Timorese people have the capacity to overcome conflict
February 20, 2015
-CEPAD’s National Forum validates the findings from 6 months of research on resilience-
On Thursday 19 February 2015, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD), Interpeace’s local partner organization in Timor-Leste, organized a National Forum on sources of resilience for peace. This event concludes six months of nationwide consultations in the context of the Frameworks for Assessing Resilience project. This initiative aims to better understand and assess resilience in relation to peacebuilding. This innovative work is currently being piloted in Timor-Leste, Liberia and Guatemala. The event was attended by over 80 representatives of the country’s 13 districts, as well as key stakeholders from the national level.
“We can’t keep thinking of obstacles [to peace], of how difficult this is. It’s time to start talking about what makes us strong,” said Jose Guterres, Programme Manager at the National Directorate of Peacebuilding and Social Cohesion, Ministry of Social Solidarity. The Frameworks for Assessing Resilience initiative recognizes the capacity of Timorese people to overcome conflict. Timorese have managed to overcome centuries of colonization, decades of occupation and a vicious cycle of crises since independence in 1999. In the words of one participant: “We fall but we know how to stand up.” In order to rise to the challenge of building a nation, Timorese must draw on the strengths stemming from past experiences. Echoing this sentiment, João Boavida, CEPAD Executive Director added: “We, as the Timorese people, have the strength, process and capacity to help ourselves, to leave conflict behind and build peace. And with this, we will contribute to how national and international actors conduct peacebuilding programmes in Timor-Leste.”
Joana Viegas, Frameworks for Assessing Resilience Coordinator at CEPAD, presented the main findings from the consultative process at the National Forum. Drawing on the consultative process, the CEPAD team was able to identify four main elements of resilience in Timor-Leste: culture, leadership, religion, and law and security. Each of these elements has the potential to prevent and transform conflict.
Participants also prioritized the areas CEPAD should conduct further research on: (1) traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and how they relate to formal law (2) the relationship between the state and citizens, and (3) the role of religion in conveying peace messages. These themes will form the basis for the work of the National Working Group that will be set up in the coming month by CEPAD. Its role is to explore how resilience can be strengthened and to recommend a context-specific approach to assess progress towards peace.
The majority of participants, among them Falur Rate Laek, Chief of Staff of the F-FDTL (Timorese Defence Force), recommended presenting the findings to the national government. In addition, Helder da Costa, of the g7+ Secretariat, a voluntary association of 20 countries that are or have been affected by conflict, called for greater collaboration of CEPAD and the work being done in the context of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.