The Asia Foundation Launches Groundbreaking Law Book on Professional Ethics in Timor-Leste

Speakers for the launch event (left to right) Erik Jensen (SLS/TAF), Donald Clark (Acting USAID Mission Director), Dr. Aurelio Guterres (Rector of UNTL), Dr. Claudio Ximenes (President, Court of Appeal), Larry Kramer (Dean, Stanford Law School), and Silas Everett (TAF Country Representative). Photo: Lirio da Fonseca

Dili, November 9, 2011 — The Asia Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) and Stanford University’s Law School launched “An Introduction to Professional Responsibility in Timor-Leste,” the first in a series of textbooks focused on the laws of Timor-Leste.

The launch took place at the Xanana Sports Center. Professor Larry Kramer, Dean of Stanford Law School, delivered the keynote address on “Popular Sovereignty and Constitutionalism in Timor-Leste.” Legal luminaries Dr. Claudio Ximenes and Dr. Aurelio Guterres also spoke at the ceremony.

“An Introduction to Professional Responsibility in Timor-Leste” analyzes the Timorese laws on professional ethics covering civil servants, public prosecutors, public defenders, magistrates and private lawyers. The book is widely available in Tetum, Portuguese and English. It is also free on-line at: It is hoped that the book will be used in legal education in the country’s universities as well as in training programs associated with the Judicial Training Center (CFJ). Textbooks on Contracts and Constitutional Law will be published next summer.

Dr. Aurelio Guterres observed that: “access to textbooks on the laws of Timor-Leste in the country’s official languages is essential to the work of UNTL’s law faculty” and highlighted the importance of the partnership with Stanford Law School and The Asia Foundation to UNTL’s own strategic plans.

Much of the inspiration for the text is owed to Dr. Claudio Ximenes, who in December 2009, suggested that the first volume in the textbook series should focus on professional ethics. At the ceremony, Dr. Claudio endorsed the volume saying that: “upholding professional responsibility and legal ethics is critical to the development of Timor-Leste’s legal system.”

In his keynote address, Dean Larry Kramer stressed the importance of citizen participation in the constitutional life of the country. He stated” “after all, citizens should be vital participants in democratic constitutionalism, just as they should be the ultimate beneficiaries.”

United States Ambassador Judith Fergin applauded the Timor Leste – U.S. educational partnership and underscored the importance of the inaugural volume on professional ethics in her remarks:  “All functioning governments … have rules of behavior for public servants. In the justice sector, the importance of these rules is particularly acute. This is because of the importance of the justice sector’s role in upholding public virtue.”

Mr. Donald Clark, Acting USAID Mission Director, and Mr. Silas Everett, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in Timor-Leste, also spoke. Ambassador Judith Fergin, United States Embassy, delivered her remarks to the group at a dinner the night before the launch. Professor Erik Jensen of Stanford Law School and a senior advisor to The Asia Foundation welcomed attendees at the launch and kicked off the proceedings. Mr. Donald Clark, Dean Larry Kramer and Mr. Silas Everett handed over the textbook in Portuguese, Tetum, and English to Dr. Aurelio Guterres, Rector of UNTL. Funding for the series of law textbooks comes from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

UNTL law students taking copies of the textbook after the launch. Photo: Lirio da Fonseca

Read more about the Foundation’s work in law and in Timor-Leste. For media inquiries, please visit the Press Room.

Related locations: Timor-Leste
Related programs: Law and Justice

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