Fundasaun Mahein (FM) has been invited to Nairobi, Kenya on 22-23 October to participate in the “South-South Exchange on Peace-building and State-building Goals Indicators”, a meeting hosted by World Bank. This meeting is an opportunity for many g7plus (g7+) countries, with similar problems to Timor-Leste, to share and discuss country indicators identified by Fragility Assessments. This includes indicators on security sector development.
In 2008, the Timorese Government hosted the first meeting of the g7plus grouping of fragile states in Dili Timor-Leste.
According to the g7plus website (http://www.g7plus.org/):
“The g7+ group is the country-owned and country-led global mechanism to monitor, report and draw attention to the unique challenges faced by fragile states.
The g7+ was formed to work in concert with international actors, the private sector, civil society, the media and the people across countries, borders and regions to reform and reinvent a new paradigm for international engagement.
At a crucial time in global dynamics when fragility is seen in both the developed and developing world driven by global financial shocks, concern at climate change, rising commodity prices and citizen discontent, the g7+ aims to influence global policy through the founding principles of peace building and state building.”
The g7plus grouping represents the following countries with over 1 billion people living in fragile states all around the world – Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, and Togo.
It is a unique initiative. It is similar to the creation of a Union of Fragile States. Timor-Leste was a founding member, and is in fact the driving force behind its creation and continued operation. Its Secretariat is actually situated in Dili, Timor-Leste within the Ministry of Finance. Also some of the activities of the g7plus are funded by our Government – as such Timor-Leste, despite being small, is playing an important role in the international system.
In general terms, the reason behind the creation of the g7 plus is that the Government’s and communities in fragile states have become exhausted by international peacekeeping and development assistance spending billions of dollars a year but getting only moderate to poor results. The impact of the international community’s efforts has not been as good as it could have been. We Timorese have had a lot of experience dealing with donors since the 1999 referendum, and as such we are taking our experience to the world via the g7plus. Through the g7plus and in partnership with other fragile states (although we are not nearly as fragile as many other members) we are taking a new message to the international community. This message concentrates on trying to convince the international community that, as risky as it may appear, it is better to use local governments, local civil society and local businesses to plan, design, and implement development assistance.
We all know what the results are when foreigners dominate the implementation of development efforts. Sometimes it is successful, albeit extremely expensive, and sometimes it is a total failure and can even be damaging.
Through the g7plus “New Deal” there is an effort to create a new working relationship between donor countries and fragile states for the 1.5 billion people that live in situations of conflict and fragility. More can be read here:
In the security sector we have seen dozens if not hundreds of “projects” being conducted to assist Timor-Leste in reforming our security institutions. While intentions have often been positive, the results have been of very variable quality. Often, fast reform is not what is needed or is not even possible. But international projects live on 12-36 month cycles, run by people who don’t speak our language, know our history, or have much knowledge of anything local. They often bring expertise, which we don’t have but it rarely “connects” with our reality. We need less “reform” and more long-term 12-36 YEAR development programs.
If you have some ideas on this please let us know because Fundasaun Mahein is a supporter of the g7plus effort. We hope to participate in its activities and contribute to the process whereby we help ourselves more and rely on foreign assistance less. Some g7plus countries have experienced open conflict many times, just as we did from 1975-1999. We know we share our experience to help fix problems with countries around the world in a better manner.