Thank you Mr. President and welcome to the Council. I also wish to welcome the Foreign Minister of Timor-Leste and the Vice Minister of Brazil. Thank you, Special Representative Haq for your briefing this morning. Let me also thank you for your dedicated leadership and commitment to solidifying peace in Timor-Leste.
The collaboration among the United Nations, bilateral partners and multilateral actors has paid dividends in Timor-Leste. The continued cooperation between all stakeholders will provide critical support as this young country develops and prospers. The Secretary General’s report provides us with an important opportunity to discuss the needs of Timor-Leste to reflect on the progress of UNMIT’s planned withdrawal and to begin long-term planning for future United Nations engagement in the country.
Allow me to address four issues today. First, the United States is pleased and encouraged that the security situation in Timor-Leste continues to be stable and that security sector reform efforts continue to bear fruit. The transition of primary policing responsibilities last March from UNMIT to the Timorese national police was a critical step to in developing the capacity of national institutions to promote enduring security in Timor-Leste. We appreciate UNMIT’s essential support to the PNTL and recognize the PNTL’s successes in strengthening its own capacity. We also acknowledge and commend the commitment of the Timorese defense forces to enhance its professionalism and build its readiness including its ability to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. Work remains to be done, however. Continued efforts to professionalize the national police and military are necessary. We encourage the government of Timor-Leste to focus on establishing well-defined roles for the police and military. This is especially important as Timor-Leste moves toward elections in 2012. The United States is committed to supporting the continuing development of the military and police forces through professional exchanges, training, and exercises.
Second, as mentioned, Timor-Leste will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the first half of 2012. The importance of organizing and holding free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections cannot be overstated. We urge all political parties to respect the outcome of the democratic process and to conduct political activities peacefully. The United States is pleased to support the government of Timor-Leste’s request for election monitors and civic and voter education programs. We urge the international community to provide additional support to the election process.
Third, I would like to reiterate the importance of government institutions in capacity building in Timor-Leste. The strengthening of rule of law and governance institutions is critical to Timor-Leste’s future stability and we urge continued international support for this effort. The increased participation of women in the national police and politics is laudable and should be replicated across all institutions. Praise is also due to the government of Timor-Leste for its progress in promoting anti-corruption and transparency initiatives, including the establishment of the anti-corruption commission as well as other initiatives. We urge further work on institutionalizing government accountability, providing access to justice, and resolving truth and reconciliation issues, including the establishment of a memory institute. Strong institutions devoted to the protection of human rights, the promotion of national prosperity, and the achievement of accountability across all levels of society are critical to long-term stability in Timor-Leste.
Finally, I would like to highlight the impressive level of collaboration between UNMIT and the government of Timor-Leste in developing and ratifying the Joint Transition Plan. The plan will guide the complete withdrawal of UNMIT by the end of 2012. We encourage UNMIT and the government to continue with its implementation consistently and systematically. As the 2012 elections approach, the intensity of electoral preparations will increase and it may prove difficult to maintain simultaneous preparations for UNMIT’s eventual withdrawal. We urge UNMIT and the government of Timor-Leste to avoid delaying the implementation of the transition plan and to continue engaging international partners to ensure that capability gaps are quickly identified and filled.
With UNMIT’s withdrawal a little over a year away we have the opportunity to think collectively about the future engagement of the United Nations, including the Security Council, in Timor-Leste. The United States believes that international support for the development of Timor-Leste will continue to be critical to the country’s future. We remain committed to a sustained dialogue with the government and other stakeholders regarding a post-UNMIT UN presence in the country. The good offices of the UN, and other international support systems, will be integral to the continued development of Timor-Leste and will provide opportunities for Timor-Leste to contribute to these institutions as well. This mutually beneficial relationship is already starting to develop. Timor-Leste has progressed from a country that needs a peace-keeping force to a country that contributes to peacekeeping forces. Timorese police officers have served in overseas missions including in Kosovo in 2005 and this year in Guinea Bissau. In July of this year twelve Timorese defense force engineers began a six-month training to prepare for their eventual integration into a Portuguese contingent that will serve with the UN interim force in Lebanon. We also commend Timor-Leste’s role as an international leader of fragile states through its founding and chairing of the little G7+ group of post-conflict countries.
In closing, let me again thank SRSG Haq for her leadership and dedication, the peacekeepers of UNMIT for their work and contributions, Timor-Leste’s other supporters on the ground and abroad, and the Timorese themselves for their continued dedication to peace and security in Timor-Leste. Thank you very much.