His Excellency, President José Ramos-Horta of The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is recognized around the world as a tireless champion for peace. His work in resolving the conflict in his homeland is a model for building peace and democracy in a world too often crippled by violence and repression.
José Ramos-Horta began his political life in the 1960s by advocating for an independent Timor while the country was still under Portuguese control. Exiled to Mozambique for his political activities in 1970, he returned in 1972 and became the foreign minister for the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor when that party gained control of the country in 1975. When Indonesia invaded East Timor later that year, José Ramos-Horta was forced back into exile.
José Ramos-Horta was the voice of independence in exile for East Timor for 24 years. He worked tirelessly to draw the world’s attention to Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor and its human rights violations, which included the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people – four of President Horta’s siblings among them.
While he conducted shuttle diplomacy in the corridors of the United Nations, José Ramos-Horta also worked with all Timorese Resistance Groups to ensure a cohesive, unified view of independence and action. Independence was finally achieved in 2002 after a period of bloody oppression that displaced two-thirds of the country’s population and destroyed much of its infrastructure. José Ramos-Horta was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation at that time. He became Prime Minister in 2006 and in May 2007 was elected president of what had become The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
President Horta’s international awards include the Gran Cross of the Order of Freedom from the President of Portugal in 1998, the First Hague Peace Appeal Award in 1999 and the Gold Medal from the President of Italy in 2000.
In 1996 José Ramos-Horta and Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their combined efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to decades of conflict in East Timor. The Nobel Committee stated that the Peace Prize winners had “laboured tirelessly, and with great personal sacrifice, for their oppressed people. Under extremely difficult conditions, they have preserved their humanity and faith in the future.”
In recognition of his tireless defense of human rights, his perseverance to the service of peace, and his personal contribution to upholding the principles of freedom and democracy, Royal Roads University is pleased to name His Excellency, President José Ramos Horta for the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.