Australian former governor-general and peacemaker Ninian Stephen dies at 94

SYDNEY, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Former Australian Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, who worked on the Northern Ireland peace talks and served on the International Court of Justice, died on Sunday. He was 94.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced plans for a state funeral, saying there were very few honours that Stephen, who held five separate knighthoods, didn’t have to his name.

“Australia will remember Sir Ninian for his humility, his intellect, and his lifelong commitment to justice and the rule of law,” Turnbull said.

Stephen served as governor-general from 1982 to 1989 when he became the first Australian Ambassador for the Environment, working hard to ban mining in Antarctica.

He was born in Britain and moved to Australia in his late teens where he studied law before serving as an infantryman during World War Two, serving in New Guinea and Borneo.

Both the British and Irish governments chose Stephen to chair the second phase of the Northern Ireland peace talks in 1992. He was also a judge for the International Criminal Tribunal investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

In his later years, he advised on South Africa’s constitution, worked for the International Labour Organisation in Burma and was involved in setting up a tribunal to hear cases involving atrocities committed by the genocidal Khmer Rouge “killing fields” regime of 1975-79. He also helped draft a constitution for Afghanistan after the 2001 ouster of the Taliban. (Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Nick Macfie)