financial institutions, should look into future courses of action. He hoped that a preliminary vision of the future of East Timor would be presented to the upcoming donor conference in Oslo.
Despite positive developments, it was also important to remember that peace in East Timor was still very fragile, he said. It was not easy to erase the negative memories of the 25 years of violence. As long as armed elements continued to operate, the people of the territory would continue to live in fear. On the East Timorese side, he looked forward to working with the new Government of Indonesia. He also looked forward to the time when East Timor and Indonesia could develop partnerships towards eradication of poverty, as well as malaria and other communicable diseases. First, it was important to develop trust.
He was conscious of the need to downsize the military and civilian components of UNTAET, he said. The territory had no desire for an indefinite foreign peacekeeping presence in East Timor. The people of East Timor wanted to be masters of their own destiny. As peace was still fragile, however, any consideration of hasty withdrawal after independence could undermine achievements gained through significant sacrifices. He appealed to the Council to support the recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding the civilian component and cautious downsizing of the military component.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said East Timor would still need more support from the international community in the areas of civil administration, policing, judiciary and basic social services. It was also absolutely necessary for Timorization to take place, or the efforts of the international community would be in vain. United Nations assistance would constitute the core of international aid.
He said if the Organization made a rapid withdrawal from East Timor, the precious investment made during the last two years would be at stake. Therefore, a phased withdrawal should be planned only after consultation with the new Government. East Timorese should not get the impression that the international community had abandoned them at a critical stage of their nation building.
He added that the cooperation and support of Indonesia was another important aspect for East Timor. "We all hope the new Indonesian Government will realize its expectations effectively", he said. At the same time, meaningful people-to-people contacts were necessary to generate understanding and promote a culture of peace among the people of the two countries. East Timor would obviously look towards eventual membership in ASEAN. In a regional setting, that organization could play a key role in maintaining the sovereignty and independence of its future member.
ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom) welcomed progress in the preparation for the democratic elections, which would be a huge milestone in East Timor’s journey towards independence. He also welcomed the signing of the Pact of National Unity whereby 14 of East Timor’s 16 parties had committed themselves to respecting the outcome of the election. He hoped that it augured well for a peaceful election, as well as acceptance and full implementation of its results. The efforts towards reconciliation, and the establishment of the Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission were also encouraging. The United Kingdom was providing funding to support that Commission.
He expressed concern over the political instability in Jakarta, which could jeopardize the establishment of the special human rights tribunal in Indonesia for the prosecution of serious crimes against the East Timorese people. In that connection, he called on the new Indonesian Government to make early progress in that area. It was vital that those responsible for serious crimes received punishment.
Greater progress than anyone could have hoped for had been achieved in East Timor, he said. That was particularly impressive, since, as Mr. de Mello had pointed out, the international community had started with practically nothing there. The United Nations could not afford to be complacent, however. Much remained to be done before a stable and independent East Timor could be established. It was important to protect the investment already made, and although there should be no permanent presence, he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding the future of UNTAET. It was important to plan for a continued United Nations presence after independence.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said the upcoming election in East Timor was one of the most important events in the country's political transition. "We must not forget, however, that while the election is an important milestone in UNTAET's mandate, it is not its final destination", he warned. Given their past experience with elections, many East Timorese believed that the potential for violence during and after elections might be even higher than before. Many previous United Nations peacekeeping operations had also shown elections to be an unstable time at which to withdraw from an operation.
The Organization should, therefore, not repeat the same mistakes in East Timor. Planning for a phase-down before the elections took place assumed a best case scenario -– an assumption which the Brahimi report opposed. That report also warned against forcing a situation on the ground to fit political and other extraneous criteria in New York. The Constituent Assembly elections and the period immediately after that could be a moment of vulnerability. The Council should, therefore, view that period with vigilance rather than as an opportunity for an early exit from East Timor.
What had been achieved so far in East Timor was fragile and reversible, he said. As the report of the Secretary-General had highlighted, some hard-line militia elements had plans to resume offensive operations designed to destabilize the situation in the lead-up to elections and independence. There was also concern that some militia elements had adopted a strategy of lying low until independence, in the belief that the military presence would then be removed from East Timor. Should the post-independence nation unravel, the costs of the United nations re-entering and rebuilding would be much costlier than if the international presence was sustained until the new country was able to stand on its own two feet.
"We believe that the United Nations should not be penny wise and pound foolish", he said. "We believe it is not sufficient for us to rely only on voluntary contributions to fund the Organization's presence. Voluntary contributions alone are not good enough." It would be better if the United Nations presence was supported by a regular and reliable source of funding that would give East Timor the maximum chance of viability over the long term. East Timor was a half-finished project that could not be done on the cheap or on borrowed time. "No one wants two years of investment to produce a failed State", he said.
MOHAMED FADHEL AYARI (Tunisia) said that the present period in East Timor marked an important stage for its people, who were moving inexorably towards independence. The upcoming elections on 30 August were a real reason for satisfaction and boded well for the future of East Timor. The elections would pave the way from a transitional administration to a new government which would face numerous challenges. Assistance from the international community in that regard was indispensable. He welcomed progress in laying down the basis for an effective administration, which had the onerous responsibility of governing the new country. The best way to ensure its future was the establishment of good-neighbourly relations.
