Statement by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, at a Security Council meeting on Timor-Leste
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.
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: (Via interpreter) In the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful, it is with great delight that we are honored to meet the U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton, and the high-level U.S. delegation accompanying her. This is the first visit for Secretary Clinton after the fall of the previous regime. We appreciate it a lot. We appreciate what the U.S. has provided during all this time, during all the time of our blessed revolution of February 17th, where the U.S. has offered also support for advocating for (inaudible).
(Inaudible) discussions today touched on several issues. We discussed the way of forming a high committee for the U.S.-Libyan relationship on a new track that aimed at achieving the interests of both countries. This committee, I hope that it will be announced soon, will contribute to developing the political, economic, social, and cultural relationship between the two countries.
We talked about the possibility to create a common joint scientific authority to discuss the scientific research between the U.S. experts and the Libyan researchers for an alternative economic promising future for Libya.
We also spoke about the immediate help in – for the injured of the Libyans, transferring them from the front, especially from the Sirte front.
We also talked about the issue of chemical material, and we value tremendously what the U.S. has provided in support and technical assistance in this issue.
Also we discussed the issue of the security today in Libya and how we can use the U.S. expertise in this field.
I look very much forward to a closer relationship among our nations and stronger relations from mutual respect on sovereignty and from the mutual respect and mutual common interest for the two countries. I thank Secretary Clinton again, and on behalf of my colleagues, I thank her high-level delegation for this visit that can build for a stronger relationship in the future.
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Jibril. I want to express my appreciation to you and to Chairman Jalil and to all of the officials with whom we met today. I appreciate greatly the leadership that has been provided over the course of this remarkable year as the Libyan people demonstrated their bravery and determination. And I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.
And on behalf of the American people I congratulate all Libyans. It is a great privilege to see a new future for Libya being born. And indeed, the work ahead is quite challenging, but the Libyan people have demonstrated the resolve and resilience necessary to achieve their goals.
Think about what has been achieved already. In crowded squares and mountain passes, Libyans stood up against a dictator’s aggression, and claimed the rights and dignity of a free people. Libyans were called rats by their own leaders and they were confronted by every possible tactic to break your spirit. But no threats dimmed the courage of the Libyan people. The United States was proud to stand with you, and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey, respecting your sovereignty and honoring our friendship. This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory and the future belongs to you.
The United States knows something about revolution and liberty. That is how our nation was born more than 230 years ago. And we know that democracy takes time; it will not be easy or quick. But we are filled with admiration for what you have already accomplished and confident in your ability to move forward.
Now, we recognize that the fighting, the bloody fighting, continues. We know that Qadhafi and those close to him are still at large. But the NATO and international coalition that came together on your behalf will continue to protect Libyan civilians until the threat from Qadhafi and those who hang to the past is ended.
In our meetings today, the chairman, prime minister, and their colleagues shared with us their plans for establishing an inclusive democracy in Libya. We agreed that the Libyan people deserve a nation governed by the rule of law, not the whims of men. We believe you deserve a government that represents all Libyans from all parts of the country and all backgrounds, including women and young people. We believe you deserve a transparent and fair judicial system. We also are convinced that revenge and vigilantism have no place in the new Libya.
And we believe you deserve an economy that delivers jobs, dignity, and opportunities to all Libyans – not just to the powerful and connected. We also share your concern about caring for the wounded and the families of the fallen, about securing weapons that may have gone missing, about integrating all the various revolutionary forces into a new and unified Libyan military.
Libya is blessed with wealth and resources, most particularly the human resources of the Libyan people. And there is a pressing need, as I was told today, for international expertise and technical assistance. That is why we welcome the idea of a joint committee between Libya and the United States to look at the priorities that the Libyans themselves have.
I am pleased that we are working together to return billions of dollars of frozen assets and that we have reopened our Embassy. We will stay focused on security: I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons. And the Administration, working with Congress, is going to provide $40 million to support this effort. We will also work with Libya to destroy chemical weapons stocks.
