[TimorLesteStudies] Progressio panel presentation at SEAHRN International Human rights Conference 2010

Tibor van Staveren tiborstav at gmail.com
Wed Oct 27 13:32:54 EST 2010

Dear all,


Progressio's Dr. Steve Kibble, Africa, Middle East and Asia advocacy
coordinator, recently presented a paper at the SEAHRN (www.seahrn.org)
International Human Rights Conference which took place in Bangkok on 14 and
15 October 2010. It builds on experiences gathered over the years working in
Timor-Leste. The presented paper will be available on the Progressio website
(www.progressio.org.uk) soon. Below is the abstract.


Pathways to Justice

The struggle of civil society to define and seek justice in Timor-Leste

The paper explores the practical complexities of applying the concepts of
transitional justice, as well as examining the usefulness of such concepts
as opposed to popular or retributive ones. It situates the process of
justice-seeking by civil society actors in Timor-Leste within a historical
context of unequal international and regional relations, the role of
charismatic leaders within a nascent state, and the politicisation of
impunity, amnesty and reconciliation. While the framework of crimes against
humanity and widespread human rights violations during the Indonesian
occupation of Timor-Leste and in its aftermath is well known, the complex
interplay of local and regional politics that drives or impeded the struggle
for justice and standardisation of human rights has been less well examined.

Eight years on from independence Timor-Leste is still fragile, having
experienced recurrent cycles of violence and impunity. In fact this hides
some considerable progress in areas of human development since independence,
including impact on poor people. However, notwithstanding such progress Ban
Ki-Moon in early 2010 warned that the country's security and justice
institutions remained fragile. Such fragility will need increased political
as well as technical capacity and pressure, but human rights activists
suggest that currently the response of leaders to potentially troublesome
constituencies, as with 'the petitioners' who were the trigger for the 2006
crisis, or the IDPs, tends to be paying money to get the problem rather than
the root causes of the problem to go away.

Our paper is based on research undertaken during Progressio's East Timor:
Who Cares? campaign in 2009, the organisation's discussions around a
follow-up institute for the Post-CAVR (the truth and reconciliation
commission) Technical Secretariat, and interviews and discussions with civil
society actors during 2010. We conclude that a more sustained and
egalitarian engagement between international and local actors will be
necessary in effecting justice and suggest some practical steps in improving
the capacity of local NGOs, as well as parliament in their oversight and
lobbying roles. 


Progressio has been strongly involved in advocacy for human rights and
self-determination in Timor-Leste from the beginning of the 1975 Indonesian
occupation. In 2000 Progressio (then known under the acronym CIIR) set up a
development programme in Timor-Leste, working in partnership with local
organisations by placing Progressio development workers to support
development of organisational and programmatic capacity. In 2009, Progressio
started the campaign 'East Timor: Who Cares?' which draws on its
long-standing commitment to bring truth and justice to Timor-Leste's
long-suffering people.


Tibor van Staveren

Country Representative

Mobile: +670 7232690 


Progressio Timor-Leste Programme, Bairo Central, Rua Cardoso Dias 17, Dili,
PO Box 339, Timor-Leste

Email: progressio.tl at googlemail.com; Phone/Fax: +670 3312578; Skype:

Progressio, Unit 3, Canonbury Yard, 190a New North Road, London N1 7BJ, UK

Email: enquiries at progressio.org.uk; Website: www.progressio.org.uk 

Tel: +44 (0)20 7354 0883 or +44 (0)20 7288 8600; Fax +44 (0)20 7359 0017

Progressio is the working name of the Catholic Institute for International





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