The delegation from East Timor included UNDP Deputy Secretary Haoliang Xu, UNICEF special officer Joshiro Uramoto, RDTL Vice-Minister of Planning and Finance Aicha Bassarewan, RDTL Advisor on Planning and External Assistance Management Emilia Pires, and Adriano do Nascimento from La'o Hamutuk, who represented NGOs.
The Dhaka workshop was intended to unify the perspectives and development strategies of countries in the Asia Pacific region to implement the Millennium Development Goals adopted by 189 countries at the September 2000 Millennium Summit at UN headquarters in New York.
The development goals focus on efforts to improve and attain a proper and humane world standard of living in the framework of cooperation between nations.
At the workshop, the six countries' governments described how the Millennium Development Goals were being implemented in their countries in relation to their overall national development planning.
Emilia Pires discussed East Timor's national development planning. After describing the condition of the people and the nation, Pires discussed five issues: homelessness in East Timor; the destruction of infrastructure as a result of the war; reconstruction carried out by the UN, international agencies and NGOs; progress in the reconstruction of infrastructure and the creation of a peaceful political process and system. Regarding national development planning, Pires explained that there is a National Development Plan for the next 20 years, where the development framework and strategy are established for each five year period. The main agenda is to overcome poverty, achieve strong and sustainable economic growth, health, education and the prosperity of each person. Regarding MDGs, Pires said that the people of East Timor, through President Xanana Gusmão, participated in the Millennium Summit in New York, and MDGs are an integral part of East Timor's national development map. She added that the East Timorese government will hold a workshop about MDGs in Dili, which was organized by the East Timorese delegation and held in March.
Civil Society Groups
In a separate session, NGOs from Bangladesh, East Timor, Iran, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and India gave presentations.
Print and electronic journalists also commented on the implementation of MDGs. Most of the representatives of large media said that they lack knowledge and interest in the MDG program because the publicity about MDGs is difficult to present in the media. For this reason, they asked UN bodies to develop partnerships with the media, especially about implementation of projects relating to basic human needs. They also asked the UN to be more open about its activities and how its programs are carried out.
Besides giving their perspectives on MDGs and the work of UN agencies, the Bangladeshi reporters also criticized their government for not providing enough information about its activities. Because the government is not open to the media, journalists must ask for information from international agencies. To overcome this problem, they called on governments and international agencies around the world to build partnerships to address the problems of people at the grassroots.
Civil society groups raised issues about the implementation of the MDGs, and appealed to rich countries to respect the right of developing countries to choose their own development models appropriate to their economic situation and human resources. Groups advocated that all sovereign nations should be able to design their development plans to meet specific national needs, and to build global, regional and national partnerships between wealthy and poor countries. Some warned the UN not just to toss out brilliant ideas, but to actually implement what they were talking about.
Mahfuz Anam is the senior editor of Bangladesh's Daily Star newspaper, in his fifties. He explained why the media don't write about the MDGs: "The United Nations has talked about education for years. When I was young, the UN talked about education. And now, 40 years later, the UN is still talking about education. The Millennium Development Goals are a project for the UN themselves, and I do not want to do propaganda for them."
A donor working group consisting of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, Japan, Portugal, Australia and the United Kingdom agreed to consolidate donor contributions to the national government budget through a facility similar to the outside financial support for the UNTAET Consolidated Fund for East Timor (CFET), which financed the transitional administration (ETTA/ETPA) (see La'o Hamutuk Bulletin Vol.2 No.1-2). The donor working group recommended that the World Bank act as trustee for the new facility, which became the Transition Support Program (TSP). Prior to the donors' conference, the East Timorese government had not wanted the World Bank to control these funds and had asked the UN to control them instead, but the UN and donors refused. The TSP began in July 2002, a few days after East Timor joined the World Bank.
