14 February 2010

UNMIT: Transcript of Press Conference with SRSG Ameerah Haq - 13 January 2010

Transcript Press Conference Ameerah Haq Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste 13 January 2010, Dili Timor-Leste - Gyorgy Kakuk (UNMIT Spokesperson): Welcome everybody, Thanks for accepting our invitation for today's press conference which will be held by the newly appointed SRSG, Ameerah Haq. Perhaps you all know she arrived in Timor-Leste last week on the 5th of January. We are going to proceed with the SRSG'™s initial statement and then we will open up for questions. So please be prepared.

Ameerah Haq: Good morning everybody and thank you very much for coming here. I am really delighted to have an opportunity to speak with all of you today. First of all let me tell you how very pleased I am to be in your beautiful country. I have already had the privilege of meeting many of your leaders. It is a great honour for me to be here leading the efforts of the United Nations to help the people of Timor-Leste and Timorese authorities to continue to consolidate peace and development in your country.

It is exactly a week since I have been here. I remarked to many people how beautiful the country was as I was flying into Dili. And also in driving around Dili town I am very impressed at what I sense is a vibrancy in this town: internet cafes are full, shops are thriving. It is great to see how people are moving around in a town that is peaceful and secure.

I have had the privilege and honour to meet your President, the Prime Minister, the President of the National Parliament, the Secretary-General of Fretilin, among others. And just this morning I felt very privileged to have been able to address the Council of Ministers. I have felt very warmly welcomed by all.

I am also very impressed with the relationship, the depth of the relationship, between the United Nations and the people of Timor-Leste. This has been developed, as you know, over many years, and I am privileged to be leading the United Nations now to help the people in Timor-Leste to continue with nation- and state-building. I am committed to continuing the work that the United Nations has done here, and in my role as the leader of the United Nations I look forward to the invitations that I have had from your leadership for frank and cordial discussions on many issues that we both need to address.

Most of all I am really very happy to have this opportunity today to meet with all of you, as journalists and media. I consider that you have a very important role to play in the development of your country, and your role is absolutely vital to strengthening democracy. I think a free and independent media is one of the essential ingredients of democracy. You have a very important responsibility in conveying a lot of the key messages to the citizens of your country. Information is a source of empowerment. That power, I feel, must be used responsibly. I consider your role very important in making that information go out far and wide all through Timor-Leste. You as media have a very important role to play in advocacy, in setting policy agendas and in social and economic development.

In all of my work in the UN, which has been for quite a long time, I have always stressed that the relationship with the media is one of the ingredients that will make me a good leader of the United Nations. So I look forward to this relationship with all of you. And I know that you have a very good relationship already with our Public Information Office and I look forward to working with them so that we can address many of the challenging issues ahead of us.

Let me take this opportunity, then, as a piece of information, to tell you that right now in the country there is a Technical Assessment Mission of the United Nations. The role of this, we call it the TAM Mission, is to assess the requirements and the situation in Timor-Leste as it relates to the mission of UNMIT. Over a period that started in November there have been extensive consultations with many stakeholders, with the Government, with civil society and I think with the media, and also with bilateral donors. In this final week we have our colleagues who have come from New York and who are meeting with Government authorities, with Members of Parliament, with civil society and a broad range of stakeholders, and they are looking at what the role of UNMIT will be between now and 2012. We are very hopeful that the recommendations which we will all arrive at together will strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and the Government of Timor-Leste in focusing on what we can best do in the period between now and 2012.

So, let me stop here in terms of my initial remarks and I will be very happy to take some questions from you.

Questions and Answers

Question: My name is Napoleon Xavier from Diario Nacional. What will be the programmes of UNMIT between 2010-2012, what will be the focus of UNMIT?

Ameerah Haq: Thank you very much for asking that question, it is a very important one. The UN as you know, in terms of the Mission, the mandate is provided to us by the Security Council. This consists of four areas. One is the overall security sector and looking at the consolidation of peace and stability in Timor-Leste. An important part of that is the support provided in police reform. But it also includes support and elements of military support and security sector reform.

There are also elements of good offices as we call it, which is making sure that democracy works, and there is engagement with political leaders and leaders of all the opposition parties and other political parties.

There are also areas of democracy and governance, in supporting elections and in supporting other institutions and capacity building.

