The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) held a three-day international conference on post-conflict reconstruction on 11-13 November 2002 in Hiroshima, Japan. This conference was attended by delegations from the UN, governments and NGOs from conflict countries throughout Asia, including Akara Juvinal from La'o Hamutuk. The conference was held to share experiences, exchange ideas and find alternative solutions for reconstruction of destroyed post-conflict countries (military, political, religion conflict, etc.).
To better understand the views of reconstruction from participants of the conference, UNITAR organized the presentations in several sessions. Hence, participants had the chance to evaluate UN missions and international institutions that were involved in post-conflict reconstruction.
The conference looked at Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and East Timor, and the different concepts and approaches to reconstruction in these countries. In many cases, historical accuracy and completeness was sacrificed to meet current-day diplomatic considerations or to protect the feelings of powerful governments or institutions.
The Japanese delegate mainly discussed the reconstruction process after the United States destroyed Hiroshima in World War II in 1945. After both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were demolished by atomic bombs, killing at least 200,000 people, Japan mobilized national consciousness to reconstruct. They came up with the slogan "No more Hiroshimas and no more Nagasakis," implemented through three development strategies: amnesia about the U.S. bombing, raising funds through private donations and peaceful reconstruction. With this peaceful reconstruction, Hiroshima succeeded in reconstruction and the world acknowledged and is proud of the success. Therefore, the international communities through UN tend to choose Hiroshima as model of success in post-conflict reconstruction. [The Japanese government presenter failed to mention that Japan was under U.S. military occupation during the first seven years of reconstruction. Japan's major post-war economic development growth resulted from its use as a military support base for the U.S. and the UN during the Korean War.]
The Korean delegate spoke about assistance from U.S. and UN agencies in the national reconstruction process.
He said that South Korea handled difficulties in state reconstruction easily because many international agencies, especially U.S., assisted the country. U.S. provided as much as 95% of the assistance, and there was also multilateral assistance from UN agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO.
According to the South Korean delegation, the success of the reconstruction resulted from the direct intervention and monitoring by donors in implementing the reconstruction process and South Korean leadership reforming internal institutions. With the UN agencies and donors monitoring and controlling programs, some participants thought that the reconstruction model in South Korea can be a model for UN and donor countries to apply in assisting other post-conflict countries. [The delegate failed to mention that South Korea was run by a series of repressive U.S.-backed military dictators from the end of the war in 1953 until 1988, and that tens of thousands of U.S. troops remain in South Korea to this day.]
In the presentation, the Vietnamese delegate said that his country was reconstructed with the foreign assistance mainly from the Soviet Union, after the U.S. had backed the South and the Soviet Union the North during more than a decade of war that ended in 1975. After 1990, when Vietnam joined the global capitalist economy, they also received support from the U.S., UN agencies, ADB and international NGOs.
According to Dr. Nguyen Quang Thai, they applied three strategic concepts of development in implementing reconstruction in Vietnam: creating stability and peace, making international assistance partnership assistance, and directing this assistance towards the interests and needs of the people.
Three different views on the reconstruction process were presented by three representatives from Cambodia. Former UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) coordinator Yasushi Akashi said that the UN had successfully implemented its mandate in reconstructing Cambodia in emergency infrastructure rehabilitation, bringing back refugees, conducting parliamentary elections and forming a new government.
The Cambodia Internal Minister, Mr. Prum Sokha, deemed that his government faced challenges when UNTAC left his country. To tackle these challenges, his government is implementing three development strategies: creating stability and peace and maintaining security in the country, supporting national unity and normalizing international relations, and intensifying social and economic development. Donor countries through the World Bank monitor these processes.
Ms. Chanthou Boua, representing Cambodian civil society, presented a different viewpoint. She accused UNTAC of failing to disarm military and civilian factions, and of failing to neutralize the powerful military in the government. UNTAC failed to establish democratic governmental institutions, resulting in dictatorial tendencies in the present government and a failure to involve civil society with the democratization process.
Three non-East Timorese presented views on the reconstruction process in East Timor: former UNTAET director of political affairs Peter Galbraith, Sachiko Takeda from the Hiroshima-based NGO AICAT, and Michele Brandt from the Asia Foundation. Galbraith claimed that UNTAET has been the most successful UN mission. According to Galbraith, there are five indicators of UNTAET's success: preparing for independence; gaining human and financial resources to conduct the UN mission; a creative, flexible and strict mission with a `bottom up' structure; establishing a joint government with East Timor leadership and the international transitional administration; and conducting negotiations with Australia over oil and gas in Timor Gap. UNTAET had good and strong leadership under Sergio Vieira de Mello, who gained the trust of the East Timorese people.
