Subject: MFAC: FM Horta's Statement to the Security Council Feb. 20 2004

[Prepared remarks. Not read out due to time constraints. JRH spoke more extemporaneously, see below.]

Timor- Leste FM Horta's Statement to the Security Council

February 20, 2004

Mr. President,

Thank you and all the members of the Council for inviting me to speak to you today. I am particularly pleased that the Council is once again considering the situation in Timor-Leste during your Presidency, Ambassador Wang Guangya.

This being the first time I am addressing a UN body since the tragic death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, allow me to pay tribute to this unique human being, loving son of his aging beautiful mother Dona Gilda. An outstanding international civil servant, a man of exceptional intellectual depth, a polyglot, a man of enormous energy and charisma, Sergio will be remembered and forever revered by the people of Timor-Leste.

The whole world mourned and paid tribute to Sergio. Let us not forget his heartbroken mother, Dona Gilda, who cries every day in her modest apartment in Rio. And let us not betray his ideals, legacy and ultimate sacrifice in the service of humanity.

I cannot fail to say a word of gratitude and respect for Sergio's able successor, our friend Kamalesh Sharma, who since 21st May 2002, has helped us in the new phase of our country's history. As UNMISET draws to a close, Kamalesh Sharma must be commended for his patience, discretion, dedication and professionalism in helping the East Timorese people and leaders in the new phase of nation-building, very much away from the flood-lights of international media, as the international community focuses elsewhere. UNMISET with the active involvement and support of the international community has accomplished much of what it was mandated to discharge.

Mr. President and distinguished members of the Council,

We have come a long way since the dark days of September 1999 when all our hopes and dreams seemed to have been crushed by senseless violence orchestrated and unleashed by those who were supposed to have provided security under the May 1999 New York Agreement.

Under the leadership of our Secretary-General, and in response to a ground-swell of world public opinion and to your own conscience, you took quick and effective action that ended the violence, saved thousands of lives, averted a looming humanitarian catastrophe, and charted the course of our independence, peace and democracy.

It was under the guidance of our Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and Sergio Vieira de Mello, that less than two years ago, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste became the 191st member of this Organization.

Since that date, our country has experienced real visible progress in the consolidation of our nascent democracy.

When for the first time he addressed the General Assembly, my Prime Minister, Dr. Mari Alkatiri gave a frank, sober and the same optimistic review of the developments in Timor-Leste. I am relying on his remarks to the General Assembly to address this august body today as the issues and facts he outlined then remain current and valid today.

My Government has presided over the strengthening of the national cohesion and has given priority to the unequivocal affirmation of the Republic as a democratic State founded on the rule of law by taking normative measures in governance to implement the provisions of a modern Constitution drafted by the Timorese and adopted by an assembly democratically elected by the people.

Based on the principles of good governance, of inclusion, participation of the individual and collective responsibility, open governance was initiated in January 2002.

It consists of bringing the Government to the people in the remote areas of the country, to hear first hand, their priorities, problems and needs as well as to explain to the people, the national development plan, the Government program, available resources and the challenges ahead. Also, it aims to instill in the population, greater responsibility and to make them better understand the necessity for their participation in the reconstruction of the country, the execution of the national plan, the method of achieving the objectives of economic growth and the reduction and eradication of poverty.

In relation to the legislative process, we have prioritized the adoption of laws for the foundation of the State, above all, to avoid taking discretionary and subjective measures which are without any legal basis. On many occasions, we were faced with the need to adopt regulations in the every day economy and the process of administration.

Hence, more than thirty decrees and laws were adopted by the Government for approval by the National Parliament. Over twenty have been promulgated by the President of the Republic and have entered into force, gradually filling the legal vacuum in Timor-Leste.

In this manner, we will create an institutional culture of democracy, giving basis to a democratic State founded on the rule of law and the principle of good governance. However, the challenges are enormous.

Of the 900 schools destroyed in 1999, around 700 were rehabilitated and more than thirty new schools have been constructed. Despite this, 25% of our children continue without access to education. Our people have asked for more schools and better teachers. Many of the 65 sub-districts demand the opening of schools at the secondary level. Others ask for agricultural, technical or vocational institutions.

In the tertiary sector, we have a national university with more than 7000 students. Hundreds of candidates are frustrated that their expectations to graduate from the national university have not been met. We now have a proliferation of institutions of higher learning without official recognition by the Government. To deal with this situation, the Government assumed the responsibility for developing rules to regulate the tertiary sector by defining the parameters for their creation and existence.

In the health sector, similar challenges are being faced. Much of the infrastructure has been rehabilitated and many others constructed. But the people want more assistance and means of support. They ask for more doctors, more nurses, more midwives, more ambulances and health centers closer to their villages.

