Building on stability

Message from Acting Special Representative
in Timor-Leste Finn Reske-Nielsen

The strong partnership between Timor-Leste and the United Nations dates back to the organization’s support for East Timor’s struggle for self-determination and the historic Popular Consultation in 1999. Since then, the country has hosted five UN peacekeeping and political operations as well as UN funds, agencies and programmes.

The UN Security Council deployed the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in response to the internal crisis that shook Timor-Leste in April and May 2006. The crisis displaced up to 150,000 people who took shelter in camps throughout Dili and Baucau. Tension was rife, with former members of the security forces armed and at large in the countryside.

Creating conditions for a lasting peace

On 25 August 2006 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1704, mandating UNMIT to provide interim law enforcement and public security until Timor-Leste’s national police could be reconstituted and able to resume these roles. The broad mandate included helping the Government organize elections; build capacity in governance, justice and security sectors; strengthen human rights mechanisms; and complete investigations into cases of serious human rights violations committed in 1999. The mandate provided support for the Government’s mechanisms for donor coordination and for promoting gender equality in building institutions and making policy.

UNMIT’s mandate translated into a large UN police component of more than 1,600 officers from 41 countries, and about 1,900 Timorese and international civilian personnel. Since UNMIT’s creation, our personnel have worked with all segments of Timorese society, from the police and armed forces, to the National Parliament and political parties, and to civil society groups and news media throughout the country, to help Timor-Leste achieve stability, build a resilient state, and improve the lives of all its citizens.

UN support remains strong

I am proud of the contributions that UNMIT and the UN agencies, funds and programmes have made to support Timorese achievements over the past six years.

UNMIT’s closure will not mark the end of the partnership between Timor-Leste and the United Nations. On the contrary, as the peacekeepers depart, we look forward to a new phase in this relationship. Importantly, the UN family will continue to provide support to national institutions in designing and implementing programmes for accelerated development, through the UN agencies, funds and programmes.

A tribute to the Timorese people

When I first came to Timor-Leste in 1999, the country was ravaged by fighting and political upheaval and shaken by displacement and suffering. Large parts of it were burned to the ground. It has been a privilege to follow Timor-Leste’s path out of those difficult times, towards peace, stability and a brighter, safer and more prosperous future.

The road ahead will undoubtedly be marked by many challenges. Development of the non-oil economy, especially the private sector, will be vital for continued socio-economic development. Ensuring educational opportunities, youth employment, and equitable development will require continued close engagement by Timorese authorities, with the support of their international partners. Building on the professional achievements of the police service will further strengthen its ability to meet future challenges.

I have every confidence that the Timorese institutions and citizens will seize the opportunities before them and reach their goals.

On behalf of all UNMIT personnel, let me thank the Timorese people and their leaders for the strong partnership we have enjoyed over the past six years and express our best wishes for the future.


Finn Reske-Nielsen
Acting Special Representative in Timor-Leste