Meanwhile, international NGOs represented by Sachiko Takeda and Michele Brandt presented different views. They stated that UNTAET failed to empower East Timorese. One example is forming a National Council where international staff drafted the regulations without involving the people of East Timor. UNTAET always experimented with laws from other UN missions, rather then forming a systematic legal framework and planning with the East Timorese leadership.
It seems that Hiroshima conference was a good opportunity to learn about alternatives for post-conflict reconstruction. But, the time limitations meant some participants did not get a chance to discuss alternative models in detail. Based on the analysis, not all countries are successful because each country has different problems and different traditions. Because of that, it is important to consider the main problems, traditions, and needs of the people in the development process as well as participation of the people.
East Timor is an example where former UNTAET official Peter Galbraith praised the mission for successfully completing its mandate. But Galbraith left out that UNTAET did not account for traditions and values from the nation's struggle, and failed to empower and involve the East Timorese people in their mission. It should be acknowledged that during three years the UN mission in East Timor established peaceful stability and managed humanitarian problems. However, UNTAET leaves many challenges for East Timorese, and the "post-conflict reconstruction" of this country has hardly started. The challenges left by UNTAET include its "top down leadership" where executive, legislative and judicial powers were all vested in Sergio de Mello. This tradition has resulted in problems in the democratic and judicial processes, maintaining law and order, and strengthening civil administration in East Timor after UNTAET.
As a new nation, East Timor is working to develop in several sectors, and the education sector has been identified as a top priority by the government of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
According to article 59, section 3 of the RDTL Constitution, the government "recognizes and supervises private and cooperative education" allowing private investment in the entire sector from kindergarten to higher education. It enables private initiatives to participate in education, but it does not mean that people should be establishing private education institutions beyond the country's needs and capabilities. Many factors are required to establish a higher education institution. Funds and facilities are important, but we cannot forget that a good higher education institution must produce professional-quality graduates in each field, not just hand out printed degrees. Therefore, quality teachers and teaching are necessary to provide academic and professional skills to those sitting in the classroom.
Higher Education Institutions in East Timor
La'o Hamutuk has identified 14 higher education institutions in East Timor (see table). This is the best information we could get (much of the information comes from the Department of Education), but things can change. Of the 14 institutes listed, only Universitas Nasional Timor Lorosa'e (UNATIL) is a government university. UNATIL has been receiving 70% of its funding from the government; professors are paid by the government as civil servants. The institution has also received educational infrastructure and other material support to rehabilitate the campus, and for chairs, desks and library facilities from East Timor's government, as well as from other countries including Portugal (Agriculture and Teacher Training), Australia (Economics and Social Sciences), the United States (building reconstruction) and Japan (Technology).
Many private higher education institutions have been opened here, in general with the same goals of enabling high school graduates to continue their education and developing East Timor's human resources. The first goal is probably already met. During the UNTAET transitional period, East Timor already had two universities, UNATIL and UNDIL, but they did not have space for all the high school graduates seeking higher education and the students who had their studies interrupted in 1999. UNATIL evolved from Universitas Timor Timur (UNTIM), the public university under the Indonesian occupation. That university was destroyed in 1999 by the Indonesian military and militia violence, and most of the professors, who were Indonesian, left East Timor. Under UNTAET, it was rebuilt and renamed UNATIL, which has become a public university under the now-independent government.
The Higher Institute of Economics and Management (Instituto Superior de Economica e Gesto, ISEG), a private higher education institution focusing on economics, was formed in 1998. Under UNTAET this institute used existing facilities in Balide, Dili. After independence, ISEG evolved into a full university and became UNDIL.
However, La'o Hamutuk's investigations showed that in most of the private higher education institutions the conditions are worrisome, with very minimal facilities. Half the professors only have a Bachelors degree, and others just a diploma (D3, a lower degree), with inadequate facilities and poorly educated teaching staff. But although with very inadequate and limited human and material resources, these institutions are established and engaged in the education process. Quality institutions should have full facilities at their disposal, such as laboratories, libraries, art and sport facilities, as well as information centers and quality teaching staff.
Donor Support to Private Higher Institutions
Most of these institutions do not have adequate finances, professors and facilities. Those are the ones that receive aid from partners and international donors. This list includes some of the donations which helped various institutions get started; we have not been able to obtain a complete list of all aid to all institutions.
