Celebrating Ten Years of U.S.-Timor-Leste Diplomatic Relations

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 18, 2012

On May 20, the United States and Timor-Leste commemorate the tenth anniversary of diplomatic relations. The United States and Timor-Leste have enjoyed an enduring partnership based on shared values that dates to Timor-Leste’s independence ten years ago. Together we advance human rights and democracy in Timor-Leste and around the world. We build strong foundations for Timor-Leste's future as a stable, peaceful, and prosperous democracy. The United States is committed to deepening this partnership into the next decade and beyond.

Over a dozen U.S. agencies have provided more than $350 million in assistance to Timor-Leste since 2000. The United States also supports Timor-Leste through contributions for the United Nations peacekeeping mission and to international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Our rich set of activities contribute to stability via professionalism of the police and military; to a vibrant population through better maternal and child health; to liberty and fairness through support for an impartial system of justice, strong governing institutions, and clean governance; and to prosperity through programs to advance economic and agricultural development, reduce poverty, expand educational opportunity, and create jobs.

Promoting Stability and Security

  • The "Supporting Police, Sustaining Peace" program is strengthening Timor-Leste’s national police, promoting conflict prevention among youth, and increasing civil society engagement with the security forces. Multiple U.S. agencies support law enforcement in Timor-Leste, including the Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
  • U.S. military engagement with Timor-Leste is robust and focused on the professionalization of the armed forces and humanitarian assistance. Our engagement includes ship visits, joint exercises, humanitarian missions, the deployment of a detachment of Navy Seabees, English language training, and annual bilateral defense consultations. The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Partnership humanitarian missions alone have touched the lives of tens of thousands of Timorese in the country’s most remote regions.

Strengthening Good Governance

  • The United States is supporting Timor-Leste’s 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections by sponsoring international observation missions, training domestic observers, and providing voter and civic education.
  • USAID provides legal aid assistance to thousands of underserved citizens, trains village councilors about their rights and responsibilities under local law, and supports journalists to raise professional standards.
  • The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Threshold Program is significantly strengthening Timor-Leste’s efforts to combat corruption by providing key support to the fledgling Anti-Corruption Commission.
  • The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs funds a Department of Justice Resident Legal Advisor to support the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Central Bank, the National Parliament, and other major institutions, focusing on legislative reform and addressing complex criminal cases.
  • The United States is strengthening the capacity of Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs by improving diplomatic training programs and information science resources.

Boosting Economic Growth

  • U.S. programs are reducing poverty in Timor-Leste by increasing private sector opportunities. The USAID-supported Café Cooperativa Timor provides income for over 20,000 families. USAID’s Greenhouse Program raises the incomes of rural households by diversifying crops and building links to markets.
  • USAID’s Land Law Program is implementing the first-ever survey, registration, and titling of land in Timor-Leste, strengthening land regulations and administrative systems, and developing dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • We are developing the aquaculture sector and building market links for some of the poorest coastal communities through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress program.
  • The U.S. Trade and Development Agency assisted in the creation of Timor-Leste’s successful petroleum investment regime and helped build the institutions needed to develop the country’s hydrocarbon resources.

Promoting Improved Health and Protecting the Environment

  • USAID’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene Program has provided access to improved water sources for 23,000 people and access to basic sanitation for 10,000 people.
  • U.S. assistance is strengthening services at rural health centers to improve nutrition, family planning, newborn and maternal care, and treatment for malaria and diarrhea. We are boosting immunization rates by bolstering community health systems and improving immunization management through MCC’s Threshold Program.
  • The five-year U.S. Coral Triangle Support Program is bolstering Timor-Leste’s capacity to manage its sensitive coastal and coral reef resources to enhance food security, human health, and adaption to climate change. In conjunction with this support, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USAID, and the Timor-Leste National Fisheries Directorate are creating a five-year work plan to better conserve and manage Timor-Leste’s marine resources and help collect and analyze scientific data.

Investing in People and Expanding People-to-People Ties

  • Since independence in 2002, over 50 Timorese students have received scholarships for full-time degree study at American universities through the Fulbright Program and the U.S.-Timor-Leste Scholarship program. The United States, the ConocoPhillips-led Bayu-Undan Joint Venture, and the Timor-Leste government's Secretariat of State for Natural Resources are partnering to provide additional Fulbright scholarships for masters and doctoral degrees. USAID is preparing to launch a new program to expand the number of undergraduate-level scholarships.
  • The United States sponsors multiple English-language programs including English Language Fellows and after-school courses for low-income children. We also fund in-depth research into why Timorese children drop out of school at early ages. The research will be used to develop strategies to raise attendance rates.
  • U.S. small grants support Timorese NGOs and institutions on diverse projects, such as cultural preservation, preventing gender-based violence, and promotion of human rights.

PRN: 2012/794