In that regard, he said he welcomed the outcome of several months of negotiations between East Timor and Australia. Also, the Indonesian authorities had demonstrated their readiness to cooperate with UNTAET and establish mechanisms designed to resolve such outstanding questions as those of refugees and displaced persons. He encouraged the continuation of major efforts by UNTAET, the contributing countries, donors, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which had been designed to provide East Timor with a solid base on which to govern. He also supported Mr. Ramos-Horta’s warning that peace remained precarious and that any hasty withdrawal would impinge on what had been achieved. Much remained to be done to secure the future of a sovereign East Timor.
CAMERON R. HUME (United States) said the most important thing to do today was to send a clear signal that the 30 August elections were a major step towards a free and independent East Timor. Following the election, he hoped that there would be a smooth transition to independence. The creation of a democratically elected Constituent Assembly was a logical step, as well as the planned establishment of the new Cabinet in the future, composed entirely of East Timorese.
There were reports about the anxiety of the population as the elections approached, with the memory of the past violence still present, he continued. Now, nearly all the parties had committed themselves to the peaceful election campaign. Now, there were police and civilian UNTAET staff all over East Timor. This election would be different: it would be safe, and it would set the way for the future -- at which time it would be necessary to talk seriously about the United Nations presence following independence. As part of the continued international presence, the United States hoped to see various agencies and programmes engaged in the development of East Timor. It would be useful if a UNDP resident representative could be present in East Timor, as well.
His delegation supported the Secretary-General’s intention to adjust downwards the United Nations presence in East Timor in the coming months. Today was not the time to get into a protracted discussion on the post-UNTAET presence, for the elections were the first priority at this stage. He looked forward to more detailed proposals in October on a smaller future presence. It was important to consider how the peacekeeping presence could be reconfigured and ultimately concluded.
ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that the present substantive report provided a detailed description of efforts undertaken by UNTAET and the successes achieved in the course of "Timorization". He shared the conclusions and thrust of the Secretary-General’s ideas concerning the future role of the United Nations in East Timor. Those should take the form of recommendations in his next report in October.
He said that preparations for the transition to a new State were being carried out in a logical and planned manner. The Security Council must take into account the need for a very thorough assessment and regulation of its actions, so the Organization’s presence did not impinge on the process. Indeed, that process had opened up a new page in United Nations peacekeeping, and its success or failure was directly linked to the prestige of the Organization.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that the Council must now focus on the situation in East Timor; the preparations for the elections and independence; and progress towards capacity building. She was pleased that preparations for the elections had been peacefully launched and that the pact between the parties committed them to acceptance of the outcome. She looked forward to the establishment of the Constituent Assembly and the involvement of the population in the peacemaking process. She stressed the importance of finding a common ground in the drafting of the Constitution, and anticipated a renewed focus on the economic and social development and reconstruction of East Timor.
Substantial progress had been made in the spheres of finance and economy, she continued, and she was particularly pleased at the establishment of the Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission. Development of a strong police force was also an important objective for the maintenance of peace. The refugee situation remained a source of concern. Assistance of United Nations agencies and international institutions, and their future collaboration in development plans, would be crucial for the future of East Timor.
She commended the Indonesian Government for its cooperation in the registration of refugees in West Timor. Attaching particular importance to cooperation on legal, judicial and other matters, she also urged the new Government of Indonesia to cooperate in that respect.
A lot more needed to be done in East Timor, and the impact of many initiatives could only be evaluated in the future, she said. It was necessary to consider carefully the timing and impact of the reduction of the United Nations presence in East Timor. After independence, East Timor would still require the presence of the international community. Continued international involvement was crucial to the cementing of the substantial gains already made. She looked forward to discussing the recommendations of the working group on post-UNTAET planning, and welcomed the inclusion of the human rights component in the successor mission. She agreed with the Secretary-General that civilian police should be maintained until East Timorese police could be fully trained and established. She also supported the continued United Nations presence, the size of which should be determined in close cooperation with the elected authorities of East Timor. She agreed with Mr. Ramos Horta that excellent relations with other countries of the region would be the best defence for East Timor.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said he associated himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union. The progress so far achieved by UNTAET had brought the parties closer to the ultimate goal, namely, the building of a viable, independent State. The United Nations Mission should work together with Timorese officials to make the elections a success. Indeed, those elections represented a critical stage of political transition. Following the elections, the international community would see its role changed. There would be a lesser need to replace Timorese authorities. Rather, the United Nations would accompany them on the road to independence.
He said he welcomed the creation last June of the Commission of Truth, Reception and Reconciliation. He thanked Mr. Ramos Horta for his clarifications about its work, and added that only the rise of Timorese political power would make it possible to advance the reconciliation process. Ensuring stability rested on promotion of the earliest possible accession to independence following the presidential elections. Indonesia also had a role to play, with respect to disarmament and the dismantling of the militia. He welcomed Mr. Ramos Horta’s view of Indonesia's cooperation in crucial matters of concern, and called upon the authorities to implement appeal procedures on the deaths of United Nations staff members and to bring to trial the perpetrators of human rights abuses.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that the Council was entering a decisive period for the future of East Timor. The upcoming elections were an essential brick in the construction of the independent State of East Timor. The United Nations should accompany East Timor all the way to independence. Law and tolerance, as well as respect for human rights and different ideologies, should prevail in East Timor. There must also be justice. Colombia was eager to contribute to the achievement of peace in East Timor.
