Ambassador Richard Butler is recognised internationally as Australia's most influential diplomat in contemporary times. Following his Australian and United Nations appointments, he was a Diplomat in Residence at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York and is a founding faculty member and Distinguished Scholar, International Peace and Security at Pennsylvania State University's School of International Affairs. He possesses in-depth knowledge and expertise on today's most pressing issues, addressing those issues with rare insight, humor and wit.
From 1997 to 1999, he was Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with the disarmament of Iraq. For five years prior to that appointment, he was Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York.
In the earlier part of his foreign service career, he was posted to the Australian Embassies at: Vienna, where he was the Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the International Atomic Energy Agency; New York, United Nations; Singapore; Bonn; and Paris, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. In 1983, he was appointed Australia's first Ambassador for Disarmament. In that role he led the Australian Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and was charged with conducting all Australian disarmament negotiations, both in United Nations institutions and directly with individual countries.
In 1989, he was appointed Australian Ambassador to Thailand and, simultaneously in 1991, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia. He was deeply involved in the negotiation of the Cambodian peace agreements.
In 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations elected him Chairman of the United Nations Preparatory Committee for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, commemorated in 1995.
In 1994, he was elected President of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. In that role, he established UNAIDS - the Global AIDS Program.
In the same year, he led the Australian Delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo.
He was also Vice Chairman of the World Summit on Social Development, held in Copenhagen in March 1995.
In November 1995, the Prime Minister of Australia appointed him Convener of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. In 1996, he managed the adoption by the United Nations of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
He has appeared extensively on national (ABC, Channel 7) and international television (CNN, NBC, BBC) as a commentator on and analyst of international events.
He holds degrees from the University of Sydney (Economics) and the Australian National University (International Relations). In 1996, he was made a Doctor of the University, by the University of New England, Australia. In 2001 he was made a Doctor of Laws by Rutgers University, United States and in 2002 he was made a Doctor of the University, by the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Ambassador Butler is the author of several books, including Saddam Defiant: The Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security, Fatal Choice: Nuclear Weapons and the Illusion of Missile Defense, and The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Society.
Client Comments for Richard Butler
Richard Butler travels from Turkey
- Was a great mix for the luncheon - entertaining and also thought provoking.
Institution of Engineers
- He was very well informed and held the attention of the entire audience.
- I would like to express my own and my comitee members' sincere appreciation to you for accepting our invitation to speak at our recent annual Congress and for your interesting and stimulating contribution.
Your analysis of the world scene and the impact of events of the past half century was greatly appreciated. We hope that you enjoyed the occasion as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to hear you and to have you as our guest.
Fiji Institute of Accountants
- Mr Butler took the time to tailor his speech to our unique function. This made it exceptionally relevant to the (very diverse) audience. Inspirational messages, compelling anecdotes from his career, and a touch of controversy made his presentation a huge success.
- Thank you for one of the best after dinner presentations I have ever seen. You had the audience captivated by what you were saying and the length of the question and answer session is testament to the interest in which your speech created.
- Fantastic! Richard was extremely well received by all at the luncheon providing a concise, thought provoking speech.
Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
- Richard's talk was brilliant, but he must have sensed it from the huge applause from the audience - he did a great job!
Australian Graduate School of Management
- He was perfect.....should be invited back to next years congress". (Richard
received the highest score ever achieved by any speaker at any CPA
Certified Practising Accountants Australia
- Your presentation at the AICD conference in Hobart was masterful....Your
message is important for all Australians.
Australian Institute Company Directors
- Richard's talk was brilliant, but he must have sensed it from the huge
applause from the audience - he did a great job!
Australian Graduate School of Management
- "...your session was one of the highlights. Your presentation showed the big
picture.... was thought-provoking and excellent and it made us think beyond
the normal or expected and challenged our values."
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"Caroline Martel is a pleasure to work with, she is very professional, friendly and is always willing to help."
Queensland Law Society
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