For a hundred years, humans have had the capacity to attack each other with devastating chemical weapons. Seven decades ago, mankind unlocked the secret of the nuclear bomb. In the 21st century, we also fear biological attack, robotic drones and, increasingly, cyber warfare as potential weapons of mass destruction. Australia, like all nations, has an over-riding national interest in the development and enforcement of robust international regimes that restrict the creation, deployment and export of weapons of mass destruction. For decades, Australia has been a strong, dedicated contributor to the evolution of control regimes like the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the chemical and biological weapons conventions and the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty.
In his 2015 John Gee Memorial Lecture, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Varghese speaks about the critical work of arms control in the 21st century.
Mr Varghese is the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to this appointment, Mr Varghese was Australia’s High Commissioner to India from 2009 to 2012. Between 2004 and 2009, he was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. Before that he was the Senior Adviser (International) to the Prime Minister. Mr Varghese has held a wide range of senior positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, in Australia and overseas in key embassy posts. Mr Varghese was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2010 for distinguished service to public administration, particularly in leading reform in the Australian intelligence community and as an adviser in the areas of foreign policy and international security. He was awarded a Doctor of Letters honoris causa by the University of Queensland in July 2013 in recognition of his distinguished service to diplomacy and Australian public service.
Chaired by: Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC FASSA, Chancellor of The Australian National University
Dr John Gee AO served with distinction as an Australian diplomat in a number of countries. His greatest contribution, however, was in the field of disarmament, where he had a particular interest in chemical weapons. After a period as a Commissioner on the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq following the first Gulf War, he became Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, serving there until 2003. In recognition of his achievements, Dr Gee was made a member of the Order of Australia in January 2007. Gee leaves behind a legacy and a memory of a great Australian. This Symposium is the 9th annual John Gee Memorial Lecture, previous speakers include The Hon. Malcolm Fraser, H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü, Professor Ramesh Thakur and Professor Gareth Evans AC QC.