Tony Blair to receive Medal of Freedom

Tony BlairTony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will become the sixth recipient of the Medal of Freedom from SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies during formal ceremonies Mar. 5, 2008. The Center, which educates undergraduates in international relations, comparative politics and political institutions, presents the Medal of Freedom every two years to an individual “who has furthered the cause of freedom throughout the world.” Read more.

Tony Blair served as Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from May 1997 to June 2007. He was also the leader of Britain’s Labor Party (1994 to 2007) and the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield, England (1983-2007). He is currently serving as the Middle East Quartet Representative. The Quartet is made up of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

During his ten years as Prime Minister, Tony Blair transformed Britain’s public services through a program of investment and reform in schools and hospitals, resulting in more children achieving better school results and more people receiving faster access to health care, with improved survival rates for cancer and coronary heart disease.

In the United States, he received widespread recognition for his support for America after the tragedy of 9/11. Mr Blair has always been a strong advocate of a values-based, activist and multilateralist foreign policy – an agenda that combined tackling terrorism and intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, with action on issues like climate change, global poverty, Africa and the Middle East Peace Process.

Mr. Blair is widely credited for his contribution towards assisting the Northern Ireland Peace Process by helping jointly to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement and deliver a power-sharing government.

Mr. Blair is based in London with his wife, Cherie Blair, and their four children.

Previous honorees include General Colin L. Powell in 1997, Baroness Margaret Thatcher in 1999, President George H. W. Bush in 2001, General Tommy R. Franks in 2003 and U.S. Senator John McCain in 2005.

The Tower Center is named in honor of SMU alumnus John G. Tower, who served as U.S. senator from Texas 1961-85. His public service career included appointments as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chair of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and strategic nuclear arms negotiator with the Soviet Union.

For more information about the presentation ceremony, call Program Services at 8-8283.