I went to hear Dr Hans Blix at Sydney Town Hall this evening. Dr Blix is in Australia to receive the Sydney Peace Prize (from Paul Keating) tomorrow night.I wasn’t in citizen journalist mode, so didn’t take notes, so this report is limited. The subject of Blix’s talk was the prospects for peace. He discussed this under three headings: globalisation, international law and disarmament. In each category, there are both hopeful and “dismaying” signs. He argued that globalisation, through increased interdependency, has locked the European nations into a binding peace and shows every sign of doing the same elsewhere, so that even though there are tensions between, for example, China and the USA, their economic interdependency might be a formula for keeping the peace.
Talking about nuclear disarmament, he got a laugh with an old Swedish saying that “in old age, the devil turns to religion” – this was in relation to Henry Kissinger’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons in January 2007.
Of particular interest to Australians, especially as we face the prospect of a new Labor government within the month, was Blix’s reference to Paul Keating’s 1996 Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Blix positioned this as the direct precursor of his own Weapons of Terror, the 2007 report from the WMD Commission. It was a reminder of how Australia has in the past played a valuable role in the pursuit of peace, unlike its shameful role as tag along to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.
Update: here’s a very brief extract from Blix’s speech last night.