“When I say I aspire for Timor-Leste to be like Singapore or Dubai…”

The President of East Timor Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, has been forthright in his views of his own country’s justice truth and reconciliation process – and revelatory about past attempts at international collaboration between paramilitary groups. In Dublin on an official state visit to Ireland, he’s been offering some lessons for those keen to export The Process™ abroad. From the Irish Times report

“It is not like academics or some western donors or the UN who think that if you finance a few workshops and write a report you have contributed to peace,” the Nobel peace laureate told The Irish Times . “I have seen so much money wasted by donors on peace workshop after peace workshop. It is much more than that. It is meeting with families and with the victims day in, day out; it is finding jobs for them; providing them with training, with funding to create jobs; creating hopes and a future for them. “Peace-building is not based on workshops or UN evaluation missions who descend on our country every three months to do an evaluation. These are wasteful exercises.”

And he repeated his rejection of the pursuit of “post-conflict justice”

Dr Ramos Horta was equally scathing about the issue of post-conflict justice in the Timor-Leste context. “When it comes to , everybody wants to do some experiment on democracy or justice. I simply say no,” he said. “The midget intellectuals who regurgitate academic jargon about justice can go on and on dispensing academic judgments on poor little us, but my people, whom I know well, they applaud the wisdom of my policies – that is: heal the wounds, reconcile, and move on . . . I am not going to play Don Quixote de la Mancha of justice to pursue every seen or unseen culprit of the past.”

As the Irish Times report also points out

Timor-Leste was designated a priority country by Irish Aid, the Government’s overseas development division, in 2003.

From 2003 to 2009, Irish Aid provided more than €30 million towards poverty reduction programmes and projects aimed at strengthening governance, human rights and public service capacity. The Department of Foreign Affairs also engages with Timor-Leste through its conflict resolution unit.

One hopes, for the sake of the people of Timor-Leste…

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  • Jimmy McGurk

    Horta is spot on regarding the money wasted by international organisations and the need for face to face peace making at a local level, a job which the CAVR (Truth and Reconciliation) did admirably if somewhat incompletely.

    However regarding moving on without justice…

    The Timorese leaders are very aware of the precarious situation they are in regarding Indonesia. East Timor’s independence is still a very sensitive subject to the Indonesian military and with many of the former militia leaders enjoying support across the border in western Timor, Horta and Gusmao are only too aware of how the situation could rapidly destabilise. Not to mention the fact that their economy is ultra dependent on trade with Indonesia. With this in mind, and observing the lack of will from the international community to pressure Indonesia to hand over war crimes suspects to an international tribunal the Timorese leadership are playing real politik by trying to counter moves to highlight atrocities carried out by Indonesia or on behalf of Indonesia.

    That being said, the continuing lack of justice prevalent across East Timor by the absence of an effective court system and an inept police force only adds to instability.

  • Marcionite

    as a matter of curiousity, when a territory becomes independant/sovereign, where does its monetary reserves come from, currency etc?

    I mean, say if I declared Tyrone to be independnant and assume it be recognised, who gives me the dosh to fund the Bank of Tyrone? How would my new currency be traded and why?

    Independance seems rather mysterious and never fully explained in details.

    As for Dr Horta, I couldn’t agree more with him.

  • At last a politician who makes sense.

    Peace and Reconciliation are fine ideals but all the quangos in the world will not bring them about.

    It will take time, jobs, mutual prosperity and quite possibly the next generation growing up in peace, before the differing sides begin to develop a sense of trust.

  • Framer

    Who is this nobody dissing Baroness O’Loan and Monica McWilliams, the Irish government’s peace and reconciliation envoys to Timor Leste (East Timor to you)?

  • Marcionite

    Tracy Chapman and Sting should hold a benefit gig. Those always crack intractable problems in the world.