Celebrating peace in Timor-Leste

4 Jul 2008

Celebrating peace in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste, 29 May 2008 - Hundreds marched for peace in the nation's capital while others have participated in ceremonies, concerts and sporting events across the country to mark the 60th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.
In Dili, a peace march wound its way from the headquarters of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) to a venue one kilometre away where school children sang, musicians performed and poets read words of peace. The names of 73 peacekeepers who have died in the service of peace in Timor-Leste were read out as a symbol of the ultimate price that some peacekeepers pay in bringing peace and security to troubled nations.

High level government officials – including the President José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão – representatives of civil society, the diplomatic corps, Timorese officials, the heads of security organizations and UN staff took time to consider the role of the United Nations in Timor-Leste since 1999.

Elsewhere in Timor-Leste, concerts, film screenings sporting events and commemoration ceremonies for those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of peace were held in Baucau, Suai, Maliana and Oecussi.

In addressing the ceremony, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare paid tribute to his staff and the role that they have played since 1999.

"There is no easy road to peace. We know well that none of us acting alone can achieve success, but by working together, we can overcome disorder and malaise, oppression and injustice, poverty and underdevelopment," said Mr Khare.

Facts for Journalists and Editors:

· 71 Timorese and international peacekeepers have lost their lives in the pursuit of peace in Timor-Leste since 1999
· There have been five peacekeeping missions in Timor-Leste
· The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET, June - October 1999) was mandated to organize and conduct a popular consultation to ascertain independence in Timor-Leste
· The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET, October 1999 - May 2002) UNTAET exercised administrative authority over East Timor during the transition to independence.
· The United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET, May 2002 - May 2005), was mandated to provide assistance to the newly independent East Timor until all operational responsibilities were fully devolved to the East Timor authorities.
· Once the peacekeeping mission withdrew, a new political mission, the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL, May 2005 - August 2006), supported the development of critical State institutions and the police, and provided training in observance of democratic governance and human rights.
· The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was established in 2006 following the violence of April and May. It has a broad mandate and incorporates UN agencies, funds and programmes
· On 25 February 2008, the Security Council, by its resolution 1802 (2008) extended the mandate of UNMIT for one year, until 26 February 2009. This resolution was adopted in the wake of the 11 February attacks on Timor-Leste President and Prime Minister.

For more information please call Allison Cooper on +670 7230453