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Transcript: UN Security Council On East Timor

Security Council
Fifty-fourth Year, 4045th Meeting
Wednesday, 15 September 1999, 2.15 a.m., New York


This record contains the original text of speeches delivered in English and interpretations of speeches delivered in the other languages. The final text will be printed in the Official Records of the Security Council. Corrections should be submitted to original speeches only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned, within one week of the date of publication, to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178.


Mr. van Walsum

Russian Federation
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United States of America

Mr. Petrella
Mr. Buallay
Mr. Fonseca
Mr. Fowler
Mr. Shen Guofang
Mr. Dejammet
Mr. Dangue Réwaka
Mr. Jagne
Mr. Hasmy
Mr. Andjaba
Mr. Lavrov
Mr. Türk
Sir Jeremy Greenstock
Ms. Soderberg


The situation in East Timor

Letter dated 8 September 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1999/955)

Letter dated 9 September 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1999/961)

The meeting was called to order at 2.15 a.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

The situation in East Timor

Letter dated 8 September 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1999/955)

Letter dated 9 September 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1999/961)

The President: I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Australia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Portugal, in which they request to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council's agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the discussion, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council's provisional rules of procedure.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

At the invitation of the President, Mr. Alatas (Indonesia) and Mr. Gama (Portugal) took seats at the Council table; Mr. Downer (Australia), Ms. Rasi (Finland), Mr. Satoh (Japan) and Mr. Powles (New Zealand) took the seats reserved for them at the side of the Council Chamber.

The President: The Security Council will now continue its consideration of the item on its agenda.

Members of the Council have before them the report of the Security Council mission to Jakarta and Dili, contained in document S/1999/976. Members of the Council also have before them document S/1999/977, which contains the text of a draft resolution prepared in the course of the Council's prior consultations. Members of the Council have received photocopies of a letter dated 14 September 1999 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia addressed to the Secretary-General, which will be issued as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/1999/975.

It is my understanding that the Security Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution (S/1999/977) before it. If I hear no objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote now.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

A vote was taken by show of hands.

In favour:

Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Gabon, Gambia, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America

The President: There were 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 1264 (1999).

The first speaker inscribed on my list is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, His Excellency Mr. Jaime Gama, whom I welcome and on whom I now call.

Mr. Gama (Portugal): The position of Portugal on the tragic situation in East Timor was made abundantly clear to the Security Council last Saturday; so was the firm and unequivocal condemnation by the international community of the crimes perpetrated against the East Timorese people, as was demonstrated by the impressive number of speakers who took the floor during that meeting. We have all been witnesses to the outcry of indignation that is being heard worldwide.

Sadly, the security and humanitarian conditions in East Timor have not improved since then. On the contrary, we have been confronted with alarming reports of continued brutality, of violence against refugees and internally displaced persons, of major food and medicine shortages. The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) itself, in spite of the guarantees given by the Indonesian authorities, has been forced to withdraw from its headquarters. The same happened to Portugal's Observer Mission, created by the New York Agreements.

Those events are completely unacceptable. They are hard evidence, moreover, of Indonesia's inability to maintain peace and stability in the Territory. Indonesia has finally recognized this fact. The eruption of violence led Portugal to call for an immediate end to this tragedy, namely through the deployment of an international military presence in East Timor with a United Nations mandate.

We therefore congratulate the Security Council for the approval of a resolution authorizing the establishment of a multinational force under a unified command structure. We see it as the first step towards restoring a security environment which, without further delay, will allow the East Timorese to begin to rebuild their lives free from any fear and interference. It will also make it possible for humanitarian assistance to reach those in such desperate need.

The multinational force will have to respond to the shocking situation on the ground. That must be the sole precondition for its structure and composition. The force must be strong and effective enough not only to immediately restore peace and stability, but also to make the fulfilment of the New York Agreements possible. It is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that the will of the East Timorese people will be respected without any additional suffering. We urge Indonesia to cooperate fully with this endeavour, in the light of the decision announced by the Indonesian Government on Sunday.

For its part, Portugal stands ready to participate in this multinational force, together with other interested countries, whose commitment we highly appreciate and commend.

The humanitarian crisis in both East and West Timor is also a matter of priority and urgency. We are encouraged by the response provided by the competent United Nations agencies and by many non-governmental organizations. The ongoing persecution of East Timorese forcibly taken to West Timor must cease immediately. Relief actions must begin at once. Here, too, Portugal is already prepared to deploy a significant aid operation, in coordination with the United Nations.

