Sir Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004)

Sir Peter Ustinov, president of the World Federalist Movement (source Allan Warren,

I was privileged to have Sir Peter as a friend for many years. He became the President of the Word Federalist Movement, an international NGO which promotes greater global governance and peace through international institutions, including being prominent in the creation of the International Criminal Court.

He loved giving speeches at our events being able to encapsulate in a few but meaningful words the feelings of so many. He described himself as a mongrel being proud of the polyglot diversity in his background and his multilingualism. He was not only a Renaissance man of so many talents but also a world citizen. For him, war without international legal authority is state terrorism. He was a brilliant raconteur whose humility and ability to tell tales against himself was so endearing. His company was a treat and he could speak about so many cultures and aspects of life. His puckish wit took pleasure in pricking the pomposity of politicians. He cared deeply about humanity and its oneness. His solutions to the problems of the world were devastatingly simple and realistic in their approach – he recognised that federalism was the only political system “which enables us to enjoy the differences between us” and bemoaned the fact that in the UK it had become “the F word”.

He took a genuine interest in those around him and his warmth knew no bounds. The bottle of wine from his own vineyard when last I went to see him at his home in Bursins Vaud, the brilliant sketch he did of me in a few seconds in a meeting we attended, his generous words about others’ work.

He was an ambassador not just for the world’s children through UNICEF but was a spokesperson for all humanity. He encouraged all to believe that there was a better global future. Our tribute to him must be to see that it happens. He is irreplaceable for such people come our way only rarely – we shall treasure and still learn from his wisdom, wit and world vision. In that he will always be with us.

Exactly one week before he died Sir Peter was due to give a speech in Genoa to the Congress of the Union of European Federalists for which I stood in for him. I felt that he was with us all in spirit in life as he continues to be in death.

Keith Best
Chairman, Executive Committee
World Federalist Movement

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Sir Peter Ustinov remembered

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