Helen Clark: Opening Statement to Member States Consultation on Timor-Leste

Feb 22, 2012

Opening Statement by Helen Clark, Chair of the UN Development Group to Member States Consultation on Timor-Leste
United Nations, New York,
9.30 am, Wednesday 22 February 2012

On behalf of the UN Development Group, I am pleased to co-chair this Member States Consultation on Timor-Leste with President Ramos-Horta. I thank the President and the Government of Timor-Leste for their leadership and active participation in this important event, and I congratulate Timor-Leste on its achievements.

A strong partnership exists between Timor-Leste and the United Nations. The United Nations has worked actively with the leaders and people of Timor-Leste to promote peace and security and to support the country on its development path.

Now Timor-Leste has the potential to consolidate its transition from conflict, through the post-conflict period and fragility, to long-term development. Its success of recent years paves the way for the end of the UN peacekeeping mission by the end of this year.

The path to UNMIT’s departure is set out in a Joint Transition Plan, signed by the President, the Prime Minister, and the Special Representative of the Secretary General on 19 September last year. This is the first such transition plan for UN peacekeeping.

The plan identifies priority needs and objectives in areas relevant to UNMIT's mandate which need to be addressed before the Mission departs. It also highlights activities where Timorese institutions will require continued support beyond 2012, including in the broad areas of rule of law, human rights and justice, security and police, democratic governance, and socio-economic development.

The Joint Transition Plan was prepared by the Government of Timor-Leste and the UN system. It has been endorsed by the Timorese Council of Ministers. It is anchored in Timor-Leste’s Strategic Development Plan for 2011-2030.

The Plan is also aligned with the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals of the New Deal for engagement with fragile states, which was launched at the Busan meeting on aid effectiveness last November. Timor-Leste played a leading role in the development of the New Deal. The goals include the establishment of legitimate politics, security, justice, economic foundations, revenue, and services. I would like to recognise the strong leadership role played by Minister Emilia Pires, who is here with us today, in moving this agenda forward in Timor-Leste.

The UN presence in Timor-Leste is integrated, with all its parts working together under one leader. This is in line with the Secretary-General’s policy of the UN delivering as one. It has also helped lay a good foundation to build on when UN peacekeeping withdraws from Timor-Leste. The UN Country Team’s efforts will need to continue to be closely integrated.

It is important for the transition from the UN peacekeeping mission’s work to longer-term peace, stability and development to be handled well, so that the progress Timor-Leste has made can be sustained.

The Timor-Leste Government and the UN agree that there is a continuing need for the international community to support the country in the years ahead, in the areas which have been identified jointly.

Reconfiguring UN support to meet the evolving needs of countries in transition is a high priority in the Secretary-General’s action agenda for his second term.

As the Secretary-General has noted, the United Nations has unique capabilities in many of the areas required for the consolidation of peace, including in justice, human rights, democratic governance, and national capacity-building.

Much of this expertise resides with the UN’s agencies, funds, and programmes. The integrated and co-ordinated expertise and resources of the UN development system can help consolidate the progress made in Timor-Leste to date, and build upon it.

I am hopeful that the transition plan which has been agreed between the Timor-Leste Government and the UN, together with the transition portfolio presented here today, can be a model of best practice for transitions from peacekeeping missions in other countries. For that to happen, we require the support and goodwill of all present in this room.

The funding required for the UN Country Team to carry out its enhanced responsibilities after UNMIT’s departure is an extra US$ 25 million a year for three years. This would be a responsible investment in the medium to long term sustainability of Timor-Leste’s development and stability. The UN’s agencies, funds, and programmes stand ready to play their part, and to expand their activities, subject to the financial resources required becoming available.

Thank you for your attention.

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