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New UN political mission for Timor-Leste approved

New UN political mission for Timor-Leste approved

With the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Timor-Leste set to wrap up its work in mid-May, the Security Council today mandated a special political mission to help ensure the nascent country continued its journey toward self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

The new UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), a one-year follow-on mission to the current UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), will remain in the country until 20 May 2006.

In the unanimously adopted resolution, the Council noted that the country’s emerging institutions were still in the process of consolidation and that further assistance was required to ensure sustained development and strengthening of key sectors, mainly rule of law, including justice, human rights, and support for the Timor-Leste police, and other public administration.

The new Office will support the development of critical State institutions by providing up to 45 civilian advisers; support further development of the police through the provision of up to 40 police advisers, and bolster the development of the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) by providing up to 35 additional advisers, 10 of whom may be military advisers. It will also provide training in observance of democratic governance and human rights by providing up to 10 rights officers; and review progress on those fronts.

The Council’s action came as a two-day international symposium on “UN Peacekeeping Operations in Post Conflict Timor-Leste” got underway in the capital Dili. In his message to the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the progress Timor-Leste has made since 1999, and noted that with a new phase of UN involvement in the country about to begin, this was a key moment to reflect on the past and to discuss how the UN could better contribute to peacekeeping and peace-building in post conflict countries.

The Council resolution asked that UNOTIL, when implementing its mandate, emphasize proper transfer of skills and knowledge in order to build the capacity of Timorese public institutions to deliver their services in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, justice, human rights, democratic governance, transparency, accountability and professionalism.

Underlining that UN assistance to Timor-Leste should be coordinated with the efforts of bilateral and multilateral donors, regional mechanisms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector organizations and others, the Council encouraged the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to establish and chair a consultative group, made up of those stakeholders, that would meet regularly for that purpose.

The Council also acknowledged the Secretary-General’s decision to send a Commission of Experts to Timor-Leste and Indonesia to review the serious crimes accountability processes, and reaffirmed the need for credible accountability for the serious human rights violations committed in 1999.

It further underlined the need for the UN Secretariat, in agreement with the country’s authorities, to preserve a complete copy of all records compiled by the Serious Crimes Unit and called on all parties to cooperate fully with the work of the Secretary-General’s expert panel.

The Council also said it looked forward to the Commission’s upcoming report exploring possible ways to address that issue, including ways to assist the Truth and Friendship Commission, which Indonesia and Timor-Leste had agreed to establish.