Former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister at DPU

Sunday, October 25, 2015
Lloyd Axworthy

Lloyd Axworthy, the former minister of foreign affairs for Canada and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, will come to DePauw University on Thursday, Oct. 29, to discuss "The 'Responsibility to Protect' Principle and the Syrian Refugee Crisis."

The speech, the Johnson-Wright Lecture in Conflict Studies to Honor Russell J. Compton, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Thompson Recital Hall, located within DePauw's Green Center for the Performing Arts (605 S. College Ave.). The lecture is presented free of admission charge and is open to all.

Axworthy's Canadian political career spanned 27 years, six of which he served in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and 21 in the Federal Parliament. He held several cabinet positions, notably Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister of Transport, Minister of Human Resources Development, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1996-2000.

After leaving public office, Axworthy served as director and CEO of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Colombia, and then served 10 years as president and vice chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, retiring in 2014.

In foreign affairs, Axworthy became internationally known for his advancement of the human security concept, in particular, the Ottawa Treaty -- a landmark global treaty banning anti-personnel landmines.

For his leadership on land mines, he was nominated in 1997 for the Nobel Peace Prize. For his efforts in establishing the International Criminal Court and the protocol on child soldiers, he received the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe. Before leaving office he initiated the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) which developed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept, which was later adopted in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document of the United Nations.

"As foreign minister, Dr. Axworthy became perhaps the most important international voice for what became known as the human security agenda -- the effort to rethink the notion of security away from military/national security to one that takes seriously the real threats that most people face: poverty, domestic violence, etc.," DePauw political science professor and director of conflict studies Brett O'Bannon said. "At the end of his tenure as foreign minister he appointed the international commission that gave us the concept known as the Responsibility to Protect -- a set of principles aimed at making the post Holocaust promise of 'never again' actually mean something."

When Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee, washed ashore the Turkish beach on Sept. 2, "and shamed the world into a conversation about international responsibilities, the Responsibility to Protect was at the center of that conversation," O'Bannon added.

"Axworthy comes to DePauw to discuss his life's work and, in particular, what the Responsibility to Protect means for our obligations to those fleeing yet another site of mass atrocity."

A member of the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance, sponsored by Institute of Justice in The Hague and the Stimson Center in Washington, Axworthy also serves as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science Study group on New Dilemmas in Ethics in Technology and War.

Through the Compton Lecture Series, which was inaugurated in 2011, the conflict studies department at DePauw aims to create dialogue on campus while remembering the legacy of Russell Compton, who taught religion and philosophy from 1951 until 1974 and remained a presence on campus until his death in 2007 at age 98.

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