Subject: FORAFF: Ramos-Horta before Human Rights Commission

MEDIA RELEASE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Second Transitional Government East Timor

Thursday March 21 2002 For Immediate Release


A sign of changing times, Senior Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Jose Ramos-Horta addressed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from the podium yesterday in Geneva, a place of honor usually reserved for Heads of State, Government and Ministries of independent nations.

Expressing the intentions of his fledgling nation, Dr Ramos-Horta said thank you for the support and solidarity shown to East Timor in the past, but urged donors not to forget East Timor at this crucial time.

"It is our intention to sign and ratify or accede to all of the important human rights treaties, and to do so soon. We are now in the process of determining the most appropriate timing for this, being deeply conscious of the importance of implementing treaties we ratify." Dr Ramos-Horta said.

"We look forward to working with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to obtain that Office's assistance in the complex process of implementation of these treaties." Dr Ramos-Horta said.

"We must now consolidate the achievements of the past two years. For this, financial assistance is essential, for we rank today as one of the poorest countries in the world. We are alarmed by the news that the European Union has slashed, by more than one half, its previous commitment of financial support for East Timor." Dr Ramos-Horta said.

"We need continued international support from the Europeans, but also from others for these programs, as well as for necessary efforts to eradicate malaria and tuberculosis, both prevalent in our country" Dr Ramos-Horta warned.

"The challenges we face in the coming years are formidable. We will therefore be focusing the rebuilding of our own nation on principles of democracy, human rights and social justice. This does not mean that we will forget our brothers and sisters in various parts of the world who continue to suffer from systematic and gross violations of human rights. Their longing for freedom is well understood by the people of East Timor, and our countries solidarity with the victims of oppression is enshrined in the new Constitution of our country." Dr Ramos-Horta said.

"I wish to thank all the governments that assisted us when we needed their assistance, all the NGOs who supported us all these years and who continue to campaign for the rights of the oppressed and the vulnerable. Without your dedication and solidarity I would probably not be speaking to you today from this podium, on the dawn of a new era of freedom for East Timor." Dr Ramos-Horta said, having lobbied and addressed the Commission on numerous occasions over the last 25 years, but always "borrowing" the credentials of an NGO with consultative status with the United Nations.

The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor will be signed at the Constituent Assembly on March 22, 2002.

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For further information contact: Ms Caroline O'Brien Media Liaison Officer ? Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Second Transitional Government East Timor Telephone: +61 (0)417 879 953 Email: Website:

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