YOU ARE HERE: HOME > Focus Areas > Democratic Governance

Democratic Governance:

Governance Unit Strategy

The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, which took effect in May 20, 2002, provides for basic fundamental rights and freedoms in a democratic and pluralistic society. It mandates a classic democratic state with a semi-presidential regime: the country’s “sovereignty rests with the people” and the state is manifested in four separate “organs of sovereignty” providing essential checks and balances, safeguarding citizens’ rights, and the separation of powers. These constitutional “Organs of Sovereignty” are the President of State, the National Parliament, the Executive and the Courts.

UNDP Strategic approach to democratic governance in Timor-Leste is aligned with the constitutional separation and balance of powers. UNDP builds capacities of the four organs of sovereignty with the objective of strengthening both the efficiency and accountability of each institution through a strengthening of the democratic system of checks and balances defined in the Constitution.

The year 2007, in particular, will be critical with the presidential and first parliamentary elections. Civil society and the media will be key partners in preparing citizen’s participation in the elections. In that context, UNDP strategy is to support the national election process and institutional capacity of CSOs and Media.

UNDP’s capacity development programmes are determined by the three pillars strategies that facilitate the enhancement of knowledge & skills; systems & processes and attitudes & behavior. These three pillars are advocated and applied by UNDP to guide its human resource development initiatives as well as to strengthen capacity of government institutions of Timor-Leste. The unit seeks to strengthen the mainstreaming of Gender and human rights related support components into its main initiatives.

National Support

Local support is imperative to the success of a project. Accordingly, all projects are designed in intimate partnership with national partners. A project is directed by a board, and every board comprises representatives of the relevant Timor-Leste bodies: sometimes UNDP holds no vote.

UNDP assists in designing the projects, mobilizing resources, implementing measures, and maintaining external contacts. While day-to-day financial management is handled by UNDP, project expenditure is approved by each project’s Steering Committee. This division of labour balances national ownership with the protection of donor investment.

Realistic Expectations

Realistic expectations are a key to success. Timor-Leste will need decades to achieve its development objectives.

Democratic Governance projects aim at guiding development and minimising the risk of bad governance culture in the infancy of a new country. While projects have a life span of only a few years, UNDP expects to remain a development partner of Timor-Leste into the future. New projects will follow up where old projects end. This approach provides flexibility in shifting realities of a new country in its early years.

Project Overviews
Capacity Building

Service line: 2.7 - Public administration reform and anti-corruption

UNDP is continuing its support for institutional capacity development in the country's state institutions, in cooperation with UNOTIL, through its Institutional Capacity Development Support project. The project is now in its exit phase until June 2006. It continues to support critical positions while ongoing sectoral development initiatives are preparing to absorb the relevant positions of current advisors, and while new sector-based projects are being formulated by development partners ahead of the project closure dates.

The Executive: Capacity Building in the Public Service Sector

Service line: 2.7 - Public administration reform and anti-corruption

UNDP is currently consolidating the Human Resources Management Project and the Institutional Capacity Development Support Project into one single multilateral capacity development programme. The draft programme document Developing National Capacity For Public Service Management aims to support the development of institutional, organizational and human capacities needed to execute core public management functions required to sustain the building of a national public service, within an environment of open, structured, reliable and accountable Government. The draft programme envisages the establishment of a Temporary Advisory Services Initiative (TASI) Fund, that will allow for the recruitment of short-, medium- and longer-term technical assistance to fill specific capacity gaps that cannot be addressed through the sectoral programmes, specific donor projects, or non-governmental stakeholders. The Transition Task Force has identified a number of key advisory functions to be funded under the TASI fund.


