BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home June news

"we recommend that there should be a greater effort to resource the consultation process for the constitution, and the consultation needs to be extended beyond the elections for the Constituent Assembly. Without significant change in the timetable, the new Constitution should only be viewed as an interim Constitution, allowing more time for broad based input and consultation." Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e / The East Timor National NGO Forum

Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e
The East Timor National NGO Forum

Kaikoli Street,  Dili-East Timor  telephone 322772/  etngocentre@hotmail.com


THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS IN EAST TIMOR
 

BRIEFING PAPER TO INTERNATIONAL DONORS CONFERENCE
CANBERRA June 2001
 

The process of constitution making requires fundamental choices to be made about the type of country an independent East Timor will be. It is essential that this process is truly participatory to ensure that it reflects the aspirations and views of all East Timorese people.

The NGO Forum has already expressed our views about the constitution making process. In our letter of 17 March to the UN Security Council, the NGO Forum requested the following;

1 a Constitutional Commission must be established as a formal and effective mechanism for consultation throughout East Timor on the Constitution

2 the Commission should be adequately resourced to carry out these functions, and

3 the timeframe provided for consultation with the East Timorese people must be at least 9 months with a further 3 months for reporting.

Based on these views, the NGO Forum believes that the establishment of Constitutional Commissions (UNTAET Directive 2001/2, 31 March 2001) for East Timor will appear as a legitimate process, while being seriously insufficient both in terms of substance and process.

 In particular, the NGO Forum has 3 main concerns;

1 The period of operation of the Constitutional Commissions is too short to allow for sufficient participation of a broad spectrum of East Timorese society. It will not be possible to have an effective information dissemination process and meaningful consultation within this short timeframe. The reports from the commissioners to the Constituent Assembly will not be representative of the East Timorese people's aspirations and should not be seen as such. It is the view of the NGO Forum that the mandate of the Constituent Commission needs to extend beyond elections for a Constituent Assembly.

2 The process for nominations, training and guidance for the Commissioners will be inadequate in such a short time frame. Nominations for commissioners will not be broad based if they are received through Advisory Councils only. It is unclear what training and guidance will be provided to the Commissioners so that they can carry out their functions effectively.

3 The objective of the Commission is unclear, in particular how it intends to influence the work of the Constituent Assembly.

The NGO Forum is very disappointed that our concerns, expressed on several occasions, have not been taken into account.

Accordingly, the NGO Forum is currently engaged in its own process of public information dissemination and consultation on the Constitution, including workshops in each of the districts.

However, we have no illusions that this process either will be sufficiently representative, within such a short timeframe.

Therefore we recommend that there should be a greater effort to resource the consultation process for the constitution, and the consultation needs to be extended beyond the elections for the Constituent Assembly.

Without significant change in the timetable, the new Constitution should only be viewed as an interim Constitution, allowing more time for broad based input and consultation.


See also:

May 29 A People’s Constitution for East Timor  Release added June 22
“A constitution should be a living document reflecting the needs, hopes and aspirations of the Timorese people. It is important that the Constitution is not only owned by the elite, but also by ordinary men and women. It is important that all the Timorese are involved enough in the process so that we can call it a People’s Constitution,” Joaquim Fonseca, Advocacy Officer, Yayasan Hak

May 14 LH: NGO Forum declines to join UNTAET Constitutional Process  Letter added May 16
"The NGO Forum has chosen to coordinate with, but remain independent of, the UNTAET Constitution building process because of strong concerns that UNTAET’s process is rushed and highly inadequate." Lao Hamutuk, East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

Mar 28 BBC: Gusmao resigns as East Timor leader  News
"I feel, as president of the National Council, that any attempt to overcome the deadlock is in vain due to the lack of willingness [of Council] members, ... As I refuse to be part of a politically irresponsible process, I hereby tender my resignation,” East Timor independence leader Jose “Xanana” Gusmao

Mar 28 LH: Sexton: Update on ET NGO Forum: Rushed Constitutional Process  Letter & News
"As you have likely already seen, things are moving very quickly on this issue, and not in the direction we had hoped. ... With the news of the defeat in yesterday’s NC vote, the working group is trying to think strategically about where we can go from here. Unfortunately, there seems to be little room to argue alternatives." Pamela Sexton, La'o Hamutuk: The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

Mar 22 LH: ET NGO Forum: Rushed constitutional process  Request & Letter
"The [East Timorese] NGOs are demanding the establishment of a mechanism for thorough consultation throughout East Timor on the constitution, and for adequate time and resources to be allotted for this critical process. Clearly, this process is a crucial step in East Timor's struggle for self-determination. We ask for your immediate assistance in lobbying the UN Security Council through your national governments and in passing this letter to others." Pamela Sexton, La'o Hamutuk: The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis


East Timor National NGO Forum / Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e  Updated June 14
Umbrella agency for East Timorese Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
VISION: To contribute to the building of a pluralist, democratic, just and sustainable East Timor through the development of a strong, independent and responsible civil society committed to upholding and making real in the daily life of the community, both village and urban, the full range of human rights so that all East Timorese, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, can enjoy the fruits of liberation and development in an East Timor forever free.
MISSION: To realise its vision by promoting a culture of learning, cooperation, partnership with the community and respect for human rights and good practice amongst East Timorese NGOs and between them and other development actors, both domestic and international, and by serving as a collective, independent voice for the rights and needs of the community.
VALUES AND PRINCIPLES: a rights approach to development; inclusiveness, participation; accountability; gender balance; respect for the environment; non-party political; non-sectarian; good governance; volunteerism.
Kaikoli Street, Dili-East Timor  Telephone +670(390)322772
E-mail: etngocentre@hotmail.com  Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/etngoforum/index.html
Jun 7 ETNGO Forum: Donors Meeting must be for Rural People: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01junrural.htm
Jun 13 ETNGO Forum: The voice of Civil Society calls the Donors: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01jundonors.htm


BD: East Timor National NGO Forum / Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e - A collection of recent media releases, position-statements, speeches, petitions, reports, and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home June news
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