The United Nations Association in Canada was delighted to announce that Maurice Strong was the 1989 recipient of the Pearson Peace Medal. The Medal was presented to him on October 23 in a brief formal event at Rideau Hall by Her Excellency the Right Honorable Mme Jeanne Sauvé, Governor General of Canada.
The UNAC Pearson Peace Medal annually recognized a Canadian who through voluntary or other efforts has personally most contributed to those causes for which Lester Pearson stood: aid to the developing world, mediation between those confronting one another with arms, succour to refugees and others in need, and peaceful change through world law and world organizations.
As the eleventh recipient, Mr. Strong’s selection continues the high standard of the previous winners, including Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger, Lt. Gen. E.L.M. Burns, George Ignatieff, Nancy Peek Pocock, and Archbishop Edward Scott.
Mr. Strong is a leading Canadian industrialist and business leader who has maintained an overriding involvement in development and environmental concerns. Before most of the rest of the world recognized the clear environmental warning signs he was immersed in the issues- first as the Secretary-General of the 1972 UN Conference on the Environment in Stockholm and then as the first Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. He was deeply involved in preparations leading to the 1992 Conference on the Environment and Development.
Mr. Strong was promoting the establishment of a global security and risk management programme under the auspices of the World Federation of UNA’s of which he was then the President. The aim was to define the minimum or boundary conditions necessary to ensure the survival of this planet and civilization as we know it. He challenged Canada and other industrialized countries to play an important role in this crucial pursuit.
As the guest of honour at a UN day dinner later that evening, Mr. Strong made an important statement on “Global Security and the Perils of Peace”. He was particularly concerned that the dramatic changes in American-Soviet relations, welcomed as they were, have led many people to mistakenly assume that the risk of nuclear war and other global catastrophe had all but ended. “Rather we are in a dangerous and risky transition period with its own turbulence, uncertainty and peril. Although the present state of international affairs holds out the hope of a secure and lasting peace, it also presents great challenges. We need to convert this period of relaxation of rivalry between the great powers to one long-term, positive cooperation.”
Mr. Strong paid particular attention to the global threats represented by debt, drugs and a deteriorating environment. He predicted that multilateral institutions -and particularly the United Nations- will be the effective forum through which these issues can be addressed. “We have seen much evidence of what many are calling the renaissance of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. this new relevance is built on nearly half a century of solid painstaking work. Canada is well positioned to see that the United Nations is given the scope and support necessary to its making a still larger contribution to global security.”