Born in 1919, Australian Stella Cornelius has devoted a lifetime to peace, conflict resolution, and social justice issues. Her unique contribution to global peace has been to make access to conflict resolution training widely available. These skills are now used in workplaces, universities, schools, community organizations, and by individuals. For her lifelong community and peace work, Stella was awarded the Order of the British Empire (1979), Order of Australia (1987), and an honorary Doctor of Letters (1999). She is acknowledged as a Peace Messenger of the United Nations.
Stella Cornelius (86), the founder of "conflict resolution," runs her own home in Sydney, enjoys cooking fine food, drives a car, uses a computer and is thankful her memory "is reasonably good." On a typical day, her alarm goes off at 5:50 a.m. and she devotes her first hour to exercise: "For almost every day of my life, I have done workouts – breathing, arm exercises and such to make sure that physically I am as fit as possible." For Stella, the physical and the material, the intellectual and the emotional are only different ways to describe one entity and one personality. What is good in theory has to be good in practice. Unlike many of her generation, Stella enjoys the blessings of modern technology: "Every morning as I log on, the world comes rolling in at my feet." From her suburban home in Chatswood, she reaches out to people across the world with her message of peaceful conflict resolution: "The life of the elderly has not been better in any previous generation. Besides the internet, telephone hook-ups to international conferences are a great boon." Stella keeps abreast with the happenings in the world and is an avid reader of philosophy, history, literature, and fiction. It is not chocolates that she craves for, but "I suffer from psycho greed. I want to be involved in everything." She enjoys lunch with friends by the water and often has working luncheons at her home. For Stella, "work and play have deliciously mixed into a savory soup." For someone who has led such an exciting life, when asked would she like to write her autobiography, she quipped, "No, I am far too busy living up my life to write about it." So as the day draws to a close, it is back to the computer for Stella, connecting her to the conflict resolution world, replying to the many emails demanding her attention.
Conflict Resolution Network (CRN) United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) Australian Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland