The Nobel Peace Prize 1996
Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, José Ramos-Horta
Born: 26 December 1949, Dili, East Timor
Residence at the time of the award: East Timor
Prize motivation: "for their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor"
Field: negotiation, peace movement
In 1975, when Portugal had devolved its colonial rule, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia. José Ramos-Horta was one of the leaders of the resistance. He did not take up arms himself, but left the country as foreign minister in the government set up by the liberation movement FRETELIN (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor). For the next twenty years he traveled all over the world pleading the cause of the East Timorese, above all in the United Nations. Ramos-Horta shared the Peace Prize with his countryman, Bishop Carlos Belo.
In the mid-1980s, Ramos-Horta began advocating dialogue with Indonesia, and in 1992 he presented a peace plan. It contained concrete proposals for humanitarian cooperation with the occupying power and a growing international presence headed by the UN. This was to lay the foundations for Indonesian withdrawal and self-determination for the East Timorese people.
Both these peace objectives were reached in 2001. According to Ramos-Horta, the Nobel Peace Prize contributed significantly to this end.