The 20th U Thant Distinguished Lecture was presented by José Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President of Timor-Leste (2007–2012).
In his presentation, President Ramos-Horta focused on peace building and the lessons learned during and following East Timor’s long battle for independence. He shared his views on how the country has fostered democratization and socio-economic development over the last decade, and how successful those efforts have been. He focused on the challenges ahead for achieving inclusive development in which no communities or minorities are left aside.
President Ramos-Horta’s analysis was not limited to Timor-Leste. Rather, he underscored Asia’s responsibility to prioritize sustainable development and raise the standards of living for all people of the region, against a backdrop of ongoing maritime border disputes that threaten to undermine the progress achieved over the past decades.
The lecture was followed by comments from Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa, Visiting Professor at UNU and former representative of UN Secretary-General in Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).
A question and answer session with members of the audience concluded the event.
Simultaneous Japanese–English interpretation was provided.
For a full review of the event please visit the news page.
About the 20th U Thant Distingushed Lecturer
José Ramos-Horta acted, in exile, as a representative and spokesperson for the Timorese people during the period of Indonesian occupation of East Timor (1975–1999). It was in this capacity that he and Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo (bishop of East Timor) were jointly awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize “for their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor”. The selection committee called Ramos-Horta “the leading international spokesman for East Timor’s cause” and cited his “significant contribution through the ‘reconciliation talks’ and by working out a peace plan for the region”.
From 2000 to 2002, Ramos-Horta served as a Cabinet Member of the United Nations Transition Administration for East Timor (UNTAET). From 2002 to 2006 he served as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the newly established nation of Timor-Leste, and from 2006 to 2007 he served as that country’s second Prime Minister. In May 2007, Ramos-Horta was elected President of Timor-Leste; he held that post until May 2012.
He is a founding member and currently serves as Vice-President of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council. The APRC, which comprises former political leaders and diplomats from across Asia, was established in September 2012 to promote peace and reconciliation in the Asian region through quiet diplomacy.
Ramos-Horta holds a Master of Arts in Peace Studies from Antioch University (1984; Ohio, USA) as well as honorary doctorates from universities in eight countries (including Japan and the USA) He has written extensively on international affairs for various newspapers and is the author of three books about East Timor/Timor-Leste.