We want to expand our economic cooperation with Libya, to create new educational and cultural exchanges and deepen our engagement with civil society. First, we will launch this new partnership to provide care to your wounded. It deeply moves us that so many people dropped whatever they were doing to fight for their freedom – engineers and teachers, doctors and business leaders, students, and so many others. We plan to evacuate some of the most seriously injured to specialized medical facilities in the United States. We want to help you care for your patients here in Libya, so we will work together to establish a modern medical management system and to provide needed supplies and equipment.
We are also very focused on the young people of Libya who have the most to gain from this new freedom. And today I am pleased to announce we are resuming the Fulbright program and doubling its size to permit even more Libyan students to study and train in my country. We will also open new English language classes across Libya for young people and provide special training for Libyan veterans with disabilities because of their combat experience.
We are increasing grants and training to new civil society organizations and working with Libyan women to make sure they have the skills and opportunities to participate fully in the political and economic life of their countries.
And as with the transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, we will partner with Libya to create new economic opportunities and broader prosperity by boosting trade and investment, increasing tourism, building ties between Libyan and American businesses, and helping to integrate Libya more closely into regional and global markets.
This list is just a beginning, because we want to hear from the Libyan people, from the new government that will be established after Libya is fully liberated. But we think we share a lot of the same aspirations for our families and our countries and that we have a lot to learn from each other and give to each other.
Later, I will be meeting with students and civil and society leaders at Tripoli University, talking and listening to the young people of Libya, because it is to all of them that we dedicate our efforts on your behalf.
So again, prime minister, let me thank you for your warm welcome, and thanks to the people of Libya. And we give you our very best wishes and promise our best efforts as you undertake this journey to a new democracy. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: Thank you, your Excellency.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) The first question is for Dr. Jibril. The first question goes to Dr. Jibril.
QUESTION: A question for Dr. Jibril and Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton told you, Mr. Jibril, that there is large scale cooperation with Government of Libya. Do you think that you will be the prime minister of that government? Or in the past, you said that you will not share any other transitional government (inaudible).
A question for Secretary Clinton, who was one of the first voice (inaudible) for human rights and liberties. And you were an attorney and a successful lawyer. Today you are as successfully as Secretary of State. My question is: Do you see what is happening to the women in Saudi Arabia and in the eastern region of (inaudible)? Do you think that it is unsuitable to demand Saudi Arabia from bringing freedom just like you are asking Syria to be free, et cetera? And also Yemen – your position from Yemen is not very clear.
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: (Via interpreter) I will not be part of the upcoming government. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that I personally and the Government of the United States supports human rights everywhere for everyone. And we advocate that not only to governments but also through civil society and work to try to support the opportunities and aspirations of every individual to live up to his or her God-given potential. So we have spoken out. We will continue to speak out.
But different circumstances demand different kinds of responses, and the opportunity now in Libya is to not only chart a new future for Libyans but to stand as a model for democracy and freedom that was won with the blood of your martyrs is an extraordinary chance that comes perhaps only once in human history. So we think that what Libya has before it, the opportunity to make good on the promise of the revolution, is of the utmost importance, and that is why we are standing ready to work closely with the new Government of Libya and with the people of Libya.
We have and will continue to speak out to our friends, who we believe should do more on behalf of women and women’s rights – and I have said that many times – and with those with whom we have very serious differences, who are preventing the full aspirations and freedom of their people to flourish. But today, I am here to talk about Libya and Libya’s future and the hope that not only the United States but the world has invested in the future that Libyans will make for themselves.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) The question is to Secretary of State Clinton.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mister Prime Minister, how concerned are you about the possibility of civil war here, or any lengthy ongoing conflict with pro-Qadhafi forces? And also, could you both comment on what you believe should happen to the convicted Lockerbie bomber? Should he go back to prison?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, we are encouraged by the commitment of the Transitional National Council to taking the steps necessary to bring the country together. National unity is one of the highest priorities that Libya faces right now. And we discussed the process of forging a new democratic interim government that is transparent, inclusive, and consultative. And how that is done will, of course, depend upon the decisions that the Libyan people themselves make.