Today’s discussion should help to define a proper future role for the United Nations in East Timor, he continued. The sole criterion for the United Nations presence there in the future should be based on the specific needs of the people of East Timor. In that context, it was obvious that the proposals contained in the Secretary-General’s report required very careful study. Once the East Timorese people had expressed their political will, the Council must ensure that the results of the elections defined the future efforts of the international community.
In conclusion, he asked several questions regarding the coordination of agency efforts in East Timor, the role of the resident coordinator of the UNDP, and the status of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) process. Finally, he emphasized the great importance of the inter-agency assessment mission in East Timor. He asked when the results of its work would be available and when action would be taken on its recommendations.
MAMOUNOU TOURÉ (Mali) the considerable progress made by UNTAET since the Council’s last meeting on the subject on 18 May. Today’s meeting was an ideal opportunity to pay a warm tribute to the Secretary-General and all staff of UNTAET and of the transitional administration. He endorsed the ideas and analysis provided by the Secretary-General in his latest report, and shared some of the concerns expressed by the previous speakers.
He said that UNTAET had taken up its task with seriousness and determination in preparing for the 30 August elections. Dissolving the National Council and opening the electoral campaign had been tangible signs of progress. The pluralistic party ballot was the biggest challenge before UNTAET and the international community. Also welcome had been the participation of 16 political parties and the registration of more than 1,000 party candidates to fill some 88 seats in parliament. The Pact of National Unity, signed by 14 of the 16 parties competing for votes, had been a political step supported by his delegation. It also supported UNTAET's decision to call for donor support to organize a programme of assistance for all political parties and independent candidates.
Hopefully, he said, the progress made in the past six months in recruiting and training staff and adopting legislation on labour and employment would continue. The "Timorization" of the administration must speed up, with a view to enabling citizens to take charge of their country's future. The accession to independence, however, would not mean disengagement by the international community, as young democracies took baby steps at first. He hoped the October report would emphasize issues related to defence, public safety and good governance, as those were of critical importance in the period following the elections. East Timor would continue to need international support, and the international community should not shirk the responsibility.
The Council President then suspended the meeting, informing members that the debate would resume in the afternoon.
Statements on Resumption of Debate
WEGGER CHRISTIAN STROMMEN (Norway) said that to ensure peace and the establishment of vital institutions, it was of crucial importance that the United Nations remained in East Timor until such institutions had been put on a solid footing. His country fully supported the Secretary-General's recommendations with regard to a future United Nations presence there. The UNTAET had provided a platform for a successful transition in East Timor. To see that process through to its logical conclusion, assessed funding was the only viable approach. The successor mission should be carefully designed to reflect the exact needs and challenges of a newly independent East Timor.
He said that, in terms of a future exit strategy and the withdrawal of United Nations personnel, the Council should seek guidance from its own resolution 1272. The period leading up to the elections on 30 August, as well as the immediate post-election period with the drafting of the Constitution, would be of great importance. A lot had been invested and a lot was at stake. He reiterated the importance of free and fair elections. The innovative approach adopted by UNTAET in the pre-election phase had been encouraging. Also welcome had been the signing of the National Unity Pact.
Norway had been among the international observers at the recent registration of refugees in West Timor, he said. His delegation had approved of the technical manner in which the exercise had been carried out. The preliminary results had suggested that the majority of refugees currently preferred to remain in Indonesia, but it was likely that many would reconsider and opt for repatriation at a later stage. He strongly supported efforts by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate the return of those refugees who had already chosen repatriation. In that regard, the Indonesian Government should lend its full support and cooperation.
His country also attached great importance to criminal proceedings against individuals responsible for serious international crimes. He had remained concerned by the continued impunity enjoyed by Indonesian civil and military officials, as well as that country's failure to comply with the Memorandum of Understanding signed by UNTAET on legal, judicial and human rights matters. Prosecution by national courts was a far better approach than the setting up of an international tribunal, which should always be the very last resort. His Government, therefore, called on the new Indonesian Government to take the necessary measures to comply with its relevant obligations.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said that much remained to be done in East Timor, despite tremendous achievements of the past two years. Among other efforts, he noted the planning for the United Nations presence following independence. He strongly believed that such a presence should be commensurate with the actual requirements, and said that the desirable downsizing should be done taking into account the needs of East Timor. Assistance in the development of local expertise and institutional capacity was needed. An effective human rights component should be an important part of the successor mission.
He expressed concern about the security situation in East Timor, particularly on the border with West Timor. Illegal cross-border activities and movements were distressing, as was the waiting strategy of some militias, which hoped that the removal of the international presence would give them a chance in the future. Such militias needed to be disbanded. It was important to monitor the situation on the ground, especially in preparation for the election.
The long-term stability and prosperity of East Timor would be greatly enhanced through improvement of its relations with its neighbour, Indonesia, he said. That country needed to actively implement the Memorandum of Understanding, cooperate with UNTAET and prosecute those guilty of crimes against humanity. There should also be an understanding that if refugees currently in West Timor should elect to return to their homes, they should be allowed to do so. Ireland remained committed to improving the situation in East Timor. Self-realization of East Timor was in its critical stage, and it was important that the Council showed continued support for improvement of the situation there.
