National forum to follow the regional conferences in Timor-Leste

June 30, 2009

The Programme of Research and Dialogue for Peace (PRDP), a joint programme run by Interpeace and the Center of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) is now making the final preparation for the National Forum to be held this summer.  Last year nation-wide focus group discussions were conducted to identify peace-related needs and concerns throughout the 13 districts of Timor-Leste.  Input has been gathered from of a broad cross-section of people representing Timorese society (government, army, police, the church, youth, political parties, women, and martial arts groups, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and business leaders) and from different regions, including areas which are seen as the heartland of the resistance and political trouble spots.

Regional conferences were held to validate Focus Group Discussion findings
Three regional conferences in the North, Middle and East of the country (covering all 13 districts) were held to compare and reflect on local and regional priority issues identified in the districts. The main purpose was to go back to the participants with the main priorities identified in the Focus Group discussions for their verification and validation. These findings will now be taken to the National Forum to be held this summer bringing together stakeholders at the national level.

These conferences also served as another opportunity for participants from the different districts to meet. These also contribute towards enabling participants to further overcome their mistrust so they are able to work together to focus on the deeper sources of long-term instability in the Regions.

The conferences have proved successful as an instrument of dialogue in reaffirming the importance of the programme‚Äôs methodology and approach as the participants are given ownership of the research findings and are given the opportunity to present these issues to leaders and policy-makers. Due to this approach, the programme stands out as one of the ‚Äėaction orientated‚Äô initiatives taking place in the country.

Working across the social divides
Representatives of National Parliament, the Judiciary and national and local authorities who attended the regional conferences were able to work together collaboratively with regional participants to mobilize a broad support network of people to help the leadership understand the root causes of key issues from a local and regional perspective.

Preparations now in final stages for the National Forum
The team is now processing the data for the ‚ÄėCountry Note‚Äô which will be presented at the National Forum planned for this summer. The National Forum will bring together participants from all 13 Districts, the national leaders, representatives of the international community and policy advisors. The event will legitimise the PRDP dialogue process and its findings. The participants will then select the issues that they believe are the priorities for the country.