But from long experience, one factor we know must be confronted is unifying the various militias into a single military that represents the Libyan people and government. And the Transitional National Council is very focused on doing just that. They want to get all the militias under national command. They want to prevent reprisals and secure the stocks of weaponry that have come off the battlefield or have been discovered from the previous regime. And we think that the programs that the Transitional National Council have outlined to pay to the families of the fallen martyrs, to prepare programs and treatment and training for those who have served, are exactly what will be needed. Getting a national army and a police force under civilian command is essential. And the United Nations, the United States, and other partners stand ready to do that. But we are still at the point where liberation has not yet been claimed because of the ongoing conflicts that persist, and of course, the continuing freedom of action of Qadhafi and those around him.
So the Transitional National Council has to put security first. There has to be a resolution of the conflict before many of these programs can actually be put into action. And I really believe that all members of all militias must see the benefit of joining the new government, of pledging allegiance, as we say in my country, to the new government.
You know, I come from a very diverse country. We fought a civil war, and it was horrible. It was the war in which more Americans died at each other’s hands than any other, and we lived with the consequences for decades afterwards.
In today’s world, in the 21st century, that will just throw a people further behind history. So I know that the leadership understands that. They are focused on doing everything they can to end the fighting, to declare the liberation of the country, to form a new government, and to begin to pull the entire country together. So we will do everything we can to respond to that.
And we have made, of course, our strong views known about Megrahi, and I have said, many times, that we believe that he should never have been released. I raised this issue again with the leadership here. We – and we recognize the magnitude of all the issues that Libya is facing, but we also know the importance of the rule of law, and they have assured us they understand how strongly the United States feels about this and all the sensitivities around this case. We will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. This is an open case in the United States Department of Justice, and we will continue to discuss it with our Libyan counterparts.
QUESTION: Does the United States –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Will you talk in the microphone so the press can hear you, sir? Thank you.
QUESTION: You hear me now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Libya Al Hurra TV. Will the United States consider cooperating with the Libyan Islamists on delivering political process for Libya? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The democracy that takes root in Libya must be reflective of the aspirations of the people of Libya, not the desires or dictates of any outside group. So with respect to Libyans themselves, we will support a process of democratizing that respects the rule of law; that respects the rights of minorities and women and young people; that creates independent institutions, like a free press and an independent judiciary. Groups and individuals who really believe in democracy should be welcome into that process. But groups that want to undermine democracy or subvert it are going to have to be dealt with by the Libyans themselves.
There are people – and I’ve been working in this area for many years, even as a private citizen and as a United States senator. There are many people who say they support elections, but only if they get elected. They want one election, one time, and then if they are elected no more elections. So these are all the kinds of challenges that Libyans will face in putting together their democracy. But people must renounce violence, they must give up arms, they must be committed to a democracy that respects the rights of all. And then, of course, you have an inclusive democracy that includes people, but they must be committed to the goals of a true democracy.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’d like to take you a bit east of here. Today, Gilad Shalit has returned home after more than five years in captivity, and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have been released as well. I was wondering whether you could give us your reaction to the deal struck between Israel and Hamas and how that fits in, if at all, with your wider efforts to resume peace talks, for example, in the Middle East. And also slightly connected to this, we are hearing reports that the American Israeli citizen, Ilan Grapel, who’s been detained in Egypt on charges of spying, may be released. I was wondering whether you could confirm that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, we are pleased that a long ordeal, being held five years as a hostage, has ended for Gilad Shalit and he’s been released and finally reunited with his family. He was held for far too long in captivity. And we are also hopeful that Ilan Grapel will similarly be released. We see no basis for any legal action against him.
