Press Release

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety mission in Timor-Leste (8 -10 February 2024) to call for accrued mobilization for safer mobility.

08 February 2024

The Special Envoy Jean Todt will visit Timor-Leste from 7 till 10 February, to meet H.E President José Manuel Ramos-Horta, ministers and representatives of the public and private sector, and civil society, to advocate for the effective implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, which aims to halve the number of victims on the road by 2030. 

The new World Health Organization (WHO) Global status report on road safety 2023, highlights that 28% of all road traffic fatalities occur in South-East Asia. The Region reported 16.1 deaths per 100 000 population due to road traffic crashes, three times higher than the European average of 5/100,000 (WHO 2023).

According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate in Timor-Leste is 12 per 100,000 inhabitants (WHO 2023). The country saw a 25% decline in fatalities since 2018 (WHO 2023), but road crashes still represent one of the main cause of fatalities in the country, especially among the young generations and men (WHO 2019).

“Despite progress in the region, road crashes remain the main killers of kids worldwide, so it is time to act to protect the most vulnerable on the road. Going to Timor-Leste, my role, as UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road safety, is to support President José Manuel Ramos-Horta, his government, and stakeholders in their work to build safer and sustainable roads for all », highlights the Special Envoy.

Road crashes are a public health issue…

In Timor-Leste, there are still important areas to work on to improve road safety, such as limiting the speed at 30KM/h in urban areas or around schools, offering the population safe alternatives to motorized vehicles, or promoting the use of helmets responding to the UN minimum safety standards, which can reduce the risk of brain injury in case of crash by up to 74%.   Timor-Leste is also highly vulnerable to natural hazards, which contribute to damage an already strained road infrastructure. In addition, the last full traffic survey in the country dates back 10 years, making precise planning difficult due to the lack of accurate data.

… and an economic and development issue

Poor road safety conditions affect the world's poorest people the most, especially women and youth, and deprive them of access to education, work, health, basic and cultural services. In that perspective, the UN system supported the Government of Timor-Leste in the establishment and rehabilitation of approximately 320 km of rural roads in 2021 (UN Timor-Leste 2022 Annual Report). This rehabilitation provided economic opportunities, access to markets, and social services to more than 17,000 individuals living in rural areas.

In addition to the human tragedy, road crashes trap countries into a vicious circle of poverty. Some estimates put the global macroeconomic cost of road traffic injuries as high as US$ $1.8 trillion (WHO 2023). According to the World Bank, the cost of road crashes represents 4,4 % of GDP (WB 2016) in Timor-Leste.   


Media Contact:

Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety:

Priti Gautam

Stephanie Schumacher


Notes to Editors:

The United Nations has invested significantly in tackling the problem of road safety globally. Following the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020”, the UN General Assembly in August 2020 adopted a resolution on “Improving Road Safety”, that reconfirmed its commitment to halving the number of global traffic deaths and injuries and to providing access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030. In October 2021, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Regional Commissions, in cooperation with partners in the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration and other stakeholders, developed the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, as a guiding document to support the implementation of the Decade of Action 2021–2030 and its objectives.

In July 2022, the road safety community met in New York City for the first ever High-Level Meeting on Improving Global Road Safety at the United Nations General Assembly, unanimously adopting a text titled: “Political declaration of the high-level meeting on improving global road safety”.

To galvanize intersectoral actions and raise the visibility of road safety, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed in 2015 Jean Todt as his Special Envoy for Road Safety. He was reconfirmed in this role by the new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in 2017 and in 2021. In 2018, together with 14 UN organizations, the Special Envoy launched the UN Road Safety Fund (UNRSF). In his role as UN Special Envoy, Mr. Todt contributes, among other things, to mobilize sustained political commitment to make road safety a priority; to advocate and raise awareness of UN legal instruments on road safety; to share established good practices in this area; to striving to generate adequate funding through strategic partnerships between the public, private and non-governmental sectors.

Special Envoy brochure and Twitter account.

UNECE acts as the secretariat for the Special Envoy for Road Safety. UNECE is the custodian of the United Nations road safety legal instruments applicable worldwide, such as the Convention on Road Traffic, the Convention on Road Signs and Signals, and the 1958, 1997 and 1998 Vehicle Regulations Agreements.  UNECE services the ECOSOC Committee of Experts on Transport of Dangerous Goods, as well as the only permanent United Nations intergovernmental forum on road safety (Working Party on Road Traffic Safety) and the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, both in the framework of the Inland Transport Committee, which is the only permanent UN forum specialized in inland modes of transport.

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