Timor-Leste National Security Policy Workshop

8 – 12 September 2008

1.  BACKGROUND:  A national security policy development workshop requested by the Timor-Leste Government, and hosted by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) was held on 8-12 September 2008 in Honolulu.  The workshop was attended by a cross section of senior Timorese parliamentary, government, civil society and security force representatives as well as by the US Ambassador in Timor-Leste and several chiefs of diplomatic missions based in Dili (Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Portugal), including a senior official from the UN Mission in Timor-Leste.  The Timor-Leste delegation was led by the Deputy Prime-Minister. Through an APCSS-led facilitation process, the participants produced a consensus report outlining the primary Timor-Leste national interests and priorities, challenges associated with achieving those interests and recommended responses to address the challenges, including a possible contribution from the international community.  Additionally, Timor-Leste participants discussed next steps necessary to integrate the workshop findings into the current draft national security policy and for final parliamentary approval of the policy. This workshop represented the first ever opportunity for a broad cross section of Timor-Leste government, parliament and civil society to meet and frame security sector challenges and develop a responsive national security policy.

2. WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES.  According to the participants’ feedback, the workshop successfully met its objectives:

–  Enhanced confidence-building between key Timor-Leste security influencers

–  Inclusive, interactive and respectful workshop dialogue

–  Shared and prioritized assessment of Timor-Leste’s current and expected security

challenges and priorities

–  Agreed understanding of the required national capabilities and processes to respond

to the security challenges

–  Detailed outline of an action plan for the continuing development of Timor-Leste’s

national security policy and security sector reform

–  Shared assessment on coordinating and rationalizing international security

assistance to Timor-Leste

–  Agreed follow-up steps for progress evaluation

3. WORKSHOP METHODOLOGY. The workshop included panel presentations by subject matter experts, facilitated break out group discussions, and plenary meetings to review the consolidated break-out group reports. The facilitated break-out groups were enabled by a process of contemporaneously recording and visually projecting the distilled discussion in both English and Tetun (Timor-Leste’s most commonly used language). This process- which was coupled with a similarly facilitated and recorded synthesis process of break-out group results by nominated Timorese group representatives- provided broad buy-in and ownership of the workshop results.


–  Timor-Leste government is committed to promote comprehensive security for the

nation and  adhere to its democratic aspiration

–  The country’s security challenges are primarily domestic and require major human and

financial capital investments

–  Timor-Leste’s progress also depends on the completion of the nation-building process,

which has been delayed by language barriers and undermined by political manipulation

–  To avoid and prevent new domestic political crisis similar to the crisis in 2006, urgent

actions are required to address the recognition and integration of liberation movement


–  The level of civilian control of security forces and interagency coordination need

priority attention too

– The role of the international community in supporting Timor-Leste’s peaceful, stable

and sustainable development remains crucial but needs to be prioritized and better


–  Among the country’s external challenges, violations of the country’s territorial and

EEZ waters and transnational challenges are perceived as the most serious

–  To respond to the external challenges, Timor-Leste needs to enhance bilateral and

multilateral maritime security cooperation, continue integration into regional and

international organizations,  and strengthen information sharing with its international


–   Timor-Leste government is conscious of the need to contribute to regional and

international security, such as through participation in peacekeeping missions


The workshop participants agreed to the following next steps to implement workshop


–        Seek support from Government or President to implement process for follow-up to workshop

–        Share workshop results with National Security Policy drafters to enable appropriate evolution of the draft with follow-on briefing of current participants identifying incorporation of their ideas

–        Raise awareness among MPs on the work done at the workshop to increase support for NSP process and policies which proceed from it

–        Socialize the workshop’s process with wider group represented by the participants to enhance trust among key government and civil society constituents

–        Convene meeting of this core group in Dili to plan next steps with regards to appropriate sequence of policy and law and plan best way to brief results


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