And of course, we are hopeful that there will be a return to negotiations by the Israelis and the Palestinians by the end of this month, as outlined by the Quartet statement.
So we continue to be very focused on working toward a two-state outcome that would give the Palestinian people the same rights that the Libyan people are now obtaining to chart their own destiny and make their own way in life with their own goals and aspirations being fulfilled, and that Israel would have secure borders and could contribute to the prosperity of the larger region. So we remain focused on that and we’ll continue to work toward those outcomes.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) The Libyan woman is absent from the political scene, especially at the ministries, and in the current TNC all the ministers are males. Are you going to offer support so the women can participate in the development of Libya? And also to the election, how do you see the women of Libya in the future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Prime Minister Jibril is smiling because I have raised it every time I have seen him and every time that I have seen Chairman Jalil and all of the Libyan officials with whom I have met over the last many months.
I would make three points. First, no country can become a democracy, no economy can develop as fully as it could, if half the population is not included. And the women of Libya have the same rights as their brothers and their husbands and their fathers and their sons to help build a new Libya. So we are very committed and very outspoken about what we hope will be the full inclusion of women in a democratic future.
Secondly, women also sacrificed in this revolution. Women were in the streets. Women were supporting the fighters. Women were sending their sons and their husbands off to an uncertain future, and many will never see them again. So women have sacrificed. They may not have been on the front lines holding a weapon, but they were holding together the society and supporting those who were fighting for Libya’s independence. So they have earned the right to be part of Libya’s future.
And finally, there is an opportunity here that I hope Libya will seize. I believe because you have won your freedom – no one handed it to you, you fought for it and you won it – that you will find it in your hearts to demonstrate to the entire world that Libya is not only free, but Libya is equal, Libya believes in the rule of law, Libya will educate all of their boys and girls to take their rightful places in the world. I would hope that I could come back to a free, democratic Libya in a few years, and it would be a shining example of what is possible when free people make their own choices.
So I cannot imagine how that could come to pass if women are not given the right to serve their country, to run their businesses, to be educated to the best of their abilities. So I will certainly look to ways that the United States can support the women in Libya to be able to take their rightful places in this new democratic future.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, my friend.
Assistant Secretary Camuñez’ Opening Remarks at the OSCE Economic and Environmenatl Dimension Implementation Meeting
(Remarks as prepared for delivery at the Opening Session of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting)
On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank the Lithuanian Chairman-in-Office, Secretary General Zannier, Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities Svilanovic, and of course our Austrian hosts for convening this inaugural Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting and for providing a warm welcome to Vienna. It is an honor to be here today as head of the U.S. delegation to the OSCE, representing the U.S. Government in my capacity as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, and as a Commissioner to the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Since I joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) in September of 2010, I have been responsible for helping lead the effort to open new markets for U.S. companies, identifying and eliminating market access challenges such as non-tariff barriers to trade, and helping to monitor and enforce U.S. trade agreements and commitments. The work of the Environmental and Economic Dimension, especially that focused on transparency of markets and good governance, is closely aligned with the work we undertake at ITA.
I am here today to deliver the message that the U.S. Government is highly committed to making the second dimension even more effective and dynamic, and that we will do our part in ensuring that our economic and environmental commitments receive the same level of attention and scrutiny that those in the political-military and human dimensions currently enjoy.
I will try to keep my remarks brief, but I think it is critical that we take a close look at the economic and environmental commitments as they were spelled out in the 2003 Maastricht Strategy. We still see Maastricht as the key blueprint for moving forward on all the commitments that have come before, and in particular, note a number of areas where we could pursue significant, substantive action over the next few years to achieve measurable progress.