If donors want to help continue the education of high school graduates, wouldn't it be better to support the already existing universities, UNATIL and UNDIL, to expand the number of students they can take, and improve the quality of their institutions and their degrees?
According to international donors, they want to help carry out the government's program and develop East Timorese people's higher education. USAID/NCBA, for example, says that the government and other countries already assist UNATIL and UNDIL, so that NCBA prefers to support smaller private institutions. Perhaps they feel they can be more effective in promoting their vision of an export-oriented, privatized economy?
It appears that the donors prefer to support institutions owned by private organizations, rather than UNATIL, which is owned by the people of East Timor. If donors focused their aid on UNATIL, it would greatly benefit East Timor's government and people to have a large, high-quality, public university, which could provide more students with a better education. On the other hand, two donors that support private institutions told La'o Hamutuk that because UNATIL is influenced by Portugal, international institutions from other countries are unwilling to assist it. UNATIL receives assistance from the Portuguese government (Institute Cames through the Fundao Universidade Portugal (FUP)). The FUP was founded to enable Portugal to work with UNATIL, with all the courses taught in Portuguese and half of the professors coming from Portugal.
Government regulations regarding UNATIL
Currently the government is funding UNATIL. But its status as a government institution is not yet officially clear,because no regulations or legal foundations regulate or define the status.
Legislation to establish UNATIL as a public or government university (Estatuto da Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa'e) has been drafted and given to the Minister of Education, later it will be studied by the Council of Ministers for approval.
Regulation of private institutions
Article 59, section 3 of the RDTL Constitution also gives the government responsibility for higher education, with the duty to regulate and develop, as well as recognize, the private institutions. But in this period the government's education department has not yet issued a regulation or legal foundation to regulate higher education.
According to the department's Director of Higher Education, Dr. Justino Guterres, they have already drafted "Regulations for private and cooperative higher education institutions (Estatuto do Ensino Superior e Cooperativo)."
In July 2002, the Minister of Education and Culture asked the Director of Higher Education to prepare regulations regarding private and cooperative higher education, in order to regulate the establishment of these private institutions. Various departments began reviewing a draft regulation in January 2003, after which it will go to the Council of Ministers to consider and approve.
According to Dr. Justino Guterres, some of the fundamental regulations for cooperative and private institutions are already in place. In the near future the government will create a special team to supervise all the current higher education institutions, and then evaluate if their conditions meet the following draft criteria:
After studying the limitations of private higher education institutions, we believe that there has been too much of a rush to establish many private universities, often lacking adequate facilities and human resources, and not enough support for public ones. The existing public university, UNATIL, should be developed first. The quality of education is more important than creating institutions to make money for private businesses administrators or serve particular political constituencies.
The proliferation of institutions creates problems because of the lack of trained educators in East Timor. Many professors teach at several institutions (we know of at least one who has five part-time teaching positions), and cannot give adequate attention to their students, prepare their lessons and materials, correct assignments, or even attend classes. Besides that, the government's education department does not yet have legal regulations for higher education. The government has yet to define curriculum requirements, and promulgate regulations about language in the teaching process. Up to now, institutions have been adopting education systems from Indonesia, Portugal and elsewhere.
Also specific countries are providing funds to private higher education institutions. These beginnings of liberalization and privatization in the education sector are already having an impact, and could impose certain attitudes or directions in the future. East Timor is a small nation with a relatively small population with as yet undeveloped economic possibilities. From all of this, we hope that existing higher education institutions will exist not only in name, but can provide a quality academic and professional education to develop our nation's people. In addition, education is a fundamental right and we hope it won't be treated as a commodity, which can be sold and bought. Some institutions do not have a solid financial base, and could close for lack of money, which will cause even more problems for students and their parents.
If all of this isn't valued, then higher education will face further difficulties and the students could be stuck with heavy burdens because they will pay expensive tuition for a questionable-quality education.
|Name||Location||Ownership||Rector||Students||Professors||Faculties||Tuition / semester||Comment|
|National University of Timor Lorosa'e (UNATIL)||Dili||RDTL government||Benjamin de Araújo Cortereal |
|5: Social and Political Sciences, Agriculture, Education, Economics, Technology|
$80? (up from $30 in 2000-1, $40 in 2001-2)
Recent tuition increase being disputed; may change.
