January 29, 2007

Hans Blix to present Lesar lecture Former U.N. weapons inspector to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

blix hans

Hans Blix

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix will present a lecture in March at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Blix, who is chairman of the International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction, will present the 2007 SIU School of Law Hiram H. Lesar Lecture at 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, in Student Center Ballrooms C and D. The lecture is free and open to the public.

In his lecture, "Disarming Iraq," Blix will discuss the events leading up to the 2003 war with Iraq and provide an "unprecedented understanding of the inspectors' work, findings and conclusions," according to his publicist.

Dean Peter C. Alexander said the lecture is an "opportunity for the law school to invite national and international speakers to Southern Illinois, and we are very pleased to bring Hans Blix to this region of the state to give a major address about a topic that continues to dominate the news and to affect the lives of people not only in Southern Illinois but across the United States."

Alexander expects a large turnout.

"I'm very pleased we can bring yet another premier speaker to Carbondale for the Lesar lecture series," said Alexander, noting the lectures are lessons that cannot be offered in the classroom.

In 2006, U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen presented the lecture. In 2005, speaker Roger Cossack discussed the media's role in high-profile legal cases. In 2004, Cheryl Brown Henderson and John A. Stokes, two key figures in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case that ended segregation in the nation's public schools, were presenters.

Alexander said he sought a presenter who could bring an international perspective to campus.

"We have had a lot of impressive lecturers over the years but I thought it was time to have someone who could bring an international legal perspective," he said.

Blix was the chief U.N. weapons inspector prior to the Iraq war and with his team, through on-site inspections, attempted to determine if the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was complying with resolutions to disarm.

Associate professor Cindy Buys, who teaches international law, believes Blix's lecture will be informative and he is someone whose name is known to most Americans.

"He was very much a central figure in the situation leading up to the Iraq war and whether it was the appropriate time to take further actions," she said.

Blix may be able to provide some insight into the case the Bush administration presented to the United Nations regarding evidence of weapons of mass destruction prior to the Iraq war, Buys said.

Before he was appointed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2000 to head the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Blix served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997.

For 20 years until 1981, Blix was a member of Sweden's delegation to the U.N. General Assembly.

Blix was born in 1928 in Uppsala, Sweden. He studied at the University of Uppsala, Columbia University, and has a law doctorate degree from Cambridge University.

Blix released his book "Disarming Iraq," in March 2004.

The Hiram H. Lesar Lecture Series, established in 1992, honors the founding dean of the SIU law school.