Dili, 4 June 2003
As East Timorese NGOs involved in the development of our nation, we would like to share some brief thoughts with Timor-Leste's Development Partners. We are working together to rebuild this nation, to bring it out of the poverty that has been inflicted upon us by centuries of colonialism and a brutal military occupation that ended in widespread destruction. Shortly after the post-referendum destruction in 1999, donors led by the World Bank estimated that it would take at least five years to rebuild this country, and we urge donors to see this process completed. Two Development Partners colonized this nation, and many others share responsibility for actively or passively supporting the illegal Indonesian occupation. Although the atrocities committed against the East Timorese people can never be erased nor forgotten, those complicit in these crimes should fulfill their responsibility to make amends. This is not a form of charity, but a modest beginning to reparations. We hope the Development Partners will consider the following important points as you participate in the reconstruction of this nation.
Budget process: We appreciate the recent improvements in the World Bank-managed Transition Support Program. We encourage the Development Partners and the World Bank not to use the TSP or other levers to coerce Timor-Leste's government in violation of this country's hard-won independence. The government should be the body to decide how to use its budget, and Development Partners should be doing what the government desires. Technical Advisors funded by outside agencies should work for the needs of Timor-Leste as defined by the government, not for the interests of the funders.
Timor Sea: Timor-Leste's independence process is not complete until Australia and Timor-Leste agree on boundaries in the Timor Sea. We ask you to encourage Australia to rejoin the community of law-abiding nations by accepting Timor-Leste's offer to negotiate maritime boundaries and, if negotiations fail, by participating in the internationally accepted legal processes for resolving boundary disputes. Since 1999, Australia has taken billions of dollars in revenues from Laminaria/Corallina and other fields claimed by both countries, but which lie closer to Timor-Leste than Australia. These revenues should be held in trust until a maritime boundary is agreed to. Timor-Leste's long-term economic security requires that Timor-Leste receives its full resource entitlement and is able to manage those resources in the best interests of its people. Development Partners should support the strengthening of East Timorese capacity in negotiating our boundaries, as well as the exploration and management of our oil and gas resources.
We encourage Development Partners to support democracy in Timor-Leste by respecting our Constitution, international laws and agreements, and universal human rights. Unconstitutional laws, such as the pending Immigration and Asylum Act, will hurt Timor-Leste's economic development as well as violate the rights of its own citizens and visitors.
Foreign Aid: We recognize that donor countries have their own economic priorities, and most of the bilateral assistance designated for Timor-Leste returns to the donor nation. We hope that Development Partners will maximize the portion of their aid that remains in Timor-Leste's economy by minimizing the use of foreign consultants, purchases and contractors.
Food Security: The agriculture sector should ensure the food security of Timor-Leste, allowing the government to control imports and provide support for local farmers. Emphasis on export-oriented agriculture and dogmatic use of “free-market” policies prevents Timor-Leste's producers from competing even within our own country.
Investment framework: We support a stable investment climate that promotes transparency and corporate responsibility, stimulating the local economy and preserving Timor-Leste's economic, environmental and political rights. The East Timorese people, through our elected government, have the right to control the economic direction of our nation.
Thank you for your attention,
Perkumpulan HAK (Association for Human Rights, Justice and Law)
Sa'he Institute for Liberation
Fokupers (East Timorese Women's Communication Forum)
Judicial System Monitoring Programme
HASATIL (East Timor Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)
Dai Popular (East Timorese Popular Educators Network)
Kdalak Sulimutu Institute
The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
1a Rua Mozambique, Farol, Dili, Timor Lorosaíe
P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia)
Tel: +670(390)325013 or +61-723-4330