Int'l Federation for East Timor Urges Fully Integrated UN
Calls for Australian troops to forego separate command
For immediate release
Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; cell: 917-690-4391
Charles Scheiner, +1-914-831-1098; cell: +1-914-473-3185
August 25 - The International Federation for East Timor (IFET)
today said that the Security Council should create a new UN mission
to Timor-Leste which fully integrates all international military
"Any other arrangement will hinder the effectiveness of the
overall mission and runs contrary to the preference of the people
and government of Timor-Leste and the recommendations of the UN
Secretary-General," said John M. Miller, IFET UN Representative.
"Australia’s insistence on keeping its troops under a separate,
national command structure will make coordination difficult,
lessening the confidence and security that the UN Mission is
intended to provide for the people of Timor-Leste.
The Security Council is expected to pass a resolution today
creating the new mission which defers the decision on military
command structure, leaving the current Australian-led Joint Task
Force in place until after the Secretary-General reports on the
issue by October 25. Australia has so far refused to place its
troops under UN command, and the United Nations will not create the
345-soldier military component of the new integrated mission if a
separate international military force is operating in Timor-Leste.
"An integrated mission is in the best interests of everyone,
especially the East Timorese," said Charles Scheiner, International
Secretariat for IFET "Many people in Timor-Leste already suspect the
motives, capability and impartiality of the Australian forces there
now, and Australia’s refusal to be part of a UN force increases that
distrust. Delaying this issue for another two months is unlikely to
lead to a satisfactory resolution. More likely it will increase
confusion and resentment in Timor-Leste."
"The new UN mission has great potential to help Timor-Leste
recover from its recent troubles and continue on the path to peace,
democracy and prosperity. But that potential is possible only if the
UN and its member states carefully listen to the wishes of the
Timorese people," he added.
In a statement this week, the Timor-Leste NGO Forum and others in
civil society there urged an integrated mission, saying that "there
will be a greater degree of accountability for UN forces as it is a
civilian led, international, neutral institution." The
group statement added that "There is an
inherently unequal relationship in Timor-Leste's dealings with other
more powerful countries on a bilateral basis. Working through the UN
would avoid this situation."
Several countries, including a number of Timor-Leste's neighbors,
are willing to contribute troops but will only do so if they are
part of an integrated UN mission.
On August 25, the Security Council is expected to authorize the
new UN mission for at least one year. It will include a large
contingent of UN police, support for next year’s presidential and
parliamentary elections, and improving Timor-Leste’s capacity to
govern itself. The mission will also assist Timor-Leste to continue
investigations into serious human rights crimes committed in 1999.
IFET was formed in 1991 to support East Timor's human and
political rights at the United Nations. It has 34 member groups from
Additional information can be found at
UN Security Council resolution as passed