Civil unrest is the primary challenge and limitation that had a direct impact on the economic condition of East Timor in the last four decades.  The violence that erupted in Timor-Leste in 2006, 2007 and 2008 has thrown the country into an ongoing crisis that has shaken the foundations of the new nation-state.  While the loss of life and physical damage incurred has been less than the murderous destruction inflicted by pro-Indonesia militia in 1999, the current violence and upheaval have been profoundly disturbing to Timorese and foreign observers alike.  In the USAID (2006) report, they claim that the crisis has revealed a number of fundamental weaknesses in the Timorese nation-state.  The most disturbing of these issues include:

a) deep divisions among the nation’s senior political leaders

b) critical institutional weaknesses – and rivalries – as manifested in the police and military

c) a propensity for violence among some elements of the population, particularly young, unemployed males

d) mobilization and amplification of regional differences (USAID, 2006)

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) operates under the mandate provided by the Security Council Resolution.  The emphasis of this mandate is expected to shift from peacekeeping to peace building over time.  Only then can development take a solid tenure.  Since independence in May 2002, Timor-Leste has adopted a constitution providing for a democratic, pluralistic society and fundamental rights and freedoms.  The presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2007 in a free, fair and peaceful manner.  However, peace remains fragile (USAID, 2008).  Political unrest alone can be detrimental to the countries’ development.

 

From INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PAPER for Concept of Community Development by Luc Sabot