Dayton Peace Prize

07.21.2005 | Culture and SocietyRichard C. Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and chief negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords, will receive the Dayton Peace Prize as part of a series of educational, cultural, policy and interfaith events to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the signing of the agreement.

Dayton: A Peace Process (DAPP), in affiliation with the Dayton Council on World Affairs, will award the prize to Holbrooke on Thursday, Nov. 17, at a 7:30 p.m. dinner at the Schuster Center. The prize, which carries a $25,000 stipend, recognizes an individual or organization contributing extraordinarily to the peaceful reconstruction of a society or societies torn by war anywhere in the world. Local philanthrophist Oscar Boonshoft, who has been extremely supportive of previous Dayton Peace Accords events, donated the funds for this year's prize.

Previous Dayton Peace Prize winners include Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, former President Bill Clinton and philanthropist George Soros.

Holbrooke will offer an address, "Looking Back and Where We are Now?" at the dinner. For more information, contact Mea Greenwood at (937) 229-3557.

As part of a special presidential delegation to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Holbrooke this month attended the 10th anniversary of Europe's worst massacre of civilians since World War II. On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops killed nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the east Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The Dayton Peace Accords that Holbrooke brokered ended a civil war that claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people and led to the displacement of 1 million others.

Dayton has been a frequent stop for Holbrooke in the decade since the signing of the historic accords at the Hope Hotel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. To mark the first anniversary, he noted Dayton's historic role at a University of Dayton dinner: "We came here and found something extraordinary, from the signs in the windows to the lighted candles along the roadways." In 1998, the diplomat received an honorary degree from the University of Dayton for "his relentless, principled and imaginative pursuit of lasting peace" in Bosnia. In 2000, he returned to Dayton to participate in a fifth-anniversary international conference on the Balkans that featured members of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina and other high-ranking officials.

"It's fitting on the 10th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords that Ambassador Holbrooke be honored for his extraordinary work in ending the war," said Doris Ponitz, chair of DAPP. "He is one of the 21st century's greatest peace brokers. He strongly urged this community to establish the Dayton Peace Prize as a way to commemorate the anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords and honor a peacemaker from anywhere in the world."

Holbrooke's memoir, To End a War, recalls the high-stakes diplomatic effort that led to the end of Europe's worst war in more than half a century. More than 80 pages chronicle the 21 days he spent at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton forging the peace agreement.

"Since Nov. 21, 1995, 'Dayton' has entered the language as shorthand for a certain type of diplomacy -- the Big Bang approach to negotiations: lock everyone up until they reach agreement," he wrote in the book. "A 'Dayton' has been seriously suggested for Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kashmir, the Mideast and other festering problems."

Holbrooke, who negotiated the Dayton Peace Accords as assistant secretary of state for Europe, also has served as a diplomat in Vietnam, written one volume of the Pentagon Papers, worked on the opening of diplomatic relations with China and served as ambassador to Germany in a career that began in 1962.

Contact Doris Ponitz, chair of DAPP, at (937) 434-6713 or Thomas Lasley, vice-chair of DAPP, at (937) 229-3557.