The national health policy was adopted by the Government and is being implemented with a sense of responsibility and with clear knowledge of the priorities and limitations.

We hope soon to be able to reduce the difficulties in this area with the cooperation of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Cuba in the provision of doctors to operate in the rural areas.

In the agriculture sector, more than 60% of the irrigation system has been repaired and new systems built. It is important now to assist farmers in the best methods of use of their irrigation systems and to make them responsible for the maintenance while the remainder is being repaired.

In infrastructure, in general, the repairs and maintenance have been slow and difficult. There are 6000 kilometers of roads to be rehabilitated and maintained. Our people demand the opening of many others. Equally, many bridges are to be reconstructed, completed or constructed. We propose to have the most vital parts of these infrastructures ready for use by the end of 2005. This includes all national roads and bridges which will make travel on these roads viable all year round.

On the other hand, we have the problem of electricity, a sector which is in deficit. The systems for the production of electricity have been re-established in all districts and in 55 of the 65 sub-districts.

In the meantime, it is the policy of my Government to identify and develop alternative sources of energy that are more accessible and sustainable. Currently, we are conducting a feasibility study of the same resources, in particular, in the area of hydropower.

The access to and the consumption of running water is considerably limited. However, it is undeniable that the number of people with access to running water is increasing daily more so than during the period of 1999.

In the area of telecommunications, we are in the process of implementing an ambitious project overseen by Timor-Leste Telecom through a concession in the build-operate-transfer system (BOT).

Efforts are being made to develop another telecommunications system capable of reaching the remotest villages of the country. With the completion and the installation of the telecommunications system, we will equally create the technical conditions for the development of television and radio, delivering the best service in the media sector, which is free, vibrant and responsible.

Mr. President,

The process of reconstruction has evolved in an environment of peace and stability. However, I acknowledge that that the key areas that guarantee the sustainability and credibility of the entire process like the judicial system, defense and security, still require substantial assistance and support for some time.

In other sectors of administration, it is necessary to have qualified people to assist in the development of the capacity of the Timorese, in particular, in the consolidation of the financial and banking systems, border control, legislative drafting and in the definition of the national policy, the promotion of investment and in the transfer of technologies.

Consistent with our history for the struggle for human dignity, my country ratified a number of important international human rights treaties, among them: - the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

- International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination,

- and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Apart from these treaties previously mentioned, we have also ratified others equally important, like the - Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Arms,

- Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction,

- Convention on the Prohibition for the Use, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

We are conscious that the ratification of these international instruments creates legal obligations and the Timorese State will do its utmost to implement these instruments.

With regard to external relations, we continue to develop ties of friendship and cooperation with all our neighbors and beyond. In the 18 months since our formal accession to independence, we have established diplomatic relations with more than 80 countries, opened six embassies, one Permanent Mission and one Consulate-General. As soon as our financial resources permit, we will establish new diplomatic representations, with emphasis in the Asia region.

We are honored to host in our capital 12 foreign embassies with one more to open soon, one Consulate-General, and several multi-lateral bodies that enjoy full diplomatic privileges.

In September 2003, we hosted the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission Indonesia-Timor-Leste with positive outcomes and with the aim of solving a number of residual issues derived from the recent past, as well as a new cooperation in the areas of commerce, investment, development, education, health and security.

We hoped to finalize the demarcation of our land boundary and targeted November 2003 to sign a provisional agreement on our common border. However, as noted in the Secretary-General's report the two sides once again failed to live up to our own agreed time-table on the border demarcation.

We expect to commence negotiations on our maritime boundaries. The boundaries, whether land or sea, define the territory of a country. Within a territory, one can exercise powers of sovereignty or jurisdiction.

For this reason, having as our neighbors, two big and friendly countries Indonesia and Australia, Timor-Leste hopes to see its borders with both countries demarcated by the end of my Government's mandate.

The second trilateral ministerial meeting between Timor-Leste, Australia and Indonesia was held at the end of August 2003 in Adelaide, Australia, where we explored ideas with a view to strengthening the trilateral relations. Timor-Leste will host the third tri-lateral ministerial meeting to be held sometime this year.

On 27th September 2003, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of seven countries, of the Southwest Pacific Dialogue, of which Timor-Leste is a member, met in New York on the margins of the General Assembly.

Timor-Leste enjoys special observer status in the Pacific Forum and has participated as a guest in ASEAN ministerial meetings.

Timor-Leste is a full member of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, the African Caribbean and Pacific-European Union, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, and various specialized United Nations agencies.