VOLODYMYR G. KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said he viewed positively the activities of UNTAET, and considered the elections to the Constituent Assembly to be a key issue for East Timor at this stage, for they would pave the way to eventual independence. It was necessary to ensure that they were held in a democratic, transparent and orderly manner. It would be essential to ensure the smooth formation of the Constituent Assembly and the new Cabinet, and to maintain a peaceful environment for the debate over East Timor’s first Constitution and the transition to independence. In that connection, he welcomed the signing of the Pact of National Unity by 14 of the 16 political parties participating in the elections, but was concerned that the potential for communal or inter-party violence remained over the transitional period. He asked what additional steps were being taken to prevent a possible destabilization of the situation.
Establishing the economic foundation for independence was another priority task, he continued. The future Government would need to build on efforts by the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations by creating an environment favourable to long-term investments. Financial programmes in East Timor should be focused on the future and adapted to the conditions that would prevail after independence. An indispensable step towards independence was the establishment of an East Timorese defence force, local police and an effective system of justice. The United Nations civilian police should maintain substantial strength until the East Timorese were fully trained and deployed.
It was clear, he said, that an international presence in East Timor needed to be maintained after transition to independence. He fully shared the relevant provisions of the Secretary-General’s report in that regard. A comprehensive, realistic and lasting approach towards a successor mission was needed, as well as a considered and smooth exit strategy, based on the needs.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said political development in East Timor seemed to be moving in the right direction: the dream of independence culminating in statehood was now a matter of time only. In light of the progressive "infrastructural" development of the past six months and the strong commitment of both UNTAET and the East Timorese to nation building, he was confident that the forthcoming elections would proceed peacefully. He noted with satisfaction that the majority of parties had signed the Pact of National Unity to carry out a peaceful political campaign and accept the outcome of the elections.
He said that the positive developments in East Timor would not have been possible without the active cooperation of the Indonesian Government. He urged the new leadership in Indonesia to pursue its effort to implement all of the measures called for by the Council in its resolution 1319. He also appealed to the Government to fully respect the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in legal, judicial and human rights matters, concluded on 6 April 2000 with UNTAET, especially the provision for the transfer of persons for the purposes of prosecution.
The task ahead was not easy, he said, but it was not unattainable either. The international community could not afford an exit without a strategy. The East Timorese needed to be prepared to take over the responsibility and destiny of their newborn State. That was only possible if the "Timorization" process was accelerated in all sectors, through capacity building in specific sectors of public finance, public administration, policing and the maintenance of law and order. It was also important to lay the foundations for democratic institutions and consolidate them.
Speaking in his national capacity, President of the Council WANG YINGFAN (China) endorsed the report of the Secretary-General and said that he was happy about the significant progress achieved in East Timor. He appreciated the efforts of UNTAET, particularly in the preparation for the elections and in speeding up the Timorization of the territory. East Timor was in the critical final stage of the transitional period, and its people needed assistance to achieve self-government.
Regarding the exit strategy, it was necessary to take a cautious approach, he continued. After East Timor achieved its independence, the United Nations should maintain its presence there, providing assistance to the authorities and supporting a considerable military and civilian presence. Adequate financial support should be provided for the Mission. As for the size, composition and mandate of the successor mission, they should be based both on the principle of high efficiency and on the needs of East Timor. That decision should be taken in close consultation with the people of East Timor.
Economic development of East Timor should not be neglected, he said. The UNTAET and relevant international agencies should continue their efforts in that regard, and the international community should continue its assistance. Making contributions within its capacities, China had recently offered assistance free of charge to East Timor in such areas as agriculture and training. It also planned to send medical teams to East Timor.
FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal) said he wished to associate himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union. The Security Council, on the basis of an objective assessment of the evolving situation on the ground, should lead the process towards independence. He noted, in particular, the progress in recruiting civil servants and the transfer of authority at all levels to the Timorese. That transfer had also required a transfer of skills to ensure an adequate performance by the new authorities. The UNTAET should continue to pursue such efforts.
After independence, he said, East Timor would still require substantial international support, and he welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a follow-up presence comprising both security and civilian components. That would ensure the continuation of UNTAET’s work, since it had become clear that the broad mandate of the Security Council would not be achieved by the time of independence. The Mission, therefore, must continue to ensure the viable and democratic nature of the new State. That was the best legacy the United Nations and the Security Council could provide.
As the Secretary-General had emphasized, full deployment of a Timorese police force that respected human rights and guaranteed law and order was of particular importance. Despite some improvements in security, he was concerned at some of the incidents highlighted by the Secretary-General in his report, including the light sentences handed out to the convicted murderers of United Nations personnel.
His country welcomed efforts by the Indonesian Government to address the problem of the Timorese refugees remaining in West Timor. He encouraged the search for a comprehensive solution; their return home should be allowed at any given moment and their future adjustment must be carefully planned. Concerning the elections, the political parties were in the middle of their electoral campaign, and it was critical that no positions were taken or signals sent from the Council that could have a destabilizing effect on the election environment.
He added that the drafting of a constitution was too important a debate to be rushed. Clearly, the United Nations would not stay in East Timor indefinitely; neither the Council nor the East Timorese wanted that. Nevertheless, UNTAET’s mandate must be fully implemented. What was at stake was the very credibility of the United Nations. The UNTAET had done an outstanding job. For its part, Portugal would continue to do its utmost to support all efforts to bring East Timor to independence and lasting peace.
PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) said that the United Nations would continue to have a clear and necessary role in the transition process in East Timor. She fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s judgement of the need for a continuing international process to ensure a successful long-term outcome. Following independence, a continuing United Nations presence should be provided through an integrated mission comprising civilian, civilian police and peacekeeping components, under a single Security Council mandate and funded from United Nations assessed contributions. The size of that successor mission would, naturally, be substantially smaller than UNTAET.
The current report of the Secretary-General indicated that the successor mission would not be overly ambitious or costly. The international community had a responsibility to deal carefully with a situation that remained fragile. The credibility of the United Nations as the caretaker of East Timor’s transition was at stake. The Secretary-General’s outline of the likely shape and size of the international post-independence presence in East Timor was a step forward in the development of a clear exit strategy. Indeed, a flexible approach to planning was needed for all components of the post-independence presence, and related decisions must be guided by developments on the ground.
The 30 August election was a major step towards East Timor’s independence, she continued. While all subsequent steps and their timing must be determined by the political situation on the ground, the establishment of the Constituent Assembly and further decisions on the shape of the administration should lead to concrete decisions on the mandate for a future United Nations presence. Timely decisions would maximize the prospects of achieving a smooth transition from pre- to post-independence United Nations presence.
So far, she said, the process of managing the East Timor transition had been a conspicuous success for the United Nations. With continuing commitment and careful and prudent management, the United Nations could fulfil its substantial responsibility to establish a fully functioning, democratic, independent State. That would be the results as long as a steady course was maintained and the right decisions continued to be made now and over the coming months.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium) welcomed the progress achieved over the past few months. East Timor had come a long way since UNTAET received its broad mandate in 1999. Not even two years later, the people of East Timor were firmly on their way towards full independence. The elections on 30 August constituted the next step towards the building of a sustainable nation. The European Union was sending a team of election observers to East Timor. It counted on a broad participation of the population. To that end, it was essential that the civic and voter education process should continue. It was encouraging that most political parties had signed the Pact of National Unity, undertaking the commitment to respect the outcome of the elections and the principles of democracy, tolerance and respect for minorities. The European Union would like to see the same principles enshrined in the Constitution of East Timor, the blueprint of the future East Timorese nation.
The economic situation in East Timor remained difficult, he said. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s observation that property laws and a framework for commercial activity were needed in order to stimulate the private sector. The initialling of the Timor Sea Arrangement between Australian and East Timorese Cabinet Ministers constituted a big step in the right direction. He hoped that together with future agreements, it would contribute to long-term growth in East Timor. For such growth to happen, further efforts in the development of the agricultural sector were needed.
He hoped that the new Government of Indonesia would continue to implement the terms of resolution 1319 (2000). In the past, the Union had strongly insisted that Indonesia follow up on its obligations. The record so far had been uneven. Questions remained about the long-term intentions of the refugees in West Timor, who had for now opted to stay on Indonesian territory. He hoped that those who eventually wanted to return to East Timor would be able to do so in security. He called upon the Indonesian authorities to cooperate with UNTAET and the future East Timorese authorities in prosecuting crimes against humanity and humanitarian law in East Timor. The Jakarta Government should also carry forward the appeals procedure in the case of the murder last year of three UNHCR workers in Atambua.
There was room for a reduction in the overall international presence In East Timor after independence. That reduction should, however, be tied to real needs on the ground and be conducted in close consultation with the Timorese population. The militias in West Timor remained a potential threat to East Timor, particularly in the border areas, he said. It was necessary to be particularly vigilant during the election period, and he encouraged the development and training of the East Timor police service. Also, attention should be given to setting up a strong judicial system. Any revamping of the international presence in East Timor should take into account the security situation, the needs on the ground and the wishes of the population.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said he was delighted that the registration of voters had been completed and the election of the Constituent Assembly would take place on 30 August, as scheduled. The elections would be a significant milestone on the path to a viable East Timor. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the electoral process was conducted in an orderly manner. Memories of the events of August 1999 were still vivid, and there was a widely shared concern among the Timorese population that the political process might not remain peaceful. Thus, he welcomed the Pact of National Unity, with which 14 of the 16 political parties concerned had committed themselves to respect the results of the 30 August election. The international community, for its part, must remain committed to maintaining order in East Timor and extend the necessary assistance towards that end. Japan had made a contribution of approximately $1.2 million to the UNDP for the election of the Constituent Assembly, and planned to dispatch electoral observers to East Timor.
As for the post-independence United Nations presence, he strongly believed that the United Nations should continue its military and civilian police presence for a certain period. The current situation in East Timor was extremely tenuous. It was, therefore, of utmost importance not to give a wrong signal which might exacerbate the situation. From the long-term perspective, a staged reduction of the United Nations presence might be required, when the situation of the ground improved. The process of reduction, however, should be carried out in a careful and gradual manner, taking into account the evolving situation on the ground.
On the "complex and difficult refugee problem", he urged the new Indonesian Government to make further efforts to reach a resolution of the refugee situation in West Timor. It was important for the international community to continue to provide the refugees with assistance. In order for East Timor to become a truly independent State, UNTAET’s authority would have to be transferred to the East Timorese people, with the international community playing an advisory role. That, of course, could not happen all at once on the day of independence. But it was imperative, during the transition phase, to foster a sense of ownership among the East Timorese and to help them develop the necessary skills for governing the nation.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that two years ago the United Nations had begun a first-ever journey to create, from the ground, a veritable political and economic structure for East Timor. Today, it found itself at the mid-point of that journey, as it drew nearer to the much-anticipated independence of East Timor. While substantial progress had been made in the past six months, next month's elections were an important litmus test of how the United Nations had fared in its first true effort at nation building. As an active participant in UNTAET, his country’s interest and hopes were second to none in seeing the realization of nationhood by the East Timorese people.
