Human rights comprise a major issue in the United Nations-organized national reconstruction projects in countries that have suffered from armed conflict and/or repressive rule. Setting up a special mechanism to redress human rights violations is an essential task. Establishing regular government institutions that would collectively protect, promote and realize human rights is an equally essential task.
The United Nations' Security Council rightly prescribes the process by which these tasks should be undertaken in national reconstruction projects. The Security Council resolution that creates the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)
(S)tresses the need for UNTAET to consult and cooperate closely with the East Timorese people in order to carry out its mandate effectively with a view to the development of local democratic institutions, including an independent East Timorese human rights institution, and the transfer to these institutions of its administrative and public service functions.
This provision stresses the importance of involving the major stakeholders in the United Nations-organized national reconstruction projects. The local people's active participation in national reconstruction will likely determine the effectiveness and sustainability of the institutions and programs being created.
National reconstruction is an initial step in the long process of human rights protection, promotion and realization in countries recovering from the trauma of armed conflict and/or repressive rule. It is best to learn from the experiences in Cambodia, East Timor and Afghanistan.