Vale Andrew Mack

Jan 24, 2021

The many Australian friends and colleagues of Professor Andrew Mack will be deeply saddened to learn he passed away in Vancouver on 20 January 2021 after a year of serious illness.

As those of us who knew him well can attest, Andy was not only a brilliant and influential international relations scholar but a wonderfully engaging personality: full of life, energy, ideas and commitment; laid back, charming beyond measure and a lover of all the good things of life.

He had an extraordinarily full and diverse career, with his pre-academic years including six in the Royal Air Force (as an engineer and pilot); two and a half in Antarctica as a meteorologist and deputy base commander; one as a diamond prospector in Sierra Leone and another two with the BBC’s World Service writing and broadcasting news commentaries and producing the current affairs program The World Today.

At the heart of Andrew’s academic career was his time at the Australian National University, where he was senior research fellow in the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (1984‐85), director of the Peace Research Centre (1985‐91) and head of the Department of International Relations from 1991 to 1998.

He has also held research and teaching positions at Flinders University; the London School of Economics; the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute; the Richardson Institute for Peace and Conflict Research in London; the University of California at Berkeley, Irvine and San Diego; the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center; the International University of Japan and the University of Auckland; and concluded his career with major research professorial positions at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

After leaving ANU, Andrew became, from 1998 to 2001, director of the Strategic Planning Unit in the executive office of UN Secretary‐General Kofi Annan, where he did some of his life’s most important and innovative work on the incidence and causes of violent conflict over time – continued in his later role as editor of the Human Security Report. His analysis was, and remains, an important antidote to the professional pessimism that consumes so much international relations writing, and inhibits the potential effectiveness of so many diplomatic practitioners.

Andy was a big influence on my professional life, not least in constantly reinforcing my incorrigible optimism about the art of the politically and diplomatically possible, in tackling some of the world’s most intractable policy problems. Since we first met in the 1980s, when he headed the ANU Peace Research Centre, he was a source of advice and intellectual stimulation almost without parallel, and a huge contributor to my alleged creativity – especially in the area of cooperative security, where our work together on reforming the UN system, distilled in the ‘blue book’ Cooperating for Peace, published in 1995, unhappily is still all too relevant today.

An unforgettable character in every way, Andy Mack will be hugely missed by everyone whose life he touched, professionally or personally. He is survived by his wonderful wife Laura, who has asked me to pass on the sad news to as many of his Australian friends and colleagues as I can and would no doubt be touched to hear any memories of him you might wish to share.

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