Subject: USGOV: U.S. intends to support new UN peacekeeping mission in ET
United States Department of State Washington, D.C. 20520
AUG 01 2006
Consistent with section 4(d) of the United Nations Participation Act, 22 U.S.C. 287b(d), and Title IV of the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (P.L. 109-108), and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-164), we wish to inform you that the United States intends to support a resolution in the United Nations Security Council to create a UN mission in East Timor which will support and assist the Government of East Timor with law enforcement operations, and preparations for and conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held by May 20, 2007. The new mission will also assist in building East Timor's capacity for democratic governance and human rights, and will provide expert support to key ministries and offices. The mission will have a small number of military advisors. This notification is being submitted on behalf of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
The enclosed background paper provides details on the proposed mission, A vote in the Security Council may occur in fifteen calendar days.
Jeffrey .T. Bergner Assistant Secretary Legislative Affairs
Enclosure: New UN Mission in East Timor.
NEW UN MISSION IN EAST TIMOR
The United States intends to support creation of a new UN peacekeeping mission in East Timor, to provide stability and policing capacity and to support preparations for and conduct of the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, The proposed new mission is described in more detail below.
In 1999, the people of East Timor overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence from Indonesia. Pro-Indonesian militia groups responded with violence, and the Security Council in its resolution 1264 of September 15, 1999, authorized the Australian-led multinational force INTERFET to restore peace and security. Security Council resolution 1272 of October 25, 1999, established the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, which oversaw East Timor's transition to independence on May 20, 2002. On that date, the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) began operations and for the next three years, provided support to the new government as its ministries and functions were strengthened and developed. On May 20, 2005, UNMISET handed over responsibility to a UN political mission, the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL). UNOTIL was charged with: (1) building government capacity in key areas (such as finance and justice); (2) training and development in democratic governance and human rights; and, (3) with building the national police force.
There was some concern when UNOTIL took over that East Timor might still require external security support, given that former militia members were stilt armed and carrying out occasional raids in border areas. However, the threat to East Timor's security turned out to be internal. On April 28, 2006, the young nation descended into instability as factional fighting between its security forces led to widespread ethnic tensions, gang warfare, and house torchings. The initial crisis was sparked by then-Prime Minister Alkatiri's dismissal of 591 soldiers of the 1,500-person Timorese military who had gone on strike in February to protest against discrimination by "easterners" against "westerners" in the armed forces. Fearing for their safety, an estimated 130,000 people took refuge in camps set up by church groups. In late May, at the request of the Government of East Timor, Australia led a multinational force of approximately 2,500 soldiers (including forces from New Zealand and Malaysia), joined by a contingent of Portuguese gendarmes, to help restore order. Currently, the capital city, Dili, is secure, and most of the country is relatively calm.
Then-Prime Minister Alkatiri was widely blamed for the crisis, and several thousand protesters called for his resignation in June. There were also allegations that he distributed weapons to his supporters to use against political opponents. In late June, former Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato was arrested for distributing the above-mentioned weapons and placed under house arrest. Under pressure from protestors and President Xanana Gusmao's public request for his resignation, Alkatiri resigned on June 26. On July 10, Jose Ramos-Horta (who was Foreign and Defense Minister in the previous government) was sworn in as Prime Minister. His new cabinet was sworn in at a ceremony in Dili on July 14.
On June 20, Security Council resolution 1690 extended UNOTIL's mandate until August 20. The Secretary-General sent an assessment mission to East Timor to review what UN assistance might be required; his recommendations are expected to be released on August 7.
Our internal review, as well as discussions with the UN and interested partners, confirm that East Timor will continue to need international support in key areas of governance and institution-building. In particular, there is a substantial need for building police capacity through training and in expert operational law enforcement. East Timor will also require support in preparing for and conducting nationwide presidential and parliamentary elections by May 20, 2007. In addition, there is a continuing need for human rights training and monitoring, particularly in the context of abuses that occurred during the violence earlier this year.
For these reasons, the United States plans to vote by August 20 in favor of a Security Council resolution to authorize creation of a new UN mission for East Timor; the proposed new mission does not yet have a name.
U.S. National Interests
Instability in East Timor has produced another humanitarian crisis and threatens democratic institutions in this new state. East Timor is still fragile, and government authority is spread paper-thin, The United States has an interest in fostering stability in East Timor, which is an enthusiastic friend and ally in a region that is increasingly vulnerable to anti-American sentiments. The United States has a continuing interest in fostering democracy in Asia.
The mission's mandate will include supporting preparations for and conduct of nationwide elections, continued expert assistance in key ministries to build government capacity, and an enhanced attention to human rights. Its police component will both build the capacity of the East Timorese police and conduct law enforcement operations. We anticipate that the UN police will have the authority to arrest and detain suspects as necessary.
We anticipate that the UN will recommend deployment of up to 1,850 UN police officers at the high point during the elections (up to 1,100 individual officers and up to 6 formed police units of 125 each). We expect that the mission will also have a small number of military advisors, as does UNOTIL currently. As the multinational force draws down there may be a need for the UN mission to include a small military force, which we will review at that time. The Australian led force currently anticipates withdrawing completely by the end of 2006, assuming that security conditions continue to improve.
Command & Control
As currently envisioned, the military strength will be provided by the multinational force, which will serve as a rapid-reaction force and backup if needed to the UN mission. Most security situations will be dealt with by UN police in tandem with East Timorese police, under a Police Commissioner reporting to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.
In lieu of estimates from the UN about the potential costs associated with the new mission, we estimate that the mission at its largest (1,850 police) could cost approximately $100 million annually, of which the U.S. share would be approximately $27 million. We are not sure when we might be assessed for the operation but assume the initial assessment for the operation would be received in FY 2007, This operation was not included in the budget request for FY 2007 As a result, payment of assessments for the operation would be made by reprogramming funds from other operations deemed to be of a lower priority. Such a reprogramming would be done with input from prior Congressional consultations.
U.S. Military Functions in Support of the UN Mission in East Timor
We have no plans to provide any U.S. military personnel to the UN mission in East Timor. The United States currently provides two police officers to UNOTIL, and plans to continue providing at least that many officers to the new mission.
U.S. Assistance or Support for the UN Mission in East Timor
The United States does not plan to provide any direct support to the UN mission in East Timor.
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
Section 104(e) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, FY 2006 (P.L. 109-164) provides for a report in advance of a vote to create a new UN peacekeeping mission describing the measures taken by the UN to prevent the organization's employees, contractor personnel, and peacekeeping forces serving in the peacekeeping mission from trafficking in persons, exploiting victims of trafficking, or committing acts of sexual exploitation or abuse, and the measures in place to hold accountable any such individuals who engage in any such acts while participating in the peacekeeping mission, and an analysis of the effectiveness of such measures.
The United Nations has adopted a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse for personnel serving in all UN peacekeeping missions, and this policy would apply to personnel serving in the UN Mission in East Timor. We intend to support language in the Security Council resolution creating this mission that requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to ensure compliance with this zero tolerance policy by personnel serving in the mission and to keep the Security Council informed. The language would also urge countries that contribute troops to take preventive and disciplinary action to ensure that any incidents of sexual exploitation or abuse are properly investigated and punished in cases involving their personnel.
Duration and Exit Strategy
We anticipate that the mission will stay at its projected levels through the presidential and parliamentary elections (which must be held by May 20, 2007, and will likely be conducted separately). At that time, the police component would begin drawing down gradually. We expect that the mission will last no more than two years, with a resumption of non-peacekeeping-related UN support in 2008.