The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) is deeply honoured to receive the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize 2022 at a ceremony in The Hague today in recognition of our work to prevent and resolve armed conflicts through mediation and discreet diplomacy.
“The Peace Prize is really an inspiration to me and my colleagues,” David Harland, HD’s Executive Director, said in his acceptance speech. “And we will think of it – and of the values and motivation behind it – when we next find ourselves in a dark place, which is often. It will be a light for us.”
Since 1999, HD has been achieving peace around the world – including the Aceh separatist conflict in Indonesia, the ETA insurgency in Spain, long-running violence in the southern Philippines and a decade of fighting and turmoil in Libya.
This year, during talks between Russia and Ukraine to restart the flow of vital food shipments, HD teams provided advice and close support to the Black Sea Grain Initiative led by the United Nations and Türkiye.
Piet Hein Donner, Chairman of the Board of the Carnegie Foundation, spoke about a very recent result supported by HD’s work – the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement in Ethiopia this week under the Obasanjo initiative.
“The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue was closely involved at the conception and start of that initiative that was subsequently continued under the auspices of the African Union,” he said.
The Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize, awarded every two years to a person or an institution furthering the cause of international peace, was initiated by Dutch banker Johan Wateler and entrusted to the Carnegie Foundation.
The ceremony at the Peace Palace was attended by dozens of ambassadors, representatives of international organisations and other dignitaries.
HD – a Swiss-based private diplomacy organisation founded on the principles of humanity, impartiality and independence – now runs multi-track peacemaking initiatives in more than 75% of the world’s violent conflicts to reduce the human suffering caused by war and help open the way for stability and development.
“In each case, and many more, the Centre has for more than 20 years operated behind the scenes – patiently, creatively, discreetly – to bring about results that simply could not have been produced by traditional diplomacy,” said Dr. Elisabeth Wesseling-Van Gent, Chair of the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize Committee.
Harland, who has led HD since 2011, set out the moral hazards around maintaining impartiality and confidentiality in the pursuit of peace.
“The choices are never between good and bad. The choices are almost always between bad and worse, or even between bad and death. So apart from our commitment to humanity, we eschew purism. We try to be guided by those actually involved in war, or its victims, who seek an end to violence through negotiations,” Harland said.
“So we believe that there is a role – a small but important role – for a service of last resort. For an organisation – a pragmatic, low-key organisation, acceptable to all sides – which can convene those who, for whatever reason, want to draw a line under a violent struggle and find a negotiated exit.”