Statement by Sergio Vieira de Mello Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator
Transcrição de pronunciamento de Sergio Vieira de Mello sobre a transição do governo provisório em Timor Leste – 14-15 de Maio de 2002
Statement by Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator
Chief Minister, Mari Alkatiri
President-elect, Xanana Gusmao
Ministers of the Second Transitional Government
Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo
This is, indeed, an historic occasion and it gives me great pleasure to address this sixth and final Donors’ Meeting of the transition. I see around me the faces of others who have also attended previous meetings in Tokyo, Lisbon, Brussels, Canberra and Oslo. The consistency of representation from donor countries is quite remarkable and underlines the very strong and generous support and commitment that East Timor has received from the international community.
In this meeting, the Transitional Government will present its Plan for the development of the new Democratic Republic of East Timor. It is a Plan which has been developed by the East Timorese themselves and which reflects their aspirations for the future of their country. It represents an enormous achievement and I want to pay tribute to the Chief Minister for the way in which he, and his ministerial colleagues, have guided its preparation.
I also acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of the President-elect who, in his previous role as the Head of the Consultative Commission on Civil Society, directed a consultative process that covered the length and breadth of the country. This process ensured that the views of East Timorese people could feed directly into the nation’s vision for its future. As Xanana, himself, has noted in his Foreword to the National Development Plan, for many East Timorese – in all walks of life – it was the first chance they have had to share their aspirations with others and to reflect on issues with national and global implications.
One of the most impressive aspects of this consultative process is the way in which communities considered how best they could contribute to development. The central message – that securing a sustainable development future for East Timor is the responsibility of each and every East Timorese – has produced a remarkable consensus around the vision, goals, and strategies for development.
This framework for partnership between the Government, civil society, the private sector and communities is eloquently laid out in the Popular Version of the Plan – East Timor 2020: Our Nation, Our Future – which I was privileged to help launch last Saturday. Right now, this booklet is finding its way into households all over the country. This is another truly impressive aspect of the planning process. There can be few nations anywhere – let alone a country on the brink of independence – which have been able to give back to their people such a comprehensive roadmap for the nation’s development.
I also want to acknowledge here the work of Emilia Pires, Secretary of the Planning Commission, and of Antonio da Conceicao, the Commission’s Advisor on Development, both of whom have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Plan was in place by the time of independence. That is the commitment which the East Timorese leadership gave to you – the donor community – in Canberra in June last year. As I mentioned in my remarks on Saturday, there were times when I thought that that commitment was too ambitious. I should not, of course, have underestimated the drive and determination of Emilia Pires. Against all manner of obstacles, she has pulled off a minor miracle and you have the results in front of you today. I know that she, and Antonio, would want me to thank, on their behalf, those donor countries and organisations, which generously, and in many practical ways, assisted the preparation of the Plan. It is an achievement that all can be justly proud of.
It is fitting that the National Development Plan for East Timor should be formally launched in this building, not only because it is soon to become the nation’s parliament. It was in this place over two and a half years ago that the first assessment of East Timor’s reconstruction and development needs came together. The building was then known as “tent city”, and it housed the team who prepared the Report of the Joint Assessment Mission. This Report underpinned the first Donors’ Meeting in Tokyo in December 1999. At that meeting, donors pledged to support the rebuilding of East Timor with financial commitments of over US$530 million over a three-year period. The international community also made an implicit commitment to do better in East Timor than in other post-conflict countries and to apply lessons already learned, including, for example, the need for a smooth transition between emergency response, rehabilitation and development.
As we approach the end of this historic transition, it is appropriate to reflect on what has been achieved and to consider what lessons can be distilled from the East Timor experience for future operations. In this period, the pace of change has been dramatic and we have often pushed to the limit of our capacity and the capacity of the East Timorese in order to get things done.
In October 1999, UNTAET arrived in an East Timor that had been sacked – all government buildings, schools, shops and many houses in Dili and beyond had been looted and burnt. Most of the country’s infrastructure was in ruins. The territory, too, had been emptied of many of its own people who fled across the border to West Timor, and of its Indonesian administrators. There were no public institutions operating at that time and very few private businesses. Moreover, regular cross-border attacks threatened to undermine security and displace even larger numbers of people. As we look around East Timor today, and as memories lengthen, it perhaps becomes more and more important to think back and recall those dramatic days which were not that long ago but which sometimes seem a lifetime in the past.
