Situation Being part of the world’s youngest country, President Xanana Gusmão and his fellow countrymen faced unusual challenges. First, unlike more developed countries, East Timor had a greater dependence on non-governmental organizations for its survival and success. Second, East Timor has a claim to valuable riparian rights.
Consensus Effort At the request of President Gusmão, Consensus designed and facilitated a national dialogue focused on the future stability and prosperity of the world’s newest country.
Over the course of a week, Consensus, in collaboration with Belun, (an organization founded in East Timor by Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution), began the engagement by training fifteen East Timorese development professionals in large group facilitation techniques. Then, the team, led by Consensus, convened two intensive days of national dialogue and action planning related to the role of the NGO sector in the future of the country; the conclave was attended by President Gusmão as well as 250 representatives from every East Timorese non-governmental organization (NGO’s). More than thirty small groups convened during the process, creating detailed outputs of their ideas and commitments, which, in turn, were presented to the President and government.
President Gusmão lauded the power of the facilitation model that Consensus had designed and delivered. In the end, he noted that he was not only “satisfied”, but rather “surprised and delighted” at the stunning success of the historic initiative