|Fundação Universidade Portugal (FUP)||Dili||RDTL government|
20 (changing each semester)
|5 parts: Information, Economics, Electronics, Agriculture, Portuguese language|
Special education in the Portuguese language at UNATIL
|Dili Univ. (UNDIL)||Dili||Dom Boaventura Foundation||Lucas da Costa||1,822|
|5: Economics & Management, Social Science & Public Relations, Health, Law & Tech. (industry & architecture)|
Founded by people from RENETIL (East Timorese student resistance in Indonesia)
|Feliciano da Costa||305||18 (5 full time; 13 part-time)||3: Law, International Relations, Language and Art|
Degrees offered are diploma (D3) and bachelors. Supported by Rogerio Lobato.
|Jupiter Univ. (Unter)||Dili|
|Francelino da Silva Correia||120||36 (one Ph.D., 35 bachelors )||4: Technology, Sea & Fisheries, Agriculture & Forestry, Biology & Math||$120 ($180 for three-month preparatory course)|
Founded by Finantil high school
|Continental University (Unicon)||Dili|
|6: Law, Political Science, Agriculture, Education, Technology, Economics|
Associated with Col. Lere Anan Timor of FDTL
|Dom Martinho Univ.(Unimar)||Dili|
Dom Martinho Foundation
|Baltazar Manekehi||100||15 (5 full-time; 10 part-time)||4: Economics, Society and Politics, Technology, Law|
Planned, not yet started
|Boa Ventura University||Manufahi||Egas Barros||Agriculture|
|Matebian Community Univ. (UCM)||Baucau||Fransisco Parada||175|
4: Law, Economics, Agriculture, Education
|Institute of Business (IOB)||Dili|
Foundation Klibur Mata Dalan ba Koperativu no Fila Liman
|Agusto da Conceição||78||24 (20 Bachelors, 3 Masters, 1 Ph.D.)|
3 departments: Financial Management, General Management, Accounting
|Dili Inst. of Technology (DIT)||Dili and Oecussi|
|João Cancio Freitas||200(Dili) 168 (Oecusse)||28 (8 full-time; 20 part-time)|
2 depts.: Business & management, Technology
$90 (B&M) $120 (Technology)
Associated with the Association of Resistance Veterans (AVR) and Kirsty Sword Gusmão
|Instituto de Ciências Religiosas (ICR)||Dili (Lahane)|
|Father Yulius Yasinto|
|10 (approx.)||Institute for catechist and priest assistants|
|IKIP Kristal, Teaching and Educational Science Inst.||Dili (Balide)|
Train junior and senior high school teachers
IKIP Kristal, Gleno
Arnando Martins de Deus
Train junior and senior high school teachers
|Catholic Inst. for Teacher Training||Baucau|
Train teachers at the primary and secondary education level
Founded in 2000; run by Marist Brothers (Australia)
The World Bank and the Government of East Timor held the seventh Donors' Conference on 9-10 December 2002 in Dili. In the "Timor-Leste and Development Partners Meeting," donors and the government discussed education, health, agriculture, and capacity building. They also evaluated development since the last donors' meeting.
Previous meetings were held in Tokyo (December 1999), Lisbon (June 2000), Brussels (December 2000), Canberra (June 2001), Oslo (December 2001), and Dili (May 2002).
The government reported to donors that the development process was on schedule and has involved civil society in all sectors. The government also reported that the programs of the government have reached all the districts in East Timor. Civil society representatives presented different views, urging the government to be more forthcoming with information and be more honest about the pace of development.
On 1 January 2003, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Indonesia revoked international refugee status for East Timorese living in West Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia. The most noticeable immediate effect of UNHCR's decision was the end of transportation support from UNHCR and IOM for refugees returning to East Timor. Approximately 30,000 people are still living in camps, and 1,000 East Timorese children are separated from their parents and other relatives, many under the charge of pro-autonomy groups in Indonesia. The Government of Indonesia now considers the refugees to be Indonesian citizens, and with UNHCR is identifying permanent relocation sites, mainly in West Timor and neighboring islands, for the East Timorese remaining in the camps. According to preliminary results from NGOs operating in the area, many of the sites are isolated and offer inadequate farmland, and it is doubtful how willing the East Timorese will be to move to locations on other islands, and how willing their new neighbors will be to accept them. (For more on the refugee situation, see LH Bulletin Vol. 2 Nos. 4 and 6-7, and Vol. 3 No. 4.)
See also East Timorese People Demonstrate Against Impending War in Iraq
The war between the United States (with a few supporters) and Iraq is a matter of global concern, and people everywhere in the world must make our voices heard. Although this does not directly affect East Timor, we believe that the East Timorese people, with our own recent and horrible experiences of war and repression, have a unique perspective. In addition, our close relationship with the United Nations for the past three years has taught us that this global institution has an essential role in attaining and preserving peace.
