Statement by Ambassador Wittig on East Timor in the Security Council
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Let me thank the Brazilian Presidency for convening today’s meeting – and also for preparing the draft resolution currently under consideration.
It is a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão to the Council today. We have listened to your intervention with great interest and commend you on your achievements. Germany will continue to support your country, bilaterally, in cooperation with our EU partners, and not least as a member of this Council and within the UN community.
I also welcome (USG) Ameerah Haq: I thank her for the briefing and would like to commend her able leadership of the Mission. Germany takes note with satisfaction that the overall situation in Timor-Leste remains stable. UNMIT certainly has made its contribution – and we would like to pay tribute to the work of the men and women who form the Mission.
Before I offer some national remarks, let me underline that my government aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the representative of the European Union on behalf of the Union later in this debate.
Germany supports the extension of the mandate for the Mission for another 12 months, as recommended by the Secretary-General. UNMIT, in cooperation with the government of Timor-Leste, has achieved considerable results, but - given the remaining institutional weaknesses and persisting fragilities -we are still facing considerable challenges:
Germany therefore considers it imperative to continue to invest in Timorese capacities and institutions closely in line with national strategies and priorities, and needs. National ownership is key to successful support.
The ultimate aim – as that of any peacekeeping mission - should be to render itself superfluous. This requires a huge amount of effort and determination from all sides: UNMIT, the UN family present in Timor-Leste as well as the Timorese government and international donors.
The next 18 months will be a crucial period for building the foundations for lasting peace in Timor Leste – with next year’s elections being an crucial milestone.
In this regard, Germany supports the Secretary-General’s proposal to leave the Mission’s composition and authorized levels of personnel unchanged while continuing the gradual decrease of police as conditions on the ground permit. UNMIT should be ready to offer support when needed and called for, while the main responsibility for security will lie with the government of Timor-Leste and the National Police.
It is encouraging that the resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the National Police has continued to progress and that completion in all the districts and units is likely in the coming months. However, an adequate level of UNMIT police will be required both to intensify the support to capacity building and skills transfer and to lend operational support to the National Police if needed.
We believe that the proposed level allows for the necessary flexibility.
While we work towards the gradual transition to full Timorese control in all areas where currently international support is still required, it is clear that the United Nations has a longer-term commitment to Timor-Leste, also beyond UNMIT.
If current trends can be sustained, the time post-UNMIT is approaching fast. Therefore, Germany is of the view that we need to continue to intensify discussions about the strategy and the modalities for the transition and the preparation for the nature and the scope of the United Nations on the ground post-UNMIT.
We must make every effort to ensure that UNMIT support in areas, where there is a continued need beyond the term of the Mission’s final mandate, is effectively transferred to State institutions, bilateral and multilateral partners, UN country team entities, or to civil society.
In view of my government, current progress will only be sustainable if the preconditions for the development of a vibrant civil society are in place: functioning state structures and an adequate judicial framework.
In Timor-Leste, already one time too many we made the painful experience that the early withdrawal of international experts led to a situation where the ability of national actors to continue on their own could not be sustained. One example is transitional justice and the fight against impunity.
Germany could not agree more with the Secretary-General’s call for continued efforts to be undertaken at all levels of society to combat impunity and to strengthen public confidence in the justice system. Public institutions themselves must be role models for the rule of law and for accountable action, nation-wide. It is in this context that we share the concern about the so-called “certification” of police officers who face disciplinary and criminal charges. This very visible issue should be addressed thoroughly.
Another decisive factor for achieving economic growth and sustainable development is inclusiveness: The opportunity for women and young adults to contribute their share cannot be overestimated. We invite UNMIT to continue to focus on these groups of society and on implementing the women, peace and security agenda.
Through effective communication and joint transition planning, Germany is optimistic that the momentum can be sustained in tackling the remaining systemic, institutional and political fragilities which we believe continue to be the main challenges in the country.
Let me close by thanking UNMIT and its partners once more for its commitment to creating the conditions for its own future withdrawal and by encouraging our Timorese partners to continue the vigorous implementation of their ambitious national reform agenda. The government’s motto: “Goodbye conflict – Welcome development” aptly sums up the aspirations we share.