The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to José Ramos-Horta and Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo for their “work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor.”
An edited version of the 1996 Award Ceremony Speech, Presentation Speech by Francis Sejersted, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee at the ceremony:José Ramos-Horta: Mediator & Diplomat
The conflict in East Timor has been called “the forgotten conflict.” It has not, however, been completely forgotten, having figured on the international agenda, with varying degrees of prominence, throughout those twenty years. But it has so to speak never caught on. There have been so many other interests and regards to attend to, and East Timor is so small.
Ramos-Horta was a leader, one of the moderates whose ideal was social democracy. During the so-called civil war, he was out of the country; and, on his return, he tried to reconcile the parties.
He has lived abroad,unceasingly and with great personal sacrifice collecting and communicating information on the repression, torture and killing in his home country and acting as East Timor’s principal international spokesman.
At the same time, he has successfully kept up his efforts to unite the various East Timorese groups in a single national front, while constantly seeking opportunities for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
No serious negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict are conceivable today without the participation of Ramos-Horta or one of his aides.Bishop Carolos Filipe Ximenes Belo: Healer & Representative
Bishop Belo was appointed Apostolic Administrator for the Roman Catholic Church in East Timor in 1983. Again and again, in the midst of everyday terror and suffering, he has intervened, trying to reconcile and mediate and lessen confrontation, and in doing so he has saved many lives. Intervening in a violent conflict entails a risk of being crushed between the antagonists.
But Bishop Belo has become much more than a mediator: this man of peace has also become a rallying point for his sorely tried people, a representative of their hope for a better future.
The love his people feel for this mediator springs from certain fundamental principles he has adhered to. Show the people respect.
Give them freedom to develop their humanity to the full. You do not gain respect if you do not show respect.
This year’s two Peace Prize Laureates have labored tirelessly,and with great personal sacrifice, for their people.