Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

12 November 2012 - Statement to the United Nations Security Council

12 November 2012



Statement by H.E. Philippa King
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations


Mr President

Thank you for convening this debate and I acknowledge the presence of Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister José Luís Guterres. Australia would also like to acknowledge the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Finn Reske-Nielsen and thank him for his briefing this afternoon. His strong leadership of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) has been appreciated by the Australian Government. As this may be the last Council debate on UNMIT, we would also like to highlight the important contribution of former SRSGs Atul Khare and Ameerah Haq and their able deputies. Each performed their role with great professionalism.

It is clear that Timor-Leste, working closely with UNMIT and bilateral partners, has made great progress since the events of 2006. The Timor-Leste National Police force has been fully reconstituted, the threat posed by disaffected groups has dissipated and the Timorese-led political reconciliation processes contributed directly to peaceful elections this year.

We agree with Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão that security conditions in Timor Leste have improved markedly and that, following the very successful elections held during 2012, it is time for the international security forces to depart Timor-Leste.

As the Council has heard at numerous debates, Timor-Leste authorities have worked to achieve an extended period of peace over a five year period by maintaining stability and enhancing political and social cohesion. Australia agrees with the recommendation of the Secretary-General that UNMIT should conclude its mission at the end of this year.

Many members today have commented on the success of the 2012 elections. The Timorese electoral authorities, security services, political parties and civil society deserve to be commended for this success. We acknowledge the crucial role played by UNMIT and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in helping to build the capacity of the Timorese electoral management bodies to the level that we witnessed this year.

We are pleased that Members of the Council were able to visit Timor-Leste last week and witness first-hand the achievements of the Timorese and the significant contribution made by UNMIT – as did the Secretary-General when he visited in mid August. The mission has successfully integrated the many functions of the United Nations into a single mission structure – this provides useful lessons for future peacekeeping operations. Beyond its important task of reconstituting and supporting the PNTL, UNMIT has also promoted and supported political reconciliation, the development of human rights standards and institutions, and built an awareness of justice issues. We encourage the mission leadership to continue working with the Timorese government to manage the economic impact on Timor-Leste from the closure of UNMIT, particularly on employment in Dili.

The end of the UN peacekeeping and political presence should not signal the end of the engagement of the United Nations with Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste wants to shape an innovative development relationship with the UN, and Australia will support Timor-Leste in this endeavour. We commend Timor-Leste for its Strategic Development Plan, which sets out long-term principles to underpin Timor-Leste’s development. Australia was the first development partner of Timor-Leste to commit to the “New Deal” and our partnership is now firmly rooted in its principles. For example, we are partnering with the Ministry of Finance to provide development assistance directly through the Ministry’s systems. We encourage future UN engagement with Timor-Leste to be aligned with these principles.

We would also like to recognise the very effective relationship between UNMIT and the International Stabilisation Force (ISF). The division of responsibility for providing security assistance to Timor Leste – shared between the UN Police and the ISF – provides useful lessons in effective demarcation of responsibility, yet unity of purpose, which may serve to assist the Council in developing mandates for future peacekeeping operations.

Australia will begin undertaking the drawdown of the ISF in close coordination with the Government of Timor Leste, the Government of New Zealand and UNMIT. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our ISF partner, New Zealand – as well as Portugal and Malaysia, with whom we worked so closely in 2006 ahead of the formation of UNMIT.

The coming departure of the ISF does not signal the end of Australia’s security cooperation with Timor-Leste. We will continue our work with Timor’s police force as well as continuing our defence cooperation program in support of Timor-Leste’s Defence Force.

Our relationship with our close neighbour and friend will continue to deepen and broaden as we work in partnership with Timor-Leste to alleviate poverty, provide education and employment opportunities to young Timorese, and build on the strong, extensive and enduring community links between our countries. We also welcome the state of good relations and increasing interaction between Timor-Leste and its neighbour Indonesia. As Timor-Leste enters its second decade of independence, both Australia and Indonesia will play an important role in facilitating trade and supporting Timor Leste’s integration in the region.

Mr President

The Timorese people have shown tremendous resilience over the past decade as they set about building a new nation. While UNMIT and the ISF have made their contribution, the real credit for the peace and progress enjoyed today must go to the Timorese people themselves.

Thank you Mr President.