Next two years will determine the prospects for a stable & peaceful future for Timor-Leste
New york-22 February 2011
by Philip Parham, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, at the UNSC debate on Timor-Leste
Thank you Madam President,
And many thanks also to Prime Minister Gusmão and to Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ameerah Haq, for their briefing today, and to all the personnel of UNMIT for their dedication to assisting the people of Timor-Leste.
The next two years will determine the prospects for a stable and peaceful future for Timor-Leste and its people. The elections in mid 2012 remain the most significant milestone ahead. As Timor-Leste works towards these elections, we are pleased that the security situation continues calm and that there has been clear and steady improvement since 2006.
The men and women of UNMIT deserve credit for their role in ensuring the stabilisation of Timor-Leste. Their work is now bearing fruit as the Government increasingly assumes responsibility for domestic security. We are particularly encouraged by the imminent handover of all policing districts to the national police forces – the PNTL – and the fact that this transition is being accomplished without any increase in crime or disorder. The successful handover to the PNTL marks a step towards the end of the UN’s peacekeeping role. We do not envisage that the Security Council will need to extend UNMIT’s peacekeeping mandate beyond February 2013.
As we prepare for UNMIT’s departure in two years’
time, it is right that UNPOL should begin its drawdown now. We note the small drawdown of UNPOL personnel recently recommended by the Secretary-General. We expect to see this rapidly accelerated after the election in 2012. The drawdown should be regarded as a display of trust in the PNTL’s ability to re-establish itself as the primary provider of security in Timor-Leste.
The Government of Timor-Leste can play an important role by ensuring that its police are sufficiently equipped with important enablers such as generators, communications facilities and office equipment, to allow the PNTL to reach its full potential.
The Government of Timor Leste should also ensure, as some of my colleagues have highlighted, that the integrity of the PNTL is not compromised. The words of Prime Minister Gusmão this morning on this subject were encouraging. But we are concerned at the news that 52 serving PNTL officers who face serious criminal charges have been certified. We call on the Government of Timor-Leste to give priority to resolving this unsatisfactory situation. The government should also continue to take a firm stance against impunity, and to bring perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to justice. Its important that work on legislation providing for follow up to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation makes real progress, alongside work on reparations for victims of past abuses.
It’s imperative that the United Nations now prioritises planning for its post-2012 presence.
UNMIT must plan a coherent, realistic and durable exit strategy, enabling civilian peacebuilding actors to take the lead in helping shape Timor-Leste’s future. We look forward to receiving a detailed update on this planning in the Secretary-General’s report later this year.
At the same time, the wider UN family must work towards addressing the longer-term needs of the country, in close collaboration with the Government of Timor-Leste. We stress the importance of the High Level Committee on Transition in this regard.
UN involvement in Timor-Leste has the potential to be a beacon of success, modelling how peacekeeping operations can be drawn down as civilian peacebuilders continue their vital work.
The United Kingdom encourages the United Nations to seize this opportunity.
Thank you, Madam President.