I was deeply honoured by the Secretary-General’s request that I serve as Acting Special Representative for Timor-Leste and Head of UNMIT through the planned closure of the peacekeeping mission at the end of 2012. Timor-Leste has long been my home, as I have served here twice, first from 1999 to 2002 and then again from June 2006. I have been privileged to witness first-hand the remarkable progress of the past several years. So it is with both professional and personal satisfaction that I assume this new role, working with the Government, UNMIT staff, the UN agencies and our partners to complete our mission.
This is a particularly exciting time in Timor-Leste on many fronts. Taur Matan Ruak has just taken office as the country’s new president and campaigning for the Parliamentary election is underway. Not only is the professionalism of the Timorese National Police securing peace and stability here at home, a growing number of its officers are now qualified to serve as peacekeepers abroad. (Click here to see our story.) UNMIT national staff are gaining the skills and the confidence they need to secure good jobs or start the new businesses that will further the country’s economic development after the mission closes. (Click here for an update on UNMIT’s national staff capacity building program.)
Progress for Timor-Leste translates into progress on UNMIT’s planned closure. During the April meeting of the High-Level Committee on Transition, bringing together the leadership of Timor-Leste and of UNMIT, we noted that UNMIT's activities are about 60 per cent complete on average, and that overall progress is on track. (Click here for more information on the meeting and the transition.) UNMIT and the UN Country Team are making arrangements for the continuation of some peacebuilding activities after UNMIT closes. Planning for civilian staff and police withdrawals and for the transfer of assets to the government is well underway. The momentum is unmistakeable with all elements in place to complete the transition in the fourth quarter of this year.
The months ahead will be busy ones. Together, we have achieved a lot. But we also need to roll up our sleeves and remain focused, for we have more work to do before UNMIT closes. The government is still relying on our support for the parliamentary elections on 7 July, and through the formation of the new parliament and government. The UN Secretary-General will visit Timor-Leste in August and we will be ready to welcome him and showcase the country’s progress since his previous visit in 2007. And as we enter UNMIT’s final months, we need to pave the way for a smooth handover to the future UN presence.
I look forward to working with all of you, and to continue to share information with you on the progress of the country, on our transition, and on the UN engagement in Timor-Leste after 2012.