He cautioned that a reduction of international assistance at the onset of a post-conflict situation or right after an election might not be a wise course of action. An appropriate international presence and level of assistance, therefore, should continue after independence, and the details for a post-independence international presence in East Timor should be formulated with the East Timorese in coordination with the concerned actors. That pertained especially to issues such as the size of the police and military component of a successor mission.
Meanwhile, he said, a thoughtful management of the security situation through the peacekeeping force should be continued by UNTAET. To ensure continued peace and security, democratic institutions must be established. He, therefore, supported the Secretary-General’s view that a successor mission should include a small team of professionals in various fields to continue the work of Timorization and skills transfer, especially in public administration and civil service. Moreover, a sound economic infrastructure was needed to ensure development and progress. He urged the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to encourage investments in rural areas, thereby easing unemployment and stimulating rural productivity and growth. Private sector participation must also be enhanced.
LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) agreed with the Secretary-General that, once independent, East Timor would require international support to be provided through a mission mandated by the Council and funded from assessed contributions. His Government was committed to building a democratic and stable East Timor, he said. That was the main thrust of the visit of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to East Timor last January. He had personally presided over the launching of Brazilian cooperation projects in the fields of capacity-building, professional training and education. His country’s technical mission had then visited East Timor in May to identify opportunities of cooperation in the area of agriculture.
The problem of militia activities in and around the refugee camps of West Timor and in the border area remained a serious threat to stability. Violent incidents should remind the Council how unstable the situation might become and demonstrate the importance of maintaining a credible dissuasive capacity with a robust peacekeeping force. He was also worried about the fate of refugees in the camps in West Timor and looked forward to the assessment of the security situation there. There must be a clear effort to bring to justice those who incited hatred as a political weapon to foster anarchy and chaos. The criminal justice system must be reinforced, and additional resources might be needed to that end. Also, for the United Nations Serious Crimes Unit to make a difference, it was important to overcome the current dearth of forensic experts, experienced investigators and interpreters.
The support of the international community was essential to quell any possible attempts to jeopardize the upcoming elections, which should be free, fair and transparent. Education and training were crucial now and would continue to be in the future. It was also essential that the political parties remained committed to settling their differences through institutional channels. The signing of the Pact of National Unity was a positive step in that direction, but practice must follow suit.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that looking forward to the birth of an independent and democratic East Timorese Government early next year, the Korean Government and people had been extending their best support for election management. Maintenance of political stability, especially during the transitional period after the elections, was crucial. All political parties, including those not participating in the election, were urged to promote national unity with mutual respect. At the same time, a wide range of issues relating to human rights and justice must be resolved, not only for the fresh start of a nation, but also for its long-term stability and the reconciliation of its people.
He was greatly concerned about the more than 100,000 refugees who had gone without the help of international humanitarian personnel for nearly a year. All serious human rights violators and other criminals, both within and outside East Timor, should be brought to credible justice as soon as possible. Hopefully, greater collaboration between the new Indonesian Government and the international community would be promising in that regard. On the issue of refugees, he asked Mr. de Mello about food assistance and living conditions. He also wanted to know whether a significant number of refugees could return to East Timor in the coming months. Could the issue of the return and resettlement of refugees be resolved in a reasonable time frame and, if so, how?.
Efforts to plan for East Timor's future were welcome, he said. He fully agreed with the Secretary-General on the need for a successor mission. While he recognized the need for a reduction of UNTAET, a significant United Nations presence in East Timor should continue. Regarding the reduction of troop and police components, he was particularly concerned about the uncertainty of the external and internal security situations. Any reduction should be implemented in a gradual manner and with a carefully considered exit strategy.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) congratulated the East Timorese people and UNTAET on their achievements in the face of enormous odds. Today, the international community stood on the verge of the next critical phase in East Timor’s evolution –- the elections to the Constituent Assembly. He understood the apprehensions and even disquiet surrounding that event, but he was heartened by the signing earlier this month of the Pact of National Unity.
New Zealand remained very concerned by the activities of militia groups and the threat they continued to pose to the goal of a stable and secure East Timor, he said. It was depressing to read in the report that some hard-line militia elements had been encouraged to plan the resumption of offensive operations. It was also of great concern that some groups might be deliberately lying low until independence, in the belief that the international military presence would be removed. Clearly, it was essential that the international community should not, however inadvertently, send any signals that might encourage them in that belief. It went without saying that any decisions on the adjustments to the United Nations presence, post-elections and post-independence, must be based on conditions on the ground. They must also take into account the views of troop-contributing countries.
Last month’s refugee registration by the Government of Indonesia was an important first step, he said. New Zealand stood ready to assist Indonesia in the next steps of repatriation and resettlement, but only in circumstances where the security of international workers could be guaranteed. He urged the new Indonesian Government to move quickly to fulfil Indonesia’s obligations to disband and disarm the militia groups in West Timor. He expressed his appreciation of recent Indonesian efforts to bring the killers of Private Manning to justice, and welcomed the visit to the crime scene in East Timor and subsequently to New Zealand of an Indonesian investigation team. He looked forward to an effective trial and sentence, commensurate with the seriousness of the crime. There were other cases, however, which were yet to be processed. The Secretary-General had also noted that the Atambua verdicts were yet to be appealed and that the decree establishing an ad hoc tribunal for human rights violations in East Timor was still to be amended. He hoped the Indonesian Government would give prompt attention to meeting international expectation in those matters.