International organizations finance and administer other programs outside the government budget. These include UN, which finances UNPOL and the PKF, and bilateral projects such as Portugal and education, and Japan and agriculture (See La'o Hamutuk Bulletins Vol.3 Nos.2-3, 6, 7, 8). Altogether this is called the Combined Sources Budget. The government administers the national budget including the areas identified by the Transition Support Program, but the World Bank is supposed to monitor the TSP areas only.
As trustee of the TSP, the World Bank receives funds from donors and transfers them to the government. The donors have each agreed with the World Bank to transfer funds at a certain date. East Timor's government has signed a separate contract with the World Bank to receive each donor's contribution. Currently some donors have signed one year agreements with the World Bank and some have signed three year agreements. The World Bank attempted to persuade all the parties to sign three year agreements. The government resisted, fearing that the World Bank would control the funds by transferring the money in small installments and delaying or canceling installments if East Timor's government failed to meet their conditions. Funds from each donor for each year are transferred soon after the World Bank receives the funds from that donor.
Portugal has not provided funds through the TSP process, but will contribute $3 million dollars directly to the government of East Timor in June 2003 for the 2002-03 fiscal year. The Portuguese embassy here would not explain why Portugal chose not to distribute funds through the TSP or if they placed any conditions on their contribution.
The government had consistently asked for the TSP to enable the transfer of donor contributions to the budget as determined by government. It was under the impression that there would not be any more conditions. However, the World Bank has placed general conditions: the government may withdraw the funds as long as it "has maintained a macroeconomic policy satisfactory to the Bank." The World Bank says that this is a standard phrase, which is in the agreement to prevent any major changes in government policy. There are also standard World Bank restrictions prohibiting spending on certain items such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
Some of the conditions are specific to East Timor many of which had already been completed when the TSP began. These include:
The agreement also states that if the government does not comply with these conditions the World Bank can stop transferring the money. For this fiscal year this does not mean much, as the World Bank has already transferred most of the funds. However, it could cause problems with the next two years of the Transition Support Program. The World Bank has acknowledged that they might stop funding if there were significant policy changes.
The donor contributions to the Transition Support Program are detailed in the graph on the previous page. The World Bank keeps 2% of all bilateral donor funds. As of April 2003 the World Bank has taken $450,000 and will earn approximately $1,300,000 over the three year period. The World Bank states that this is standard for all trust fund arrangements. World Bank officials we talked to were unable to tell La'o Hamutuk where all the money went. Some of the money has gone to the World Bank's East Asia and Pacific regional office, and part of this may find its way back to the World Bank office in East Timor.
In addition to money from donor countries, the World Bank contributes $5 million of its own money to the TSP for the first year, and $3 million more for the second year. The Bank has placed additional conditions on its own contribution. Following the regulation of the World Bank's charter, these funds cannot be used for 'goods and services' from within East Timor, but only from outside the country. In practice this does not have any effect since the government imports goods worth more than $5 million per year. Although the World Bank claims to promote poverty reduction, it seems strange that this is to be done without spending any of the money within the country.
The World Bank sees the TSP as a way to influence East Timor's development. An internal World Bank document from April 2002 states that World Bank's financial contribution to the TSP is "essential for the success of the Bank's future operations in the country. Donors are looking to the Bank to play a strong role in the design and negotiation of a program for the post-independence period, 2002-2003 and beyond."
This is the first year of the Transition Support Program. The government has resisted World Bank attempts to interfere in the national budget through the TSP negotiating process. The World Bank planned to send a TSP appraisal mission in February, comprised of World Bank officials and representatives from the donors, to evaluate the first year of the TSP and plan the second year. The government objected to the mission coming while they were preparing next year's budget, fearing that the World Bank would become involved in the budgeting process rather than accepting areas chosen by the government. The World Bank agreed to postpone the mission, and it came in April 2003 after the budget was drafted. So far, TSP planning for the second year is a more cooperative process than the first year was.
