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UNSW welcomes East Timor’s PM

UNSW welcomes East Timor’s PM

EAST TIMOR’S Prime Minister, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, spoke of the uncertainty in his fledgling country’s future at the law faculty of the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) inaugural Hal Wootten…

EAST TIMOR’S Prime Minister, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, spoke of the uncertainty in his fledgling country’s future at the law faculty of the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) inaugural Hal Wootten Lecture last week.

“Today [the ministers of the government of East Timor] struggle to maintain ideals of freedom and justice,” Ramos-Horta said. “It is four years since East Timor’s independence and we are still faced with the huge challenge of creating a functioning government.”

Ramos-Horta spoke of a return to violence in May 2006, in which sections of the military caused the wider population to clash in bloody incidents around the country. He cited a failure of the judiciary and police, along with sections of the UN administration, and his own government’s inability to maintain law and order.

The law faculty has nurtured a strong relationship with Ramos-Horta. While in exile and campaigning on behalf of East Timor, UNSW made Ramos-Horta a Visiting Fellow in 1989 and formed the diplomacy training program — a human rights training program made available to people from the Asia-Pacific region.

“In 1989 [Ramos-Horta] came here and made his mark,” UNSW chancellor David Gonski said. “He worked with Professor [Garth] Nettheim to establish the diplomacy training program, which was his idea, and became a reality.”

The lecture recognises the contribution made by the foundation dean of the faculty of law at UNSW, Professor Hal Wootten AC QC.

“East Timor as a nation is attempting to match [Wootten’s] lifelong commitment to healing the scars of the past,” Ramos-Horta said.

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