And last but not least is social and economic development and making sure that there is improvement in the quality of the lives of people. These are the broad range of activities.

Question: My name is Santino from Timor Newsline. I would like to find out what is UNMIT's view point on the presence of ISF (International Security Force) since the crisis? Now that the situation has been improving, I would like to see what is your view on the mandate in terms of the presence of the ISF here in Timor-Leste.

Ameerah Haq: The presence of the ISF, as you know, is a bilateral agreement between the governments of, combined, Australia and New Zealand, and Timor-Leste. Our Military Liaison Group works closely with them in terms of providing capacity in certain areas - of security, particularly on the border, of policing. But as I said the ISF is governed by a bilateral arrangement so they do not fall under the UNMIT mandate.

Question: My name is Tito Filipe from Radio Timor-Leste.

It has been ten years that Timor-Leste has been with the United Nations, and this has created dependency of Timor-Leste on the UN. What are the weaknesses on the part of Timor-Leste which you focus on as the UN continues to provide support.

Secondly, will there be a new mechanism for the UN's presence in Timor-Leste, taking into account that now we have a Technical Assessment Mission in town?

And thirdly, as the new leader of the UN Mission here in Timor-Leste what do you see, I mean what is your view on the UN's commitment to bring the perpetrators of serious crimes to justice? There is a contradiction between the UN commitment and our government in this matter.

Ameerah Haq: Thank you very much for asking that question. I think, you know, the nation is ten years old, you just celebrated your tenth year anniversary. And by all measurements it is still considered a young nation and a nation that is developing. I donâ't think that I would, you know, see the relationship characterized as one of dependency; the reason that I say that is that already it is very impressive in terms of the number of institutions and the capacity that has already been built in these ten years.

As I said, I addressed the Council of Ministers this morning. There are Ministries that are established in all key areas. There is, as I said, peace and calm and a secure situation, as we discussed. Following the crisis from 2006 the security situation has been maintained very well, so I think that the progress of a nation within ten years as I see it is very noteworthy.

However that doesn't mean that Timor-Leste has already established itself at a level where it cannot benefit from expertise, from experience, in not only the relationship and partnership with the United Nations but also with bilateral governments. And also through efforts outside of government efforts, for example through the private sector and through non-governmental organizations. I think there is tremendous scope for the country to benefit and develop its capacity and establish strong structures and foundations within which to build itself as a strong and resilient nation. So I would not characterize the relationship as dependency but a relationship of a partnership with many entities to build these strong foundations.

The recommendations of the TAM will go before the Security Council, which will result in another mandate for the Mission. And those recommendations as always will contain the work that the UN will continue to do on justice, on rule of law, and on human rights. And with respect to all of these there will continue to be the position that there must be no impunity for serious crimes against humanity. The work of all the institutions of justice here will continue to be part of the mandate of UNMIT as they have been doing.

And there is a great deal to be done on legislation, on policy, on capacity building; we are working very closely with the Prosecutor General's office and all the other organs. But again there I think I go back also to what I said in my initial commentary: that I think you know there is a great role not only for the media but also non-governmental organizations to play with respect to advocacy on these issues.

Question: My name is Marianne Kearney…II wanted to ask Ms Ameerah, what do you see as your greatest challenges with this Mission over the next two years?

Ameerah Haq: I think some of the challenges, as I said, one is that we are able to maintain the level of peace and security. In that context I think one of the key challenges will be making sure that the structures and foundations of the security services are built and built upon in terms of continuing capacity. So that includes the confidence of the people and the ability to make sure people feel safe and secure and feel that the right mechanisms are in place for civilians to have a role in determining that the security institutions are meeting their needs.

We have municipal elections coming up, and again it will be important to ensure that these are conducted in a free and fair and safe environment, of safety and security.

There is a general level of public administration and what we call governance, in terms of building up and continuing to support State institutions in their ability to provide adequate support to citizens.

With respect to youth I think one of the challenges primarily is the issue of employment, gainful employment of youth and making sure that there is a stimulus to creating jobs.

And lastly I think in social and economic development that in the regions, the provision of dividends in terms of education, health, water, livelihoods, all go beyond Dili to meeting the needs of the people in all the districts.

Thank you very much.

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