The Judiciary: Capacity Building in the Justice Sector

Service line: 2.4 - Justice and human rights

The UNDP-supported Justice Sector Support Programme ($10 million) has been comprehensively realigned to better attune it with the priorities identified in the recent National Policy for Justice, while taking into account the challenges facing the sector. Following extensive consultations with the Council of Cabinet Ministers and key donors ( Australia , Brazil , Ireland , Norway , and Portugal ), the programme was approved on 13 December 2005. The Programme has been re-designed as an umbrella programme to accommodate donor funds channeled multilaterally through UNDP rather than bilaterally to achieve impact, synergy and aid effectiveness. Pledges have already been made by Australia ($1.8m), Portugal ($3 m), Norway ($1.5 m), Ireland , and Sweden . The total programme budget is $10 million. This Programme will absorb all 17 UNOTIL justice sector posts/functions. Sustainability is being addressed through the establishment of a Law School in the University of Timor Lorosae in January 2006, by continued in-service training at the Legal Training Centre, through the training of a cadre of justice sector interpreters and translators, and through the secondment of justice sector professionals by Brazil; and similar arrangements are being negotiated with Portugal and Cape Verde.


The National Parliament: Capacity Building in the Parliament Sector

Service line: 2.2 - Parliamentary development

Extension of the Parliament Support Project to 2007 (US$6 million). The revision of this UNDP-assisted programme (2006-2009) continues and expands coordinated support to the National Parliament to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities including to enact legislation; exercise oversight of Government, represent the population, and approve and monitor the execution of the national budget. This three-year programme will provide key building blocks towards a ten-year goal to equip the National Parliament with the internal institutional capacities to fully exercise its constitutional responsibilities as a cornerstone of democracy in Timor-Leste. This long-term goal can only be achieved through intensive support in the short- to medium-term, including international expert advisers to assist in organizational restructuring and management modeling; technical support to build capable legislative support, communications, translation, and administrative services; and, intensive training to impart the necessary core professional skills.


The Office of the President: Capacity Building of the Office of the President

Service line: 2.7 - Public administration reform and anti-corruption

UNDP has formulated a project on institutional support to the Office of the President of Timor- Leste (US$1.2 m). Increased involvement of the people to create a stable, more equitable and compassionate society are essential in meeting the Timor Leste's challenges of the future. Low levels of citizen satisfaction with the pace of development lead to citizen frustration and loss of faith of in the democratic system. There is thus a clear correlation between poverty, human security, participation and political stability. The President therefore sees it as his primary task to create the conditions for broad-based consultation with and participation of non-state actors, that will lead to enhanced transparency, accountability, and greater responsiveness of the political system to citizen demands, but also rendering people's expectations more commensurate with the current socio-economic realities in the country.

Based on the above situational analysis, the Sector Investment Plan and consultations on the perceived institutional capacity development priorities of the Office of the President, the main goal of this UNDP Project is “to support the Office of the President in its mission to assist the President of State in the execution of his/her constitutional functions”.



Service line: 2.3 - Electoral systems and processes

UNDP continues supporting the local election process, the first after independence. Village Council members and Village/Hamlet Chiefs were elected throughout Timor-Leste. The elections were carried out by district groupings, and began in December 2004 and were completed in all of the villages and hamlets by the end of September 2005. Approximately 4,880 local leaders were democratically elected, of which approximately 1,330 are women. Overall, the process has been considered successful, free and fair by national and international observers. The second round of elections in those villages and hamlets where there was a draw are expected to be completed in early 2006. The UNDP support – and that of development partners - was crucial for the success of this electoral process.

The preparations for the national parliamentary and presidential elections for 2007 have started to be discussed in various forums. In this regard, the Government has requested UN support to draft the legal laws, coordination of the election and technical assistance. In consultation with and funded by UNDP an Electoral Needs Assessment Mission was fielded by the UN Department of Political Affairs from 16 November to 9 December 2005. This mission's report will assist in the preparation of a project document for UNDP support to the Elections and a funding strategy.


Civil Society

Service line: 1.2 - Pro-poor policy reform to achieve MDG targets

UNDP, in collaboration with United Nations Volunteers (UNV), has provided grants to 21 CSOs (13 district-based) for organizational capacity development activities like strategic planning, financial management training and learning resources (such as books/documentation). 11 community radio stations have also been supported in capacity development through the Timorese Media Development Centre. In collaboration with the NGO Forum, the main Timorese umbrella organization, a mapping exercise of civil society (Civil Society Index) has been undertaken and is close to completion. With the current project in its exit phase until March 2006, a new project for building capacity of civil society is being formulated.