Worldwide, the World Bank encourages a model of development that promotes dependency on exports and foreign investment. It does this by promoting economic liberalization, which can mean the removal of import and export tariffs, and limiting government regulations on, for example, wages or working hours. It also supports the privatization of government enterprises like electricity and water and reduces government spending by insisting that people pay for services like health and education. Although these policies often hurt the poor, the institution is not open to ideas outside of this framework.
The Transition Support Program is a multi-donor program, but the World Bank occupies an extremely powerful position as the intermediary between the donors and the East Timorese government. The World Bank should remember that the money moving through to the Transition Support Program is not its own money. Donor countries have made grants to East Timor to support development priorities in the national budget and the National Development Plan. The World Bank's role is to transfer the funds from the donors to the government and monitor a program that has been agreed on by the donors, the World Bank and the government. It should not abuse its position to advance its own agenda, but should keep its promises and respect East Timor's sovereignty.
These are shown in the diagram below. The data is taken from several sources, and some of the figures have changed slightly in the course of the year, so they may not be precisely current or exact. Nevertheless, we believe this is an accurate portrayal of East Timor's funding sources and streams.
The size of each arrow represents approximately how much money is involved.
All figures are in United States dollars, for the current fiscal year (July 2002-June 2003). This data comes from the Medium Term External Financing Requirements (2002-2003) report and other sources.
About 95% of the UNMISET budget is not part of the Combined Sources Budget. We show it below because it is larger than all other public expenditures in East Timor added together. See Graph 2.
All figures are in United States dollars, for the current fiscal year (July 2002-June 2003).
Although these resources will bring much-needed money to East Timor, they also bring danger. Around the world, oil and gas development often comes with war, corruption, dictatorship, repression and environmental destruction.
To help explain these issues, La'o Hamutuk has compiled information and documents in a "website" which does not require connection to the internet. Most of OilWeb is English, although it includes much in Bahasa Indonesia and some Tetum and Portuguese. OilWeb includes:
Edition 1.2 of the OilWeb CD-ROM is now finished. La'o Hamutuk distributes OilWeb at cost to East Timorese NGOs and their supporters and for $50 to others. It is available from our office or by mail.
Justice is a difficult problem, compounded by the fact that East Timor's largest neighbor continues to deny responsibility for its 1975 invasion, quarter-century of occupation, and scorching the earth during 1999. East Timor must coexist with Jakarta, and Jakarta's government is a respected member of the United Nations, the world's most populous Muslim nation and an economic power.
Unfortunately, justice may become the latest East Timorese victim of the desires of the West and Australia to satisfy Indonesia. Last month, the UN Human Rights Commission, with agreement from East Timor's government, took Indonesia's human rights violations off its agenda. The UN then elected Indonesia to a three-year term on the Human Rights Commission, and Australia has proposed them as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. International political will to end impunity, always limited, is fading rapidly.
The victims of Indonesia's crimes in East Timor – virtually the entire East Timorese population – demand that our government and the international community press for justice, but that demand is not well-received by those in power. We appreciate that East Timor needs a peaceful border, and a good-neighbor relationship is in the long-term interests of both peoples. But protecting criminal generals -- even if they retain power at the moment -- does not serve the citizens of either nation. Indeed, many of the TNI master-criminals have been promoted, and they continue to inflict terror in Aceh, Papua, and elsewhere.
As democracy evolves on both sides of the border, the rule of law and civilian authority over military power need to be reinforced at every opportunity. East Timor needs friendly relations with all 235 million Indonesian people, not a few dozen military and Suharto-era criminals.
That said, the primary responsibility for justice lies with the United Nations and the international community. These crimes violated the UN Charter and resolutions of the UN Security Council since 1975; in 1999 they were in direct contradiction of the agreement between Indonesia, the United Nations and Portugal. The international community must take responsibility for justice, but the government of East Timor (and, hopefully, Indonesia) should give them full support. We are disappointed that all three appear to be resisting efforts toward justice.
