On Thursday November 8th in the Great Hall of Sydney University, Hans Blix was the 10th recipient of the international Sydney Peace prize. Other recipients have included Hanan Ashrawi (possibly the most controversial peace prize winner), Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus, Sir William Dean and Irene Khan amongst others. The Award was presented by Paul Keating to an enthusiastic packed audience of Sydney intelligentsia. A large contingent of Labour supporters thumped the floor when Paul Keating spoke, reflecting on past history including the Cold War, the role of the US and his own contribution to recent history.
The ceremony was chaired by Mary Kostakidis – missed by many of the audience from her former role at SBS. Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees - the driving force behind Sydney University’s Peace Foundation, spoke about the history of the Peace Prize which has developed into an internationally significant prize and is the only Australian international award for peace. Also in attendance was a former peace prize winner - Sir William Deane who is the only Australian to be awarded the prize. There appeared to be a notable absence of senior members of the Liberal and Greens party, although the Australian Democrats Dr. Arthur Chesterfield Evans and Silma Ihram were present.
It is vitally important that the initiative begun by Prof Stuart Rees is supported by our political parties. Its drive to keep the acquisition of peace on the agenda is imperative considering the threats to humanity from global movements of people due to the ongoing wars in Africa, the Middle East and the impending economic refugees that are expected from future climate change. The world is changing rapidly and conflict is an almost inevitable product of change unless there is adequate discussion and planning by our academics, community leaders and global entities directly targetted not at war - but peace.