A critical examination of the effort to build a liberal peace since 1999 in East Timor illustrates that to a large degree the liberal peace model has failed the East Timorese people. There are two aspects to this: the first is the failure to construct a social contract between society and its institutions of governance. This is related to the broader issue of the social legitimacy of, and contract with, international actors derived from society and its complex groupings. The second is the failure, at least in the transitional period, to respond to the experiences of everyday life and welfare requirements of the new state’s citizens.
The article examines the nature of the peace that exists in Cambodia by critiquing the ‘liberal peace’ framework. The authors claim that, despite the best efforts of international donors and the NGO community, liberal peacebuilding in Cambodia has so far failed in many of its key aims. The liberal peacebuilding project in Cambodia has been modified by a combination of local political, economic and social dynamics, international failings, and the broader theoretical failings of the liberal peacebuilding process. There have been some important successes, but serious doubts remain as to whether this project has been or can be successful, not least because of the ontological problem of whether the liberal peace is at all transferable. This raises the question of what type of peace has actually been built. The authors argue that the result of international efforts so far is little more than a virtual liberal peace.