President Carter honored for ‘waging peace’

— April 28, 1999

ATHENS, Ga. — Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn were honored April 27 in Atlanta for their efforts to "wage peace," even as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the U.S. military role in the Balkan conflict.

The two were presented the inaugural Delta Prize for Global Understanding, a new award created by the University of Georgia with a grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation. The award recognizes groups or individuals for globally significant efforts that provide opportunities for greater understanding among nations and cultures. The Atlanta-based Carter Center also was included in the inaugural award presentation.

"It is very difficult to wage peace," Carter said in accepting the award. "It is slow, tedious, frustrating, often unsuccessful and rarely publicized. War is very successful and very popular — disturbingly so. That is particularly true if the only casualties are among other people."

Nominations for the Delta Prize, which will be presented annually, are solicited worldwide. The award includes a $10,000 cash prize and an original work of art. The award was conceived by two University of Georgia faculty members: Gary Bertsch, director of the Center for International Trade and Security, and Betty Jean Craige, director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

"At a time of international turmoil, we take pride in recognizing the work of the Carters," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "If ever there was a time to focus on world peace, it’s now."

Maurice Worth, chief operating officer of Delta Air Lines, praised the Carters for "leading principled lives" and for their "powerful and ennobling vision, guided and focused by their deep faith." Worth noted that an international selection committee chose the Carters. "In retrospect, it almost seems like the award was created with them in mind," he said.

"This award is very significant," Carter said, "because peace and global understanding are two subjects that don’t get enough attention."

In his acceptance remarks, Carter said many of the world’s problems are caused by an inability of people to communicate with each other in a respectful way. "Conflicts between two nations have the same basic cause as conflicts within nations and conflicts between students, between husbands and wives, and parent and child," he said. "That’s the belief on both sides that ‘I’m right, they’re wrong.’"

"My hope is that these words -- peace and global understanding -- can be more widely and prevalently absorbed as part of our consciousness," he added.

Prior to the award ceremony, Kent C. (Oz) Nelson, retired chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service and a member of the board of trustees of the Carter Center, spoke about the work done by the Carters and the Carter Center to champion human rights, promote democracy and alleviate human suffering in neglected areas of the world, including several African nations.

He was joined by a panel that included CNN anchor and senior correspondent Judy Woodruff; John Hardman and Ambassador Gordon Streeb, both with the Carter Center; and University of Georgia student Bronson Lee, who was involved with other students in the Delta Prize selection process. The event opened with Lee and three fellow students sharing an African welcome song in Swahili, which they learned in travels to Tanzania last summer.

Read more about Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and The Carter Center.