The first Indonesian and UN investigations of the 1999 violence named high-ranking military and government officials, and recommended an international tribunal. We believe that an international tribunal, backed by the political will to compel Indonesia's cooperation, is still the best option. But the governments of the world, unwilling to take decisive action or confront Indonesia, gave Jakarta a chance to prosecute its own. They have watched and waited for more than three years, even though it has long been clear that the Indonesian government has no commitment to justice.
From October 1999 until May 2004, the United Nations has responsibility for security in East Timor, and for punishing perpetrators of crimes against humanity and other serious crimes. UNTAET established the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) to investigate and prosecute, and the Special Panels (SPs: courts with international and East Timorese judges) to try the perpetrators. These agencies continue under UNMISET, still authorized, funded, staffed and managed by the United Nations, although they are now in the office of East Timor's General Prosecutor. Unless other arrangements are made, they will go out of existence when UNMISET ends in June 2004.
Until the end of 2001, the SCU and SPs were largely dysfunctional, mainly due to lack of institutional backing and political will from the international community (see La'o Hamutuk Bulletin Vol. 2 No. 6-7). Since January 2002, SCU performance has improved markedly, with many investigations and indictments. In February 2003, the SCU indicted former Indonesian Defense Minister Wiranto and other high-ranking Indonesian officers for crimes against humanity, murder, deportation and persecution during 1999. During the first four months of 2003, the SCU indicted 119 people, bringing the total number of indictees to 247 in 60 separate indictments. Two-thirds (169) of those perpetrators remain at large, protected by Indonesia. At this writing, no arrest warrants have been issued for those indicted this year, and only 11 warrants (of 30 requested from 2001-2) have been circulated internationally by Interpol.
Although the indictments are a significant start to the process, they are likely to come to nothing. SCU head Siri Frigaard finished her contract in April 2003; no replacement has been hired. Officials from the UN and East Timor's government disowned the indictments when they came out, although both later acknowledged the independence of the judicial process. We understand, however, that East Timor's leaders have discouraged the prosecutor's office from pursuing these cases, and East Timor's Ministry of Justice considers the Serious Crimes process a United Nations responsibility. If an Interpol country does arrest one of the perpetrators, many worry that East Timor's government will not negotiate seriously for his extradition to stand trial here.
Even more troublesome is the lack of international support for the judiciary. East Timor has not had a functioning appeals court since November 2001, due to the inability of the government and the UN to agree on judicial appointments. Consequently, few of the trials already held before the Special Panel have been conclusively concluded; many defendants have been jailed for longer than international human rights standards allow before final conviction. The UN planned for two Special Panels to be able to hold simultaneous trials, but that has never been the case. Since early April, they have not had enough international judges to compose even one Special Panel. Approximately 30 defendants have been convicted by the Special Panels in the past two years (including eight pending appeal), although most of them pleaded guilty. Each contested trial has taken several months. With only a year remaining, how many of the more than 40 defendants awaiting trial, let alone the 169 hiding in Indonesia, will ever face justice?
After months of delay, judge Clàudio de Jesus Ximenes was just sworn in as President of the Court of Appeal, which should enable further judicial appointments. But he is only on a six-month UNMISET contract, and his hiring at an international salary (he is an East Timorese who has been a judge in Portugal for 21 years) is resented by others in the judicial system. Who will pay his salary after UNMISET leaves?
The lackluster performance of the UN courts here has been matched by downplaying of justice concerns at the political and international levels. In April, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged that "relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste will also be enhanced by bringing to justice those in the two countries who are accused of serious crimes committed in 1999; again, political commitment is essential if this objective is to be achieved." But he recognized that "the judicial process dealing with serious crimes will remain incomplete by June 2004.... Strong political commitment will also be essential.... It is crucial that these indictments for serious crimes be respected, on grounds of principle and of precedent, and that the individuals involved face trial."
