Ambassador Richard Butler AM - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Ambassador Richard Butler AM

Honorary Doctorate (April 2002)

Ambassador Richard Butler AM was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in April 2002 in recognition of his contribution to diplomacy and to our understanding of arms control, international security issues, the United Nations, and the Middle East.

Ambassador Richard Butler has had a long and distinguished career in diplomacy beginning in the Australian Foreign Service and culminating in his appointment as Diplomat-in-Residence at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York. The Council, which was founded in 1921 is a nonpartisan membership organisation, research centre, and publisher, dedicated to increasing public understanding of the world’s international political issues.


Perhaps his best known diplomatic appointment was an Executive Chairman, United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) from 1997 to 1999, when he was responsible for investigating the extent to which Iraq possessed, or had the capability, to develop weapons of mass destruction. His leadership at that time placed him squarely on the world stage, and he was widely admired for his calm, measured and diplomatic views at an extremely difficult period with global political tensions running high.
Prior to this appointment, he had held a number of unique and challenging positions in the diplomatic service. According to Ambassador Butler, his most rewarding role has been as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations. He has also held appointments as Permanent Representative of Australia to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, Australia Ambassador to Thailand and Australian Ambassador for Disarmament.
Ambassador Butler was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1988 for services to international peace and disarmament.
He holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney, and a Master of Economics from the Australian National University and is a Doctor of the University of New England.
He is a prolific author, particularly in the areas of arms control, international security issues, the United Nations, and the Middle East. In his book, Fatal Choice: Nuclear Weapons and the Illusion of Missile Defense, published in 2001, Ambassador Butler points out the threat posed by the potential for these weapons to be used, either by accident or design, and suggests that, in the aftermath of September 11, he says, the need to eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons has become even more urgent.