Before becoming President of The University of Winnipeg, Dr. Axworthy’s political career spanned 27 years, six of which he served in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and 21 in the Federal Parliament. He held several Cabinet positions, notably Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister of Transport, Minister of Human Resources Development, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1996-2000.
On leaving public office, Dr. Axworthy served as Director and CEO of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Colombia prior to his appointment at The University of Winnipeg. In the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Dr. Axworthy became internationally known for his advancement of the human security concept, in particular, the Ottawa Treaty – a landmark global treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. For his leadership on landmines, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. For his efforts in establishing the International Criminal Court and the Protocol on child soldiers, he received the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe.
Before leaving office he initiated the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) which developed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept, which was later adopted in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document of the United Nations. Dr. Axworthy is a member of the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance , sponsored by Institute of Justice in The Hague and the Stimson center in Washington. He also serves as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science Study group on ” New Dilemma’s in Ethics in Technology and War.
He has been a board member for a number of organizations, including CUSO International, The MacArthur Foundation, STARS Air Ambulance, CUSO International, the Conference Board of Canada, Apathy is Boring – Council on Youth Electoral Engagement, the Aspen Ministers Forum, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
In 2010, Dr. Axworthy was made an honourary member of Sagkeeng First Nation and was given the name Waapshki Pinaysee Inini, which translates to White Thunderbird Man. In 2012, Dr. Axworthy become a Pipe Carrier in a community ceremony conducted by local Aboriginal elders and chiefs. Dr. Axworthy has been named to the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada and has received honorary doctorates from numerous universities.