1st Edition

The 2006 Crisis in East Timor
Lessons for Contemporary Peacebuilding

ISBN 9781138590649
Published September 9, 2020 by Routledge
248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book argues that the international community must share responsibility for contributing to the conditions that resulted in violent conflict in Timor-Leste, four years after it declared independence from Indonesia. Its failure to tailor interventions to Timor-Leste’s specific political economy and conflict dynamics distanced the state from its citizens and undermined its capacity to forge a political settlement founded on a robust social contract.

At a time in which conflict-affected states are receiving unprecedented attention and peacekeeping operations and humanitarian emergencies are becoming increasingly complex, this book argues that radical changes are urgently required in the way the international community operates in these environments. The findings are rooted in an examination of the mechanisms used by international development actors in Timor-Leste between 1998 and 2006. In bringing together wide-ranging perspectives, the author shows that international actions cannot be separated from the local political and socio-economic context, demonstrating that interventions are never ‘apolitical’ and that peacebuilding must be intentional. Indeed, political settlements premised on a robust social contract should not be taken for granted anywhere. The impact of increasing disenfranchisement, mistrust in institutions and structural inequalities evident in the global North suggest that lessons from peacebuilding in Timor-Leste are relevant far beyond its shores.

This book is essential for students and researchers in the fields of development studies, international political economy, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and for practitioners and policymakers striving to advance peace.

Table of Contents

    Preface: why this book?  


    1 Introduction

    2 Peace, violence and the political economy of development: critical concepts in post-war recovery

    3 Political settlement interrupted: Part I – Portuguese colonialism  

    4 Political settlement interrupted: Part II – Indonesian occupation  

    5 The mechanics and conceptualization of state-building

    6 The practice of aid: the agriculture sector

    7 The practice of aid: the private sector and CSOs

    8 The 2006 political crisis revisited  

    9 Implications for contemporary peacebuilding



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Rebecca E. Engel is a Lecturer at the University of York, UK.


"Timor-Leste is small territorially. Its population is not large. Yet the learning that comes from it becoming independent is a precious gift to all. This book shows that peacebuilding is not a technical skill first. It is the product of engaged societies and effective political institutions. This book captures well how the interplay of actors can seriously constrain peacebuilding and how essential is the social contract at the core of any state project."Dr Andrea Bartoli, CORE Fellow, Seton Hall University and President of the Sant' Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue

"This is a hugely useful book, exploring how the fantasies of apolitical, technical international interventions in support of peacebuilding and statebuilding in East Timor helped to thwart a nascent political settlement within the country, contributing to the political crisis of 2006. It is also a rich addition to the mounting set of case studies on the profound limitations of international peacebuilding interventions, and a source of helpful thinking for how to rethink these interventions." – Christopher Cramer, Professor of the Political Economy of Development. SOAS, University of London. Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS)