José Ramos-Horta

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José Ramos-Horta

Jose Ramos 1996.jpg
4th President of East Timor
In office
17 April 2008 20 May 2012
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão
Preceded by Fernando de Araújo (Acting)
Succeeded by Taur Matan Ruak
In office
20 May 2007 11 February 2008
Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva
Xanana Gusmão
Preceded by Xanana Gusmão
Succeeded by Vicente Guterres (Acting)
3rd Prime Minister of East Timor
In office
26 June 2006 19 May 2007
President Xanana Gusmão
Preceded by Mari Alkatiri
Succeeded by Estanislau da Silva
Personal details
José Manuel Ramos-Horta

(1949-12-26) 26 December 1949 (age 69)
Dili, Portuguese Timor
(now East Timor)
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Ana Pessoa (Divorced)
Alma mater Antioch College
Busan University of Foreign Studies
Signature Assinatura de Jose Ramos-Horta.jpg

José Manuel Ramos-Horta GColIH GCL (Portuguese pronunciation:  [ʒuˈzɛ ˈʁɐ̃muz ˈɔɾtɐ] ; born 26 December 1949) is an East Timorese politician who was the President of East Timor from 20 May 2007 to 20 May 2012. Previously he was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2006 and Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007. He is a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize along with Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, for working "towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor".

Order of Prince Henry order

The Order of Prince Henry is a Portuguese order of knighthood created on 2 June 1960, to commemorate the quincentenary of the death of the Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator, one of the main initiators of the Age of Discovery. Minor reforms of the constitution of the Order occurred in 1962 and 1980.

Order of Liberty Portuguese civil order

The Order of Liberty, is a Portuguese honorific civil order that distinguishes relevant services to the cause of democracy and liberty, in the defense of the values of civilization and human dignity. The order was created in 1976, after the Carnation Revolution of 1974 in which the corporatist authoritarian Estado Novo regime of António de Oliveira Salazar and Marcello Caetano was deposed. The Grand Collar can also be given by the President of Portugal to former Heads of State and others whose deeds are of an extraordinary nature and particular relevance to Portugal, making them worthy of such a distinction. This can include political acts, physical acts of defense for Portugal, or the good representation of Portugal in other countries.

East Timor Country in Maritime Southeast Asia

East Timor or Timor-Leste, officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is a country in Maritime Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island surrounded by Indonesian West Timor. Australia is the country's southern neighbour, separated by the Timor Sea. The country's size is about 15,410 km2.


As a founder and former member of Fretilin, Ramos-Horta served as the exiled spokesman for the East Timorese resistance during the years of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor (19751999). While he continued to work with Fretilin, Ramos-Horta resigned from the party in 1988, becoming an independent politician. [1]

Fretilin political party in East Timor

The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor is a leftist political party in East Timor. They presently hold 23 of 65 seats in the National Parliament and serve in the opposition. Fretilin formed the government in East Timor from independence until 2007. The party began as a resistance movement that fought for the independence of East Timor, first from Portugal and then from Indonesia, between 1974 and 1998. After East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia, Fretilin became one of several parties competing for power in a multi-party system.

Indonesian occupation of East Timor

The Indonesian occupation of East Timor began in December 1975 and lasted until October 1999. After centuries of Portuguese colonial rule in East Timor, a 1974 coup in Portugal led to the decolonisation of its former colonies, creating instability in East Timor and leaving its future uncertain. After a small-scale civil war, the pro-independence Fretilin declared victory in the capital city of Dili and declared an independent East Timor on 28 November 1975.

After East Timor achieved independence in 2002, Ramos-Horta was appointed as the country's first foreign minister. He served in this position until his resignation on 25 June 2006, amidst political turmoil. On 26 June, following the resignation of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Ramos-Horta was appointed as acting Prime Minister by President Xanana Gusmão. Two weeks later, on 10 July 2006, he was sworn in as the second Prime Minister of East Timor. He was elected as President in 2007. On 11 February 2008, Ramos-Horta was shot during an assassination attempt.

A foreign minister or minister of foreign affairs is generally a cabinet minister in charge of a state's foreign policy and relations.

