24 February 2009

Statement by SRSG (UNMIT) to the UN Security Council 19 February 2009

United Nations

Security Council

Sixty-fourth year 6085th meeting

Thursday, 19 February 2009, 10 a.m. New York


Mr. Khare: Let me begin, Sir, by thanking you and the Member States for the very kind words directed towards myself and my Mission. I was particularly touched by the reference made by President José Ramos-Horta to the survey conducted by the International Republican Institute, which showed a 75 per cent popularity rating for my Mission. Since, in his usual humble fashion, the President did not mention his own popularity rating, kindly allow me to mention that he enjoys the highest popularity rating of that survey — 82 per cent. The rating is highly deserved and, in my mind, somewhat reflects his devoted, constant and tireless efforts to bring peace, prosperity and stability to his country.

I should also like, Sir, to thank you and the Council for its constant support for the work of my Mission and the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General for their constant guidance, advice and encouragement, which has made our achievements possible. I would also like to thank all Member States for their support for the Mission’s extension for one year at the current composition and strength. Many speakers reflected on the need to define a meaningful role for the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste in a peace-time setting and to separate very clearly the responsibilities for policing from those of the military and, indeed, internal security from external defence. They also recognized a very strong need to enhance the mechanisms of internal accountability and civilian oversight over both security forces.

I am very pleased to inform Council members that those issues are at the forefront of the thinking of the Timorese leadership, which is committed to those developments. While some will be achieved through a process of security sector review and reform, essentially led by the Timorese authorities and supported by the United Nations, substantial bilateral assistance will be required for the development of proper military doctrines. I would particularly like to mention the bilateral cooperation being provided by Australia, Brazil, Portugal, New Zealand and the United States of America through its Pacific Command, which has been extremely useful in helping the Timorese authorities to achieve the goals of defining, as I said, a meaningful role for their army in a peace-time setting.

Several speakers referred to the forthcoming resumption of policing responsibilities by the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste. This resumption would be gradual; it would follow a phased approach. In my view, depending on progress, it would take several months or maybe up to a year. Thus, some time during the last quarter of this year — 2009 — depending on progress, my Mission will make a mid-term assessment of the success of the resumption process to that point. And, with the help of a technical assessment mission from Headquarters, we will recommend benchmarks for possible adjustments in the numbers of UNMIT police — which also should be carried out in a gradual, step-by-step fashion, without endangering continued stability. That recommendation could be included, perhaps, with the approval of the Secretary-General, in the next report of the Secretary-General, to be issued in February 2010.

At this stage I should like to recall that the record of my Mission in releasing assets that are no longer required speaks for itself. For example, immediately after the constitution of the new Government in August 2007, following the 2007 elections, we ensured that the additional 140 police officers that the Security Council provided for security during the electoral period through its resolution 1745 (2007) were immediately released, along with nearly 400 electoral officers. So, we are very happy to release assets at the first possible moment when they are no longer required; but currently I believe that, at this stage when we are just commencing the resumption process, the present strength of international police must be maintained for a period of a full year, until February 2010.

On the reform of the justice sector, and on the need for an independent comprehensive needs assessment — and, of course, on strengthening the justice sector to provide greater accountability and to combat any perception of impunity — I would like to report that at the last meeting of the Committee on High-level Coordination, chaired by His Excellency Mr. José Ramos-Horta on 29 January, a decision was taken to quickly conduct an independent comprehensive needs assessment. I trust that within the next 12 to 18 weeks this independent comprehensive needs assessment should become a reality and should thereafter permit the international community to plan its assistance to the justice sector.

Some speakers raised the issue of the need to fight domestic violence and the need to fight and curb any limited trafficking in persons that might be taking place. I want to put on record my deepest appreciation to His Excellency the President, who in fact in March last year, on International Women’s Day — from his hospital bed, at a time when he was still recovering issued a public message to the people of Timor-Leste to combat these evils. And more recently, on 3 February, he released the latest report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women on the status of women and committed himself and his country to fighting the social evils of domestic violence and gender-based violence.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the efforts of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão in promoting gender-responsive budgeting in the latest budget and in appointing gender focal points in all ministries to ensure that the work of those ministries is as attuned as possible to these concerns of women and development. Since I have already taken more than five minutes of the Council’s time, allow me to conclude by thanking the international security forces and their contributors, Australia and New Zealand; all the members of the United Nations country team and, indeed, of the wider United Nations family, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; and, in particular, the two Deputy Special Representatives, Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen and Mr. Takahisa Kawakami, who are really my right and left hands and who are pillars of great strength in my efforts to assist the Timorese leaders and their people.

The President: I thank Mr. Khare for his statement.

On this occasion I must say that the fact that so many speakers, from five regions of the world, took the floor in this open debate on Timor-Leste is a manifestation of strong interest and support by all Member States regarding the future, the democracy and the stability of Timor-Leste. It seems that unanimous strong support was expressed for the continued presence of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and for an extension of its mandate, as well as for the continued prosperity of Timor-Leste.

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my colleagues in the Council, to convey the deepest possible appreciation to His Excellency President José Ramos-Horta and his delegation for taking the trouble to come to New York to attend this open debate on the occasion of an extension of the mandate. I wish the President good health and future success in his country. I also express great appreciation to Deputy Secretary- General Migiro for her patience and for staying with the Council to show her solidarity with us.

There are no further speakers inscribed on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The meeting rose at 1.35 p.m.


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