Mr. Raff Bukun-Olu Onemola
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
New York, NY
22nd February, 2011
Allow me to welcome His Excellency Mr. Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, to the Security Council and to thank him for his insightful and comprehensive statement. I would also like to thank Ms. Ameerah Haq, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor Leste, for her lucid briefing today in the context of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2011/32). We appreciate her contributions and dedicated service as Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
I will limit my remarks to three important issues, namely, the political and security situation in Timor Leste, its economic and development agenda and its judicial and correctional system.
The Nigerian delegation welcomes the climate of calm and stability that continues to characterize the overall political and security situation in Timor-Leste, especially since 2008. The prevailing condition undoubtedly manifests the commitment of the Timorese leadership and stakeholders to sustain peace through national dialogue and political inclusiveness. Indeed, the relative calm has also facilitated focused implementation of the Government’s national development plan. In that context we welcome the consultations held in Dili from 27 to 29 December 2010 on the Government’s proposed development plans for 2011, as a firm determination by the Government to promote internal peace and security.
The resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the Policia nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) is also critical to bolster the country’s peace and stability. We therefore welcome the recent progress recorded in the resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the PNTL in two additional districts and three more units. We fully support the district-by-district process of handing responsibility back to the Timorese police. We expect, however, that the process will be completed within the given timeline, thus paving the way for the PNTL to assume full command and control responsibility for all police operations in Timor-Leste.
We want to emphasize that an effective disciplinary mechanism is vital for the creation of a strong, professional and independent PNTL. In that regard, the recent decision of the Government to certify 52 PNTL officers who are facing various disciplinary and criminal charges is of serious concern. The core challenge facing the Government and the country’s judicial authorities is how to safeguard the integrity of the PNTL and ensure that its internal discipline systems are effective.
The constructive interaction between the various political parties and major stakeholders in guaranteeing peace, harmony and continuity in governance is commended. In particular, we note the Government’s initiative on roads to peace and national unity, which has helped to foster dialogue and reconciliation among the parties.
The prospects for long-term peace, political stability and economic recovery and growth are huge incentives for the parties to approach the 2012 elections with renewed vigour and compromise. We therefore welcome the commencement of the joint transition planning mechanism, especially the fourth meeting of the High-Level Committee on Transition.
The recent measures taken by Government to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of the justice and correctional sectors are commendable. Those measures have clearly enhanced access to justice, reduced pending criminal prosecution cases and improved prison infrastructure. Nonetheless, the challenges of staffing and insufficient budgets are daunting. To underpin the notable progress already achieved in these sectors, the Government should emphasize combating impunity. Steps should also be taken to generate public confidence in the judicial system and ensure respect for the independence of the judiciary.
Regarding economic development, Timor-Leste’s social and economic revival is rapidly gaining traction, with improved security and greater confidence in the country’s leaders. We therefore welcome the reduction in poverty and improvements in human development indicators and the prudent use of resources by the Government, including the huge investment in infrastructure.
To fully transform the economy, the Government should give priority to rural development and youth employment. There is also an overarching need for the Government to communicate its goals and programmes more clearly to the population. If properly harnessed, investments in the three economic pillars identified by the Government — agriculture, natural resources and tourism — will generate economic growth and accelerate the pace of development in the country.
Finally, we wish to express our appreciation to UNMIT and the United Nations country team for the important roles they have played in promoting peace, stability and development in Timor-Leste. We call on donors and development partners to provide long-term, predictable support that will strengthen the
Government as it faces the onerous challenges of achieving lasting peace and security in the country. We commend the United Nations capacity-building and technical assistance support for Timor-Leste, rendered through UNMIT and the United Nations Development Programme. The establishment of the National Defense Institute is a laudable demonstration of this commitment.
Nigeria shares the Secretary-General’s view that UNMIT’s police presence will be vital to support the PNTL in capacity-building, skill enhancement and specific advisory functions in all districts and units of Timor-Leste throughout 2012. UNMIT police will also provide operational support to the PNTL in the event of extreme circumstances, if so required and requested, during the period of elections in 2012. Given the critical roles to be played by UNMIT, Nigeria supports the extension of its mandate for another year