Which Values Unite Us Today - International Conference, 10-12 March 2016, Sofia, Bulgaria

HE Dr Jose Ramos-Horta

Dr Jose Ramos Horta played a historical role in the fight for independence of his country. He has been President of the Republic of Timor Leste from 2007 to 2012, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence (2006-2007), Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (2002-2006).  He served as Cabinet Member, United Nations Transition Administration for East Timor - UNTAET (2000-2002). 

He was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Information in the first Government, proclaimed in December 1975 following Timor-Leste's Unilateral Declaration of Independence. He has been Representative and Spokesperson for the Resistance throughout the period 1975 to 1999.

Since November 2014, Ramos Horta is serving as Chair, High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations, with the mandate to review UN peace and security mechanisms. Co-Chair, Internstional Commission on Multilateralism (UN Reform)  and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Integrated Peace Building Mission in Guinea-Bissau (West Africa) from Jan 2013 to June 2014. Since September 2012, he has been Vice-President, Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC), Secretariat in Bangkok, involving leaders from Asia and working on second track diplomacy and mediation. 

Major awards:

  • Order of Timor-Leste (2012)
  • Order of Dom Boaventura (2006)
  • Nobel Peace Prize (1996) 
  • Orders from Portugal, Brazil, Cuba, Cape Verde 
  • Numerous other international awards

Jose Ramos Horta's legacy:

Human Rights and extreme poverty eradication 

  • José Ramos-Horta's commitment to, and engagement with, the promotion and protection of human rights is well-documented and was/is not limited to his own country, Timor-Leste. 
  • In January 1990 launched at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, the first ever human rights education and training program in Asia, Diplomacy and Human Rights, an innovative approach in the teaching of human rights through an intensive multi-disciplinary course to acquaint and equip human rights advocates with practical and theoretical knowledge about international human rights instruments and skills on quiet diplomacy and public advocacy, to advance the human rights agenda. 
  • The program remains the most successful in the whole of Asia-Pacific region with training sessions conducted throughout the year in different countries, with over 2,000 human rights advocates benefiting from it.
  • Led the first ever human rights education and advocacy training program inside Burma, in July 1994, and since training programs have been conducted in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Malaysia, Thailand, The Philipinnes, HongKong, India, Nepal, Qatar (focused on migrant workers rights). 
  • He has written and spoken extensively on human rights situations in Myanmar, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, etc.  Spanning over 30 years, he advocated indigenous and minority peoples rights, mutual respect and tolerance among different faiths. 
  • As Head of State Jose Ramos-Horta did not shy away from publicly condemning Human Rights abuses in North Korea and Iran when other Asian leaders were silent. 
  • With his influence and leadership, since 2002 Timor-Leste voted in favor of every UNGA resolution on country specific human rights situation, like Iran, Myanmar, North Korea. 
  • For his relentless work on promoting human rights, Ramos-Horta received his first international award, the Professor Thorof Rafto Human Rights Award (Bergen, Norway, 1993). 
  • As Timor-Leste first Foreign Affairs Minister, working closely with the late Sergio Vieira De Mello, Jose Ramos-Horta advocated and succeded in having Timor-Leste acceding to and ratifying all core international human rights treaties on the first day of Timor-Leste's independence in 2002. 
  • Throughout his tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister and President, Ramos-Horta managed with deep humanitarian convictions  incidents of "boat people", always reminding legislators and public of Timor-Leste's obligation towards all peoples fleeing tyranny, extreme poverty and wars. 
  • During the worst political and humanitarian crisis in Timor-Leste in  2006 in an extraordinary show of compassion, Ramos-Horta opened the gates of his family compound in Dili and hosted hundreds of women, children and elderly over many weeks until they were safely resettled in a UNHCR camp. 
  • During his time in office as President J. Ramos-Horta launched a series of simple, creative anti-poverty initiatives, aiming at improving the lives of the poorest of the poor. Among these initiatives, he launched a community-based housing program for the extremely poor and vulnerable, empowering the youth in the poor neighborhoods to identify the beneficiaries and land and through cash-for-work the youth built the homes. This is was an enormously successful and empowering program contributing to lowering tensions and conflicts in the poor neighborhoods.
  • For five years of his term in office, President Ramos-Horta donated half of his monthly salary and the "13th month bonus" to different social and humanitarian projects. All his per-diem from local travels were donated to the lowest paid staff in his office, the cleaners, drivers, etc. 
  • All his paid public speaking engagements were donated to different groups in Timor-Leste, particularly, those NGOs providing shelter, protection and counseling to women and girls victims of domestic and sexual violence. 
  • During his assignment in Guine-Bissau, SRSG Ramos-Horta has personally paid for numerous poor and critically ill patients to be evacuated to Lisbon for urgent treatment.


  • Negotiated with hostage takers in Colombia in 1998, successfully secured release of 15 hostages held by the Ejercito de Liberación Nacional (ELN);
  • Special Envoy of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries - CPLP - mediating the conflict in the West African country Guinea-Bussau, 2003, 2004.
  • Mediated numerous disputes and conflicts in Timor-Leste over more than 10 years, ranging from youth gang violence and land disputes to crisis within the military, police and political elites.
  • Conceived the "Dili, City of Peace" Campaing, Dili International Marathon, Tour de Timor, Anti-Poverty Initiatives, etc.
  • Academic 
  • Member Honorary Advisory Council of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard University, 2012 - 
  • Doctorate candidate, International Relations, Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal (2007 - )
  • Diploma, Executive Program, Leaders in Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard  University (1998)
  • Senior Associate Member, International Relations, St. Antony's  College, University of Oxford (1987)
  • Masters of Arts in Peace Studies, Antioch University, Ohio, USA (1984)
  • Advanced Diploma, Public Relations, Centro Internacional de Marketing (1970-1974).
  • Attended and completed courses in Public International Law, The Hague Academy of International Law, International Human Rights Law, The International Institute of Human Rights, Strasbourg (1983).
  • Doctor Honoris Causa from Universities in Australia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, The Philipinnes, Brazil, Portugal, USA.
  • Founding President, Diplomacy and Human Rights Programme, DTP, Law Faculty, University of New South Wales, Sydney, since 1990. Lectured on United Nations system; created and directed UN Security Council models. 
  • Visiting Professor, University of New South Wales, Sydney, since 1996.
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor, Victoria University, Melbourne, since 2007.
  • Visiting Professor Ewa Women International University, Seoul, 2007-2012.

Membership in Major Int'l Organisations

  • Club of Madrid, Madrid
  • Global Leadership Foundation, London
  • Ocean Security Initiative/ Iniciativa para la Seguridad de los Océanos (OSI), Cartagena, Colômbia 
  • Global Fairness Initiative, Washington, DC
  • High Level Panel, Save the Dream Programme, an initiative of the  Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and International Centre for Sport Security, aimed at restoring faith in Olympic Sports, Doha, Qatar.

Besides mother-tongues Tetum and Portuguese, fluent English, French and Spanish.  

Books and other writings

  • FUNU: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, Red Sea Press, Trenton, NJ, USA, 1987;
  • Timor-Leste: Amanha em Dili, Dom Quixote, Lisbon, 1994;
  • The Lost World of Timor-Leste, Ministry Education, UNICEF, Dili, Timor-Leste (2010), A children's story book written with Patricia Vickers-Rich, and illustration by Peter Trusler (300,000 copies so far in 16 languages); 
  • A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq by Thomas Cushman (Editor) with Christopher Hitchens, José Ramos-Horta and others. Editor Paperback, 1st Edition, 372 pages. Published July 11th 2005 by University of California Press;

Written extensively on international affairs for the International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast/Newsweek, etc.