Portugal will continue to honour its commitments to the New York Agreements. We must advance, in all its components, the road map of the transition period that will ultimately lead to an independent and democratic East Timor. This entails the restoration of the confidence of the East Timorese people in this process. We are determined to continue the negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General, and we welcome his decision to convene a trilateral meeting that will take place tomorrow. In this spirit, the Portuguese mission which was agreed to at the last trilateral round is also ready to arrive in Dili as soon as the adequate security conditions are met.

The extent of the human rights violations that have taken place in East Timor since the announcement of the result of the popular consultation has been eloquently described in the report of the Security Council Mission to Indonesia. Those crimes cannot be allowed to remain unpunished. We are encouraged by the announcement made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that the President of Indonesia accepted her proposal to set up a joint commission of inquiry into those violations. These endeavours have to be thoroughly pursued.

Nothing can ever justify the loss of life, the deportations and the massive destruction that have occurred in East Timor. Nevertheless, this resolution gives us confidence that the international community is resolved to support and implement the overwhelming and irreversible choice made by the East Timorese people. An independent East Timor must now be our only goal.

The President: The next speaker inscribed on my list is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, His Excellency Mr. Ali Alatas, whom I welcome and on whom I now call.

Mr. Alatas (Indonesia): At the meeting of the Security Council on 11 September 1999, Indonesia apprised the members of the Council of the efforts it had undertaken to restore security and tranquillity in East Timor. My delegation confirmed that Indonesia had proclaimed a state of military emergency on 7 September 1999. The proclamation provided a legal basis for measures taken to restore law and order in East Timor. And while my delegation shares the deep concern of other Member States at the incidents that had taken place at that time, we also stressed that it is and will never be the policy of the Indonesian Government to condone any form of violence under any circumstances.

Since then, important developments have taken place. Following the visit of the Indonesian Armed Forces Commander, General Wiranto, to East Timor, when he accompanied the Mission sent by the Security Council on 11 September to directly observe the effect of the declaration of a state of military emergency, the Indonesian Government again reviewed the situation in East Timor. The Indonesian Government found it regrettable indeed that despite the tireless efforts of the Indonesian defence forces to bring the situation under control, the violence had not fully subsided. There are indeed limits to what even the armed forces can accomplish in a short time when operating in such a difficult and complex situation.

Hence, my Government came to the conclusion that it was now the appropriate time to request the United Nations for cooperation in dealing with the security situation in East Timor. President B. J. Habibie therefore announced in his address to the Indonesian nation on 12 September our readiness to accept, through the United Nations, international peacekeeping forces from friendly nations in order to restore peace and security in East Timor, to protect the people and to implement the result of the direct ballot of 30 August. He stressed:

"Too many people have lost their lives since the beginning of the unrest, lost their homes and security. We cannot wait any longer. We have to stop the suffering and mourning immediately."

In so doing, my Government was motivated solely by the strong desire to bring the situation in East Timor under control and back to normalcy. Indonesia could not allow the killings and destruction of property to continue. While the people of East Timor await the implementation of the next phase of the 5 May Agreements, they have to be protected.

In this context, President Habibie asked me and my delegation to travel to New York forthwith to follow up on the implementation of this proposal and to discuss with the Security Council and the United Nations Secretary-General its detailed aspects.

It is in this spirit of cooperation and flexibility that the Indonesian Government has placed no conditions with regard to the multinational force to be deployed in East Timor. However, there are several details that are being worked out expeditiously between Indonesia and the United Nations at the present time, particularly clarifications regarding the deployment of the multinational force, including its composition and its command structure, as well as the modalities of cooperation defining the respective duties and responsibilities of the Indonesian defence forces and the multinational force. Indonesia's main objective throughout this whole process remains, as stated by President Habibie, to further enhance the effectiveness of our common effort to restore peace and security in East Timor as quickly as possible.

As we affirmed in the Council last week, Indonesia will also continue to cooperate with humanitarian organizations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in efforts to provide immediate assistance to the internally displaced persons. The Indonesian Government would also like to assure the Council that adequate measures would be taken for the safety and security of those rendering such humanitarian aid.

