Born in 1944, educated at Melbourne High School, Melbourne and Oxford Universities, with early career as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Law at Melbourne University and practising barrister. Elected to Federal Parliament as Senator for Victoria (1978-96), and as MHR for Holt (1996-99); Cabinet Minister in the Hawke and Keating Labor Governments from 1983-96 in the posts of Attorney General (1983-4), Minister for Resources and Energy (1984-7), Minister for Transport and Communications (1987-8) and Foreign Minister (1988-96); Leader of the Government in the Senate (1993-96) and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (1996-98). From 2000 to 2009, President and CEO of the Brussels-based independent global conflict prevention and resolution organisation, the International Crisis Group, and from 2010-19 Chancellor of the Australian National University.
Co-chaired two major International Commissions, on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2000-01), and Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (2008-10), and member of a number of others. Currently Co-Chairs the International Advisory Board of the New-York based Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and Chairs the Advisory Board of the ANU Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership. Founding Convenor and Board Member of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN).
Written or edited 14 books - including Good International Citizenship: The Case for Decency (2022), Incorrigible Optimist: A Political Memoir (2017), Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015 (co-author), Inside the Hawke-Keating Government: A Cabinet Diary (2014), and The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All (2008); published some 150 journal articles, chapters, and reports on foreign relations, human rights and legal and constitutional reform, and many opinion articles in print and online. In 1995 awarded in the United States 1995 the $150 000 Grawemeyer Prize for Ideas Improving World Order for Foreign Policy article “Cooperative Security and Intrastate Conflict”. Maintained strong academic and scholarly connections throughout career, lecturing at many universities around the world, including Oxford (where elected in 2004 an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College), Cambridge (where delivered the 2013 Humanitas Lectures on Statecraft and Diplomacy), Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Indiana and the Central European University in Budapest. He was a Professional Fellow at the University of Melbourne from 2009 to 2012.
Australian Humanist of the Year in 1990, ANZAC Peace Prize in 1994 for work on Cambodia, Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2001, and Honorary Doctorates of Laws from Melbourne University in 2002, Carleton University in 2005, Sydney University in 2008 and Queen’s University Ontario in 2010. Made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2012 for “eminent service to international relations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, as an adviser to governments on global policy matters, to conflict prevention and resolution, and to arms control and disarmament”, and in the same year elected an honorary Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia (FASSA).
In 2016 awarded by the Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Asialink Medal “for long-term commitment to improving Australia-Asia relations”. In December 2015 made a Companion of the Order of O.R. Tambo by South Africa for contributions to the anti-apartheid movement. Cited by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2011 “for making ‘the responsibility to protect’ more than academic”. In 2010 awarded the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Four Freedoms Award for Freedom from Fear, for his pioneering work on the Responsibility to Protect concept and his contributions to conflict prevention and resolution, arms control and disarmament.
International relations, Australian foreign policy, human rights, governance and public administration, public policy generally