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  • Jonathan E. Pearl

Great Mediators in History #8. José Manuel Ramos-Horta

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

· Born 1949

· Grand-Cross of the Order of Liberty, Portugal (1998)

· Co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with Carlo Filipe Ximenes Belo - 1996

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, East Timor - 2002 to 2006

· President East Timor 2007-2012

· Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) 2013.

Ramos-Horta was born in 1949 to a Timorese mother and a Portuguese father, who had been exiled by the Salazar dictatorship. Of his eleven brothers and sisters, four were killed by the Indonesian Military. He and speaks fluently in five languages.


In 1975, after Portugal had devolved its colonial rule, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia. José Ramos-Horta was one of the leaders of the resistance. He did not take up arm himself, but left the country as foreign minister in the government set up by the liberation movement FRETELIN (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor). For the next twenty years Ramos-Horta travelled the world pleading the cause of the East Timorese, above all in the United Nations.

In the mid-1980s, Ramos-Horta began advocating dialogue with Indonesia, and in 1992 he presented a peace plan. It contained concrete proposals for humanitarian cooperation with the occupying power and a growing international presence headed by the UN. This was to lay the foundations for Indonesian withdrawal and self-determination for the East Timorese people.


Both these peace objectives were reached in 2001, and East Timor gained its independence.

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