Prime Minister, diplomat, sportsman, intellectual and war veteran are some of the words used to describe the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson. This December 10, 2007, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lester Pearson’s acceptance of the Noble Peace Prize for his vision, wisdom, perseverance and skillful success in establishing an international police force to resolve the 1956 Suez Crisis. Cited as the UN's first designated peacekeeping mission, the Suez Crisis saw the inception of the first United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF).
Lester Pearson’s Nobel medal is on permanent display in the front lobby of Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade headquarters building in Ottawa.
Prior to entering politics, Lester Pearson had a distinguished career as a diplomat at the Department of External Affairs. He served as first secretary at the Canadian High Commission in Britain from 1935 to 1941, and then moved to the Canadian Embassy in Washington in 1942. Three years later he served as Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., attending the conference which founded the United Nations in 1945. The following year, Lester Pearson was made Deputy Minister of External Affairs, where he played a key role in Canada's joining NATO. In 1948, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent appointed Pearson Minister of External Affairs.
The fourteenth Prime Minister of Canada from April 22, 1963, until April 20, 1968, Lester Pearson was a strong advocate of the UN's role in peacekeeping, and in Canadian involvement in UN peacekeeping operations. He is often recognized for his groundbreaking work at the United Nations, and his service to international diplomacy.
Visit the following sites for more information on the 50th Anniversary of Lester B. Pearson's Nobel Peace Prize:
“Threats to global survival, though they are sometimes exaggerated in apocalyptic language which makes our flesh creep, are real. The prophets of doom and gloom may be proven wrong but it is a chilling fact that man can now destroy his world by nuclear explosion or ecological erosion.”
“The stark and inescapable fact is that today we cannot defend our society by war since total war is total destruction, and if war is used as an instrument of policy, eventually we will have total war. Therefore, the best defense of peace is not power, but the removal of the causes of war, and international agreements which will put peace on a stronger foundation than the terror of destruction.”
— Lester B. Pearson
Did you know?
Pearson was given his lifelong nickname “Mike” by his Royal Flying Corps colleagues who thought “Lester” was unsuitable for a fighter pilot.