Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner Eugenia Kolivos, special counsel Michael do Rozario and graduate lawyer Chantal Nguyen were invited to participate in celebrations to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Diplomacy Training Program, and the investiture of the DTP’s founder and Nobel Peace Laureate, His Excellency Dr José Ramos-Horta as an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia.

At a lunch hosted by the Macquarie Foundation, Dr Ramos-Horta reflected on the journey that led him to co-found the DTP with UNSW Law Professor Garth Nettheim in 1989. He discussed some of the program’s early adventures, including covertly training human rights defenders in rural Myanmar in hiding from the ruling junta. 

Dr Ramos-Horta noted that human rights defenders trained by the DTP have gone on to play in an important part in Myanmar’s transition including leading the Myanmar Peace Centre which plays a key role in advising the Myanmar Government on peace initiatives and monitoring.

Dr Ramos-Horta also reflected on the role the DTP has played in training and nation building throughout the region. Many of the region’s political, diplomacy and human rights leaders are DTP alumni. Dr Ramos-Horta noted that His Excellency Abel Guterres, the Timor Lesté ambassador to Australia, is a DTP alumnus and that Mr Guterres was now assisting the DTP to train the next generation of regional human rights and diplomacy leaders.

At dinner hosted by UNSW’s New College, Dr Ramos-Horta noted the successes that Timor Lesté has achieved politically, socially and economically in its 12 year history, including the training of over 1000 Timor Lesté doctors which has led to the elimination of leprosy and substantial reductions in diseases such as malaria, its successes in building roads and infrastructure and the political stability achieved between the ruling and opposition parties, which has manifested in key legislation such as government budgets being passed by parliament unanimously.

Dr Ramos-Horta addressed the role Australia played in assisting Timor Lesté to exist as a nation and the continuing relationship between Australia and Timor-Lesté, noting that notwithstanding recent and ongoing disputes regarding spying, gas rights and maritime boundaries, the relationship was a very strong one.

Corrs has assisted the DTP with its work in the region since 2010 initially in a joint program with Oxfam for the Indigenous Human Rights Network Australia, developing content to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander human rights defenders to understand and have access to UN human rights treaties and norms. The firm also assisted the DTP to train Nepalese NGOs to free migrant workers from Kafala system slavery in the Middle East and this year in obtaining DFAT overseas aid accreditation that has, for the first time in its 25 year history, provided the DTP with guaranteed and ongoing funding to continue its work.

Corrs congratulates the DTP on its 25th Anniversary and its founder His Excellency Dr Ramos-Horta on his investiture as a Companion of the Order of Australia.

This publication is introductory in nature. Its content is current at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should always obtain legal advice based on your specific circumstances before taking any action relating to matters covered by this publication. Some information may have been obtained from external sources, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such information.