2022 Pearson Peace Medal LaureateDr. John McGarry, OC, FRSC
June 2nd, 2023: The United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) is pleased to announce the presentation of UNA-Canada’s newestPearson Peace Medal to Prof. John McGarry, OC, FRSC in conjunction with a series of events in Ottawa on May 29th to mark the 75th Anniversary of UN Peacekeeping.
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada
Since 1979 UNA-Canada has regularly honoured a Canadian for his, her or their outstanding achievements in the international service and in increasing understanding of global issues. “The Pearson Peace Medal is awarded to a Canadian who has personally contributed, through his or her working life or voluntary commitment, to those humanitarian causes to which Lester B. Pearson devoted his distinguished career: aid to the developing world, mediation between those confronting one another with arms, succour to refugees and others in need, equal rights and justice for all humanity, and peaceful change through world law and organization”.
John McGarry dedicated his career to establishing the research base from which the foundations of peace can be built. As Professor of Political Studies and Canada Research Chair in Nationalism and Democracy at Queen’s University in Kingston, he is a practical leader in the study and practice of national and ethnic conflict resolution. The direct application of his work to conflicts worldwide (most notably in Northern Ireland and Cyprus) has helped create new possibilities for peace and democracy around the globe.
The 2022 Pearson peace medal was presented to Dr. McGarry by Anne Pearson – grand-daughter of Lester Pearson and member of the National Board of Directors of UNA-Canada. She spoke poignantly of the long connections of both her mother, the Honorable Landon Pearson who had been an active member of the jury that selected Mr. McGarry for this year`s award, but also of her late father, Geoffrey. Together they had been engaged in virtually all awards since its inception. She noted that Dr. McGarry was joining an impressive assembly of remarkable Canadians, all of whom have demonstrated exceptional commitment and accomplishment in one or more of the causes important to her grand-father. She reminded the recipient and audience of words spoken by Mr. Pearson in his Nobel acceptance that are still so relevant today: “Of all our dreams today, there is none more important — or so hard to realize — than that of peace in the world. May we never lose our faith in it or our resolve to do everything that can be done to convert it one day into reality.”
In presenting the medal she reflected on Dr. McGarry’s many important contributions to the theory and practice of institutional peace-building, and his understanding and commitment to Lester Pearson’s query, “How can there be peace without people understanding each other; and how can this be if they don’t know each other?’”
Dr. McGarry thanked UNA-Canada – and Ms. Pearson – for the recognition that this medal affords, noting that peace is a fundamental good, which we all need more of, particularly at this time. Drawing in particular on his experiences in Northern Ireland, he spoke briefly of three key elements he felt needed to be included in any efforts to successfully engage parties in conflict if there is to be progress towards a peaceful resolution – or a least to a situation in which conflict is managed. He outlined three upbeat - and perhaps counter-intuitive - lessons from his native homeland, Northern Ireland.
It was a concise and engaging mini-lecture designed to provide some optimism to those engaged in tough negotiations, or simply trying to understand the challenges and dynamics of finding solutions to situations of crisis and conflict.
The presentation ceremony was privileged to have the engagement the Hon. Lawrence Macaulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs. In congratulating the recipient, and the Association, he too noted the close connection of the values exemplified by the life and work of Mr. Pearson to the accomplishments this medal recognizes. It is certainly appropriate that the work of Dr. McGarry, so tied to peace-keeping and peace-building, is recognized in the year in which the world of celebrating the accomplishments of 75 years of Peacekeeping in and through the United Nations.
* * * For more information on the Pearson Peace Medal and the 2022 recipient you can visit our web site: www.unac.org/pearson-peace-medal . Note that the call for nominations for the 2023 Pearson Peace Medal will be on our site soon.
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