Dr. Axworthy's local, national and international stature is difficult to describe in a few words. Clearly his commitment to the local, national and the global community, his vision and his daily work for justice and peace are an inspiration. His political career spanned 27 years, during six of which he served in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and twenty-one in the Federal Parliament. He held a large number of Cabinet positions, notably Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister of Transport, of Human Resources Development, of Western Economic Diversification. In his own words, his most favoured role was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 2000.
In this portfolio, Dr. Axworthy became internationally known for his advancement of the "human security" concept, a philosophy calling for global responsibility to the interests of individuals rather than the interests of the nation state or multinational corporations. This focus on people led him to work in particular, for the Ottawa Treaty - a landmark global treaty banning anti-personnel land mines. We need to reflect for a moment on this extraordinary contribution that will benefit literally millions of individuals and families throughout the world, including children and military personnel. There remain 80 million such land mines in the world and 500 people a week are still being injured by them. Canada no longer manufactures nor uses them and three quarters of the world's nations have signed on to the treaty. Dr. Axworthy was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for this leadership. Two other major international initiatives have benefitted enormously from his efforts; the establishment of the International Criminal Court to bring war criminals to justice and the Protocol to curtail the use of child soldiers. For all these international endeavours, he received the North-South Institute's Peace Award. The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation presented him with the Senator Patrick J. Leahy Award in recognition of his leadership in these global efforts, Princeton University awarded him the Madison Medal for his record of outstanding public service and he received the CARE International Humanitarian Award. He was elected Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been named to the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada.
Dr. Axworthy has an intertwining passion; that of urging all Canadians to reflect on the role of Canada in the world. His book published in 2003 is a provocative essay on this topic. Negotiating the internal disputes within Canada on the relative importance of trade within a comprehensive foreign policy that should also address human rights issues in Dr. Axworthy's view; negotiating multi-lateral versus bilateral agreements with the United States and others; strengthening the United Nations and other multi-lateral associations that promote the human security agenda are extraordinarily complex issues requiring imagination, vision, determination and compromise. Dr. Axworthy is a global citizen and his life's work urges all Canadians to embrace this role. In January of this year he was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Anrian, as special envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea to consolidate peace under the provisions of the Algiers Agreement signed in 2000. The Academy has also recognized his achievements. He has received honourary doctorates from Queen's University, University of Victoria, University of Denver, Niagara University, Lakehead University, the University of Winnipeg and Dalhousie University.
Currently, Dr. Axworthy holds positions on several Boards and companies. Virtually all reflect his passion for the pursuit of solutions to global problems. He joined the law firm of Fraser Mimer Casgrain as a consultant on trade and international affairs. He is a Board member of the MacArthur Foundation, Human Rights Watch - where he chairs the Advisory Board for Americas Watch, Lester B. Pearson College, University of the Arctic, the Pacific Council on International Policy, on the Port of Churchill Advisory Board as well as on the Advisory Board of the Ethical Globalization Initiative. He is also serving as Chairman of the Human Security Centre for the United Nations University for Peace (UPEACE), Co-Chair of the State of the World Forum, Commission on Globalization, and Honorary Chairman of the Canadian Landmine Foundation. For the last three years he has been Director and CEO of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. He lectures widely on international matters in Canada, the United States and abroad and is a frequent contributor to The Winnipeg Free Press. The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.
The timing of this honorary doctorate today coincides with Dr. Axworthy's return to Manitoba as President of our sister Institution, the University of Winnipeg. While he was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, he attended Sisler High School in Winnipeg and subsequently graduated with a BA, from United College (now the University of Winnipeg). While there, he was encouraged to apply for a Woodrow Wilson Scholarship which allowed him to attend Princeton University for his M.A. and his Ph.D. In Political Science. During his doctoral studies he returned to teach at the University of Winnipeg and was Director of the Institute of Urban Studies. We are simply delighted to welcome him home with his wife Denise Ommanney and their three children.