Our commitments on economic cooperation have at their core the idea of connectedness to regional and global markets, to trade and investment networks, and to energy and transportation infrastructure, as a way to address emerging economic challenges and threats. In light of the global economic downturn, it is vital that we recommit ourselves to increasing cooperation through a variety of measures, including improving corporate governance and public management, eliminating unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to trade, continuing to harmonize our regulations and standards where appropriate, taking further steps to combat financial crimes like bribery and money laundering, and increasing confidence through the incorporation of transparency principles in all our public and private ventures. At the same time, in view of progress made this year worldwide on empowering women in the economy, first at the Invest for the Future Conference in Istanbul in January and most recently at the APEC Summit in San Francisco, we believe it is important to recognize the critical connection between women and strong economies, and remove all the barriers that prevent women from full and equal participation in the economy.
We have committed ourselves time and again to “good governance,” and while progress has been made, much work remains to be done. As stated in the 2003 Maastricht Strategy, achieving good governance will require a comprehensive, long-term strategic approach. In the view of the U.S. Government, good governance is the core theme within the economic and environmental dimension, and we are pleased that next year’s Forum will address the topic in a broad and detailed way.
What do we mean when we talk about good governance? Good governance is about governments having both the propensity and the competence to manage complex political and economic systems in a fair, fully inclusive, and transparent way. Anti-corruption is part of it, but not the whole picture. Having transparent, clear and predictable legislative and regulatory frameworks that foster efficient and low cost business formation and development, and most importantly allow and even encourage robust participation in the political and economic spheres by civil society, is the essence of good governance. Moreover, having well-trained, dedicated professionals implementing these frameworks is imperative, lest well-crafted laws and regulations become mere words on paper. Improving governance in all its aspects and in all areas of public life will contribute to mutual confidence and security.
Let me say a few words about my agency’s past and current work in this area, reserving greater details and the highlights of a new proposal for Session III tomorrow. From 1998-2008, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched a Good Governance Program, focused on partnering with the public and private sectors in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central-Eastern Europe. This work, focused on promoting sound corporate governance and business ethics, culminated in the publication of a Business Ethics Manual, a Commercial Dispute Resolution Handbook, and a Corporate Governance Manual translated into several languages and disseminated widely throughout the OSCE region. Today, we continue to work on numerous initiatives around the world, within multilateral fora such as APEC and the G20, which involve OSCE members, promoting consensus based principles focused on anti-corruption. We have taken our business ethics work and branched out into new regions including Asia and Latin America.
The lack of good governance and systemic corruption remain some of the single most important market access challenges for companies engaged in trade around the world. This is especially true for small and medium sized enterprises, which are the engine of economic growth and innovation throughout the world. The United States believes that addressing these issues can only lead to greater investment, economic prosperity and security.
At these meetings we will discuss OSCE support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). I am pleased to report that the U.S. Department of Commerce played an important role in supporting the creation of the EITI in its initial phase. The OSCE now has a chance to follow in the steps of the G8 and G20, by endorsing the EITI, and I applaud the governments that have recently signed on as implementers, of which the United States has recently announced its intention to become one. The EITI is a great example of how shared commitments towards good governance and transparency in a vital sector to many countries can work and build sustained momentum and engagement between the private sector, governments and civil society.
Later today, I will share more concrete information about the work that the U.S. Government and my Department have undertaken to promote good governance and to combat corruption. I am also pleased to have an expert on business ethics and anti-corruption in the energy sector, as part of the U.S. delegation. Mr. Matthew Murray runs the Center for Business Ethics and Corporate Governance in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will speak to you later about a good governance initiative involving public and private stakeholders in the power generation sector in Russia, which may serve as a model for similar programs in other OSCE countries.
A month ago, the Economic and Environmental Forum discussed the concept of sustainability and where efforts to promote sustainable practices stand in our region. Those discussions remind us that our commitments on sustainable development encompass a broad spectrum of activities related to efficiency, sound resource management, and the full involvement of all stakeholders in decision-making. Just to cite an example from the Prague Forum, we recognize that in order to further develop economies and markets in such varied areas as the Black Sea region and Central Asia we will need to address several problems: improving the efficiency of border crossings and building construction, tilting the energy mix towards cleaner fuels, harmonizing standards and practices across the region, and, just as critically, ensuring broad involvement of civil society in the decision-making on project proposal, design, and implementation.