My delegation notes with appreciation the Council's prompt response to this request, as reflected in the resolution just adopted. We believe that resolution will provide a firm basis for the effective operation of the multinational force, which, we hope, will be deployed as expeditiously as possible. It is also expected to help create a secure environment for the effective discharge of the mandate entrusted to the multinational force acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

We are further of the view that countries in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region are uniquely placed to serve in the multinational force as they, more than any other countries, understand the regional characteristics, dimensions and sensitivities of the problem. Particular consideration should therefore be given to ASEAN countries' participation in the composition of such a multinational force.

It is also imperative that the multinational force conduct itself in an impartial manner so that its presence in East Timor will be credible. It should endeavour to earn the confidence of the conflicting parties involved, while ensuring that its actions do not further exacerbate an already difficult situation. Indonesia, for its part, will extend its cooperation to facilitate the accomplishment of the task entrusted to the multinational force.

Finally, Indonesia remains fully committed to the 5 May 1999 Agreements and will spare no effort to help ensure that the question of East Timor is resolved in a peaceful, honourable and fair manner. We are confident that resolution 1264 (1999) is a concrete step in that direction.

The President: The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, His Excellency Mr. Alexander Downer, whom I welcome. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.

Mr. Downer (Australia): It is with great pleasure that I address the Security Council following the adoption of this resolution authorizing the establishment of a multinational force for East Timor. We are engaged here in an historic process, launched by the landmark decision by President Habibie of Indonesia earlier this year to allow the people of East Timor to make a decision on their future.

The ballot organized by the United Nations, which took place on 30 August, saw 98.6 per cent of the registered Timorese voters cast their ballot. We were all moved by the enthusiasm with which the people of East Timor voted on their future, and we were pleased by the generally peaceful conditions in which they did so.

The world community was, therefore, all the more distressed by the violence that welded up after the ballot, and particularly after the announcement of the result of the ballot on 4 September. The international community, at the request of the Indonesian Government, now has the opportunity to assist the people of East Timor and to ensure that the process set in place by the Tripartite Agreement is seen through to its completion.

Australia welcomed the decision of the Indonesian Government to invite a multinational force to assist in restoring peace and security in East Timor. I recognize that this has not been an easy decision, and I pay tribute to President Habibie and his Government for accepting that this was the most effective way to deal with the collapse of order there since the ballot. At the Secretary-General's request, Australia is willing to accept the leadership of the multinational force, which has been authorized here today. We look forward to working with regional and other countries to build a genuinely multinational force that will, as an interim measure, help bring the tripartite process mandated by the United Nations back on track until such time as a United Nations peacekeeping operation can be deployed.

It is vitally important that the multinational force be deployed quickly. Australia is working with other contributors to ensure the earliest possible arrival of the force. We encourage the Member States that are in a position to do so to contribute generously to the trust fund being established under this resolution by the Secretary-General, in order to facilitate participation in the force by a wide range of countries.

The events of the past 10 days in East Timor have generated a pressing humanitarian crisis in East and West Timor through the massive displacement of people. In cooperation with United Nations agencies and the Indonesian Government, Australia stands ready to assist in providing urgent humanitarian assistance. The force that has been mandated today will have a role in facilitating humanitarian assistance operations.

The process established by the 5 May Agreement has provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to resolve the problem of East Timor, an issue that has been on the United Nations agenda for almost a quarter of a century. All of us here have an interest in seeing East Timor become stable and peaceful.

The unanimous adoption of this resolution underlines our common commitment to East Timor's future. If this future is to be peaceful, reconciliation amongst the East Timorese will be critical. We are willing to assist in the process of reconciliation in whatever way we can. We urge the different groups in East Timor to work together, in cooperation with the United Nations, to put behind them the violence of the past for the sake of future generations.

I would like to pay tribute to the Secretary-General and to the staff of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), under the leadership of Ian Martin. Their performance, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, brings credit to this institution. We are pleased that the mandating of the multinational force will enable UNAMET's valuable work to continue. Australia has been a significant contributor to UNAMET and will continue to support the United Nations work in East Timor.

I congratulate all participants here today on the cooperative approach that has characterized the development of this historic resolution. It is a measure of the depth of interest and concern that the world community has in this issue.

In announcing the ballot outcome, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations would not fail the people of East Timor. The Security Council's action today will give confidence to the people of East Timor that the international community will follow through on that solemn commitment.

