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Message on the extension of the mandate of UNAMET

03 September 1999

Letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 3 September 1999.

Dear Mr Secretary-General,

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, which has met here in Geneva for the past ten days, has again carefully considered the situation in East Timor. During these discussions, the role of the United Nations in negotiations which have led to the referendum just held has been held up as a sign of the effectiveness of the UN in promoting the peaceful resolution of disputes. On behalf of the Central Committee, I congratulate you and the staff of UNAMET for the successful culmination of the electoral process. Member churches of the WCC have participated in this process by sending observers and monitors who, together with the WCC member church in the territory - Gereja Kristen di Timor Timur - have worked in close coordination with UNAMET and kept us informed of developments on a daily basis.

We have been gratified by the high turnout of voters despite threats and intimidation. The United Nations deserves credit for organizing this historical exercise of self-determination that allowed the East Timorese people an opportunity to express their hopes and aspirations for the future.

While we commend the work undertaken by the UNAMET to determine the will of the East Timorese people, we remain concerned about the security of the population in the post-referendum period between the interim and the implementation phase. We therefore welcome the decision of the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of the UNAMET until the 30th November, and to add to the civilian police and military liaison components.

Given the present conditions in East Timor, the WCC is of the view that the United Nations should maintain a strong presence in the territory to defuse conflict and tension between the pro-integration and pro-independence groups in order to establish peace and promote stability and reconciliation. In order for this process to be brought to a successful conclusion, it is important that steps be taken in consultation with the parties to ensure that all factions in East Timor are disarmed. All sectors of the population, irrespective of the result of the ballot, must be integrated into the political life of the country in a free and democratic environment.

As you will see from the attached decision of the Central Committee (cf. p. 257), we are of the view that the mandate and term of UN presence in East Timor need to be reviewed and adjusted as appropriate in order to respond to the continuing need. I therefore urge you to propose such measures to the Security Council.

Assuring you of our deep appreciation for your efforts in the field of peace-making which respects the Charter mandate that every effort should be made to avoid the use of force to settle disputes, and assuring you of our prayers, I remain

                                                               Respectfully yours,

                                                               Konrad Raiser
                                                               General Secretary