Protecting the Environment
One thing that sets the OSCE apart from many other organizations addressing the environment is recognition of the clear connection between the environment and security. We recognize that many environmental disasters cannot be predicted or prevented. At the same time, greater transparency – through information sharing and civil society engagement – about possible security risks stemming from the environment will make it possible to prevent or mitigate more disasters, both natural and man-made. We also must recognize that failure to protect the environment is itself a security risk, putting increased pressure on populations facing dwindling resources of clean air and water, arable farmland, and adequate energy.
These next three days provide a critical juncture and platform for finding consensus on measures that will improve our implementation of the OSCE commitments in the economic and environmental dimension. The Vilnius Ministerial is only a month and a half away; now is the time to summon the political will to find a way forward. We look forward to building consensus on decisions on energy security, to include good governance and transparency, and we welcome constructive dialogue on additional measures proposed on confidence-building initiatives and sustainable transport.
Just one month ago, we found some convergence of opinion on discrete aspects of the second dimension. Let us expand that convergence to the entire dimension as we review our economic and environmental commitments over the next few days, with a view toward substantive deliverables for Vilnius.
Thank you, Moderator.
Statement by Chargé d’Affaires Robbins on the Sentencing of Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine
The United States is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko through a politically motivated prosecution. The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the Government of Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.
The United States strongly supports the goal of the Ukrainian people to become a democratic and prosperous European state, and we remain dedicated to strengthening bilateral cooperation based on shared values and shared interests. Democracies are built on checks and balances, fair and impartial institutions, judicial independence, sound election laws, and an independent media and civil society. Ukraine, however, cannot reach this goal without redoubled efforts to protect and advance democracy and the rule of law for all its citizens.
For these reasons, the United States urges the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other political leaders and former government officials. They should have an unrestricted ability to participate fully in political life, including next year’s parliamentary elections.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
FACT SHEET: The State Department Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative’s Support for the Democratic Aspirations of the Tunisian People
Since January 2011 and in immediate response to the Tunisian Revolution, the United States has committed approximately $55 million in non-security assistance in support of Tunisia’s democratic transition. The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the Department of State is the principal contributor to the overall non-security assistance the United States is providing, leading the U.S. Government’s efforts to support the Tunisian people during this historical transition. After January 14, 2011, MEPI realigned its budget to free up more than $26 million, supporting more than 30 projects in Tunisia working directly with Tunisian society. Through its regional office in Tunis and headquarters in Washington, DC, MEPI has worked with Tunisians since 2002, supporting their aspirations for prosperity and long-term stability. MEPI currently supports programming in the following areas:
Enhancing Tunisian Civil Society
MEPI continues to expand its engagement with local civil society organizations through its unique local grants program, which directly supports civic groups throughout the country. MEPI local grants respond to priorities and proposals from local organizations, ensuring that Tunisians remain in front of their democratic transition and have opportunities to get involved in civic life. Since January 2011, MEPI’s Regional Office in Tunis has awarded more than 15 new local grants to advance the role of Tunisia’s civil society with a focus on women and youth. Grantees such as the Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) are working to increase public awareness about citizen rights, gender equality, and active citizenship. MEPI has awarded two larger grants to Mercy Corps and Search for Common Ground, both working with Tunisian civil society organizations across the country to promote civic engagement with youth from the capital and coastal cities to the interior of the country.
