The Peace and Conflict Studies Center is located in National University of Timor Leste. It was founded in February 14, 2007, partly as a memorial centre for Students Solidarity Peace Prize 1999.
The International Students Festival (ISFIT) in cooperation with the Nobel Peace Prize Committee was awarded to Antero Benedito da Silva, the Leader of Timor Leste Students Solidarity Council and the organization for their contribution to the active non-violent self-determination struggle. The Peace and Conflict Studies Center is now formally part of the Faculty of Social and Political Science. Since June 2009, Peace and Conflict Studies Centre has hosted two foreign PhD students and supervised one of them who is doing her research on the history of resistance. In the future PCSC will become both centre for research and post-graduate studies on Peace and Conflict. integrating research into post graduate is to allow the university to have direct link with the people in the remote areas and to involve people in the development process and advancement of science. At the moment PCSC still relies on external funding, but in the future, some funding support should be part of the University budget, with some level of autonomy in its management and operations.
Historically, the Peace and Conflict Studies Centre is also a long term strategic response to Social and political crises that happened in Timor-Leste in 2006 that had caused humaniatrian crisis, the breakdown of social solidarity and even put East Timor paralel to the so-called failed states.
The first activity was to promote conflict transformation dialogue in the community level mainly in Bebonuk and Becora in July 2006. and with the support of East Timor Student Solidarity Council, we organized a national youth dialogue celebrating International Peace Day September 20, by bringing 200 youth from 13 districts together in Oecusse, the year 2006.
In 2007, PCSC began to provide a space for dialogue among young people and students; and the first activity in 2007 was to organize Peace Camp for Youth and community leaders around Dili. The Peace Camp was conducted in Atauro allowing participants to learn peace building and conflict resolution and leadership. Since then PCSC have organized numerous activities such as seminar on Peace Day organised in cooperation with the UNMIT; Timor Social Forum (2007); solidarity action for Burma which struggles for their democratization; organised Peace and Conflict Journalism training; and so forth.
In 2008 in the advice of the Irish Mission in Dili Peace Centre began to have link with the Irish Foreing Affairs in Ireland resulted in the Peace Centre cooperation with the Conflict Resolution unit (CRU) of Irish government.
The main objective for the initial cooperation has been the human resource and institutional development. Through research program, PCSC now has some associate researchers and four permanent researchers; Three of them are Master Degree holders’; and three associate doctor degree candidates; there have been 50 students trained in the Peace and Conflict Journalism; 40 volunteers are trained administration and office management and organization skills.
The approach of PCSC to peace building is through ensuring the social, cultural and economic development for the lowest segments of the Timorese society and expect to provide alternatives to the conventional social and economic order. The initial research topics are : cooperative and local economy development; Local initiatives in conflict transformation in Oecusse and Uato-Lari; and alternative energy. Another research topic that is focusing on F-FDTL petioners in 2006, is now undertaken and expect to complete a preliminary findings in the next few months. Alternative Enery is one of the strategic issue Timor-Leste. Peace Centre has supported the construction of a micro-hydro power in Baucau, though it still need some more support to succeed. The preliminary findings of it was presented in a conference on, Transforming Timor-Leste, organized by UNTL and Victoria University in Australia. And the same time peace center participated with national NGOs’s for the peace building program, conflict resolution and national issues for the land issues and housing right. PCSC is, for example, a member of the housing right networking and working group on peace building with national and international NGO’s and government.
Since the beginning of May 2009; PCSC has organized the seminar on indicationon in corruption in the government; journalism training in cooperation Timor-Leste Media Training Centre and PECOJON, International youth conference on Peace-building in cooperation with the FRONTIERS of south Korea, host a weekly seminar on history of Timor-Leste’s resistance; and capacity building through English emprovement and leadership and also make research on petitioners problem. At the moment, PCSC is working with UNMIT and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to run a two months diplomatic training for 30 students and is also part organizing of the Solidarity committee to celebrate 10th aniversary of the Popular Consultation in 1999. In cooperation with the Focus Global South based the University of Chulalongkon, Thailand, PCSC is due to complete a research on land conflicts and transformatin the capital city of Timor-Leste and a seminar will be organised towards the end of this month. Hopefully, it will contribute to the Draft of Law on Land which is still under consulation before it is submitted to the council of minister and the National Parliament.
PCSC has also been indirectly involve in transformation of the learning system in the University, by allowing young students to involve in research projects. A research topic on ‘violevence against university students’ was condducted in 2007 expecting to push for a education reform in the UNTL, including in the learning methods. The future attention will be also put into involving the high school teachers and students in the conflict transformation and alternative learning methods, instead of one way conventional method from teachers to students.
This years project will continue to pust attention human research and institutional development; references and library development; empowerment of young student leaders; and promoting bottom up community social-cultural and economic development as an alterative to peace-building in Timor-Leste; and finally to provide solidarity to struggling people in other countries such as West Sahara, Burma and Aboriginal communities in Australia.