The President: The next speaker is the representative of Finland. I invite her to take a seat at the Council table and to make her statement.

Ms. Rasi (Finland): I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union C Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia C and the associated countries Cyprus and Malta, as well as the European Free Trade Association countries members of the European Economic Area C Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway C align themselves with this statement.

The European Union is deeply appreciative of the intensive work that you, Sir, and other delegations carried out during the last days C work that resulted in the adoption of this resolution.

The European Union has on many occasions warmly welcomed the result of the popular consultation of the East Timorese people on 30 August 1999. The European Union considers imperative Indonesia's commitment to the full implementation of the 5 May 1999 Agreement between Portugal and Indonesia. We are committed to seeing the people of East Timor enjoy the independence that they have freely chosen.

The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the atrocious acts of terror in East Timor that have followed the announcement of the result of the popular consultation and that have been perpetrated with the complicity of the Indonesian armed forces and police. We would like to reiterate our position that the Government of Indonesia remains responsible for law and order in the territory.

The European Union takes note of President Habibie's announcement that Indonesia would be ready to accept an international force to help create peace in East Timor, protect the population of the territory and implement the outcome of the popular consultation. We look forward to the immediate deployment of the international force. Order, security and the rule of law must be restored immediately. The European Union welcomes the early decision by the Security Council to enable the rapid deployment of an international presence. Our attitude towards Indonesia will depend on its full cooperation with the international force.

In this context, I would like to inform the Council that the European Union Foreign Ministers, at their meeting of 13 September, agreed, for a period of four months, on an embargo on the export of arms, munitions and military equipment, a ban on the supply of equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism, and a suspension of bilateral military cooperation. The European Union will decide, in the light of the situation after that period, on a possible further suspension for a period to be determined.

The European Union stresses that an urgent priority is to remedy the grave humanitarian situation. We would like to express our deepest indignation at the attacks which have been mounted on humanitarian personnel, church members and human rights defenders. We urge the Indonesian Government to take no action which would further endanger the lives of internally displaced persons within East Timor. We also call on the Indonesian Government to allow the safe return of international humanitarian organizations and agencies to East Timor without delay and to grant full and immediate access for international humanitarian agencies in West Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia. They must have secure access to displaced persons to allow them safe return to their homes.

The European Union will urgently pursue the implementation of humanitarian aid and the provision, in coordination with international organizations, notably the United Nations Development Programme, of further humanitarian assistance to those in need. The European Union also supports the call of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for the convening of a special session of the Commission on Human Rights. We call for an investigative mission by that Commission to gather the facts and ascertain responsibility for the campaign of terror which followed the holding of the referendum.

The European Union pays tribute to the United Nations for the organization of the popular consultation, and to the courage and extraordinary work of the personnel of the United Nations Mission in East Timor in the most challenging of circumstances.

After the resounding vote in the popular consultation, East Timor's independence must proceed without delay, as provided for in the Agreement of 5 May 1999. The States members of the European Union look forward to recognizing East Timor once the process towards independence is complete.

We would also like to emphasize our desire to see a strong, democratic and united Indonesia.

The President: The next speaker is the representative of Japan. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.

Mr. Satoh (Japan): I would like to begin by extending my sincere congratulations to you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of September. May I also express my Government's appreciation of your leadership during the past two weeks in guiding the work of the Council on the difficult question of East Timor.

I would like also to thank the members of the Security Council mission, led by Ambassador Andjaba of Namibia, for providing the international community with their valuable findings and assessments. Their presence in Indonesia during the past week was undoubtedly critical as the Government of Indonesia came to its important decision on 12 September.

My sincere appreciation goes also to the members of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), who in the face of difficult circumstances ensured that the popular consultation was carried out successfully. I wish to pay special tribute to the small number of staff members who are at this very moment striving under very severe conditions to maintain a United Nations presence in East Timor.

Japan strongly deplores the deterioration of the security situation and the grave humanitarian crisis that have occurred in East Timor since the result of the popular consultation was announced. Having received reports of unspeakable violence and destruction and of the forced displacement of large numbers of people over the course of many days, the international community welcomed the encouraging news from Jakarta over this past weekend. I would like to join the members of the Security Council and many other Member States in welcoming the courageous and very difficult decision of President Habibie to accept an international peacekeeping force. I also commend the efforts of the Foreign Minister, Mr. Alatas, who has come to New York to discuss arrangements for the early deployment of the international force.