We have achieved a great deal in the intervening years. A humanitarian crisis was averted and peace, security and stability has been guaranteed by INTERFET, in the first instance, and by the Peacekeeping Force and the UN Police. Fewer than 60,000 refugees remain in West Timor. Democratic institutions have been built on the basis of two successful elections. A Constitution has been drafted and ratified in this place. Political and administrative responsibility has been progressively handed to the East Timorese. The Second Transitional Government has now exercised day-to-day executive authority, including full responsibility for fiscal management, for eight months. Structures of government have been put in place and large numbers of civil servants have been recruited and trained. Rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, including schools, clinics, roads and water utilities, has taken place and productive sectors of the economy have recovered.
All that has been achieved during UNTAET’s unique mandate would not have occurred without the unprecedented level of cooperation and support from donor countries, the International Financial Institutions, the UN agencies and NGOs. I hope that this spirit of partnership will continue to serve East Timor well as it grapples with the daunting challenges ahead. In particular, many of the institutions of government are fragile and will need continuing support. Under the successor mission – UNMISET – 100 civilian staff will be placed in core areas of the administration to ensure that the new Government can maintain essential service delivery. Over 80 per cent of these people have now been recruited.
In addition, the Government is seeking voluntary contributions for another 182 posts which have been identified by Ministers, with support from UNDP, as important if the momentum of capacity development and development, generally, is to be maintained. I would like to make a special appeal to you to consider sympathetically the Government’s request for support for these advisory positions.
While it is difficult to imagine that the United Nations will be confronted again with such a complex mandate, we are taking seriously the need to extract lessons from this operation for the successor mission and for other peacekeeping operations. Many of the difficulties UNTAET encountered, which I have spoken frankly about elsewhere, are well known to those of you based here in East Timor and to those of you who are frequent visitors. I believe that one of the key challenges for peacekeeping operations which involve governance and public administration is the recruitment and management of appropriately qualified personnel. I also believe that management approaches based on the recruitment of unified sectoral teams would yield more productive – and probably, more sustainable – results. These and other issues will be fed into the final report of the UNTAET Mission.
It will also be important, together in particular with the World Bank, but also with the IMF and the ADB, to conduct a joint lessons learned exercise to examine ways in which the International Financial Institutions and the United Nations can cooperate even more effectively, especially in post-conflict environments. I hope that it will be possible to consider undertaking this assessment before too much of the institutional memory is lost to us.
While good progress has been made in most key sectors of activity, a fundamental challenge for the new independent government will be to bring about a reduction in endemic poverty. As the UNDP Human Development Report for East Timor has shown us, East Timor is among the twenty poorest countries in the world, with 41 per cent of the population living below the national poverty line of 55 cents per day. Development is the fundamental pre-condition for peace and stability. So, too, is a commitment from the East Timorese leadership to transparent, accountable government: to government that reaches out to every citizen and to all parts of the country; and to government which fosters national unity and tolerates diversity.
The discussions in this meeting over the next two days are crucial to building the confidence of the new Government to manage its relations with its development partners, and equally important to maintaining the confidence of donors that the Government’s development vision and fiscal strategy is appropriate, achievable and within the limits of the available external funding.
I thank the delegates of all governments and organizations represented here for the unfailing interest and support you have shown for the United Nations in East Timor and for the Transitional Government. This, the sixth international donor meeting in two and a half years, is itself a measure of that support. I encourage you to remain engaged in East Timor for the long haul. Targeted development assistance will be needed for many years to come if the East Timorese are to achieve the development goals they have set for themselves – in particular, to have a lasting impact on poverty and to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of all East Timorese citizens.
We are close to the end of a memorable journey for the East Timorese and for the international community. UNTAET is on the verge of ending. We will be judged by many on what we have been able to leave behind. I am proud that part of that legacy is a blueprint for the nation’s development and I hope that at the conclusion of this meeting, East Timor will have secured your support to ensure its successful implementation.
On a personal note, I would like to conclude by thanking you all for making my time here as rewarding and as enjoyable as it has been. We have shared some amazing experiences and I thank you all for your support.