I thank the Secretary-General for his report on the situation in Timor-Leste, and you Mr President for convening this open debate. We value Japan’s leadership in the Security Council and in the Timor-Leste Core Group.
It is an honour and pleasure to welcome President Ramos-Horta one year after the serious attack on his life. The President’s recovery and resumption of responsibilities is a tribute to his strength and determination. We also thank him for his recent visit to New Zealand.
We congratulate the Government of Timor-Leste and President Ramos-Horta for the significant progress made over the past year. UNMIT, led by Dr Khare, has a critical and ongoing role to play in Timor-Leste, helped by the International Stabilisation Force (ISF), to which New Zealand continues to contribute, working with Australia.
As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, there have been many encouraging developments - the closure of most internally displaced persons camps, the resolution of the “petitioners” issue, the more stable – although still fragile – security situation, and the efforts being made to strengthen institutions and to stimulate economic development.
Continuing effort to strengthen democratic governance is also a vital ingredient of ongoing progress. We strongly encourage the political parties and people of Timor-Leste to continue to consolidate their democratic institutions, and to make full use of Parliament to resolve all political differences. Local elections in 2009 are an important part of this process, and should be supported by UNMIT and other partners.
A great deal of work still lies ahead for the Government and UNMIT. An immediate challenge is transferring policing responsibilities to the PNTL (national police). New Zealand welcomes the planned commencement of this process, and the joint assessment currently being done by the Government and UNMIT. If implemented properly, we believe the mutually agreed criteria for assessing the state of readiness of each district will help to ensure each area is in fact ready and able to take over full policing responsibilities. We strongly support phased implementation of this process. UNMIT will need to monitor it closely and be ready to step in and provide additional support if necessary.
We believe a single policing model needs to be agreed in the coming months, and that this will enable international policing assistance to be channelled more effectively. New Zealand is pleased that its pilot community policing project in Becora and Suai has received a positive response.
We acknowledge the broader efforts undertaken in the security sector, including the recent seminar held in Dili, and we encourage the Government and UNMIT to continue this work. We believe that clearly defining the respective roles of the military and police, and strengthening civilian oversight mechanisms are necessary for long term stability.
Accountability issues, and especially countering perceptions of impunity, are relevant to the development of the justice sector. They affect its credibility and strength. We acknowledge the serious constraints in the justice sector, and the need for international support to accelerate the development of national capacity. Dialogue and reconciliation efforts are also relevant, and we value the essential role President Ramos-Horta is playing.
In conclusion, New Zealand strongly supports the extension of UNMIT for 12 months at its current authorised level, as recommended by the Secretary-General. As a regional partner and friend, we remain committed to assisting Timor–Leste. We continue to offer our support and encouragement to President Ramos-Horta; to all the leaders and people of Timor-Leste; and to Dr Khare and the UNMIT team.
Thank you Mr President