The Importance of the Maritime Sector in Timor-Leste

22 Jun 2010

The Importance of the Maritime Sector in Timor-Leste

Dili, 21 June 2010 - "Timor-Leste has major maritime interests and the maritime sector is of great importance for the future prosperity and security of the country", emphasized Commodore Samuel Bateman, the keynote speaker at the second Distinguished Presidential Lecture on security reform in Timor-Leste.

The series of four lectures are designed to promote debate, on security-related topics and ideas that are relevant to Timor-Leste.

"Local ownership of the reform process is important and the objective of the lectures is not to dictate the path of reform, but to discuss the possibilities and options available to us", says Loro Horta, who is the UNDP National Manager for the Security Sector Review (SSR) project.

Commodore Bateman, formerly of the Royal Australian Navy, gave a comprehensive overview of the global maritime situation. He explained that "crimes at sea" have become more prevalent and thus the role of a maritime security force is increasingly focused on law enforcement.

Piracy, people smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal fishing and marine environment offences are now the priorities for many marine security forces around the world, as opposed to the traditional military or war-fighting role.

The Commodore believes that separating the role of the Coast Guards from that of the Navy can sometimes be helpful. Navies are often seen as inherently aggressive, whereas Coast Guards can often act as agents of diplomacy, fostering cooperation between neighbouring nations.

However, when looking at Timor-Leste's maritime force he says, "it doesn't matter who does the policing at sea, as long as it is done. Different agencies need to be clear about their individual responsibilities, to avoid duplication and ensure coordination".

The Distinguished Presidential Lectures on SSR are facilitated by the UN SSR Project. The project capacity building component of the project is funded by the European Union's Instrument for Stability.
The next lecture will take place in September and will focus on civilian oversight in the security forces. Baroness Nuala O'Loan from Great Britain will be the guest speaker. She is the former Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland.
(For more information, please contact Clare Santry, Media and Communications Officer, UNDP Timor-Leste at; Mobile: 670 7245425.)