Expanding Freedom of Expression and Strengthening Political Participation
New MEPI projects are empowering citizens, especially women and youth, to share their ideas with national and international audiences and to discuss social issues and governmental actions through blogging and internet-based media sites. MEPI local grantee Club UNESCO created a youth-run web-radio station to cover political events, and the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies (TAAMS) is working with youth to develop their sense of responsibility for the democratic process while instilling the values of tolerance. The Institute of International Education (IIE) is building the capacity of civil society organizations to effectively use new media – such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other internet-based tools – to strengthen constituent outreach, inform and engage communities, and improve communication with government institutions on social and political issues. MEPI is also working with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting to increase the quality of local news coverage by engaging with members of the media and citizen journalists, placing an emphasis on accurate political reporting throughout the country.
Advancing the Rule of Law
MEPI is assisting Tunisians to develop and promote a new legal system that is accessible and fair and that protects the rights of all citizens. In partnership with the American Bar Association (ABA), MEPI is promoting legal reforms across a range of sectors in Tunisia. ABA is partnering with the Tunisian Bar Association and other legal entities to reform Tunisia’s electoral code, address citizen electoral complaints, and improve women’s legal rights and participation in the political process. Later this year, ABA will work with its Tunisian partners to organize a national forum on the role of women in transitional processes focusing on comparative experiences; women’s rights in law and constitutional reform; and advocacy for law reform. Participants will include women jurists, rights groups, civil society organizations, and political party representatives, among others.
Widening Economic Opportunity
Since January of 2011, MEPI has increased its assistance in market-relevant skills training, job placement, and access to start-up business resources. With MEPI support, the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) recently launched job placement and entrepreneurship programs for youth throughout Tunisia. MEPI’s regional partner Injaz Al-Arab is inspiring a culture of business innovation among Tunisian youth through business plan competitions for hundreds of young entrepreneurs. In addition, the Commercial Law and Development Program (CLDP) and the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) are supporting entrepreneurship and franchising, as well as reforms to the country’s commercial legal infrastructure.
The United States is committed to supporting the Tunisian transition and the Tunisian efforts to build strong foundations for democratic growth and economic opportunity. MEPI plans to devote additional resources in the months and years ahead to assist Tunisia in becoming a more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous society, as well as a stable and successful example of democratic transition in the region. For more information about MEPI, please visit www.mepi.state.gov. Click here to learn about the President’s Framework for Investing in Tunisia, or visit www.whitehouse.gov.
12th Session of the UPR Working Group
The United States welcomes the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the UPR Working Group.
We commend Timor Leste for its strong voice promoting human rights and democracy around the world and its further development of domestic institutions, including draft legislation on the creation of a Memory Institute and the award of compensation to victims of past human rights violations.
We are concerned by reduced staffing levels in the legal system. This year Timor-Leste’s justice sector had only 20 judges, 17 prosecutors, and 19 public defenders. These staffing levels limit the legal system’s efficiency.
Timor-Leste has made laudable progress in its efforts to professionalize its police and military forces. However, we are concerned that roles for security forces have not been clearly defined and training on how to protect human rights is insufficient.
Despite the creation of the Office of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality and the enactment of the Law against Domestic Violence, gender-based violence remains a critical concern. In addition, human trafficking remains a serious problem for vulnerable populations—including migrants, children, and workers. We note the government’s increased efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking. However, investigations into reports of trafficking-related complicity by immigration officials and prosecutions of trafficking cases have both lagged.
Periodic tensions between Catholics and some Protestant denominations have raised concerns about the status of freedom of religion in Timor-Leste. Recent official statements reinforce those concerns, and the proposed law on NGOs may impede the work of these religious groups.
Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States makes the following concerns that Timor Leste:
1. enact the legislation creating the Memory Institute.
2. increase judicial staffing levels.
3. develop a national security policy that includes clear definitions of various security institutions’ roles and missions
4. train security forces to conduct their duties in conformity with the country’s human rights obligations and commitments.
5. enact legislation prohibiting sexual harassment. And finally
6. enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, and make robust efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders and those complicit in human trafficking.
