News of Timor Leste (timorleste) wrote,
News of Timor Leste

Suggested letter to Foreign Office on UN control

Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Foreign And Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
SW1a 2AH

Dear Mrs Beckett

I am writing to urge U.K. support for a fully integrated UN mission in Timor-Leste.  Australia's wish to keep its troops under separate command is not in Timor-Leste's interest and  will make international support for Timor-Leste in its current crisis less effective.  Such an arrangement will also exacerbate resentment toward Australia among the Timorese people.

In response to Timor-Leste's recent crisis, the UN has expanded its mission for Timor-Leste.  In creating UNMIT (United Nations Intergrated Mission in Timor-Leste) on August 25, the UN Security Council deferred deciding on whether  the bulk of its military component should be part of the UN mission or remain under Australian Command.  A  Final decision on the military command structure  will be made after the Secretary-General reports on the issue October 25.

While Australia has placed its police within a unified UN police force, it has insisted on keeping its military troops (the majority of the multinational force deployed in late May at the request of Timor-Leste government) under Australian command.  This position is contrary to the recommendation of the UN Secretary-General and to the wishes of Timor-Leste and other governments who prefer a unified military force integrated into the UN mission.  The U.S. and UK support Australia.

Australia's insistence on keeping its troops under a separate, national command structure will make coordination difficult, lessening the confidence and security that the UNMIT is intended to provide for the people of Timor-Leste.  It will also increase already heightened suspicion amoung many East-Timorese of the motives of the Australian forces.

The Timore-Leste NGO Forum has also urged an integrated mission, saying that "there will be a greater degree of accountability for UN forces as it is a civilian led, international, neutral institution."  The group added, "There is an inherently unequal relationship in Timor-Leste's dealings with other more powerful countries on a bilateral basis.  Working though the UN would avoid this situation.."

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