01 February 2010

United Nations Security Council Report: February 2010 Timor-Leste


Security Council Report

February 2010 Timor-Leste Expected Council Action • Key Recent Developments • Humant Rights-Related Developments • Key Issues • Underlying Problems • Options • Council and Wider Dynamics • UN Documents • Othr Revelant Facts • Useful Additional Sources

Expected Council Action

A briefing by the head of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste, Ameerah Haq, and an open debate are expected in February. (The UNMIT mandate expires on 26 February and Council renewal is expected.) Resolution 1867 (which extended UNMIT’s mandate in 2009) requires a report by the Secretary-General by 1 February, but at press time it looked unlikely that this deadline would be met. The Secretary-General’s report is expected to include recommendations from a recent technical assistance mission. Council members are likely draw on these in their decision. Some reconfiguration of the operation seems likely.

Key Recent Developments

The technical assessment mission, led by Ian Martin, was in Timor-Leste from 10 to 18 January to assess the future of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and make recommendations, including possible adjustments in UNMIT’s mandate and strength. Among the likely suggestions are that the UN Police (UNPOL) be downsized and that there be a change of emphasis in UNPOL’s role.

The Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) has been gradually assuming policing responsibilities since 14 May 2009. (The handover process had been suspended following the assassination attempts on Timor-Leste’s president and prime minister in 2008.) Earlier in 2009 the PNTL had resumed responsibility of four districts: Lautem, Oecusse, Manatuto and Viqueque and the Police Training Centre. On 14 December 2009 it resumed primary responsibility for the conduct of maritime police operations and on 18 December 2009 for the Police Intelligence Service.

On 28 December 2009 a PNTL officer was involved in a shooting in the Comoro area of Dili; one person was killed and another injured. The police officer under investigation was suspended from duty on 4 January. UNPOL and PNTL are carrying out an internal investigation. A separate inquiry will be conducted by UNMIT’s Human Rights and Transitional Justice Unit.

The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Ameerah Haq, arrived in Timor-Leste on 5 January. On 25 November 2009 the Secretary-General wrote to the Council advising of Haq’s appointment from 28 December 2009 in succession to Atul Khare, who had held the post for three years.

On 23 October 2009 the Council was briefed by Khare and by José Luís Guterres, Deputy Prime Minister of Timor-Leste. Khare stressed the need for a steady approach to Timor-Leste and that there should be no exit without a strategy. Most Council members agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation to maintain the strength and composition of UNMIT but that the technical assessment mission in January 2010 would evaluate possible adjustments in UNMIT’s mandate and strength in the future.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In their latest joint report on human rights developments in Timor-Leste published in September 2009, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNMIT focussed on accountability for past and present human rights violations. They noted some progress in strengthening the justice system including a new criminal code, but found gaps in implementing recommendations of the joint Indonesia and Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) and the Truth Commission for Reception and Reconciliation (CAVR). The report urges the government ensure that the judiciary and prosecution services are allocated sufficient resources and clearly delineate the roles of the military and the police. It urges donors to provide coordinated technical assistance in the areas of security sector reform and justice.

In a related development, the Timor-Leste parliament on 14 December 2009 adopted a resolution agreeing to set up and fund a special institution to implement the recommendations of the reports of the CTF and the CAVR. The resolution asked a parliamentary committee to prepare, within three months, draft legislation for concrete measures to implement the recommendation for the two commissions and for the creation of a new institution for that purpose. The resolution will be debated by the Timor-Leste parliament in April.

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is whether changes are needed for the UNMIT mandate and staffing and developing a clear strategy which reflects the reality on the ground.

A related issue is the appropriate resources at this stage including capacity-building and mentoring.

Also a key issue is whether the December 2010 deadline, suggested recently by the Timor-Leste government, for concluding the handover to the national police is realistic. The dangers of setting artificial deadlines are well remembered in the Council.

An issue which may suggest that major reconfiguration is premature is the slow progress on comprehensive security sector reform, the lack of institutional development in the police and uncertainty over whether the Timor-Leste government is able to develop a professional police force at this stage.

A related question is the ongoing review of the Supplementary Policing Agreement (which agreed that UNPOL would be given executive policing authority until the PNTL was reconstituted). A government commission formed in April 2009 to review the agreement has not met the UN since May.

The shooting incident in Dili in December raises issues whether the PNTL is yet receiving the right type of training for community-oriented policing.

