November 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 October 2011
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Timor-Leste

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to hold a debate on Timor-Leste in November, which Portugal’s Foreign Minister Paulo Portas is expected to chair. Timor-Leste is likely to be represented at a high level, with the president or prime minister likely to address the debate. Other concerned member states, including those in the core group on Timor-Leste, may also request to participate. Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste, Ameerah Haq, is expected to brief the Council.

In resolution 1969 of 24 February 2011, the Council extended the mandate of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) until 26 February 2012. It also requested the Secretary-General to provide update reports to the Council by 15 October and 26 January 2012. No further Council action is expected in November.

Key Recent Developments
The overall political and security situation in Timor-Leste has remained relatively calm in 2011. There has been continued progress towards the consolidation of peace, stability and development, according to the Secretary-General’s report of 15 October. But there are isolated incidents of violent unrest, including a stabbing on 14 August that led to the burning of scores of houses.  

A key development was the hand-over of responsibilities on 27 March by the UN to the national police of Timor-Leste (Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste—PNTL) for the conduct and command of all police operations. This transition of full operational control to the PNTL has generally been smooth. It has not affected the overall low rate of reported crimes, and the security situation in the country remains generally stable. 

At a meeting on 2 February of the High-Level Committee on Transition hosted by the President of Timor-Leste, the UN and the government agreed to develop a joint transition plan. Resolution 1969 later that month requested the Secretary-General to update the Council on plans concerning the UN presence in Timor-Leste beyond the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. The joint transition plan of 19 September sets out four possible models for UN engagement after UNMIT’s withdrawal, the first three of which are based on experiences from other countries. The fourth is a political mission suggested by the Timor-Leste government.

Consultations will continue on these four options, allowing for the mission’s planned withdrawal by the end of 2012. Several Council members have emphasised that consideration of these models should be in close collaboration with the government of Timor-Leste, which should continue to take the lead on deciding the shape of its post-UNMIT future.  

Ahead of next year’s elections, the main political parties in Timor-Leste have been intensifying their internal activity. The two major parties, known as CNRT and Fretilin, held their national congresses in April/May and August, respectively.

In resolution 65/291 of 30 June, the General Assembly appropriated $196.1 million for the maintenance of UNMIT from 1 July 2011 until 30 June 2012. 

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 4 October the government, with support from the UN Development Programme and Norway, launched a training programme for selected police officers. It is designed to increase awareness of Timor-Leste’s Discipline Decree Law, which governs police conduct and discipline, and to teach officers how to strengthen human rights principles. When they complete the training, the officers will serve as “discipline leaders” responsible for improving the responsiveness of the police to the rights of citizens.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is the security situation and stability in Timor-Leste ahead of next year’s elections and the subsequent withdrawal of UNMIT. One prominent issue is the performance of the PNTL since it assumed full operational command. In particular, Council members will be briefed on the progress made in training PNTL officers in necessary skill-sets and the PNTL’s capacity to function effectively once UN police numbers have been substantially reduced. 

A second issue concerns the promotion of human rights and justice. There are several elements to this issue, one of which is increasing capacity in the judiciary as international judges fulfil their mandates and are replaced by local judges. 

A related issue is the slow progress being made with respect to holding accountable those in the PNTL who were allegedly responsible for crimes and serious violations of human rights during the 2006 crisis.  

Options
While no Council action is expected in November, UNMIT’s mandate expires on 26 February, and the Council will be expected to decide the duration of the mission’s extension. There seems to be consensus on the need for UNMIT’s presence beyond the scheduled election period concluding in May 2012. But the Council is unlikely to extend the mission for another full year. One option would be to extend UNMIT’s mandate for six months, until the end of August, with a possibility of further extension if required. Alternatively, the Council could renew the mandate until the end of 2012.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Concerning impunity for past crimes, some member states have emphasised that Timor-Leste should do more to follow up on the recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. Other Council members have indicated that while past crimes should not be condoned, the issue of impunity needs to be addressed in a manner that is forward-looking and consolidates the rebuilding process.

Brazil remains the lead country in the Council, with five other members—Portugal, the US, the UK, France and South Africa—also part of the core group on Timor-Leste. Brazil and Portugal seem to be wary about withdrawing UNMIT prematurely and have emphasised that decisions on the mission’s completion should take into account the needs of the Timor-Leste government. Some permanent members have indicated that it is too early to consider the duration of UNMIT’s renewal. If the situation on the ground remains stable, it might be expected that some members will seek a withdrawal of UNMIT’s forces before December 2012 to reduce costs. But they suggest that such considerations be guided by the situation on the ground in February and—in particular—the country’s preparedness for the elections.

Selected UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

 • S/RES/1969 (24 February 2011) extended UNMIT until 26 February 2012. 
 • S/RES/1912 (26 February 2010) extended UNMIT until 26 February 2011. 
 • S/RES/1704 (25 August 2006) established UNMIT.

Latest Secretary-General’s report

 • S/2011/641 (15 October 2011) covers the period 8 January to 20 September 2011. 

Other Relevant Facts

UNMIT: Size and Composition

 • Maximum authorised strength: up to 1,608 police and 34 military officers 
 • Size as of 30 September 2011:
1,191 police and 33 military liaison officers 
 • Civilian staff as of 31 July 2011: 398 international and 894 local, 203 UN Volunteers

International Stabilisation Force

 • Size as of April 2011: approximately 475 troops

Full forecast