The ‘Dili, City of Peace’ campaign is a multi focused strategy in peace building aiming at fostering a culture of peace in Timor-Leste. Conceived by the former President of the Republic, Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, and announced in 2008 at the “Festa Ba Dame” (a one day peace building event in Dili for at risk youth and children) the campaign looks to address and rectify the conditions that prevailed previously in Timor-Leste allowing the 2006-2007 displacement to manifest.
The Dili, City of Peace Campaign had environmental, peace building, poverty reduction and sporting events all simultaneously ongoing that were conducted in the capital and across the nation in all thirteen districts from 2008 until 2012.
International Events History
The International Events that started in 2009 had their beginnings in the Timor Challenge, which was held in 2004, and was organised by Luke Gosling.
This event was a 3 day multidiscipline endurance challenge race with a mixture of local and international teams of four. Teams selected athletes to participate in each of the day’s leg, the canoeing (averaging 4km), running (averaging 15 km) and cycling (averaging 40 km).
What marked the event was the social outreach program complementing the race. Musicians from Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia all collaborated to perform a concert in each of the three locations: Maliana, Los Palos and Dili, which were open to the public and drew peaceful crowds of up to 10,000 people per night. The highlight of this process was Ego Lemos and Paul Kelly performing to a big crowd at the awards ceremony and concert held at the Dili Stadium.
In 2006 the Jose Ramos-Horta again asked Luke Gosling to organise a multi day sporting event, this time a race based on the Tour de France and focused solely on cycling. Unfortunately civil unrest in Dili began the day organisers were to announce the event in Sydney and it took another two years until the situation on the ground had normalized enough to begin the process again.
In 2008 Gosling was asked to hold a one day bike race from Maubisse to Dili. This event was comprised mainly of local riders and was a key step in starting to raise the profile of cycling as a sport in Timor-Leste. Certainly upcoming talent had been spotted in the ability of local riders and the race itself was further evidence of the ideal type of terrain that Timor-Leste’s geography could provide for the development of adventure tourism.
By this time the ‘Dili, City of Peace’ campaign had been announced and various program elements had already started. It was mid-2009 and the former President of the Republic asked Michael Stone and Sean Ferguson-Borrell to organise the ‘Tour de Timor’, a five day cycling race for local and international participants to explore Timor-Leste together.
Just fours years later the Dili Marathon had over 8000 runners registered to participate and the Tour de Timor has achieved notoriety as Asia’s toughest Mountain Bike Race. Along the way the Creative Activities Unit has organised and implemented a range of tourism, conservation and sporting events – all of which have contributed to the ‘Dili City of Peace’ campaign.
International Events Philosophy
For Timor-Leste, sport is not just an exercise with social and health benefits, but a crucial tool in peace building, youth engagement, education, gender equality and economic development. In this way sporting events are also key to the well-being and livelihoods of the people of Asia’s newest nation.
There is no doubt that sport has historically played an important and diverse role in virtually every society. More recently, sport has received more formal recognition by governments, the UN, international agencies, NGOs and civil society, as a vital tool in realizing a range of community development, economic and social goals. International dialogue and major policy developments have seen Sport for Development and Peace become a major theme on the international development agenda.
Governments around the world are incorporating sport into their national agendas. Some of the widely recognized benefits of sort-in-development programs include:
Community Cohesion and harmony.
Capacity of communities to solve problems, enhancing community resilience.
Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.
Improving physical fitness and health, as well as resilience to conditions and diseases.
Providing a key platform for spreading health related information.
Encouraging sports at the club, federation and national level.
Education and Youth Engagement
Fostering self esteem and empowerment
Providing opportunities for youth leadership and achievement.
Incentives for school attendence
Focus on gender equality, equal opportunities and the promotion of female role models
Developing local markets through events, producing goods. Sport tourism, local logistics and employment.
Improve employability through the acquisition of skills and work values.
Building experience through professional mentoring and international best practise
Unique access to technical expertise in course design, timing & results systems, and event management.
Pro-bono support from Event Directors & technical international bodies
Opportunities for skills sharing and capacity-building