EISSN 2532-3474 - ISSN 2532-649X - Padova University Press

‘Buying Peace’ in Timor-Leste: Another UN-success Story?

Title‘Buying Peace’ in Timor-Leste: Another UN-success Story?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDal Poz, A.
Secondary TitlePeace Human Rights Governance
Date Published07/2018
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2532-649X
Keywordsnatural resources, oil, peacebuilding, Petroleum Fund, statebuilding, Timor-Leste

Since independence, Timor-Leste has been described as a rare ‘success story’ of international state- and peacebuilding interventions. However, the policies implemented by subsequent governments of Timor-Leste since the second half of the 2000s privileged investments in capital-intensive extractive industries that did not improve the living standards of local population and revenues from resource exploitation were used to appease politically aligned armed groups. Through a political economy analysis of Timor-Leste’s development policies, the present paper will argue that exploitation of natural resources, notably oil and gas in the Timor Gap, provided significant incomes for the state, which allowed it to support development projects and appeasing initiatives that prevented conflict recurrence (e.g. cash transfers). Nonetheless, while such initiatives prevented a conflict relapse among opposing parties and former resistance fighters, these policies did not address underlying conflict grievances. In consideration of mismanagement of the Petroleum Fund, once its resources are depleted, social tensions might re-emerge and lead to a renewed conflict.