On 15 February, East Timorese and internationals organized a protest in Dili as part of worldwide anti-war demonstrations. We walked peacefully to the U.S., British and Australian embassies, and talked with the U.S. and British ambassadors to East Timor. Although we (and, indeed, the majority of the world's governments, including the United Nations) were not able to dissuade the United States and its allies from attacking Iraq, we continue to believe that the attack, in defiance of the UN Security Council, is unwarranted, immoral, and criminal.
The government of the United States (with support from Great Britain and Australia) is leading the war against Iraq. These three governments have helped East Timor become independent since 1999 but from 1975 until 1999 they supported the brutal Indonesian military occupation of our country, supplying weapons and training to the Indonesian army to enable it to kill and torture our people. We can see no moral principle in their current effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein, with consequent massive casualties among Iraqi civilians and others, when they felt no compulsion to overthrow Suharto, who was at least as bloody and brutal as Hussein. Although we make no apologies for Saddam's dictatorship, we share the view of the majority of Americans, Britons and Australians that war is not the answer.
Since 1999, the United Nations has been a force for peace and nation-building in East Timor. Although La'o Hamutuk has often criticized its shortcomings here, we believe in the basic principles of the United Nations that governments of the world should find peaceful ways to end conflict, injustice, and other threats to peace. The United Nations was dealing effectively with the dangers of Iraq's possible weapons of mass destruction, and we urged all governments especially Iraq and the United States to cooperate with its multilateral process.
Although the invasion has begun, we continue to believe that negotiation and compromise is essential to restore peace. Every human life is irreplaceable, and every possible effort should be made to save each one. During the past three years, the United States, Australia and the Great Britain have made valuable, peaceful contributions to East Timor's independence and development. Although this assistance cannot undo their decades of support for Indonesia's illegal occupation, it is nevertheless welcome. Similarly, peaceful support by those nations for democracy and reconstruction in Iraq would have been welcome even though these same countries were happy to sell weapons to and buy oil from Saddam Hussein for many decades.
After Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait in 1990, the U.S., Britain and others attacked Iraq, reversing the invasion and taking many Iraqi civilian lives. Although Indonesia was occupying East Timor at the same time, the U.S. and others felt no need to act here, notwithstanding that the Indonesian occupation had killed far more people than Iraq did in Kuwait, and that a strong, nonviolent action could have ended it.
As every East Timorese knows, the Indonesian invasion and occupation of this country resulted in massive civilian casualties. Yet, during 24 years of occupation, neither East Timor's resistance nor any foreign government advocated invading Indonesia or attacking Indonesian civilians. We understood that the Indonesian people, like us, were victims of Suharto, and should not be punished for his crimes. Likewise, the people of Iraq, living under Saddam's repression, are not his co-conspirators. The invasion of Iraq is killing Iraqi civilians, on top of hundreds of thousands who have already died from the decade-long embargo.
Suharto's dictatorship was eventually ousted by the Indonesian people, who accomplished "regime change" through largely peaceful means. The people of East Timor made our own "regime change" through the Popular Consultation. In both cases, international support was mostly nonviolent and always defensive, never targeting civilians. Similarly, the decision about who should govern Iraq is one for the people of Iraq to make, not foreign governments although those governments could have provided nonmilitary help, if requested by the Iraqi population. But now that invasion has started, the atmosphere for peaceful international cooperation with democratic Iraqi elements, even after the fighting stops and Saddam Hussein is not in power, may have been poisoned irretrievably.
East Timor's newly-independent government is now a member of the international community, with consequent responsibilities to participate in global decisions. Last September, East Timor ratified the United Nations Charter, committing this nation to support peaceful means for resolving international disputes. East Timor's government should use its voice and vote to support continued UN inspection and disarmament efforts in Iraq, and to oppose military and economic actions which mainly punish innocent civilians.
We are dismayed by statements and articles by Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta, in which he praises U.S. policy and gives support to the Bush administration's military campaign to overthrow the Iraqi government. Although the Nobel Peace Prize laureate may earn thanks from the current regime in Washington, he is tarnishing East Timor's claim to be a model for justice, peace and self-determination in the world.
Over the past three years, many, including the UN and the three nations leading the charge against Iraq, have taught East Timor about the rule of law, which protects the weak from those who might abuse their greater power. This applies to big nations as well as small ones. We continue to demand that all governments respect the decisions of the United Nations, and not take the law, or the war, into their own hands.