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Keynote lecture – The future of the United Nations and multilateralism

6 November 2016

6 November 2016


Dr. Ramos-Horta was born in 1949 in Dili, East Timor, then a Portuguese colony. At the age of eighteen, he was exiled to Mozambique for criticizing the Portuguese colonial government. Returning in 1972, he joined the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of Timor-Leste, Fretilin. The Fretilin gained control of the government in 1975, and declared East Timor’s independence; Dr. Ramos-Horta was named Foreign Minister.


A few days later Indonesia invaded East Timor, and Ramos-Horta was again forced into exile.


Dr. Ramos-Horta spent the next 24 years in exile, during which he travelled extensively lobbying governments and creating networks of supporters for the cause of his people. He addressed the United Nations Security Council with regard to the withdrawal of Indonesian forces from his country, making him the youngest diplomat in the history of the UN at the time.


In December 1996 Dr. Ramos-Horta and Bishop Carlos Belo were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in Timor-Leste”.


East Timor’s first president appointed him as the country’s first Foreign Minister. He was then elected Prime Minister and later elected President of East Timor in 2007. His presidential term ended in 2012 and since then he has chaired the High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations, to review UN peace and security mechanisms, as well as co-chaired the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (UN Reform).