Subject: Xanana: Statement to Security Council Apr 26 2002


New York, 26 April 2002

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Council,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for the invitation to address this important meeting devoted to East Timor. The Secretary-General has already presented a comprehensive review of the latest developments and the Chief-Minister, Dr. Mari Alkatiri, is also here to complement this report with an update.

Before talking about the current stage leading towards formal independence, allow me to touch on some earlier key events pertaining to the question of East Timor. It is well known to you all, of course, but I wish to briefly reflect on where we came from before we reached this phase where formal independence is about to be granted.

The process towards a peaceful solution for East Timor was clearly defined 20 years ago, when Resolution 37/30 (1982) was adopted. The Secretary-General was charged with the authority to instigate the necessary measures. including calling upon all interested parties to work together towards the implementation of the spirit and the letter of the resolution.

After 18 years, in May 1999, the UN, and the Governments of the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Portugal, signed the 'May 5 Accord'. This Accord enabled UNAMET to be set up to implement the first phase which was the Popular Consultation, held on the 30th of August 1999. The referendum finally allowed us to exercise our right to self-determination. As expected. our people opted overwhelmingly for independence, for freedom and for democracy.

The May 5 Accord envisaged that, regardless of the outcome of the vote, the UN would take over administration of the territory. The violence that followed the announcement of the results of the vote was beyond belief. As a nation and people, over the period of 24 years of occupation, we endured extreme and systematic violence, but nothing prepared us for the violence of September 1999. Within a short period, people were killed and our country was looted and burned. Thousands of people fled from their villages and towns to the mountains and many more were forced to cross the border to Indonesia.

For our people, that was an eclipse of freedom. The international community witnessed the violence and destruction and acted forcefully to stop it. We are particularly indebted to the Security Council and all the countries that helped to take that decisive decision.

Mr. President,

The diplomatic and military actions taken by the international community proved to the world that it had the capacity to end widespread violence against a defenseless people. Through INTERFET, many countries came together, under the overall command of Australia, to help control the situation. Operation Stability was a success.

INTERFET was not envisaged in the May 5 Accord, but it was necessary to save the Accord itself. By doing so, it also helped to honor the responsibilities and the undertakings of the Government of Indonesia based on the May 5 Accord. INTERFET allowed the second-phase of the Accord to be implemented. UNTAET was formed to carry out the second-phase on behalf of the UN Security Council. With the support of the peacekeeping force, UNTAET's mandate was to create the democratic institutions of government.

In the last two years, UNTAET has given primary emphasis to the maintenance of security and establishing the rule of law. Development of the East Timor Police Force and East Timor Defence Force has been an extraordinary achievement. We are now certain that we are heading in the right direction. but we acknowledge that much more needs to be done, especially in the administration of justice.

Other areas of critical importance such as education, health, agriculture and fisheries still require strong support in terms of finance and human resources. The civil service is evolving but many challenges still exist, especially at the senior level, to build the capacity of our people to maintain effective, transparent and accountable government.

We are now about to become independent. As reported by the Secretary-General, a Constitution was adopted by an elected Constituent Assembly and, based on that same Constitution, we have just held presidential elections. We now have the three basic institutions of sovereignty - the Executive, the Parliament and President.

Our second Transitional Government was set up after the election of 30 of August 2001 for a Constituent Assembly. With very limited resources, the Government is likely to face extreme difficulties in implementing its programs, unless financial support and appropriate expertise from the international community are forthcoming. The Chief Minister, Dr. Alkatiri, can explain the details of these matters. There is a plan to provide international experts for 100 core functions, which have been identified by UNTAET and the Government as critical to the viability of government and political stability. This support is important.

The Government has been actively involved in the process of preparing the first National Development Plan for East Timor. Civil society has also been involved in this process through the Civil Society Consultative Commission which administered a countrywide consultation. The aim of this consultation was to ensure that the national development plan would reflect the needs and aspirations of our people. I was personally involved in this exercise, as the Head of the Civil Society Consultation. This particular exercise enabled almost 40 000 people to participate directly in the planning for the future. They presented their own vision and expectations and outlined their own priorities.

The report on these aspirations and priorities identified by the people is now in the hands of the Government. Education and health were identified as areas of major concern and shall be at the top of the list of priorities.

The development plan will be released before independence. It will be an important document - not only to guide the Government and civil society - in developing the nation but also to guide the international community on how best it can continue to help us support our major goals - to reduce poverty and promote economic and social development.

Mr. President,

We now have a Constitution. It provides the guarantees of human rights to our people. In terms of the philosophy of the United Nations, our Constitution does provide an example of how the fundamental elements of human rights can be incorporated into a constitution. For a nation in the making, delivering these guarantees to the individuals and to the nation is a gigantic challenge.

How are we going to respond to the basic needs of our people in terms of employment, basic health and right to education? How are we going to respond to the basic human rights in terms of employment, working conditions, and equal gender opportunities? How are we going to nurture and sustain integrated democratic processes?

All these are real challenges, not only for us, the Timorese, but also for the United Nations.

Our struggle for freedom was a litmus test for the process of resolving conflict through peaceful means. Our freedom, conquered through years of sustained resistance on many fronts, and finally a reality through the May 5 Accord, was sealed in the ballot box in the Popular Consultation held on the 30th of August 1999. It was a turning point in our history. I wish to reiterate the fact that the successful implementation of the Popular Consultation was a product of the United Nations working together. creatively, with the people of East Timor. The commitment of the entire Security Council towards East Timor and the personal commitment of Mr Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, was certainly a force in this process. Our people will never forget your help.

Mr. President

The experience of the administration of UNTAET carries rich lessons for the future. Future UN administrations in post-conflict situations will be much richer if the lessons from East Timor are drawn into the design and implementation of UN plans. The successor mission, UNMISET, carries a Mandate implementation Plan with defined benchmarks to be achieved within a certain time frame. For this plan to succeed, it will need the support of Members States.

We welcome these plans and shall work together to make sure that the objectives assigned to this successor mission will be successfully implemented.

The building of democratic institutions has been also a process led by the United Nations through UNTAET, but working together with the Timorese leadership, as envisaged by the resolutions of the Security Council. So far, this has been a success.

The challenge that lies ahead for the Timorese and also for the United Nations is how to consolidate the core democratic institutions. The need to enhance the capacity and transparency of political institutions and the administrative apparatus is a critical challenge. Appropriate development in the areas of law and order is another. To maintain and sustain security and stability (which is the most important condition for national development and democracy), these two intertwined processes must be nurtured with careful attention.

We will face a real test after the declaration of independence on 20 of May. That is when capacity building begins in earnest. How are we going to manage the legislature so that the relevant laws to regulate an environment conducive to sustain economic development, is a central issue. The other real challenge is how the United Nations and the People of East Timor, can continue to work together in the post-independence era to enhance the capacity of the institutions of East Timor whilst a Democratic State.

Support from the international community - including for technical advisors to support key government functions - will be essential for some time to come.

In short, our struggle for freedom and independence evolved from the Cold War era into the new millennium. Our independence is the product of the sustained determination of our people combined with active cooperation with the international community at all levels. Our future success will also depend on this continued determination and cooperation.

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