Peace on a plate : aid, reintegration and the thesis of liberal peace, Timor Leste, 1999-2004 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University
This thesis examines the impacts of aid agencies on the reintegration of repatriated refugees to Timor Leste. Scholars and aid practitioners involved in post-conflict peace building suggest that refugee reintegration is vital to the achievement of durable peace. They claim that reintegration will best occur through the reversal of structural inequalities and the adoption of a representative democratic structure and a market economy. Many of the relief and development activities aid organisations instigate are intended to contribute towards these ends. They are thus claimed to build a facilitating environment for returnee reintegration. The research is based upon the interviews of ninety-seven groups of returnees, stayees and community leaders and a number of aid agencies, which operated programmes between 1999 and 2004 in Timor Leste. The research concludes that aid agencies played a positive role in refugee reintegration however the non-aid aspects of people's lives were of greater significance to the success of their overall reintegration. The short time spans that most aid agencies operated in and their failure to develop close working relationships in the communities they operated in, prevented them from significantly contributing to deeper level social, political and economic change that may have contributed to the state of liberal peace.