I have the honour to speak on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I thank the Secretariat and the Chair of the ACABQ for introducing their respective reports on the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
CANZ are strong supporters of UNMIT and its important work in Timor-Leste. We welcome the significant progress made by UNMIT and the Government of Timor-Leste over the past year, assisted by the presence of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) involving Australia and New Zealand.
In spite of the progress achieved, a great deal of work still lies ahead. UNMIT continues to have a complex and demanding mandate. The phased transfer of policing responsibilities from UNMIT to the national police, which has only just commenced, is an immediate challenge that needs to be undertaken with close monitoring and support from UNMIT. In that regard, we continue to urge caution when planning for the future, including any possible draw-down of UNMIT police, or other substantial changes in the mission. The underlying situation remains fragile and we wish to ensure security gains are consolidated.
UNMIT continues to assist the Government and national institutions to consolidate democracy and to further national reconciliation. Local elections later this year will be another important step in this process. UNMIT has a key role in the reform of the security sector, and in strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights. It also plays an integral role in helping to improve Timor-Leste’s development and humanitarian conditions.
Timor-Leste needs sustained support from the international community, led by UNMIT, to ensure stability, security, and in order to overcome the challenges of poverty, unemployment and fragile institutions.
We have read the Secretary-General’s proposal for UNMIT very carefully, as well as the ACABQ report. Cost increases, and other external factors, represent a significant proportion of the increase in the proposed budget for 2009/10. A number of new national and international positions have also been proposed. We are interested in receiving further information on the importance of these functions and about other elements of the proposal. We are also interested in the impact on the budget proposal of the policing handover process.
We remain concerned about the continued high vacancy and turnover rates in UNMIT, which the ACABQ has also commented on. We would appreciate an update from the Secretariat during the informal meetings on the staffing situation.
In conclusion, we reiterate CANZ support for UNMIT and its critical role in assisting Timor-Leste to develop a stable and prosperous nation.