My delegation welcomes the decision taken by the Council today in authorizing the establishment of a multinational force to restore peace and security in East Timor. It is clear that this resolution is but the first step in the difficult and complex process of restoring peace and order in East Timor and of implementing the result of the popular consultation of 30 August. The international community must cooperate in organizing and deploying the necessary forces as quickly as possible. Japan pays high tribute to those Member States, particularly Australia, which have offered to organize, lead and contribute to the multinational force in East Timor. The task confronting that force will by no means be easy, and it is absolutely essential that the Indonesian authorities extend it their full cooperation.

In the view of my delegation, the immediate task in East Timor is threefold. First, law and order in East Timor must be quickly restored. All acts of violence must end immediately. The forced displacement of people to West Timor must cease immediately. The Indonesian Government, particularly the military authorities, have a grave responsibility for the security of East Timor. Japan calls upon the Indonesian authorities concerned to cooperate fully with the multinational force to facilitate the process of its deployment and the implementation of its mandate.

Another task is to ensure an appropriate environment in which the UNAMET staff can return to East Timor and in which the Mission can resume its operations in accordance with the 5 May tripartite Agreement. Japan is particularly concerned for the safety of UNAMET personnel remaining in Dili and the conditions surrounding them.

Finally, an environment in which humanitarian activities can be safely carried out must be established immediately so that assistance can be extended to those who have been the victims of violence and whose homes and property have been destroyed. We welcome the Indonesian Government's intention to accept international humanitarian assistance. But here again, it is imperative that an environment be established in which humanitarian organizations can function safely and effectively, and that the Indonesian Government fully cooperate with the multinational force in facilitating humanitarian assistance operations.

Japan, as a long-standing and very close friend, has conveyed to the Government of Indonesia its views as well as those of the international community on the importance of accepting international assistance to restore security in East Timor. Now that the Security Council resolution has been accepted, Japan will continue to provide support and assistance to the political and humanitarian process of restoring peace in East Timor and to the implementation of the result of the ballot of 30 August. As Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi announced on 13 September in Auckland, Japan is committed to making the utmost efforts to ensure the stability of East Timor. My Government will, through the United Nations, make financial contributions to the multinational force and will also provide emergency humanitarian assistance. We are also determined to provide assistance for the rehabilitation and development of East Timor. My Government will announce the details of Japan's contribution in the very near future.

In pursuing the goals stipulated in the Security Council resolution adopted today, it must also be borne in mind that Indonesia itself is at a precarious stage in its democratization process, which the Government and the people of Indonesia are pursuing in the face of tremendous economic difficulties. The commitment to democracy, the rule of law, economic reform and human rights reiterated by President Habibie on 12 September clearly demonstrates that Indonesia is a country which shares the cherished values of the international community, and we must welcome his commitment. It is important for the international community to keep this broader picture in mind as it continues to address this difficult issue.

The President: I thank the representative of Japan for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor, the head of the Council Mission to Indonesia and Dili.

The next speaker is the representative of New Zealand. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.

Mr. Powles (New Zealand): New Zealand welcomes the Council's adoption this morning of the resolution authorizing the deployment of a multinational force to East Timor in response to the Indonesian Government's decision to invite an international peacekeeping presence through the

United Nations. My country will be among the earliest participants, with others from the region.

Speed is of the essence in view of the gravity of the humanitarian situation in East Timor. We welcome Indonesia's pledges of full cooperation in dealing with the crisis. Cooperation from all arms of the Indonesian Government will be critical to the success of the operation authorized this morning. New Zealand was among those countries which urged Indonesia to invite an international peacekeeping presence. We did so as a friend and regional partner, and we are gratified by the response of the Indonesian Government. In responding to the crisis in East Timor we have sought to be helpful, constructive and forward-looking. We welcome Australia's role in making this multinational force possible.

While it has proved necessary at this time for the Council to establish a multinational force in view of the urgency of the situation, I would like to place on record New Zealand's expectation of its early replacement by a United Nations peacekeeping operation, as envisaged in the resolution. We look forward to seeing the Secretary-General's recommendations to the Security Council in this regard as soon as possible.

The President: There are no further speakers on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The Security Council will remain seized of the matter.

The meeting rose at 2.55 a.m.

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