Sen. George J. Mitchell received the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's 2013 D'Alemberte-Raven Award in Friday's opening plenary session in Chicago. The award came in recognition of his significant contributions to and service in dispute resolution.
Shareholder Richard Lord
Introduced as a modest, tireless and optimistic man by New York mediator and arbitrator Roger Dietz, Mitchell spoke about his experience as chair of the peace talks that led to the Northern Ireland peace accord reached on April 10, 1998. Before that, Mitchell had served as a federal judge and then as U.S. senator -- first appointed to complete the remaining term of Edmund Muskie, who had been asked to serve as Secretary of State. Mitchell then was elected twice.
His experience in Northern Ireland is a study in patience and persistence as the peace agreement took many years to come to fruition. He explained how three sets of discussions often led to little or no progress and some setbacks. The talks themselves were taking place at a time of continued violence, when two delegates to the talks were assassinated. Changing locations did not seem to help, and ultimately Senator Mitchell decided to create a deadline for resolution.
As that date approached, talks took place around the clock. The deal struck on Good Friday almost 15 years ago did not guarantee peace, but it did make peace and reconciliation possible. And it was through the tireless efforts of those involved in the talks, including the men and women of Northern Ireland who strove for accord while at personal and political risk, that the table was set for civil order, physical security, liberty and justice.