Timor-Leste, Challenges in Post-Independence: From Dream to Reality

José Ramos-Horta

Timor-Leste, Challenges in Post-Independence: From Dream to Reality

Tuesday, 12 April 2016 - 5:00pm
Venue: 
Lecture Theatre, Middle East Centre, St Antony's College
Speaker(s): 
José Ramos-Horta (Former President of East Timor; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
Series: 
Southeast Asia Events in Oxford

This informal lecture, which will be followed by a question and answer session, is free for all to attend, but registration is required to guarantee admission. 

The lecture follows the 4 p.m. launch, in the same building, of a photography exhibition, Southeast Asian Vernacular Architecture. The exhibition is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13th through to April 24th at the Middle East Centre.
Both these events are part of the Festival of Southeast Asia in Oxford, which features museum and library exhibitions, a film festival, dance and music events as well as further lectures. The full programme can be found here. The festival is partnered with the 5th Southeast Asian Studies Symposium, to be held at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, on 14-16th April 2016.

José Ramos-Horta presents his lecture with these words: 
"What the experience of Timor-Leste teaches us is that there are no short cuts to peace; peace is a journey that must be reached step by step, a foundation that has to be built block by block. In my country we had to heal the wounds of the body and the heart; we honoured the victims, we are caring for the survivors; and we decided not to be hostage of the past, not to succumb to anger and hatred. 

When we fight for freedom, human dignity and justice, we fight because of our convictions and our conscience; but we only succeed in these noble endeavours if we also use our brains, our intelligence and common sense in pursuing these noble ideals and goals; we would be doomed to fail if we do not evaluate each and every situation and each and every step. After 24 years of a tumultuous relationship, Indonesia and Timor-Leste parted ways; in 2002 Timor-Leste achieved independence. 
In spite of the tragic past of violence, even as almost every Timorese family were still mourning the loss of loved ones, the leaders of the two countries began a process of reconciliation and normalization of relations. 
An illustration of how far and deep Indonesia-Timor Leste's relationship has developed after the tumultuous years of occupation and resistance (1975-1999), is the fact that Timor-Leste's ASEAN membership application has been most passionately championed by Indonesia. While in our own region, some had reservations about Timor-Leste's readiness to join ASEAN and become an effective member, Timor-Leste is playing a constructive and pro-active role elsewhere in the world and gaining sympathy and respect."

José Ramos-Horta presently serves as Co-Chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism, International Peace Institute, NY, September 2014-June 2016. In 2014-15 he was the Chair of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, appointed by the UN Secretary-General. From 2013 to 2014, he was the Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Integrated Peace Building Mission in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa.
José Ramos-Horta served as President of the Republic of Timor-Leste (2007-2012); Prime Minister and Minister of Defense (2006-2007); Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (2002-2006) and Cabinet Member in the United Nations Transition Administration for East Timor - UNTAET (2000-2002). He was also Minister for Foreign Affairs and Information in the first Government proclaimed in December 1975 following Timor-Leste's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, and Representative, Spokesperson, for the Resistance (1975-1999). 
Ramos-Horta has been active in Peace and Conflict Mediation, in Timor-Leste and internationally. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. He is Vice-President of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC) based in Bangkok, comprising leaders from Asia working on second track diplomacy and mediation. He has been awarded 20 ¨Doctor Honoris Causa¨, and has been Visiting Professor in Universities in Australia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Brazil, Portugal and the USA.  

Among his publications are: FUNU: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, Red Sea Press, Trenton, NJ, 1987; Timor-Leste: Amanha em Dili, Dom Quixote, Lisbon, 1994; he contributed to Thomas Cushman (Ed.), A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, 2005, University of California Press. 
José Ramos-Horta participates frequently in international conferences on peace and security. He writes extensively on international affairs for the International New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and Newsweek.