Integrating Security, Development and Nation-building in Timor-Leste

Like other nations before it, Timor-Leste has become an emblem of the international community’s desire to help a nation in crisis, with massive investment in reconstruction and development. Such intense focus from international agencies and governments draws together significant expertise and finance in the face of the mammoth task of nation (re-)building. It also brings competing approaches, potential for exploitation and questions about what happens when this support is finally withdrawn or dramatically reduced. This special issue considers questions of security, development and nation-building from a range of perspectives, illustrating the complexity of the task facing those deeply concerned with Timor-Leste and its people. Doing so allows a broader conceptualisation of the multifaceted entity that is Timor-Leste than might occur within a single discipline, and takes a step closer to developing responses that reflect the diversity and interconnectedness of the various facets of people’s lived reality. This collection arises from a workshop held in Adelaide, Australia in September 2008 which drew together practitioners, policy makers and academics to address security, development and nationbuilding in Timor-Leste. What follows in this special issue is only a taste of the 21 papers and presentations at the workshop, let alone the dynamic discussions that accompanied them.

Transnational Police Building: Critical Lessons from Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands

In this paper we begin by defining and examining the concept of police building. Its historical precedents and contemporary forms are briefly reviewed, showing a variety of motives and agendas for this kind of institution building. We argue that police building has been a relatively neglected dimension of nation- and state-building exercises, despite its importance to functions of pacification and restoration of law and order. The emerging literature on international police reform and capacity building tends to adopt a narrow institutionalist and universalistic approach that does not take sufficient account of the politics of police building. This politics is multilayered and varies from the formal to the informal. Using two case studies focusing on events in 2006 in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands, the reasons for the fragility of many current police-building projects are considered. In both cases, we argue, police capacity builders paid insufficient attention to the political architecture and milieu of public safety.