Security Council establishes new UN mission in East Timor

Recognizing that East Timor will require international assistance in the period immediately after independence to shore up the new government’s ability to rule, the Security Council today unanimously decided to establish a new United Nations mission to help provide the fledgling nation with the stability necessary for growth and development.According to a resolution adopted this morning, the Council established the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) for an initial one-year period to provide assistance to core administrative structures critical to the viability and political stability of the new nation.The move also provides interim law enforcement and public security to help in the development of a new law enforcement agency, the East Timor Police Service (ETPS), and contributes to the maintenance of external and internal security of the island nation.Today’s action by the Council comes after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended the creation of UNMISET to succeed the current UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), which had been running the territory since October 1999 and will conclude its mandate on 20 May when the territory gains independence.Based on the blueprint provided by Mr. Annan, the new Mission will have a civilian component comprising an office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General with focal points for gender and HIV/AIDS, a Civilian Support Group of up to 100 personnel filling core functions, and a Serious Crimes Unit and a Human Rights Unit. The civilian police component initially will be made up of 1,250 officers, while the military presence will include up to 5,000 troops, including 120 military observers.The resolution also decided that UNMISET will fully devolve over a period of two years all operational responsibilities to the East Timorese authorities “as soon as is feasible, without jeopardizing stability.”Meanwhile in Dili, East Timor’s Chief Minister, Mari Alkatiri, today announced that negotiations have been concluded with Australia on the implementation of the Timor Sea Treaty.In a statement released this afternoon, the Chief Minister said that the negotiations were completed on Thursday, after which the Council of Ministers approved the treaty text and related documents. The Timor Sea Treaty will be signed by Mr. Alkatiri and Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Monday and then submitted to East Timor’s National Parliament for ratification. read more