A further issue is the impact of the International Stabilisation Force’s downsizing. In December Australia announced that it would reduce its troops from 650 to 400 by February.

Underlying Problems

One of the fundamental problems that led to the violence in 2006 was a fragmented security sector. A recent International Crisis Group report notes that little has been done to clarify the roles of the security and defence forces. Draft legislation provides the legal means for integration of these two forces but there does not seem to be a vision for effective steps to reform the respective roles and reduce the potential for re-emergence of conflict between the army and police.

Internally displaced persons have returned home. However, reintegration continues to be a challenge. Difficulty with accessing employment, services and infrastructure, the lack of a legal framework to address land and property disputes, a weak justice system and slow security sector reform could therefore contribute to possible future unrest.

An Amnesty International report on justice and impunity published in August 2009 underlines an ongoing problem. Despite a number of national and international justice initiatives there is continuing impunity in Timor-Leste for atrocity crimes and this feeds underlying discontent in some sectors of society.


One option is to renew UNMIT for a year with some limited downsizing of police and prioritisation of the existing mandate so that greater effort can go into mentoring, governance, security sector reform and other peacebuilding type activities.

A possible option, if members feel the need for a fuller discussion of the underlying issues and development of a Council strategy, is to consider a two to three month rollover.

Further options include:

* requesting the Secretary-General to develop a more structured way of measuring progress against key benchmarks taking into account a possible exit in 2012;
* reiterating the need for greater progress in a comprehensive review of the future role and needs of the security sector;
* highlighting the importance of continuing to focus on accountability and justice and the promotion and protection of human rights;
* deciding on a Council visit to Timor-Leste before the next mandate renewal; and
* deciding on how to involve UNMIT in peacebuilding type activities and processes.

Council and Wider Dynamics

At this point most members appear comfortable with some limited refocusing of the mandate and some downsizing while retaining the four main pillars of the mandate (i.e. security sector reform, democratic governance, rule of law and socioeconomic development) and working towards a possible 2012 exit. Initial briefings on the technical assessment mission’s recommendations appear to have had a good reception.

France, which has initiated a debate on peacekeeping transition and exit strategies in February, may see Timor-Leste as a case study in this context. However, a number of other members are wary of including language in the resolution that could send a signal of early departure. The events of 2006 are still seen by some Council members as a reminder not to act prematurely on UNMIT’s future. There is some concern that the issues that contributed to the 2006 crisis have yet to be fully dealt with.

Brazil has historically been actively involved in the issue and wants to focus on security and socioeconomic development. Japan also has an active interest, but as the lead country seems likely to play the role of facilitator.

Members like Austria, Mexico and Turkey have shown interest in the human rights and justice dimensions of this issue.

Countries outside the Council (Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Portugal, and South Africa) continue to be closely engaged and will play a role in developing the first draft of the resolution. Some of these countries are concerned, however, that there may be insufficient time between the release of the Secretary-General’s report and the mandate expiry for a satisfactory exploration of the issues in sufficient detail.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

* S/RES/1867 (26 February 2009) extended UNMIT until 26 February 2010.
* S/RES/1704 (25 August 2006) established UNMIT.

Selected Letters

* S/2009/612 (25 November 2009) and S/2009/613(1 December 2009) was an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council regarding the appointment of Ameerah Haq as Special Representative.

Selected Meeting Records

* S/PV.6205 (23 October 2009) was the last Council debate on Timor-Leste.
* S//PV.6086 (26 February 2009) was on the adoption of resolution 1867.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Ameerah Haq (Bangladesh)

Size, Composition and Cost

* Maximum authorised strength: up to 1,608 police and 34 military officers
* Size as of 31 December 2009: 1,517 police and 35 military liaison officers
* Civilian staff as of 31 December 2009: 366 international and 895 local, 198 UN Volunteers
* Key police contributors: Malaysia, Portugal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Philippines
* Approved budget (1 July 2009–30 June 2010): $205.94 million


25 August 2006 to present; mandate expires 26 February 2010

International Stabilisation Force

* Size as of 2 December 2009: approximately 800 troops
* Contributors: Australia (650 troops) and New Zealand (150 troops)

Useful Additional Sources

* Handing Back Responsibility to Timor-Leste Police, International Crisis Group, Asia Report No. 180, 3 December 2009
* ‘ We Cry for Justice ’, Impunity Persists 10 Years On in Timor-Leste‘, Amnesty International, August 2009

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