Mari Alkatiri Prime Minister of East Timor

Mari bin Amude Alkatiri, GCIH is a Timorese politician. He was Prime Minister of East Timor from May 2002 until his resignation on 26 June 2006 following weeks of political unrest in the country, and again from September 2017 until May 2018. He is the Secretary-General of the Fretilin party, as well as President of the Special Administrative Region of Oecusse.

Xanana Gusmão former President and Prime Minister of East Timor

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, GColIH, GCL, GCMG is an East Timorese politician. A former militant, he was the first President of East Timor, serving from May 2002 to May 2007. He then became the fourth Prime Minister of East Timor, serving from 8 August 2007 to 16 February 2015. He has been Minister of Planning and Strategic Investment since February 2015.

After leaving office as President in 2012, Ramos-Horta was appointed as the United Nations' Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) on 2 January 2013.

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.

United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau organization

The United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) is a United Nations peacebuilding mission in Guinea-Bissau.

Early history and family

Of mestiço ethnicity, [2] Ramos-Horta was born in 1949 in Dili, capital of East Timor, to a Timorese mother and a Portuguese father who had been exiled to what was then Portuguese Timor by the Salazar dictatorship. He was educated in a Catholic mission in the small village of Soibada, later chosen by Fretilin as headquarters after the Indonesian invasion. Of his eleven brothers and sisters, four were killed by the Indonesian military.

Mestiço ethnic group

Mestiço, in Colonial Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking part of Latin America, was initially used to refer to mamelucos, persons born from a couple in which one was an Indigenous American and the other a European. It literally translates as "mameluke", probably referring to the common Iberian comparisons of swarthy people to North Africans.

Portuguese people ethnic group

Portuguese people are a Romance ethnic group indigenous to Portugal that share a common Portuguese culture and speak Portuguese. Their predominant religion is Christianity, mainly Roman Catholicism, though vast segments of the population, especially the younger generations, have no religious affiliation. Historically, the Portuguese people's heritage includes the pre-Celts and Celts. A number of Portuguese descend from converted Jewish and North Africans as a result of the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

Ramos-Horta studied Public International Law at the Hague Academy of International Law (1983) and at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he completed a Master of Arts degree in Peace Studies (1984). He was trained in Human Rights Law at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg (1983). He completed Post-Graduate courses in American foreign policy at Columbia University in New York (1983). [3] [4] He is a Senior Associate Member of the University of Oxford's St Antony's College (1987) and speaks fluently in five languages: Portuguese, plus English, French, Spanish and the most commonly spoken East Timorese language, Tetum. [5]

Antioch College college in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Antioch College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Founded in 1850 by the Christian Connection, the college began operating in 1852; politician and education reformer Horace Mann became its first president. It was the founding, constituent college of Antioch University System, which Antioch College remained a part of until 2008. The college remained closed for three years before reopening in 2011, and fully separated from the university as an independent institution by 2014.

Yellow Springs, Ohio Village in Ohio, United States

Yellow Springs is a village in Greene County, Ohio, United States. The population was 3,487 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is home of Antioch College and Antioch University Midwest.

The International Institute of Human Rights is an association under French local law based in Strasbourg, France. It is composed of approximately 300 members worldwide, including universities, researchers, and practitioners of human rights.

He is divorced from Ana Pessoa Pinto, East Timor's Minister for State and Internal Administration, with whom he has a son, Loro Horta, born in exile in Mozambique. [6]

Political career

Jose Ramos-Horta (1976) Jose Ramos-Horta 1976.jpg
José Ramos-Horta (1976)

He was actively involved in the development of political awareness in Portuguese Timor, which caused him to be exiled for two years in 1970–71 to Portuguese East Africa. His grandfather, before him, had also been exiled, from Portugal to the Azores Islands, then Cape Verde, Portuguese Guinea and finally to Portuguese Timor.

A moderate in the emerging Timorese nationalist leadership, he was appointed Foreign Minister in the "Democratic Republic of East Timor" government proclaimed by the pro-independence parties in November 1975. When appointed minister, Ramos-Horta was only 25 years old. Ramos-Horta left East Timor three days before the Indonesian troops invaded to plead the Timorese case before the UN.

Ramos-Horta arrived in New York to address the UN Security Council and urge them to take action in the face of the Indonesian occupation during which an estimated 102,000 East Timorese would die. [7] Ramos-Horta was the Permanent Representative of Fretilin to the UN for the next ten years. His friends at that time mentioned that he arrived in the United States with a total of $25 in his pocket. His pecuniary situation was often straitened in that period; he survived partly by grace of Americans who admired his politics and his determination. Further, he was obliged to travel worldwide to explain his party's position.

