Born in 1928 in Uppsala, Sweden, Dr. Hans Blix has studied at the University of Uppsala and Columbia University, and received his Ph.D. at Cambridge University. In 1959, he became a Juris Doctor in International Law at the University of Uppsala, where he was appointed Associate Professor in International Law the next year. He joined Sweden’s Foreign Ministry in 1963, where he served as the Head of Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Legal Adviser on International Law until 1976. For the following two years, Dr. Blix was State Secretary for International Development Cooperation and in 1978-79, he was appointed the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Sweden.
Dr. Blix became Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1981 where he served for 16 years. At the IAEA, Dr. Blix guided the Agency through the Chernobyl disaster, revelations of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and North Korea´s safeguards violations. Under his direction, the framework for strengthened safeguards was established, and the international legal regime for nuclear energy was bolstered. The strengthening of the Agency’s safeguards system to verify non-proliferation undertakings allowed greater access to information and locations and the use of new and advanced techniques, to better respond to the needs of the international community for improved internationals security. Dr. Blix personally made repeated inspection visits to the Iraqi nuclear reactor Osiraq before its attempted destruction by the Iranians in 1980, and its eventual destruction by the Israeli Air Force in 1981.
In March 2000, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Dr. Blix as the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Dr. Blix was tasked to develop an organizational plan for UNMOVIC and outline the key disarmament tasks for Iraq. As Chairman, he was involved in the search for proof of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Upon leaving the United Nations, Hans Blix became the chair of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), an independent body funded by the Swedish government and based in Stockholm. On June 1, 2006, the Commission released its report: Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms. The Commission had its final meeting in April 2009 at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Along with other Commissioners, Dr. Blix has spent the past years travelling across the globe to promote the fundamental messages of the Report and the results of the work of the WMDC.
Dr. Blix received an honorary doctorate from Moscow State University and was the recipient of the Henry de Wolf Smyth Award in 1988. In 1997, he was awarded the Gold Medal for distinguished service in the field of nuclear affairs by the Uranium Institute, the predecessor to the World Nuclear Association and in 2001, he became Honorary Chairman of the WNA. Dr. Blix has also written several books on subjects associated with international and constitutional law, including Disarming Iraq, where he gives his account of the events and inspections leading to the Iraq war. His experience in the Swedish Foreign Ministry and at the United Nations reveal Dr. Blix’s wide knowledge and meticulous research in all areas pertaining to promoting the peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy.
The event will be moderated by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, and Matthew Connelly, Professor of History.
It is co-sponsored with the The Hertog Global Strategy Initiative, Department of History, and School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
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