Thank you, Mr. President. We would like to welcome Special Representative Haq to the Council and thank her for her briefing. Ms. Haq, the United States congratulates you on assuming this position and looks forward to working with you. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to His Excellency Jose Luis Guterres, Deputy Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and to thank him very much for his remarks.
Mr. President, we applaud the Government and the people of Timor-Leste for the progress they have made and for their deep commitment to establishing a strong, sustainable democracy. We are encouraged by this progress, but, as the Secretary-General’s report makes clear, government institutions remain fragile. The briefings we have heard this morning provide us with valuable insight into the situation on the ground and the technical assessment mission organized by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has provided us with helpful recommendations on the way forward.
This morning, I would like to address the four priority areas outlined in the Secretary-General’s report:
First, a few words on security and stability. Successful local elections on October 9 were a positive sign that the security situation remains stable. Upcoming municipal and national elections will be a further test of the government’s political stability and of the capacity of the Timorese national police.
The continued transfer of primary policing responsibilities from UNMIT to the Timorese national police is another positive development. In this regard, we commend the efforts of the Timor-Leste, UNMIT, and dedicated bilateral donors – particularly, Australia and New Zealand. We support the government’s desire to accelerate the timeline for the transfer of remaining policing districts, but note the importance of adequate training and sufficient capacity before transfers take place. We also reiterate the need to remain diligent in delineating responsibility between the police and the military.
Mr. President, the United States supports the Secretary-General’s recommendations to gradually decrease international police personnel and to continue high-quality, specialized training of the national police, including through the addition of civilian experts. We are pleased to continue facilitating the strengthening of Timor-Leste’s security sector through our multi-stakeholder National Security Workshops, hosted by the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.
On the matters of the rule of law, justice, and human rights, we commend the Government of Timor-Leste for its achievements in strengthening the judiciary and in passing key legislation to support the rule of law, including the adoption of the Criminal Code.
We are, however, concerned about the need to address impunity. In this regard we welcome very much the comments by the Deputy Prime Minister this morning. Those individuals who committed offenses during the 2006 crisis should be held accountable in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry. We also encourage Timor-Leste to support the recommendations of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation.
Regarding democratic governance, Timor-Leste has made advances in establishing the Civil Service Commission and more effective Parliamentary oversight of government activities. Timorese officials have now turned their attention to combating corruption, and the United States is considering ways that our Millennium Challenge Corporation might assist Timorese efforts in this area.
Finally, the United States recognizes the clear link between security and development, and in this context remains concerned about the most vulnerable in Timor-Leste—the poor and the displaced. We support Timor-Leste’s continued efforts to address malnutrition, increase employment, and improve access to education and child protection – especially in rural areas.
For our part, the United States continues to provide technical support through $24 million in annual assistance programming. Timor-Leste has deemed one of our rural development projects – the Greenhouse Project – as a best practice. We appreciate that the government is now making its own investment to replicate the model throughout the country.
Mr. President, the people of Timor-Leste have made great strides toward achieving peace and stability. But they need and deserve the continued support of the United Nations and international partners. For this reason, the United States supports the extension of UNMIT’s mandate as proposed by the Secretary-General.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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