Mr. President,

The fight against terrorism, organized crime, traffic in humans, drugs and the traffic in illegal arms is on the top of the agenda, regionally and in Timor-Leste. We shall make every effort to contribute to the eradication of these ills which are becoming more an epidemic with the development of new technology. We took part in the recent Regional Conference on Counter-Terrorism held in Bali jointly hosted by Australia and Indonesia.

On the occasion I pleaded with richer countries to provide assistance not only to Timor-Leste but equally to other countries in need of financial and technical assistance in order to enable us to fulfill our obligations in the fight against international terrorism.

My government is considering accession to the relevant anti-terrorism conventions and at the same time I appeal to the Council's Counter Terrorism Committee and other member countries to seriously consider our need for urgent assistance in capacity building in this highly specialized field.

Mr. President,

I shall not take too much more of your time. You have before you the Secretary-General's report(S/2004/117) on the developments in Timor-Leste, the progress we have made since May 2002 in almost all the key areas of governance, the shortcomings in other areas, the challenges and perils ahead, as well as the opportunities for further progress and consolidation of our nascent democracy.

While I cannot say that I would subscribe in its entirety to the Secretary-General's report, having carefully reviewed it, my Government wishes to state that it concurs with most of the analysis of the situation and fully supports the recommendations contained in the said report. Actually, I believe it reflects the concerns and wishes of our people and Government.

I conclude with special reference to my Government's own concerns and views with regard to a future UN role in Timor-Leste after May 2004.

The UN as a whole should rightly claim much of the credit for what remains a real success story in ending violence, healing the wounds and building a nation from the ashes of war. The UN has succeeded in Timor-Leste because of the collective will of the entire international community, the direct and indirect involvement of many countries, large and small, rich and poor.

In this troubled world where the nightly news on our TV screens are dominated by images of violence, hatred, prejudice, extremism and terrorism, failing and failed states that fall prey to organized crime and the Terror Inc., Timor-Leste is still a bright spot which we all can be proud of.

This success story is an inspiration for many and an illustration of what multilateralism can achieve, of how true leadership can forge partnership among peoples, nations and governments to substitute violence with peace, hatred with tolerance, and desperation with hope.

You delivered peace, you gave us hope, and you gave our country back to our people. For this we are eternally grateful. Yet the people of Timor-Leste need an extra effort on your part.

Peace is still very fragile as our people are still profoundly traumatized and fearful. Our border remains un-demarcated, militia gangs continue to present a threat to our hard-won democracy and peace. Fragile are our institutions of law and order. Hence, I appeal to you all to support the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report.

While there seems to be agreement among all that there should be a follow-up UN consolidation mission in Timor-Leste after May 2004, there are reservations in some quarters with regard to our request for the inclusion of a modest peace-keeping force in the new UN mission in Timor-Leste. We view it as a very important, credible and effective deterrence.

Without wanting to underrate the professionalism and dedication of the many hundreds of police officers who served with the UN in my country since 1999, a police force does not offer the same deterrence credibility as a military force. We are talking about a small company size peace-keeping force with a minimum price tag and yet its deterrence value is immense.

Are we exaggerating the potential threat to Timor-Leste's fragile peace and stability? If so, then it is far better and wiser to be overcautious and be prepared than being caught unprepared because of over-confidence and complacency.

I had the privilege of addressing this Council on a number of occasions in the past few years. Each time you were able to reach consensus and decisions that proved to be the right ones for my country. In the past, I was here accompanying my good friend Sergio. I was seated next to him as we both addressed this august body. Sergio was our eloquent, passionate advocate, and you always went along with his well argued proposals. I do not have his charisma, stature and eloquence. But I hope you remember his voice from a very recent past and will not fail him.

Thank you.

[transcript of remarks actually delivered]

Mr. Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste): I thank you, Sir, and all the other members of the Council for inviting me to speak here today. I am particularly pleased that it is during your presidency that the Council is once again considering the situation in Timor-Leste. In view of your long involvement in and experience with the issue of Timor-Leste since you came to the United Nations as a young diplomat, we feel even more confident that, under your leadership, the Security Council will once again arrive at a consensus on a continuing United Nations role in Timor-Leste.

In view of time constraints and despite your generosity, Sir, in allowing me additional time for my statement I shall skip many pages of my written text; the full text will be circulated to members [full text can be found at]. I shall endeavour to address the substance of the report of the Secretary-General (S/2004/117).

First, I would like to congratulate the Secretary-General and his staff on that outstanding presentation. I myself could not have made a better analysis of the situation in Timor-Leste, and I think the Secretariat deserves high commendation for its professionalism. Because of their having dealt with Timor-Leste for many years, they truly understand the realities, the challenges and the problems that we face although I would not subscribe to the report 100 per cent. I probably would not subscribe to the Bible 100 per cent, so I hope no one will take it too personally that I subscribe not to 100 per cent of the report but to perhaps 99 per cent of it.

