Are the UN and Western Aid Agencies good or bad ofr Timor-Leste?

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I had to do this Essay for school, and i was like 'Yuck' :D
But after a while I got into it, it was pretty interesting... Thanks for reading :D

Submitted: November 05, 2009

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Submitted: November 05, 2009

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Timor-Leste Essay First Draft
The impact of the UN and Western Aid Originations in East Timor is neither good nor bad for the country. East Timor has gone through a horrible war, and is in the process of rebuilding itself. Western Organisations and the UN, are just helping them move at a faster rate. However, nobody gives something free, we are all in Timor for a reason, wether its oil, gas, or trading. I have been researching employment, financial aid, government assistance, safety, training, and culture in East Timor. In all of these areas, there are good and bad affects of western presence. The following essay will describe and show these reasons.
Employment in East Timor is limited; they have a high number of adolesces and adult males on the streets, while those in jobs aren’t treated very well. East Timorese working with the United Nations (UN) have voiced grievances, ‘....nearly all responsible positions have been filled by international staff...” . You have two ways of looking at this, one way would be to say that the Timorese are right but International staff are only employed because they have specified training. The other way is to recognise the lack of training by the UN of local Timorese. Another Timorese citizen has stated that ‘....Timorese are underpaid while their international counterparts earn higher wages.’ This is true, but it cannot be considered the Timorese fault because the UN, are not helping train them so they cannot be ready for employment. So from this we can recognise the good and the bad effects.  
The Australian government has pledged to the Timorese government a $24 million four year program, to help create short term employment opportunities and establish educational and training, benefiting up to 70,000 young adolescence Timorese. They have also developed a youth employment policy that will assist the country’s youth transition from school to work. This will greatly help the Timorese citizen’s to get more work, and those who excel, higher positions in western agencies. However most of these jobs are only short-term, which cause the problem of wether the Timorese will able to sustain themselves when these jobs are taken away. So this present a rather disturbing negative, that the Timorese locals will be dependent on western jobs and when these agencies leave the local will relapse in to their previous working stature, which may cause adolescent problems.
Timor’s financial stability after the Indonesian’s left was in a rocky state, so at the Tokyo Donor Conference on East Timor in Dec 1999, donor countries pledged a total of $520million, which included, $86 million for humanitarian assistance, $86 million for governance and captivity building and $262million for reconstruction. The Australian government website has sated ‘Australia has pledged $150 million over a four year time span to East Timor, making it one of the largest aid donors, and according to diplomatic sources Australia is likely to give up to 90% of revenues from the Timor Gap to East Timor.’. All this money was given to East Timor, to help establish a stable and self-reliant East Timor. Which is true, many countries have given money to this country, without; the rebuilding of East Timor would have been slowed dramatically. But every country has its reasons.
However all of these countries expect something in return for their contributions to the development of Timor. Whether it Australia, US, Canada or China. Timor now owes these countries something, because of their help in their independence. Whether its oil, gas, trading, tourism, workers.
East Timor’s government was almost no-existent after the Indonesian’s left, and they would still be almost no where without the help of other countries. After the Indonesians left, Timor gave power to the UN, so they could begin their process of independence. However Mario Carrascalio, Vice President of CNRT, declared “...we need the United Nations to help create conditions in which life is possible, a democracy, and not deal with the people as if it were a dictatorship.” This statement has truth in, because at that time, the UN, were quite controlling of what the Timorese government could do, however, the Timorese government at that time was quite corrupt, so what the UN did, could be considered morally correct. One UN official stated “East Timor has no apparent Leadership class....How are we in the United Nations going to find five hundred people who can come in and run a country?” .
 
This has some truth in it, many Timorese, had not been trained or were not qualified for the tasks that the UN wanted completed. However if the UN wanted them completed, they would have to train them, which they did reluctantly. Because, once trained, there would be less need for the help of them. Australia has also played a vital role in the development of East Timor’s government.
They helped to establish a legal training centre, which has trained over 100 judges, prosecutors, public defenders, court clerks, and police investigators. In an interview with Major Ian Lobb of the DCP, he stated “.....the government defiantly still needs assistance, in the areas of financial management, establishment of a aid political defence force...” . I agree with what is said by Major Lobb, the country government still needs help, however, the UN have become to controlling of it. The UN are treating people as in a dictatorship once again. From this research I have been able to concluded that there are positive and negative effects of western aid organisation and UN influence in Timor in the area of Government systems.
Safety is a subject discussed alot by most European/Westerners in East Timor. The UN was given a mandate when the first entered East Timor on what they were expected to do, it stated, ‘....provide security and maintain law and order throughout the territory of East Timor.’. They defended the country and the people well when it was needed, and contributed in huge amounts to the safety of the Timorese. Now, they are less needed by people, and some argue that they are the reasons that alot of local fights happen. Major Ian Lobb said “They make fighting worse, because the UN, FFDTL, and PNDL all fight each other, the UN often start these fights, thinking they are superior.
Because of this, Timorese locals, have a bad attitude towards the UN, which often also results in bad bar fight or brawls, because of Timorese reluctant to listen to the UN, who give of the feeling of superiority. The bad blood between the UN, and Timorese (mostly adolescences) cause fights often between the both them. However if the amount of UN Peacekeepers was reduced, I think the amount of violence would be reduced. Because the local Timorese would be able to assert their superiority so that the UN leave, the Timorese people, don’t think that the security (Police) has left as well. So from this you can see that having them here is good for the country, but however is also posing negative effects.
Training is also another major influence in Timor. Major Ian Lobb has said that “...Aid Agencies are good at training, when they leave here, Timorese will be able to sustain those projects independently if they continue training as they are, however the UN is only just starting to provide limited training, which is still insufficient. “. It is a fact that the UN are hardly training, even after the riot in Jan 2000, when Timorese found out that UN jobs required knowledge of the English language, and the UN were not willing to teach it. I think that the reason they have not started their limited training until now, because, if the locals had no training in the jobs the UN controlled, and no knowledge of English, they would still be needed, and would still be “superior”.
However aid agencies in Timor are thriving, with the development of locally owned aid agencies. Also many aid agencies have supported scholastic scholarships for example the Ausaid scholarship system that has provided over 170 scholarships to undertake tertiary study at Australian educational institutions. So there are some negative effects of Training (the lack of it), however there are positive effects, like the scholarships, however the limited training done by the UN, cant be considered bad, because they have begun to realise that they should be training, the locals.
Culture is another thing that is affected by Western and UN influence. The research that I found, gave mostly negative effects on their culture, however there were some positives. Up in the mountains women are often traded into family, having Europeans women here, helps because it shows that they don’t have to put up with abuse relationships or be sold. However some negative effects include their national language (tetum) which is being over-ridded with the English language, more over the rush to learn the English languages. This is both bad and good for their culture, by being an English speaking country, tourism may become more popular, but it also wipes them of some of their individuality that attracts tourists.
So in conclusion, the impact of the UN and Western Aid originations in East Timor is neither good nor bad. Everybody has their reasons for being here, but at this point in time, in the countries growth, Western presence is good for something’s and bad for others. It is just a matter of defining if the Pros out way the cons.
 
 
By Heather Lobb
Year 9


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