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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Alternative Modes of Security Governance in the Global South: Merging the Police and the Military in Timor-Leste

Conflict Resolution
Deniz Kocak
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment
Deniz Kocak
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

The paper questions, whether the Western notion of Security Sector Reform and Governance (SSR/G), that is, the institutional separation of the coercive agents (police, military and intelligence), can be implemented during foreign led state-building missions without considering the country’s legacy of maintaining the coercive sector.

It will be argued that despite the massive investment of donor money, historical legacies of post-conflict countries determine the outcome of how the security structure eventually will work. The case of Timor-Leste, formerly occupied by Portugal and Indonesia as well as administered by the UN, is a perfect example of how the merger of the military and the police in the colonial past blew the advocated Western Security Sector Reform model in the present.

While heavy clashes between the Timorese police (PNTL) and the military (F-FDTL) led to a humanitarian crisis and devastation in 2006, recent joint operations of the police and the military against the organized crime and violent gangs seem to reconcile the former rival security organizations at the moment. Although the merger of the police and the military charges the otherwise unengaged, and therefore dangerous, military, it also blurs the areas of responsibility between the police and the military and runs counter to the internationally advocated approach of separating the armed forces’ and police areas of responsibility.
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