The report refers to some key areas where we have made progress, on which I shall not elaborate now. It refers also to shortcomings in other areas, and we are prepared to accept our failings and weaknesses resulting, first, from the very fact that we have been independent for less than two years; none of us had ever governed a country before, whether in the previous five years or in the previous 500 years under various colonial experiments in our country. Those failings have to do also with the lack of trained personnel for the administration, particularly in the key area where we acknowledge that we are most fragile: the justice sector.

With regard to that sector, it is noted that the Timorese side has much to do to strengthen its law enforcement agencies, particularly the police. In the past year and a half, our Government has invested enormous effort in strengthening the judiciary and the public administration. We believe that those two areas constitute the foundation for peace and security in our country, for development and for creating a climate of confidence for investors.

The report of the Secretary-General recommends a continuation of the United Nations presence in the territory, based on three components. There seems to be no disagreement on two components, but there appears to be some on the continuation of a peacekeeping component in the territory. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) which have dealt with the situation in Timor-Leste since 1999 seem to know the situation very well because of their close observation of the conditions and the realities in the country: the weaknesses of our police force and defence force; the dynamics of our politics; the tensions in the border area; the unresolved issue of certain elements of militia gangs; the unresolved issue of the refugees; and the still uncompleted talks between us and Indonesia on the land border.

The land border is a porous one. We acknowledge the good will and leadership of the Indonesian side in addressing the refugee problem and, along with us, towards concluding negotiations on land demarcation. However, as the report of the Secretary-General notes, the two sides Indonesia and Timor-Leste have failed so far on three occasions to meet our own deadline for signing an agreement on border demarcation. But there is political will and determination on the part of Timor-Leste and Indonesia to continue the talks and to conclude the border demarcation. On both sides, border demarcation would help resolve some of the issues of illegal cross-border activities.

Peace is a reality in Timor-Leste, as the report of the Secretary-General and many observers acknowledge. But it has also been acknowledged and we ourselves acknowledge that peace is still very fragile in our country. So are the institutions of law and order and the institutions of the State public administration. Therefore, the Government of Timor-Leste, through our Prime Minister in a letter to the Secretary-General (S/2004/114), has appealed for the continuation of a peacekeeping component in a new United Nations mission in Timor-Leste. We leave it to the Secretariat and the members of the Council to decide on the exact size of that peacekeeping component, but it is our informed view in the light of the dynamics of the reality on the ground and in the light of our experience, backed up by experience in many other conflict situations that a peacekeeping component provides the best deterrence against any potential violent conflict. We do not wish to underrate an international police force, but a police force does not have the same credibility or impact as a formed military unit.

Obviously, we do not anticipate any external threat. But can it be said that we are exaggerating the potential threats in Timor-Leste? If we are, maybe it is better and wiser to exaggerate and be over-cautious than, because of other cost-saving calculations, to witness a precipitate, too-early reduction of the United Nations presence in the country.

It is for that reason the respect that the people of Timor-Leste has acquired with regard to a peacekeeping force in the country that we believe that such a force provides the best deterrence to ensure peace and security and to give the international community and the Timorese Government time and space to strengthen our police force and our defence force, which we believe would be able completely to take over all responsibilities by May 2005.

I have spoken here on numerous occasions in the past. On all those occasions, one individual would sit next to me, often here on my right. That individual was Sergio Vieira de Mello. He was our most eloquent, passionate advocate. I recall that the Council always went along with his very persuasive arguments on engaging the United Nations and the international community in Timor-Leste. The job which he initiated with tremendous success, carried on by Kamalesh Sharma with equal competence and dedication, has not been completed. Any miscalculation, for whatever reason, in completely withdrawing the peacekeeping force a very important political and psychological element could betray and undermine the tremendous success that has been the United Nations role in Timor-Leste.

I believe that, as in the past, the members of the Council will display their habitual wisdom and experience and reach a satisfactory conclusion on the basis of the Secretary-General's report. For us, it is extremely important that the Council which has been united on the issue of Timor-Leste since 1999 remain united. But it is equally important that we should not, for the sake of apparent unity, reach a consensus that really undermines the recommendations of the Secretary-General. The substance of those recommendations with regard to maintaining a peacekeeping element in Timor-Leste must not be undermined because of the necessity of unity. I leave it to the members of the Council, with their wisdom and experience, to find a balance between the need for unity and at the same time retaining what is important.

That is the substance of the Secretary-General's recommendations.

[From United Nations S/PV.4913 - Security Council
Fifty-ninth year 4913th meeting Friday, 20 February 2004, 10 a.m. New York Provisional

The situation in Timor-Leste
Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (S/2004/117)]


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