Timor-Leste, one of the youngest democracies in the world, has faced numerous challenges in its journey to build sustainable peace. Recognized as an independent country in May 2002, it has faced a series of political crises, violence, unemployment, and land disputes. Despite being rich in natural resources, the benefits of economic growth have not equally trickled down to ordinary Timorese due to mismanagement of public funds and high levels of corruption. Nevertheless, important achievements have been made in recent years, including a significant decrease in child mortality rates and the conduct of peaceful elections. These achievements have however been overshadowed by the consequences of decades of social turmoil that continue to hinder the overall prospects of the Timorese population.
Interpeace and the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) have been working together since 2007, supporting peacebuilding processes in Timor-Leste. This partnership began in response to the violent political crisis of 2006 which revealed the fragility of a young nation and the challenges in state formation and sustainable peacebuilding. Over the years, Interpeace and CEPAD have used Participatory Action Research (PAR) to help break cycles of violence and create a safe environment where the Timorese can identify and address priority issues in a non-violent and sustainable manner. Corruption, collusion and nepotism, locally known as ‘KKN’, was prioritized as one of the four most serious barriers to achieving sustainable peace and development by over 1000 citizens consulted during CEPAD’s countrywide research from 2007-2009.
After years of sustained engagement at all levels of society, CEPAD has built a strong reputation and track-record in addressing KKN and promoting inclusive democracy. CEPAD has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with five key anti-corruption State Institutions, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK), the National Human Rights Institution (PDHJ) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office (the first and only civil society organization to do so).