In 1993, the Rafto Prize was awarded to the people of East Timor. Foreign-minister-in-exile Ramos-Horta represented his nation at the prize ceremony. In May 1994, Philippine President Fidel Ramos (no relation), bowing to pressure from Jakarta, tried to ban an international conference on East Timor in Manila and blacklisted Ramos-Horta, with the Thai government following suit later that year by declaring him persona non grata. [8]

In December 1996, Ramos-Horta shared the Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Timorese, Bishop Ximenes Belo. The Nobel Committee chose to honour the two laureates for their "sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of a small people", hoping that "this award will spur efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict of East Timor based on the people's right to self-determination". The Committee considered Ramos-Horta "the leading international spokesman for East Timor's cause since 1975". [9]

Ramos-Horta played a leading role in negotiating the institutional foundations for independence. He led the Timorese delegation at an important joint workshop with UNTAET on 1 March 2000 to tease out a new strategy, and identify institutional needs. The outcome was an agreed blueprint for a joint administration with executive powers, including leaders of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT). Further details were worked out in a conference in May 2000. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in East Timor, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, presented the new blueprint to a donor conference in Lisbon, [10] on 22 June 2000, and to the UN Security Council on 27 June 2000. [11] On 12 July 2000, the NCC adopted a regulation establishing a Transitional Cabinet composed of four East Timorese and four UNTAET representatives. [12] The revamped joint administration successfully laid the institutional foundations for independence, and on 27 September 2002, East Timor joined the United Nations. Ramos-Horta was its first Foreign Minister.

On 3 June 2006, Ramos-Horta added the post of Interim Minister of Defense to his portfolio as Foreign Minister, in the wake of the resignations of the previous minister. [13] He resigned as both Foreign and Defence Minister on 25 June 2006, announcing, "I do not wish to be associated with the present government or with any government involving Alkatiri." [14] Prime Minister Alkatiri had been under pressure to resign his position in place of President Xanana Gusmão, but in a 25 June meeting, leaders of the Fretilin party agreed to keep Alkatiri as Prime Minister; Ramos-Horta resigned immediately following this decision. [15] Foreign Minister of Australia Alexander Downer expressed his personal disappointment at Ramos-Horta's resignation. [16] Following Alkatiri's resignation on 26 June, Ramos-Horta withdrew his resignation to contest the prime ministership and served in the position on a temporary basis until a successor to Alkatiri was named. [17] On 8 July 2006, Ramos-Horta himself was appointed Prime Minister by President Gusmão. [18] He was sworn in on 10 July.

Before his appointment as Prime Minister, Ramos-Horta was considered a possible candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as United Nations Secretary-General. [19] He dropped out of the race in order to serve as East Timor's Prime Minister, but he has indicated that he might run for the UN position at some time in the future: "I can wait five years if I am really interested in the job in 2012. I would be interested in that." [20]

Ramos-Horta with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 2008 Lula e Ramos Horta 11072008.jpg
Ramos-Horta with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 2008

In an interview with Al Jazeera broadcast on 22 February 2007, Ramos-Horta said that he would run for president in the April 2007 election. [21] On 25 February 2007, Ramos-Horta formally announced his candidacy. He received the support of Gusmão, who was not running for re-election. [22] In an interview with Global South Development Magazine, Ramos-Horta revealed that Mahatma Gandhi was his greatest hero. [23]

In the first round of the election, held on 9 April, Ramos-Horta took second place with 21.81% of the vote; he and Fretilin candidate Francisco Guterres, who took first place, then participated in the second round of the election in May. [24] The full results of the runoff elections were made public by East Timor's National Electoral Committee spokeswoman, Maria Angelina Sarmento, on 11 May, and Ramos-Horta won with 69% of the vote. [25]

He was inaugurated as President of East Timor in a ceremony at the parliament house in Dili on 20 May 2007. [26] He had resigned as Prime Minister the day before and was succeeded by Estanislau da Silva.

