As the United Nations winds down its peacekeeping operation in Timor-Leste, the Security Council today applauded the “remarkable achievements” made by the small south-east Asian country as it transitioned over the past decade from a colonial enclave to an independent and democratic State.
“The Security Council welcomes the considerable progress that has been made by Timor-Leste in strengthening institutional and human resources capacities of State institutions,” the Council said in a presidential statement issued by Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki of Morocco, which holds the Council’s presidency for December.
Noting that Timor-Leste had also made advancements in the security, justice, and governance sectors which play “crucial roles in safeguarding stability and promoting democracy,” Amb. Loulichki further complimented the country on its recent successful presidential and parliamentary elections which, he said, had “helped to consolidate Timor-Leste’s democratic institutions.”
Timor-Leste has endured a long and often violent journey towards independence and democracy since it formally broke away from Indonesia in 2002. Following another outbreak of deadly fighting in 2006, the UN set up the peacekeeping operation known as the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) to replace several earlier missions in the Asian nation.
Since then, the country has progressed on the path to democracy. This year, Timor-Leste celebrated the 10th anniversary of its independence, elected a new president and held parliamentary elections, which were largely peaceful and held in an orderly manner, and prompted UNMIT’s expected and definitive withdrawal.
In his statement, the President of the Security Council congratulated the Government and all Timorese for their “steadfast collaboration and partnership” with the UN presence in the country and suggested that UNMIT’s drawdown and the principle of national ownership could serve as a future model of joint collaboration for other UN missions around the world.
“The Security Council underscores the importance of continued support to Timor-Leste as it embarks on the next stage of its development, beyond UNMIT,” Amb. Loulichki continued, adding that the Council also welcomed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s ongoing engagement with the nation as it “seeks to preserve and consolidate its peace building gains.”
UNMIT’s drawdown is reportedly proceeding apace and the remaining UN presence is expected to leave the country by 31 December.