STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF COLOMBIA
The Situation in East Timor
New York, October 31, 2001
I would like to welcome you here, Mr. Minister, and thank you for participating in this meeting. Through you, I would also like to commend the Irish Mission, particularly Ambassador Ryan, for their dedication and the very efficient way in which they have organized our meetings during the month of October. I would also like to welcome the participation in this meeting of Mr. Alkatiri, Chief Minister of the Second Transitional Government, and the representatives of the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). I would like once more to welcome Sergio Vieira de Mello, and reiterate our appreciation for his successful leadership.
Without a doubt, the work of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) allows us to speak of a success story of the United Nations, which contributed to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. This success should be confirmed by our commitment to the culmination of the United Nations presence in East Timor.
I would like to thank you, Mr. Vieira de Mello, for your statement, and I would like to highlight a few points. First, the elections marked the crucial moment in the process of the East Timorese really taking charge of their own future. This fills us with genuine democratic pride, if I may put it that way.
Secondly, we are now entering a very important stage - the next 200 days before the date set for independence. This period will make many demands on the United Nations and will call for painstaking work by the multilateral bodies. But, above all, it will place greater obligations on the East Timorese before they take full responsibility for their governing institutions. It is therefore essential to ensure that all these efforts are coordinated, which UNTAET will continue to do.
Another point that Mr. Vieira de Mello made relates to the need for proper justice for crimes committed, particularly the most serious offences. We have all recently heard many calls for ad hoc courts or mechanisms to ensure that perpetrators of such crimes are held responsible. This campaign and this activism confirm how important it is to do away with impunity. However, in our opinion, we must focus our efforts on the functioning and strengthening of existing institutions and those that are to be created. In our view, justice and reconciliation should be fully compatible. Without proper justice being done, we cannot set out on the road to true coexistence. The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation commissions is very useful.
We also agree on having systems that work well and speedily - for example, plea-bargaining systems for certain offences. This is an exceptional situation in which investigations should be carried out and sentences handed down as quickly as possible. But for the most serious crimes, the work of the Transitional Administration and the future Government is extremely important, as the Secretary-Generalís report states.
Progress has been made in this area, including the remarkable action on the crime of extermination, which is truly novel. Much more needs to be done. We need a high level of international cooperation, with emphasis on what the authorities of Indonesia have done and should continue to do.
My delegation endorses the recommendations in the report now before us, in particular those on the establishment of the successor peacekeeping mission, headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General and consisting of a military component, a civilian police component and a civilian component. We agree that the civilian component will be essential to ensure the proper functioning of the Government in the period immediately after independence. It is clear to my delegation that the financing of the civilian component should not be based on voluntary contributions, which, as the report indicates, are fewer and fewer. We have noted that UNTAET will do whatever is necessary to adapt its size and shape to existing needs and to be able to carry out a smooth, harmonious transition to a post-independence United Nations presence. It is clear that the mandate of UNTAET will have to be extended until East Timorís independence is declared.
Finally, we are convinced that a hasty, premature winding down of the international presence could have destabilizing effects on the future of this new country. We do not want to have a bad beginning. East Timor must receive the support it needs in order to come together as a new State fully capable of participating in the community of nations.
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