Article

INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO THE NATION-BUILDING EFFORTS OF TIMOR-LESTE

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Abstract

The attempted implementation of these ideas in Timor-Leste reinforces recognition that forming constructive international assistance for conflict affected states is not straightforward. The 2006 crisis in Timor-Leste which led, amongst other things, to the collapse of the police force, has generated another challenge for those who are involved in the country's nation-building. As at the end of 2007, 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in camps in Dili or staying with relatives and friends in rural areas while struggling to find a quick solution to the problem of their resettlement. At the same time, 70% of the population resides outside the capital, seeking a path to poverty reduction. This situation deepens the recognition that security, politics and development aspects are inter- dependent, as a setback in one aspect reflects significantly on the outcome of the other two. There is no single, rigid method to tackle every case, due to the variety of conditions, political will and legitimacy that apply. It is now broadly recognised among aid workers that the framework of aid is shaped better with a wider understanding of political, economic, historical, social and cultural contexts. As Timor-Leste expresses its will to build partnerships with international actors for the future, this paper endeavours to focus attention on how the multiple dimensions of assistance flow affect national development. In this regard, the paper elaborates the dynamics of international assistance to Timor-Leste over the last eight years, attempting to identify trends, characteristics and lessons from past experience, which could be utilised for visualising the future direction.

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... While the FRETILIN government negotiated with Australia to share the undersea oil/gas revenues, the budget support of donors had fulfilled the fiscal gap. Yet the continued dependency on foreign aid perpetuated the (neo)liberal economic policy (Clifton 2005, Sakabe 2008) and left the delivery of public services shrunk and high unemployment and urban-rural/intra-urban inequalities unaddressed (Barbara 2008, Moxham 2008. Socially, in this relation, the tyrannising state and the weakening economy affected the societal everyday and undermined societal order (Moxham 2008 These events indicate the growing societal defiance/dissensus against the ongoing form of asymmetrical political deliberation, as well as a fluid relationship between the antagonising groups in the society. ...
... . A growing population, especially the jobless rural youth who moved to the towns, became loosely organised and interacted with other disaffected groups, such as veterans and militia, and exposing themselves to the political manoeuvring of competing elites and political parties(Babo-Soares 2013). In turn, the UNMISET (United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor), the successor mission of the UNTAET, kept guiding the FRETILIN government on (neo)liberal statebuilding(UN 2002, Sakabe 2008, while largely shying away from these internal contradictions which had become increasingly apparent.These contradictions increasingly aggrieved the disaffected groups and caused them to resort to various forms of resistance. The notable actors included veterans, youth, and religious groups who had limited access to political deliberation. ...
Thesis
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This thesis is a theoretical and empirical inquiry into ‘deliberative peacebuilding’, seeking to explain the ‘failures’ and ‘successes’ of peacebuilding in East Timor and Somaliland. While warfare has increased globally since the end of the Cold War, the UN has made efforts to build peace (e.g. Boutros-Ghali 1992). While peacebuilding has become an internationally applied set of ideas and practices, one of the theoretical gaps is deliberation. This research thus conceptualises ‘deliberative peacebuilding’, and associates this with peacebuilding in the non-Western, post-colonial, and (post-)conflict context. This research identified East Timor and Somaliland as its case studies. Despite similarity in the ‘legitimation problem’ with vertical (state-society) and horizontal (‘modernity’-‘tradition’) inequalities/differences based upon cultural and historical backgrounds, East Timor and Somaliland undertook different approaches in a decade after the end of their civil wars. While East Timor accepted UN peace operations, Somaliland rejected them. Yet both experienced similar transitions to make political order between ‘failure’ (political de-legitimation/societal dissent) and ‘success’ (political legitimation/societal consent). Accordingly, this thesis poses two questions: 1) what caused the UN to have ‘failed’ (to prevent the ‘crisis’ from recurring in 2006) in East Timor, and 2) what caused East Timor and Somaliland to have experienced ‘equifinality’ (making similar progress along different paths) in building peace (in East Timor from 1999 to 2012 and in Somaliland from 1991 to 2005). Findings, among others, include different paths in transition: a ‘hybrid’ path with external intervention in East Timor and an ‘agonistic’ path without it in Somaliland. Asymmetry in power relations urged deliberative agencies to address the ‘legitimation problem’ differently.
... Following this, 17 Sector Investment Programs (SIPs) were formulated to coordinate government policy, the budget, and donor support with a mechanism known as Sector Working Groups (SWGs). However, operating SWGs in line with SIPs was a burden to some line ministries whose capacity was not fully functioning (e.g., Sakabe 2008). ...
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