The recent strong words of the Secretary-General do not match the UN's record. Although Indonesia promised in April 2000 to cooperate with the justice process in East Timor, they have never kept their promise. UNTAET never pushed the international community to press Jakarta, and Indonesia was glad for the excuse to do nothing.
For the past three years, the international community has waited for Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Courts, using this fundamentally flawed process as an excuse for their own inaction. After extensive delays at every step, and numerous procedural flaws, that process is now almost finished. The prosecution and the judges viewed the perpetrators as loyal Indonesians seeking to quell a rebellious province -- most were charged only with failing to prevent crimes by East Timorese against each other. Eleven of 14 defendants have been acquitted; the five convicted (including the only two East Timorese defendants) were given very light sentences, four less than the legal minimum. The process is so defective that even the pro-Indonesia UN Human Rights Commission expressed "its disappointment at the way in which the trials are being carried out." But the Commission -- continuing the wishful thinking that has diverted attention from meaningful justice since 2000 -- "encourages the Government of Indonesia to take the necessary steps to improve the current legal processes in a transparent way, in order to ensure that justice will be done."
It is clear that Indonesia has never intended to do justice, shielding military and civilian officials from accountability before the courts in Jakarta and Dili. That has been obvious to decision-makers in Jakarta, in Dili, in New York, and in the capitals of the UN Member States. By pretending not to see it, and by failing to act to achieve justice in any meaningful way, the international community continues its complicity in Indonesia's crimes, and prevents many East Timorese people from emerging from victimhood to rebuild their lives and country.
The Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) is often portrayed as part of the justice process; by supporting CAVR donors and governments create a distraction from their lack of support for justice. The truth-seeking, victim statement-taking, public education, and community reconciliation programs of the CAVR are useful, but they have little to do with justice. CAVR cannot hold the thousands of people who committed serious crimes accountable. CAVR's Truth Report will contain important information about Indonesia's crimes in East Timor — although everyone here knows that their illegal military occupation killed 200,000 East Timorese and raped and tortured countless more; and indictments already issued by the Serious Crimes Unit contain many specifics about 1999.
When the CAVR report comes out at the end of 2004, the Serious Crimes Unit and Special Panels will no longer exist. The limited international financial and organizational support that currently exists for justice will be exhausted; political will may have practically vanished. The report will be useful for researchers and historians who study East Timor, but it will not help end the cycle of impunity.
For the past two years, East Timor's President, with support from other government officials, has often said that East Timor's government cannot take the lead for justice – that his nation's relationship with Indonesia and with militia leaders (and the refugees still under their control) takes priority over prosecuting the major criminals. We understand his perspective -- but it serves neither justice nor East Timor's people to emphasize confession and reconciliation among the small fish while the big fish swim free. Blaming the victims of Indonesia's crimes -- whether they were oppressed or manipulated to be oppressors -- does not help those who suffered move on with their lives. And impunity for the big fish only encourages them and their followers to commit crimes against humanity throughout Indonesia and the world.
La'o Hamutuk agrees that the responsibility for justice lies first with the international community, and we reiterate our call for an international tribunal for East Timor, and for effective pressure on Indonesia to cooperate with the Serious Crimes process here. We also call for an extension of international support for the Special Panels as a hybrid international-East Timorese court with universal jurisdiction, until all those indicted are brought to trial. We make this call on the community of nations -- beginning with Australia, the USA, Britain, Japan and others who supported Indonesia's occupation. But East Timor's government and parliament must also be strong, supporting justice rather than obstructing it. Our call is echoed by most East Timorese people, and many in the international solidarity movement, including in Indonesia. We invite them to work with us to press our government and theirs not to abandon accountability for crimes against humanity.
The final United Nations mission in East Timor has only one year remaining. The time for procrastination and realpolitik is over. If there is political will, there can be justice. If not, the people of East Timor will never have peace.
La'o Hamutuk, The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia)
Mobile: +(670)7234330; Land phone: +670-3325-013
Email: email@example.com; Web: http://www.laohamutuk.org