Thanks for bringing East Timor's lack of LDC categorization [Least developed countries] to our attention. I think this is probably because East Timor is not yet a country, something which will take another year or so before the UN-ruled transitional period is over.
But your call for action, and your intervention in that meeting, raises another question. I think we internationals need to be cautious and refrain from advocating for East Timor if we have not consulted in depth with East Timorese civil society (NGOs) and political leaders. The internationals in UNTAET do this all the time (in fact, they promulgate and carry out policies, not just advocate them) to the detriment of East Timorese self-government, generating disempowerment and resentment among people who have fought so hard and lost so much in their successful struggle for independence. They should be able to make their own decisions.
Less-Developed Country classification is a mixed bag, as the comment below from Helen Hill suggests. But even if it weren't, it's up to the East Timorese to decide if they want it. Our role as internationals who support their aspirations should be to give them information (and, if asked, suggestions) so that they can make the best decision for themselves.
Helen Hill wrote to another list in response to Vivek's original message (which follows her response, below). I don't agree entirely with her that East Timor has too much aid money now. There is certainly a lot of money there in certain sectors, especially those under the control of internationals. Nevertheless, most of the country has not been rebuilt after the 1999 devastation, and some areas (justice, employment, decentralized or sustainable economic development) are severely under-resourced. I do share Helen's skepticism that LDC categorization might not necessarily help, but again, this is for the East Timorese people to decide.
Are we sure that East Timor wants to be considered a least developed
country? My experience of some countries in this category is that they
go to great lengths to keep this category, thus avoiding doing things that
could really help their people. It is an issue of some debate in the Pacific
islands whether its worth being a least developed country or whether it
holds your economy back. Besides East Timor is not short of aid money,
it cannot spend it fast enough. All this money requires project proposals
to be written up, contracts to be let, endless more consultants to be hired,
East Timor barely has enough people to do that already, they should
be running the country not chasing more and more aid dollars which they can't spend. This is just my personal opinion, I haven't asked any policy-makers this particular question but the existing funds seem to be causing some headache getting spent.
Also East Timor is not yet independent, I doubt that it is eligible.
I just came back after attending a conference arranged by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This was my second meeting at the UN at New York. This was one of the preparatory meetings for a final conference at Brussels in May. 48 countries have been categorised as Least developed countries (LDC). The purpose of the whole project is to pump billions of dollars by the European Union into these countries to improve their standard of living. East Timor is not one of the countries listed. And it is sad. I did propose at this meeting to include and we are hoping to cut through the redtape to include East Timor before the final meeting occurs in May. May I therefore please request you all to write, call or fax to UNCTAD immediately to include East Timor.