Biography: President José Ramos-Horta

Dr. José Ramos-Horta, the President of Timor-Leste, was born on 26 December, 1949, in Dili, Timor-Leste. His mother is Timorese and his father Portuguese. He had 11 brothers and sisters, three of whom were killed during the Indonesian occupation.

He was educated in a Roman Catholic mission. He is divorced and has one son.

Ramos-Horta began his career in journalism in 1969 in Timor-Leste. He was a co-founder of FRETILIN, the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of Timor-Leste.

On 28 November, 1975, after more than 400 years of Portuguese occupation, FRETILIN proclaimed independence and established the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Ramos-Horta was appointed FRETILIN’s Minister for External Affairs and Information. He was asked to go overseas to gain international support for the new country.

On 4 December, 1975, José Ramos-Horta left Timor-Leste for New York. Three days later, Indonesia invaded and occupied the island.

Arriving in New York, he addressed the United Nations Security Council, which adopted a unanimous resolution demanding that Indonesia withdraw its forces from Timor-Leste.

From 1975 to 1999, Ramos-Horta was the permanent representative for FRETILIN at the United Nations — the youngest diplomat in the history of the UN. He traveled extensively lobbying governments and creating networks of supporters for the cause of his people.

In 1990 he settled in Sydney, Australia, and founded the Diplomacy Training Program in the University of New South Wales.

In December 1996 José 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”.

In December 1999 Ramos-Horta returned to his homeland for the first time in almost 25 years. Thousands of Timorese crowded the airport and the seaside promenade of Dili to cheer him home. He was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in 2002.

On 10 July, 2006, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, following the resignation of then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. In 2007 he was elected President of the country by a 70% margin. He was sworn in as the second President of Timor-Leste on 20 May, 2007.

Ramos-Horta was injured and survived an assassination attempt by a band of rebel soldiers on 11 February 2008.

His native languages are Tetum and Portuguese. He is proficient in English, French and Spanish.

Video Biography on YouTube

Academic Background

Major Awards

Nobel Peace Prize