05 November 2012

What interests the UN Security Council?

After neglecting Timor-Leste for 23 years, the United Nations Security Council has held 48 substantive open debates on this country since August 1999, totaling more than 135 hours. You can follow Security Council Members’ interests by counting how often they say particular words and phrases. For example, “impunity” was mentioned every ten minutes during debates in 2010, but only once in the three-hour debate last February. Similarly, “rule of law” and “accountability” have received less attention recently, although much more than they were given during UNAMET and UNTAET.

La’o Hamutuk often suggests that the United Nations and other development partners give more attention to human security (health, education and socio-economic justice) and less to the security sector of military and police. Every year, 25 times as many Timorese children die preventable deaths from illness and malnutrition as people of all ages are killed by violence. Although the Security Council talked about poverty and economic issues in 2010, their focus has moved elsewhere. We hope that their final Timor-Leste debate on 12th November will consider how the international community can help Timor-Leste’s state and people build our non-oil economy to achieve sustainable, inclusive development.

On 4 November, La'o Hamutuk wrote what may be our last letter to the Security Council prior to their discussion of Timor-Leste. Click here for more information, including analysis, UN documents and La’o Hamutuk’s many past letters to the United Nations.

Update, 19 November:
The Security Council held its final meeting on Timor-Leste on 12 November.  Timor-Leste was represented by Foreign Minister Jose Luis Guterres, since the Prime Minister was occupied with a g7+ conference in Haiti.  For the first time in 8 years, the word "impunity" was not uttered even once during the 2-1/2 hour meeting. Access transcripts and other documents here.

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