03 January 2011

East Timor angered by Draft UNDP report

The Age East Timor angered by UN report Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin January 3, 2011 - EAST Timor's leaders have objected to large sections of a major United Nations agency report on the island nation only weeks before the UN Security Council reconsiders its $200-million-a-year mission in Dili.

The rejection of the draft Timor-Leste Human Development Report 2010 comes amid growing calls for the UN to wind up the mission that has failed to achieve its key goal of reforming East Timor's police and security sector.

High-level Timorese and international advisers to the East Timor government made scathing criticisms of the 234-page report compiled by the United Nations Development Program, saying among other things that it is politically biased, cites inaccurate data and most of its conclusions are unsourced.
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The criticisms have delayed the release of the report, which was designed to influence the strategic direction of the country of 1 million people.

A UN spokeswoman said an independent team producing the report was reviewing the government's comments, updated statistics and a new way of assessing development data.

She said it was expected the final report would be released some time in 2011. A draft copy of the report obtained by The Age says that while East Timor has made substantial progress since gaining independence in 2002, pervasive continuing problems include high levels of youth unemployment, falling per capita incomes and increasing poverty rates in rural areas.

The report says significant issues facing the country include energy provision, food security and access to education and health services.

But government advisers who read the draft challenged almost all of the UN's assertions, in 837 comments that were attached to the report.

''The report is fragmented with multiple objectives that are not met in the conclusion of the report,'' an adviser wrote. ''There is no methodology included in this report on how the strategies were devised and given the majority of the report is unsourced this is a major cause for concern.''

East Timor leaders were angry the report criticised their opposition to pursuing the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, saying the UN should not have strayed from human development issues.

The report said the return to Indonesia without charge of militia leader Maternus Bere, who is accused of orchestrating the 1999 massacre of more than 200 people in a church, fuelled increasing awareness among Timorese that there was no longer accountability for crimes.

But a government adviser told the UN that it was ''inappropriate for the United Nations to intervene in a human development report on diplomatic issues between two countries''.

The report also questioned the way East Timor is spending some of the profits from Timor Sea oil and gas, which have been deposited in a Petroleum Fund established to be spent by future generations.

Controversy over the report follows a plethora of independent reports criticising the UN Mission in East Timor, for failing to reform, restructure and rebuild the country's national police force and to assist the government to review its security sector.

The UN Security Council is expected next month to decide to continue the UN presence in East Timor until after scheduled national elections in 2012.

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