Professor Stanley Hoffman’s acceptance speech

Wednesday 20 June 2012

(L-R) Kathleen M Patrick, University medallist and Professor Ron Piper

Kathleen M Patrick, University medallist, and Professor Ron Piper

(L-R) Principal and Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson and Professor Stanley Hoffman, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Louise Richards and Professor Stanley Hoffman, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters

Professor Stanley Hoffmann described his invitation to St Andrews as a “great pleasure” and singled out Principal Louise Richardson for praise.

He said: “I cannot remember a student who has been more diligent in every respect, more concerned with not only the ideas of the students but their careers, their future and their virtues – this doesn’t happened very often.”

He went onto say: “It’s been not only a great honour to be invited to speak here but a wonderful pleasure to see so many young people who will, I’m convinced, make an influence in a country which deserves to have such an influence.

“People who study or who have studied International Relations have had a perfectly understandable tendency to concentrate on problems of war and peace because they are the most murderous and also, very often, the most difficult to prevent, or supress, this is probably going to continue – I don’t see any end of resorts of violence in the worlds as it is, but I think and I hope that, gradually, this constant in the history of International Affairs will be superseded by something else which is a concern for justice.

War will undoubtedly not disappear from one day to the next; I’m not a great optimist when it comes to the hope which has been revived in recent months by a number of very distinguished writers and scientists about the decline of the use of force in international affairs, I hope it will happen, I believe it probably will, under certain circumstances but one cannot be sure, however, it is wonderful to see a group of young people, very diverse, very young and so eager, not only to study but to help the world which is often calamitous. The main concern is likely to be the problem of justice in a world which needs it very badly – to me this is likely to be the most important issue of the next century and when I look at these wonderful faces here – I can only say my sense of hope is stronger than it has ever been.”

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