Subject: TLGOV: Timor-Leste to Security Council November 14, 2002

Statement by Jose Luis Guterres

Mr. President, Excellencies Distinguished Representatives,

Thank you Mr. President,

It is both an honor and a privilege for me to be addressing this august body, for the first time, as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste's first Representative to the United Nations. Allow me, therefore, to take this opportunity to convey my Government's deep appreciation for the unwavering support of the Council, and the United Nations in general, throughout the years of Timor-Leste's struggle for freedom and self-determination. I would also like to assure you of my country's full support of the Council in its deliberations on the other important issues before it.

Mr. President, my delegation sincerely congratulates you on your assumption of the presidency. We have no doubt that your experience and dedication will guide the Council in its deliberations in times when difficult decisions are required.

My Government would like to commend the Secretary General for his comprehensive and balanced report (S/2002/1223) on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor before us today. It reflects the hard work of the Secretary-General's Special Representative, H. E. Mr. Kamalesh Sharma and his staff. His advice and leadership during the last six months underscores the continued commitment of the United Nations to Timor-Leste.

The report indicates that much still needs to be done. We fully agree with this conclusion. And, the Government and the people of Timor-Leste stand ready to face the many challenges ahead of us. In doing so, we are committed to the principles promoted by the United Nations: democracy, transparency, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

At the same time, however, I must ask for your understanding. Timor-Leste is still a young country; its transition from decades of violence and deprivation to a fully functioning member of the community of free states is not yet completed. The difficult task of building the human and institutional capacities, and the infrastructure, needs time. Building a self-sufficient and prosperous nation will require your continued support and partnership, and that of the international community at large.

In its first National Development Plan, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste has identified the key challenges confronting the country in the years to come: poverty reduction, education, health care, infrastructural and economic development, and institutional capacity building, at all levels of Government, remain top priorities..

Therefore, funding for the 91 posts, called for by the Secretary-General to support Timor-Leste's efforts in the areas of development and poverty reduction, is critical for the viability and long-term political stability of Timor-Leste. We need personnel that have the expertise and capacity to accomplish the goals set forth in the National Development Plan. This will not only help to foster the investments and progress already made in the country's economic and social recovery but also to achieve the goals contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

UNMISET's mandate also calls for assistance in law enforcement and the justice sector. The development of an effective, independent and impartial legal system is an area of great concern to the Government of Timor-Leste. It is central to the security and stability of our nation, the reconciliation among our people, and the creation of an investor-friendly economic environment. And we understand that our civil servants and lawyers still have to learn. Training and capacity building therefore remains a key priority. Creating a justice system from scratch cannot be done over night. It requires the sustained effort and commitment of us all Government, civil society, and international community.

Mr. President Members of the Council,

While the reconstruction challenges remain paramount, I would like to highlight some of the positive political developments within Timor-Leste and outside. The democratic culture and political participation is growing, the first laws have been passed, and the Parliament has become the proud sovereign of our young nation. The reconciliation and return of refugees has continued; and just recently, President Gusmao visited West Timor with a delegation of 100 citizens of Timor- Leste to encourage the return and resettlement of remaining refugees. Reconciliation and healing between the Timorese will also further improve relations with Indonesia.

Strengthening of relations with Indonesia is a priority for my Government, and as mentioned in the report, President Xanana Gusmao's first state visit took him to Jakarta where President Megawati Sukarnoputri warmly received him. In addition, a high level meeting was recently held which resulted in the creation of the Joint Ministerial Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the two countries. In addressing any issues of mutual concern the Commission will further strengthen the friendly neighborly relations. The negotiations with Australia on the petroleum exploitation in the Timor Sea are well on track.

Internationally, Timor-Leste have joined, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, ACP group, the CPLP (the Portuguese speaking Countries). We have supported the Indonesian initiative in the establishment of the Southwest Pacific Forum comprised of Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Timor-Leste; we have participated as observer to ASEAN and Pacific Island Forum meetings.

Timor-Leste has established diplomatic relations with several countries and has started to open its first diplomatic missions. We have ratified the Rome Treaty for an International Criminal Court and have accelerated preparations for ratification of several international human rights instruments by the 10th of December 2002.

And of course Timor-Leste's is fully committed to the global fight against terrorism. Cowardice attacks against innocent civilians are morally repugnant and we intend to fully cooperate with the work of the Security Council Committee, established pursuant to SC resolution 1373. However, as Timor-Leste's law enforcement and security apparatus, including its defense and police force, is still in its nascent stage, we need the continued presence of the international police and peacekeeping force until Timor-Leste has the capacity to meet this goal on its own. Downsizing now would be premature and jeopardize the achievements of recent years. I would urge you to adhere to the targets established by the Council in May 2002.

In this context, I would like to convey my Government's heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of the senseless terror attack in Bali. Amongst the lives lost were United Nations staff members serving in my country. We share your loss. Just yesterday President Xanana Gusmao laid a wreath at the site of the tragedy.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by expressing, once again, the deep appreciation of my Government for the continued support of the United Nations and the Secretary-General. Timor-Leste is on a good path. While progress has been made, however, much work remains to be done. The fundings and requirements spelled out in the report before us must be met if we want the success story of Timor-Leste's transition to come full circle.

Thank you.

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