Coerced Transitions in Timor-Leste and Kosovo: Managing Competing Objectives of Institution-Building and Local Empowerment


Par Nicolas Lemay-Hébert
Democratization, vol.19, no 3, 2012.

Institution-building under the aegis of international administration has faced various hurdles and obstacles in Kosovo and Timor-Leste. One particular hurdle is related to the mandates of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, which created a conflict of objectives for the external actors – specifically, between institution-building and local empowerment. This article analyses the strategies of international administrators and local elites in this context. After attempting to prioritize institution-building while paying lip-service to imperatives of empowerment, international officials were forced to readjust their strategy as a result of opposition and resistance from local partners. In light of the practical consequences of the conflict of objectives, international officials proceeded to prioritize local empowerment, reducing their institution-building role. The article concludes by identifying the implications of these experiences for the debate concerning democracy promotion, and highlights the attributes of the ‘participatory intervention’ framework put forward by Chopra and Hohe.

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