Regarding the successor mission to UNTAET, he said that it was wrong to equate East Timor’s attainment of political independence with the establishment of effective administration. He looked forward to further recommendations for an integrated mission in October. As a troop contributor, his country had already indicated its willingness to maintain a significant military presence in East Timor as far ahead as November 2002. The United Nations must provide the people of East Timor with a clear understanding of the implications of "right-sizing" the United Nations presence over time. East Timor could and indeed would succeed as an independent State, but for some time, a continued United Nations presence would be critical to ensuring the return on the investment the international community had collectively made so far.
MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said that, in the final analysis, the whole issue revolved around the question of maintaining and promoting security of the territory. In that connection, the new Government of Indonesia remained fully committed to fulfilling its obligations and responsibilities. It would exert its efforts towards resolving the residual issues while, at the same time, forging a mutually fruitful bilateral relationship with the leaders of East Timor.
He expressed his country’s sincere gratitude to the Secretary-General and all member countries for their good wishes. He also expressed his heartfelt thanks for the full support extended to his new Government in addressing the challenges ahead. At the same time, he had found it unacceptable that the report of the Secretary-General had justified the need to maintain a United Nations "robust presence in the border areas" and in East Timor by asserting the inaction of the Indonesian Government in the task of disbanding militia groups.
Nothing could be further from the truth, he said. Such claims did not reflect the fact that Indonesia had officially disbanded and disarmed what had been called the "militia". Undeniably, the process of disarming such groups was complex and arduous. Its present success could be seen in the lack of serious armed incidents causing heavy casualties. Also puzzling was the assertion regarding the training and operation of "militias". No specific evidence had been provided. Similarly, report's references to "easy access" to modern weaponry, to the militia strategy of "lying low" and "hard-line elements operation from West Timor" had been made without any concrete substantiation.
In that regard, he said, Indonesia had repeatedly asked UNTAET to provide concrete facts about "militia activity", so that resolute action could be taken, but to no avail. Suspicious attitudes and negative perceptions about Indonesia had continued. If the Organization were to pursue a policy of "containment" rather than active and peaceful engagement, it would create a worsening situation, as demonstrated by the killing on 28 July of an Indonesian soldier by a United Nations peacekeeper. Indonesia had lodged a formal and strong protest against UNTAET for shooting into its territory, which had resulted in a fatality.
He said his Government was astonished recently when UNTAET radio had broadcast news accusing a humanitarian non-governmental organization of abducting East Timorese children in Indonesia and training them to launch military action against East Timor 20 years hence. Following an investigation, his Government had categorically rebutted that accusation. In fact, his Government had never harboured any intention of engaging in activities endangering neighbouring countries. Nor had it harboured any ill will towards the East Timorese people.
Indonesia was committed to upholding justice, including against the perpetrators of the Atambua killings, he said. Hence, the reference to the failure of the Attorney-General to appeal the sentences against the accused was factually incorrect. His delegation had apprised the Council during its last meeting on the subject on 18 May that an appeal by the prosecutor had been lodged on 10 May to the Jakarta High Court. That information had also been conveyed in a letter to the Security Council President in May. The authorities were also following up on the case of the killing of Private Manning, the peacekeeper from New Zealand.
His country firmly believed that the establishment of a robust civil society was a prerequisite to the maintenance and promotion of peace, security and harmony in the territory. So was the promotion of reconciliation. In that connection, he commended the active role of United Nations specialized agencies in supporting capacity building in his society. True reconciliation was also a precondition for the establishment of a thriving civil society in East Timor.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that on the eve of elections the in East Timor, the international community should not rest on its laurels, for all progress could be wiped out if it did not keep its commitments. He agreed that the transfer to civilian authority must be managed carefully. Cautious "right-sizing" was needed for the successor mission of UNTAET. The United Nations must stay the course for the time being, and withdraw progressively from East Timor, without compromising its stability. Curtailment of militia activity in West Timor would contribute to that stability. He urged the new Government of Indonesia to bring an end to the culture of impunity that the militias leaders seemed to enjoy.
He said he saw the continuation of the United Nations civilian police and the development of the East Timor Police Service as essential for law and order in East Timor. But he noted some developments with concern. For example, although he agreed that a small number of specialized police units would be necessary for crowd control and other public safety purposes, the number of East Timorese police officers scheduled to be trained for those units was worryingly high. Upon completion, there would be 58 officers comprising such units, with others to assemble in task forces when the need arose. Yet he also understood that 750 East Timorese police officers were to be trained for those units. To whom would those units report, once trained? What functions would they serve? To what extent would they be armed? Canada believed that UNTAET’s "civpol mission philosophy" must adhere closely to democratic principles, based on a community-policing model. The focus on training a large quasi-military force struck him as an unnecessary distraction from that goal.