12th Session of the UPR Working Group
The United States welcomes His Excellency Minister Chimasa and the Zimbabwe delegation to the UPR Working Group.
We commend Zimbabwe for creation of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission; however, we note with disappointment that it is not operational and is not set up to be an independent constitutional body able to effectively execute its mandate.
We are concerned by the increase of politically motivated violence; the failure of state institutions to hold security forces accountable for ongoing human rights violations against human rights defenders and perceived opponents of the ZANU-PF party; and other obstacles to citizens’ free and equal participation in the upcoming elections.
We are concerned by recurring attempts by officials to facilitate the arbitrary arrest and harassment of lawyers who represent human rights defenders, to use the law on civil and criminal defamation to control the mass media, and to infringe on individual rights to freedoms of expression and assembly.
We recognize there has been some progress by Zimbabwe to secure the Marange diamond producing area. We remain deeply concerned, however, about the failure of military forces to withdraw from the diamond fields, diamond-smuggling, corruption, diamond-related violence by state and non-state security agents, and the denial of access to civil society groups attempting to report on the diamond fields.
Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States would like to make the
That Zimbabwe fully implement the GPA provisions supporting the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee.
That Zimbabwe repeal or significantly reform the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and criminal code provisions that restrict freedoms of assembly and expression.
That Zimbabwe invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other mandate holders to conduct independent and impartial investigations.
And finally, we recommend that Zimbabwe create stronger mechanisms to ensure greater revenue transparency from diamond mining, demilitarize the diamond industry, and thoroughly investigate cases of beatings and abuse by government and private security services in the Marange area.
The United States is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko through a politically motivated prosecution. The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the Government of Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.
The United States strongly supports the Ukrainian peoples’ goal of becoming a democratic and prosperous European state, and remains dedicated to strengthening bilateral cooperation based on shared values and shared interests. Ukraine, however, cannot reach this goal without redoubled efforts to protect and advance democracy and the rule of law for all its citizens. For these reasons, the United States urges the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other political leaders and former government officials, and believes that they should have an unrestricted ability to participate fully in political life, including next year’s parliamentary elections.
12th Session of the UPR Working Group
The United States welcomes Foreign Minister Maduro and the Venezuelan delegation to the UPR Working Group. We view as positive the draft law to extend protections to all victims of human trafficking.
We remain concerned about specific actions taken by the Venezuelan government to limit freedom of expression and criminalize dissent, including using administrative pretexts to close media outlets and harassing media owners and members of the political opposition through judicial action. We note Venezuela’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect freedom of expression, as well as the protections in the Venezuelan constitution.
Additionally, we note the importance of an independent judiciary to representative government, and express our concern about increasing evidence that the Venezuelan judiciary lacks the independence necessary to fulfill its role in society. We further note the obligations contained in the Venezuelan constitution to respect judicial independence and permit judges to act according to the law and without fear of retaliation. In this context, we join others in the international community in urging for the release of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, whose arrest and continued imprisonment demonstrate inappropriate executive involvement in judicial functions and constitute a violation of her human rights.
Finally, we are concerned by continued anti-Semitism expressed in the official media.
In light of these concerns, we recommend that Venezuela:
1. Respect the independence of the judiciary.
2. Investigate allegations of executive branch interference in judicial decision-making.
3. Direct officials to cease anti-Semitic commentary and condemn any such statements.
4. Urge the National Assembly to adopt the draft legislation on trafficking in persons.
5. Intensify its efforts to provide protection to asylum seekers and refugees, including through the timely provision of documentation as to their legal status and rights.
6. Accept visit requests from the UN Special Rapporteurs and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
October 7 marks the fifth-year anniversary of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Her reporting on the war in the North Caucasus brought to light the violation of human rights and the suffering of the victims in this conflict. We honor Anna’s legacy as a courageous journalist.
While we welcome the recent arrest of suspects in her murder, justice will not be done until all those involved in the crime are identified and prosecuted.