Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to welcome President Jose Ramos-Horta to the Council. The United States deeply appreciates your passionate advocacy of human rights and democracy around the world and thanks you for your presence and assessments on the progress Timor-Leste has made. We also wish to congratulate Timor-Leste on its 10th anniversary of independence. Timor-Leste has taken its rightful place on the global stage, becoming a contributor to UN peacekeeping missions and founding and chairing the “G7 plus” group of post-conflict countries.
Special Representative Haq, thank you for today’s briefing. Your dedicated leadership and continued commitment to solidifying peace in Timor-Leste is much appreciated. The United Nations and the international community as a whole have worked together since Timor-Leste’s independence and will continue to partner with this young democracy to develop and prosper.
Today, we have the opportunity to reflect on the advances made in sustaining Timor-Leste’s stability and the remaining needs of the country. We must also focus on the progress of UNMIT’s planned withdrawal and begin to consider post-UNMIT UN engagement in Timor-Leste.
I would like to address five issues.
First, the United States welcomes the transfer of primary policing responsibilities from UNMIT to the Timorese National Police. Maintaining stability throughout the upcoming election period by all parties in Timor-Leste will be critical, and this transfer is a key step in that process. We welcome the progress to professionalize and strengthen the PNTL so that it can carry out its full security responsibilities and commend the role UNMIT has played. We note that challenges remain, and we encourage the Government of Timor-Leste to define more clearly the respective responsibilities of the PNTL and the Timorese Defense Forces, especially as we near elections. As Timor-Leste continues to develop its own national security institutions, clearly defined authorities and accountability and impartiality will be crucial to increasing stability. The United States is committed to supporting the continuing development of the military and police forces, and we have recently increased our bilateral support in this area. Our efforts to advance community policing and sharpen the investigative skills of police and prosecutors are two such examples.
Second, we commend the Government of Timor-Leste’s preparations for the upcoming elections and praise the efforts of the UN and other international partners in supporting the electoral process. The conduct of peaceful, free, and fair elections will be a critical milestone in Timor-Leste’s history. The success of the electoral process will indicate a further solidification of peace and security throughout the country and signal continued progress towards a peaceful and prosperous future. We continue to urge all political parties to respect the outcome of the democratic process and to conduct political activities peacefully. We welcome the commitments that political leaders have made thus far to respect a peaceful democratic process.
Third, the development of competent and strong rule of law and governance institutions is critical to the country’s long-term success. We are encouraged by the government’s progress in promoting anti-corruption and transparency initiatives, and we underscore the importance of strengthening these institutions. We also encourage the resolution of outstanding truth and reconciliation issues from the 1975 to 1999 period, including the establishment of a memory institute or other institutional mechanism. We also hope the Serious Crimes Investigation Team will be able to complete its important work within their mandate. We urge the Timor-Leste authorities to pursue full and credible accountability for all crimes and abuses including, among others, those arising from the 2006 crisis, in order to deliver justice and build trust in the institutions of justice.
Fourth, I want to recognize the truly impressive level of collaboration that has taken place between UNMIT and the Government of Timor-Leste in developing a transition plan for UNMIT’s withdrawal by the end of 2012. We encourage both parties to continue to focus their work on transition planning even as the electoral cycle begins. We encourage UNMIT and the Government of Timor-Leste to continue to engage international partners to ensure that any capability gaps are quickly identified and filled.
Finally, with UNMIT’s expected withdrawal approaching, we must think about the future engagement of the United Nations and the UN Security Council in Timor-Leste. Discussions on the UN’s role following UNMIT’s departure will need to include the Government of Timor-Leste and the international community. We strongly believe that the elections themselves should not be an exit strategy, but rather that UNMIT’s transition should be determined by the progress of events on the ground. We believe continued UN engagement could play a constructive role in addressing issues related to security, human rights, justice, economic development, governance, and accountability.
In closing, the United States would like to once again commend the leadership and dedication of Special Representative Haq, the peacekeepers of UNMIT for their work and contributions, the international community for its multilateral and bilateral support to Timor-Leste, and the Timorese themselves for their continued dedication to peace and security in Timor-Leste. Thank you.