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Stanford, Asia Foundation Launch First Text To Focus On Laws Of Timor-Leste

Publication Date: 
December 07, 2011
In Asia
Geoffrey Swenson

Dean Larry Kramer's keynote address from the launch event of Timor-Leste's first law text is mentioned by Geoffrey Swemso in the below In Asia article. In the address Kramer noted that the job of lawyers was to improve society and stressed that education in law school is particularly important.

Law has little meaning when it is not widely understood. Concepts like “conflict of interest” or “integrity” are used repeatedly in theories and explanations of law, but they are not self-explanatory. Perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in Timor-Leste, where rule of law is in the early stages of institutionalization and not well-understood by most citizens. And, until now, there were no legal texts focused on the laws of Timor-Leste. Professors were dependent on foreign law texts, primarily from Portugal or Indonesia.

Last month, The Asia Foundation, in partnership with Stanford Law School, the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), and USAID, launched the new nation’s first law text focused on the laws of Timor-Leste in both official languages – Portuguese and Tetum – and the working language, English.


Over a hundred people attended the launch, including Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer and TLLEP’s faculty adviser at Stanford and Asia Foundation Senior Law and Governance Adviser Erik Jensen, as well as leading figures in academia, government, the legal profession, international organizations, and most of the currently enrolled law students from UNTL.

Dean Kramer’s keynote address seemed to resonate with the audience, in particular those involved in teaching law and guiding the overall development of the legal profession. He stressed that all lawyers, even private lawyers, as well as government officials have an inherent obligation to uphold the rule of law in a democratic society. He said it was the job of lawyers to improve society and he stressed that education in law school is particularly important as it could help instill democratic values in the students of today and, by extension, in the leaders of tomorrow.