Ms. Sigrid Kaag, top diplomat who successfully led the OPCW-UN joint mission on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons, received the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize on 16 November 2016. The Carnegie Foundation, which owns and manages the Peace Palace, has awarded this peace prize to Ms. Kaag for her successful efforts in accomplishing sensitive and dangerous missions in the Middle-East.
From October 2013 until September 2014, Sigrid Kaag successfully led the OPCW-UN joint mission on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons. This unprecedented mission along with Ms. Kaag’s leadership, dedication and courage helped secure the peaceful removal and destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons.
Currently, Ms. Kaag serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon, where she oversees the work of the UN family in Lebanon as well as leads on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, aiming to achieve a permanent ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel. Her engagement ranges from conflict prevention and diplomacy to strategic leadership on humanitarian, development and security issues.
The Board of the Carnegie Foundation lauds Ms. Kaag’s dedication and personal approach. She is held in particularly high esteem for her ability to bring unity. Chairman of the Foundation, Mr. Bernard Bot, commented her remarkable talent in bringing parties together and to consensus, adding that “Ms. Kaag doesn’t think in problems, but encourages parties to act”.
Achieving and sustaining lasting peace
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Kaag expressed her gratitude to the the Carnegie foundation for the award and her recognition for the thousands of humanitarian workers and UN staff who risk their lives in areas of instability or conflict to serve others and those who strive, mostly behind the scenes, to prevent conflicts from breaking out and to build more cohesive and fortified societies.
Ms. Kaag also highlighted the challenges of achieving and sustaining lasting peace: “Peace is possible. But achieving sustainable peace is never easy. And it is not a question of simply ticking the box. It takes time. It can only be won by patient, undismayed effort, by trial and error, and with setbacks”.
Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize
The Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize is awarded by the Board of the Carnegie Foundation every two years to a person or an institution furthering the cause of international peace. The Prize is named after Johan Wateler. The Dutch banker, horrified by the atrocities of the First World War, drew up a will that dedicated his capital to the establishment of a Peace Prize on 16 November 1916. To mark the 100-year anniversary of the testament, the book ‘De Carnegie Wateler Vredesprijs’ was presented during the Award Ceremony. The first copy was handed to descendants of Johan Wateler. Prizes in previous years have been awarded to UN diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi (2014) and War Child (2012).