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Jose Ramos-Horta        

Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, Nobel Laureate

For twenty-five years, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jos‚ Ramos-Horta was the international voice for the people of East Timor as they struggled under one of the most brutal occupations in recent history. An eloquent international diplomat, and a renowned voice for human rights, today he serves as the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs as it takes its place as the world's newest democracy.

For twenty-five years, from 1975 to 1999, East Timor, a small island at the bottom of Indonesia, was occupied by the Indonesian military under the Suharto regime. Torture, disappearances and other human rights violations were commonplace. While occupied, 25% of the Timorese population perished.

In 1975, one day before the arrival of Indonesian warships in his country, Horta came to New York for the first time. 24 years old, never having seen snow or a skyscraper, he addressed the United Nations Security Council, and began navigating the waters of international diplomacy. Over more than two decades, he mobilized the international community against the oppression and eradication of his people. He was appointed the UN Representative for East Timor's independence movement BBC once stated that the Indonesian military "would have gladly traded every life they took in East Timor for Jos‚ Ramos-Horta's alone".

His efforts were rewarded when in 1999 the United Nations sponsored a referendum allowing the Timorese people to vote for their independence. Facing widespread destruction of the country by opposing militia, Horta returned from exile to play a key role in the rebuilding of his country, and the building of the world's newest nation.

As a result of his expert diplomacy, East Timor now enjoys full diplomatic and friendly relations with Indonesia. A devastating conflict, one causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, has been brought to a peaceful resolution.

Today, East Timor not only faces the struggle to rebuild economically, but new threats, from Indonesian fundamentalist Muslim groups. The country has been mentioned in a video by Osama Bin Laden as a terrorist target. A one hour plane ride from Denpasar, the recent attacks in Bali took place in one of the main transit points in and out of East Timor, and involved both UN staff from East Timor and Timorese workers. Horta confronts the problem of current terrorist movements from multiple aspects, including the need for military action as well as economic stabilization and the address of world poverty as a source of international instability.

He brings insight on international conflict resolution that can only be gained from personal experience and trials in the heat of conflict, coupled with a keen intellect and breadth of viewpoint gained from decades of successful international diplomacy.

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