UNNews New York, Feb 24 2011 2:05PM - The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations mission in Timor-Leste for another year so that it can continue to assist the fledgling nation consolidate peace, democracy and the rule of law, as well as support the preparations for the parliamentary and presidential elections planned for 2012.
Through a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council decided that the mission, known as UNMIT, will continue its work until 26 February 2012 at current authorized levels. There are presently nearly 1,520 uniformed personnel on the ground, including some 1,480 police, as well as over 1,200 civilian staff and volunteers.
The 15-member body also urged all parties in Timor-Leste to continue to work together and engage in political dialogue and to consolidate peace, democracy, rule of law, sustainable social and economic development, protection of human rights and national reconciliation.
It reaffirmed the importance of completing capacity-building and reform of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), including its resumption of primary policing responsibility, and requested UNMIT to support the further development of the force.
The PNTL has already resumed responsibilities in 10 out of 13 administrative districts and six units, including the largest district, Viqueque, as well as the Immigration Department, Border Patrol Unit and Interpol Office, and the final handover is scheduled for the end of next month.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Timor-Leste and head of UNMIT, Ameerah Haq, told the Council earlier this week that she is optimistic that the country's progress can be maintained if all political leaders and the broader public continue to act responsibly.
She added that it is promising that so far there has been no significant increase in violence in districts where the PNTL has taken over responsibility, although she voiced concern at the high levels of domestic violence and sporadic fighting among youth and martial arts groups.
In the text adopted today, the Council also reaffirmed the importance of UNMIT support to the Government in further building and reforming the justice sector, coordinating international assistance, reducing poverty, improving education and other areas.
UNMIT was set up in 2006 after an outbreak of deadly violence to replace several earlier missions in the small South-East Asian country that the world body shepherded to independence in 2002 after it broke away from Indonesia.