Timor-Leste Debate and Adoption
This afternoon (22 February), the Council is scheduled to hold a debate on the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). The Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Ameerah Haq, will brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report of 18 January. She is also expected to update Council members on UNMIT’s role ahead of the presidential election on 17 March. The incumbent president, José Ramos-Horta (who earlier today met with the head of the UN Development Programme, Helen Clark, to discuss the transition from peacekeeping to long-term development in Timor-Leste) is set to speak during the debate. As in previous debates on UNMIT, it is anticipated that members at large whose interests are affected by the discussion—including those in the Core Group on Timor-Leste*—will be invited to participate.
A draft resolution has just been put in blue and is expected to be adopted tomorrow (23 February). (A draft text was agreed on by the Core Group—as is customary on Timor-Leste—with South Africa as the lead before it was negotiated by Council members). The draft resolution extends UNMIT’s mandate until 31 December at the current authorised levels and endorses a plan for the mission’s phased drawdown after the parliamentary elections due to take place in June.
The draft resolution also requests the Secretary-General to report back to the Council within 60 days of the formation of the new government, or by 15 October at the latest, on the security and political situation in Timor-Leste. In addition, it requests that the report provide recommendations on the transfer of responsibilities following the completion of UNMIT’s mandate.
It seems that an important point that several members of the Core Group wanted to emphasise was that the phased drawdown of UNMIT should be in accordance with the wishes of Timor-Leste’s government. The draft resolution conveys concerns that decisions about the drawdown should take into close consideration the situation on the ground. It appears that the language of the resolution will be in keeping with that of the Secretary-General’s recent report in which he states that “if the security situation permits, the UNMIT police component will commence its gradual downsizing as soon as possible after the elections, beginning in the districts.” It seems there were also calls for the Joint Transition Plan, as signed by Government of Timor-Leste and the UN, to be referenced, although it appears that most involved in the drafting process preferred not to include specific dates from the plan.
Concerning the UN’s post-UNMIT presence in Timor-Leste, it seems there was consensus that the new government would be best placed to decide on the preferred nature, activities and scope of that role, in coordination with UNMIT and other stakeholders.
On the issue of the need to act against impunity, some members considered that this might be one of the last high-profile opportunities for the international community to call on the government to increase efforts to establish accountability for offences committed during the 2006 crisis. (The draft resolution in blue contains the same language as in previous renewals of UNMIT’s mandate concerning accountability for serious criminal offences, as recommended by the Independent Special Commission of Inquiry.)
* The Core Group on Timor-Leste includes (Council members in bold): Australia, Brazil, France, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, the UK, and the US.
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