Archive for the ‘Ramos Horta’ Category

The Road to Turtle Bay: The Nobel Laureate

June 13, 2006

This is the first in a series on the leading unannounced candidates. We are focusing on unannounced candidates because of the apparent failure of the current batch of announced candidates to take off.

Background. The first candidate that we will consider is José Ramos Horta. He is currently the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister of East Timor. He was first appointed Foreign Minister in 1975 when East Timor was briefly independent. Between 1975 and the recent founding of East Timor, Ramos-Horta was the spokesman for East Timor. In 1996, he received a Nobel Peace Prize.

José Ramos Horta

Turmoil in East Timor. Ramos Horta has been mentioned as a candidate for UNSG. His experiences would give him important authority when speaking about peacebuilding and peacekeeping and development. Until the last month East Timor had been considered one of the shining successes of the UN peacekeeping apparatus. He has also spent significant time in the West, living in Lisbon and Australia during his exile. During this time, he was active as a human rights activists. In some sense, he embodies what Ban Ki-moon identified the three pillars of the UN, "development, human rights, and peace and security".

Unfortunately, the shining success of East Timor has fallen apart in recent weeks. 600 soldiers went on strike, leading to gang warfare. Over 100,000 East Timorese fled from machete-wielding bandits into refugee camps, making them again dependent on aid agencies for the basic necessities of life.

Ramos Horta took over as Defense Minister, in addition to Foreign Minister, and may yet become Prime Minister. He is negotiating with the rebels. It is unclear where this will lead. He now claims that the UN will need to be present for another decade, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for East Timor has called for $18 million in aid. (Update: According to UN Dispatch, via the New Zealand press, UNDP is increasing this to $28m)

Implications for UNSG Candidacy. Simply put, it would be inappropriate for Ramos Horta to be a candidate while his country needs him. He is clearly a heroic figure and a symbol to developing nations. However, the people of East Timor need quality leaders, and it is not at all clear that there are people in East Timor with his stature. Furthermore, the model of East Timor is tarnished. It is no longer the shining success. However, Ramos Horta may some day be an important candidate for UNSG. But not at this time.