Expo 2020 Dubai: Nobel Peace Prize winner reveals secret to ending conflict

Expo 2020 Dubai: Former Nobel Peace Prize winner reveals secret to ending conflict

Dubai - José Ramos-Horta spoke about the past conflict between East Timor and Indonesia at the Terra Auditorium



By Staff Report

Published: Tue 12 Oct 2021, 11:41 AM

Last updated: Tue 12 Oct 2021, 6:36 PM

The solution to ending wars lies in reconciliation and dialogue, says José Ramos-Horta, former President of East Timor in South East Asia and co-awardee of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.

Delivering an address on ‘East Timor and Indonesia – Example of Leadership in Reconciliation and Fraternity in Asia’ at Expo 2020 Dubai, held at the Terra Auditorium in the Sustainability District, Ramos-Horta referenced the past conflict between East Timor and Indonesia, and showed how the two warring sides came to an amicable solution.

In 2001, East Timor gained its independence, and the two countries have enjoyed friendly relations ever since.

“The resolution of the East Timor-Indonesia conflict is a great example of how amicable solutions can be found to the most difficult issues,” he said. “At one point, there was a demand for setting up an international tribunal to investigate the war crimes of the past. We squarely rejected the suggestion and opted for the reconciliation route, inspired by Nelson Mandela. History shows that we were right.”

Another example was the conflict in Bosnia.

“As a negotiator, I once walked into a room where the two sides involved in the Bosnia war had gathered,” Ramos-Horta recalled. “I could feel the tension, and an atmosphere of hostility. As I had the experience of the East Timor conflict, I stressed the need for reconciliation and dialogue. It took time to convince the two sides, but the reconciliation route ultimately worked.”

Ramos-Horta said that the principle of ‘no justice, no peace’ comes in the way of solving vexed issues.

“Yes, we must respect those who have died during conflict, but it’s more important to address the future of those alive,” he added. “We must learn lessons from the atrocities that took place, so that we can prevent a recurrence.”

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As one of the resistance leaders in East Timor, Ramos-Horta did not take up arms himself, but travelled all over the world pleading the cause of the East Timorese, including in the United Nations.

In 1996, Ramos-Horta shared the Nobel Peace Prize with his countryman, Bishop Carlos Belo.


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