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  • Monday 18th

    September 2017

  • From 11:00 AM

    To 12:00 PM

  • Pell Center

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Remarks and a Conversation with Timor Leste’s Founding Father and Former President Xanana Gusmão

Senator Claiborne Pell invested unprecedented time and energy into ending the military occupation of tiny Timor Leste, helping pave the way for the birth of Asia’s youngest democracy. Pell galvanized Rhode Island’s Portuguese-speaking communities to join him in pressing for change, even holding a Foreign Relations Committee hearing under the dome of the State House in Providence. All the while, the freedom-fighter Xanana Gusmao of Timor Leste was imprisoned in Indonesia, communicating secretly with the resistance and inspiring his fellow Timorese as “Timor Leste’s Nelson Mandela.”  Senator Pell would have been proud to see the Timor Leste of today: a peaceful free, thriving democracy.

In the last two decades, the United States has engaged around the world in trying to seed and support democracies that embrace the international system, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of international disputes — nowhere more successfully than in Timor Leste.  The results of other American and international efforts have been decidedly mixed—some proving tremendously costly failures, while others have succeeded with little acclaim.

Today, Timor Leste itself is at a crossroads. The clock is winding down on a novel test of dispute resolution, a first-time effort under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to settle a maritime boundary dispute not through arbitration, but through mediation.  The principals in this dispute are the young democracy of Timor-Leste and its much larger neighbor, Australia.

Join former Timorese President Xanana Gusmão for remarks and a candid conversation about the challenges of one of the world’s youngest democracies.

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