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Keywords:

  • good governance;
  • statebuilding;
  • peacebuilding;
  • Timor-Leste;
  • liberal peacebuilding

SUMMARY

Statebuilding after conflict often entails liberal peacebuilding measures. The end of the UN mission in post-conflict Timor-Leste in December 2012 provides a unique opportunity to investigate statebuilding in practice. The liberal peacebuilding agenda has met with stiff academic resistance—mainly from the critical theorist camp—and is questioned as an appropriate measure of …statebuilding success. We deploy instead the good governance (GG) agenda as a hybrid local-liberal guide. Drawing on field work, interviews, and secondary documents, we investigate what we see as four key, intertwined and overlapping aspects of GG: state capacity including the establishment of a state bureaucracy, participation and the engagement of civil society, institution building and rule of law, and corruption control and transparency. We note GG provides a useful policy heuristic, while abstract “one-size-fits-all” liberal peacebuilding models, which avoid the complexities of machinery of government issues, the time taken to develop institutions, and historical and contextual environments of countries, are likely to face severe problems. New states may be dependent on external forces to maintain monopoly of violence. The reversibility and uncertainty of statebuilding and the decades-long commitment needed by international agencies are noted. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.