15 AUGUST 2006The Situation in Timor Leste)
BY HE Mr. JOÃO SALGUEIRO, AMBASSADOR AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TO THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL (
Firstly, I would like to thank Mr. Ian Martin for his presentation of the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Timor-Leste and his recommendations for a new UN mission.
I also take this opportunity to commend SRSG Sukehiro Hasegawa and his staff for their work in Timor-Leste.
Portugal concurs with the statement which the Representative of Finland is about to make on behalf of the European Union.
In my national capacity, I will add the following.
Regarding the ongoing discussions on the mandate and the composition of a new UN mission in Timor-Leste, the Portuguese position is consistent with three main elements.
Firstly, we respect the sovereign will and the political independence of Timor-Leste. In this regard, Prime Minister Ramos Horta sent a letter to Your Excellency, the President of the Security Council, on 4 August 2006, which clearly sets out the expectations of Timor-Leste concerning the need for the establishment of a United Nations multidimensional and integrated peacekeeping mission.
Secondly, we welcome the Secretary-General’s thorough assessment and the recommendations contained in the report. We praise the Secretariat’s professionalism, which we have come to know very well, since the days when we were negotiating the self-determination of the Timorese people.
Thirdly, our own assessment is based on our deep bilateral commitment towards Timor-Leste, and especially the fact that Portugal remains, by far, the largest donor of Timor-Leste, with cooperation programs in many areas, namely justice, education, health, social protection, police, armed forces, customs and finances, etc.
Although the situation has been overall stabilized, we still face the very serious security and humanitarian repercussions of this crisis. Thousands of weapons remain unaccounted for and could be used in further actions of violent destabilization. A climate of fear still prevails, with about 150,000 internally displaced people, which is a huge number for such a small country. In regard to the unaccounted police and military weapons, we must acknowledge that the international forces have achieved only modest results. It will be difficult to achieve a sustainable political reconciliation in an environment where individuals and groups, with political grievances, are in possession of illegal arms.
At our last open meeting of 13 June 2006, I stated that Timor-Leste needed the universality and impartiality of the United Nations, which must once again take a leading role. The reality on the ground has reinforced our belief: only the UN can successfully lead the efforts concerning the facilitation of political dialogue and reconciliation, restoring and maintaining security, and ensuring that the 2007 elections will be peaceful, free and fair.
In line with the expectations of Timor-Leste, as expressed by Prime Minister Ramos Horta in his letter of 4 August and reiterated today by Foreign Minister José Luís Guterres, Portugal will review the current bilateral arrangement regarding the presence its Gendarmerie force in Timor-Leste, with a view to have this force and other elements ready to serve under the command and control of United Nations.
One of the key recommendations in Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (widely known as the Brahimi Report), regarding the importance of clear credible and achievable mandates, is that “Security Council resolutions should meet the requirements of peacekeeping operations when they deploy into potentially dangerous situations, especially the need for a clear chain of command and unity of effort”.
Portugal fully supports the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report regarding the police and military components of the follow-on mission in Timor-Leste. Also, and as a future contributor to this mission, we attach great importance to the security of all UN personnel, including ours, and consequently we deem necessary that this mission is backed by an adequately-sized military force, under the command and control of the United Nations.
For both political and operational reasons, we would have great difficulty in understanding any solution which would ignore the sovereign will of Timor-Leste, the recommendations of the Secretary-General and all the lessons-learned of the recent past concerning the need for a clear chain of command and adequate security of UN personnel in peacekeeping missions.
We welcome the establishment of a Special Inquiry Commission, as outlined in the letter by Foreign Minister Ramos Horta to the Secretary-General of 9 June 2006, and especially the fact that all relevant actors considered this a necessary step to reach a political settlement and uphold the rule of law.
The demand for justice and accountability for the serious crimes committed in 1999 remains a fundamental issue in the lives of many Timorese. Portugal welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on justice and reconciliation in Timor-Leste, and particularly its recommendations aiming at the completion of investigations into outstanding serious crimes cases and the need for reconciliation and community healing.
Much remains to be done in this regard, as the recent outbursts of violence have demonstrated, namely the attacks on several key Timorese judicial institutions, causing serious concern regarding the potential loss of vital records and any security implications for victims, witnesses and suspects alike. The prevailing climate of impunity is a major obstacle to long-lasting social reconciliation and political stability. It is imperative to establish the truth and achieve accountability, in keeping with international human rights standards.
Portugal recalls the responsibility of the international community and of the Security Council in relation to Timor-Leste. Portugal will remain committed to the consolidation of peace, democracy and full political independence of Timor-Leste.
I thank you Mr. President.