Today the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School honored Lakhdar Brahimi with its annual Great Negotiator Award. Brahimi, the United Nations secretary general’s special envoy to Afghanistan, has also headed special U.N. troubleshooting missions to hotspots such as Yemen, Liberia, Sudan, Nigeria, South Africa, the former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and Haiti.

“Ambassador Brahimi has had a distinguished career serving around the world as a diplomat and mediator in challenging situations, and most challenging of all has been his assignment this past year to serve as Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations in Afghanistan,” said Harvard Law School Professor Robert Mnookin, chair of the Program on Negotiation’s steering committee. “He took a lead role in orchestrating both the Bonn conference that established an interim Afghan government following the fall of the Taliban and the June meeting of the Loya Jirga, the successor negotiations to Bonn. At a time of grave political peril and in a situation with the highest possible stakes and the greatest complexity, Ambassador Brahimi has demonstrated outstanding skill and sensitivity as a negotiator, and we are honored to have him accept this award.”

In the past year, Brahimi took a lead role in orchestrating both the Bonn Conference that set up an interim Afghan government following the fall of the Taliban, and this June’s Loya Jirga, the successor negotiations to Bonn.

Upon Brahimi’s appointment to Afghanistan in October 2001, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, U.K. ambassador to the U.N. said, “We ‘ve handed him a pretty large, overheated potato. It would be a miracle for anyone to pull off what the Security Council has asked him. But there is huge respect in the UN system for his experience, his political and diplomatic judgment and his subtlety in getting through the rocks in an extremely difficult subject.”

Brahimi also oversaw the production of a report, the “Brahimi Report”, offering a comprehensive critique of the efficiency and effectiveness of U.N. peacekeeping missions. Among the recommendations in the report were quicker deployment of peacekeeping forces, an increased emphasis on prevention, and the creation of an information gathering and analysis office within the United Nations.

Previous winners of the Great Negotiator Award have included former Senator George Mitchell for his work in leading the peace talks in Northern Ireland and Charlene Barshefsky, former U.S. Trade Representative, for her efforts to develop and implement trade policy objectives.

The Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation was founded in 1983 to design, implement, and evaluate better dispute resolution practices; to promote collaboration and communication among practitioners and scholars; to develop educational programs and materials for instruction in negotiation and dispute resolution; and to increase public awareness and understanding of successful conflict resolution efforts.

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