During the first round of the presidential elections of 2012, held on 17 March, Ramos-Horta, who was eligible for a second and final term as president, took third place with 19.43% of the vote behind the presidential candidates Francisco Guterres with 27.28% and Taur Matan Ruak 24.17% of the vote. He admitted defeat, [27] and his term as president ended on 19 May, with the inauguration of Taur Matan Ruak as his successor. [28] [29]

Assassination attempt

On 11 February 2008, José Ramos-Horta was shot in an assassination attempt. In the gun skirmish, one of Ramos-Horta's guards was wounded, and two rebel soldiers, including rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, were killed. [30] [31] Ramos-Horta was treated at a New Zealand Military base in Dili before being transferred to the Royal Darwin Hospital in Australia for further treatment. Doctors thought that he had been shot two or three times with the most serious injury being to his right lung. [32] His condition was listed as critical but stable. [33] He was placed in an induced coma on full life support, [34] and regained consciousness on 21 February. [35] A message from Ramos-Horta, still recovering in Darwin, was broadcast on 12 March. In this message, he thanked his supporters and Australia and said that he had "been very well looked after". A spokesman said that his condition was improving and that he had started taking short daily walks for exercise. [36]

Ramos-Horta was released from the Royal Darwin Hospital on 19 March, although he said that he would stay in Australia for physical therapy for "a few more weeks". He also said on this occasion that he had remained conscious following the shooting and "remember[ed] every detail", describing how he was taken for treatment. [37] On 17 April, Ramos-Horta returned to Dili from Darwin. He gave a press conference at the airport in which he urged the remaining rebels in the mountains to surrender. [38]


Following the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d'état, he offered to mediate the conflict. As of 31 January 2013 he is the UN special envoy to the country. [39]

He is the author of the book Words of Hope in Troubled Times. [40]

Other activities

Ramos-Horta and the Obamas Jose Ramos-Horta with Obamas.jpg
Ramos-Horta and the Obamas

Ramos-Horta is a frequent speaker, along with other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, at Peacejam conferences.[ citation needed ] He has served as Chairman of the Advisory Board for, a web site for peace and human rights, since 2000. In 2001 he gathered the post 9/11 statements of 28 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates on the web site, [41] and has spearheaded other peace initiatives with his fellow Nobel Laureates.

Ramos-Horta supported the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and condemned the anti-American tone of its detractors as "hypocritical". [42] In the 1990s he had supported the cause of Kurdish people in Iraq. [43]

In May 2009 Ramos-Horta stated that he would ask the International Criminal Court to investigate the ruling junta of Myanmar if they continue to detain fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. [44] However, by August 2010, he had softened his views on Myanmar, warmly receiving the Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win, and said that he wanted to improve relations and seek strong commercial ties with Myanmar. [45]

Ramos-Horta is an early signatory of the International Simultaneous Policy (SIMPOL) which seeks to end the usual deadlock in tackling global issues. Lucas became a signatory in 2006. [46]

On 5 August 2009, he attended the funeral of the former President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino. He was the only foreign head of state to attend. [47] On 30 June 2010, he attended the inauguration of Benigno S. Aquino III, the 15th President of the Philippines. He was, again, the only head of state who attended the inauguration and the first dignitary to arrive in the Philippines for the inauguration..[ citation needed ] The two attendances effectively solidified East Timorese-Filipino diplomatic relations, to an extent where Filipino support for East Timorese ascension to ASEAN favorably increased.[ citation needed ]

Ramos-Horta is a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with Heads of Government on governance-related issues of concern to them.

In August 2017, ten Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including Ramos-Horta, urged Saudi Arabia to stop the executions of 14 young people for participating in the 2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests. [48]


Nobel Prize

The Roman Catholic bishop Ximenes Belo of East Timor and Ramos-Horta were jointly awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.


Depictions in fiction

The 2000 documentary The Diplomat, directed by Tom Zubrycki, follows Ramos-Horta in the period from 1998 to his return to East Timor in 2000. [52] [53] Ramos-Horta is played by Oscar Isaac in the 2009 film Balibo . [54] The film tells the story of the Balibo Five and the events preceding the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. [55]

See also

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Political offices
Preceded by
Mari Alkatiri
Prime Minister of East Timor
Succeeded by
Estanislau da Silva
Preceded by
Xanana Gusmão
President of East Timor
Succeeded by
Vicente Guterres
Preceded by
Fernando de Araújo
President of East Timor
Succeeded by
Taur Matan Ruak