ASDA JAYANAMA (Thailand) fully concurred with the Secretary-General’s assessment that, in the past six months, East Timor had undergone most productive changes. For its part, Thailand had played an active role in the peacekeeping operation and development assistance in East Timor from the very beginning. It had contributed military and civilian personnel since UNTAET’s predecessor mission, UNAMET, and his country would continue to work with the United Nations and the international community in East Timor.
While recognizing the remarkable achievements of UNTAET, it might be too early to proclaim it a success story, he continued. It was important to build on UNTAET’s achievements as an example of a post-conflict-building mission. Challenges remained, and developments in the next six months would be crucial to the future of East Timor. The United Nations should have a clear exit strategy, as envisioned in the Brahimi report, which meant that despite all the ongoing preparations towards independence, East Timor would still need the assistance of the international community. Before the United Nations left, it was important to create a solid groundwork and put in place conditions for East Timor’s self-government. Thailand, thus, supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a substantial international post-independence presence in East Timor.
One of the fundamental elements was capacity-building, he said. In that regard, Thailand had offered its assistance in the areas of technical and agricultural expertise. It also urged further enhancement and acceleration of Timorization in the areas of governance, education, judiciary, management and security. The military aspect of UNTAET’s activities was far from over. What remained of concern was the post-election monitoring of security. Any future reduction of the Mission should take into account the prevailing security situation on the ground and the development of the East Timor defence force.
Concluding Remarks by Special Representative
Mr. DE MELLO said he would also speak on behalf of Mr. Ramos Horta, who had been unable to stay. He appreciated today’s unanimous support for the Mission and the people of East Timor. Such support had been a source of inspiration and encouragement for them, their leadership and for the international community. The East Timorese had been privileged to enjoy such broad, unreserved support from the Council and the United Nations. They would continue to endeavour to deserve that confidence, which they had never taken for granted.
He noted that the importance of relations with the region as a whole and, in particular, with ASEAN, had been highlighted by a number of speakers. He and Mr. Ramos Horta had come to New York via Hanoi, where they had held discussions with a number of ASEAN partners. It was a priority for Mr. Ramos Horta to establish within his department -- which would soon become a government ministry -- the capacity to better manage relations with East Timor's neighbours. The importance of relations with Indonesia had been highlighted, and he very much welcomed the confirmation by Ambassador Widodo of Indonesia that the new Government would "stay the course" set by the previous one. Indeed, good relations with Indonesia were vital to the future of East Timor.
Responding to questions, he said that significant progress had been made in recent weeks on the issue of pensions for Indonesians. A list was being prepared of former civil servants who would be entitled to pensions, but that entitlement would cease on the day of independence. Discussions on the matter would continue with the Indonesian Government.
Many speakers had also referred to the refugees, he noted. The East Timorese leadership believed that the total number of East Timorese refugees in West Timor was no more than 60,000 to 70,000. The Indonesian Government had carried out a registration of that population on 6 and 7 June, and he was awaiting the final figures.
Also on the question of refugees, he said the Indonesian Government believed that only a minority of those had expressed an interest in returning to East Timor, but that should not be taken as reflecting the definitive wishes of those refugees. He believed that the majority, up to 80 per cent of those who had remained, would eventually return -– many after the elections had taken place peacefully. A commission had been established, in part, to counter disinformation spread throughout the refugee camps. In recent days, an important meeting had been held in Jakarta by the joint border committee, which reviewed a number of related issues, including the question of a border demarcation between East and West Timor.
Concerning judicial cooperation, he said it was important to establish the ad hoc human rights tribunal without any temporary restrictions as to its jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the first decree had imposed a temporal limitation. Further discussions would ensue once the new Indonesian Attorney-General was in place.
Turning to a question about a post-independence mission, he said he had taken careful note of all of the comments and, in particular, the request of several members for a detailed report in October. That would be submitted through the Secretary-General and would discuss, not only the future size of the military and civilian police presence, but also the question of the civilian presence in support of the new administration. International police should not continue to provide rapid response and crowd control; that should be carried out by the Timorese.
He next provided figures on the civilian component of the post-independence United Nations presence, and discussed plans to downsize the present strength at the end of the current mandate of UNTAET. The report in October would provide details.
The international financial institutions –- the World Bank, the Asian Bank for Development, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- had provided invaluable support, he replied to another series of questions. He had been assured of their continued support with specialized personnel in the area of financing and for the future central bank of East Timor. By October, stock would also need to be taken of the resources made available on a bilateral basis. He would then be in a position to present a comprehensive chart with a detailed description of civilian support elements for the new Timorese administration.
A number of questions had been raised about the issue of security, he said. Security on the international border was a prominent item on the agenda, and efforts were under way to engage the more moderate leaders of militia groups in a dialogue leading to their return and the return of refugees over whom they had influence. That had also received the full support of the Indonesian Government, and that was the way forward within the broader context of further normalizing relations between East Timor and Indonesia. A process of engagement and dialogue would also lead to isolating the more extreme -- former or actual –- commanders of militia groups.
Other speakers had asked about the likelihood that parties which had not signed the National Unity Pact would disrupt the process, he said. No, he did not think that would happen. Those were individuals or very small groups, which had threatened to derail the process -- and were under very careful watch. In addition to the Pact, other measures to prevent violence were in place: a regulation on electoral offences had been adopted; there was the penal code; and a strong military and police presence in the country. But the strongest allies in maintaining a peaceful process were the East Timorese political leaders and the people themselves. "East Timor had not known what democracy was, but it certainly knew what democracy was not", he said.
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