Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative will award the inaugural Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award to Dr. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), at a celebration and dinner on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. 

Elected president of the Geneva-based ICRC in 2012, Maurer has more than 20 years of experience in interstate negotiation and mediation. As ICRC president, he has led the organization through a series of strategic reforms, building its capacity to engage in humanitarian diplomacy in favor of populations affected by war in some of the most demanding and challenging environments. He has been actively engaged in access negotiations in Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen and has represented the organization as a strictly neutral and independent actor in high-level, multilateral fora. As a board member of the World Economic Forum, he has helped focus economic and financial sectors on sustainable financing of relief and development response, particularly in fragile states. Before joining the ICRC, he served most recently as Switzerland’s state secretary for foreign affairs.

Dr. Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), noted that Maurer is the embodiment of a strong humanitarian leader, and that presenting him with the Award acknowledges the importance of the ongoing collaboration between the ICRC and the humanitarian community at Harvard. “Peter has been an intrepid advocate for strengthening humanitarian diplomacy, engaging states and other actors in understanding the respect of international humanitarian law, and improving humanitarian response through innovation and new partnerships,” said VanRooyen. “His dedication to creating a safe and secure space for neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian action is leading all of us toward a new future of aid.”

Public Events

Migration Crisis in the Mediterranean Region: A Humanitarian Perspective
Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies
March 29, 4:15 PM
Maurer will deliver a Director’s Seminar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard on March 29 which will focus on the Migration Crisis in the Mediterranean Region: A Humanitarian Perspective featuring discussants Dr. Jennifer Leaning and Dr. Melani Cammett

John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on Humanitarian Intervention in Syria
Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School
March 30, 6:00 PM
On March 30, Maurer will speak with Dr. Michael Ignatieff and Dr. Jacqueline Bhabha on March 30 at The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School on Humanitarian Intervention in Syria

The Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award

The late Elisabeth B. “Betsy” Weintz, who passed away in 2007, and her husband, J. Frederick Weintz, were early supporters of creating a strong program at Harvard focused on identifying ways to improve humanitarian response to crises globally and improving training for humanitarian aid workers. They provided the initial funding for the FXB Program on Complex Humanitarian Emergencies at the Harvard School of Public Health (now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), and as a result of their ongoing support, the Program evolved into the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, an academic and research center. Since 2011, HHI also includes an educational arm, which was established to build knowledge and skills among humanitarian leaders and aid workers on the front lines of relief work. “The humanitarian efforts at Harvard would not have been possible without the early and steadfast leadership and commitment of Betsy and Fred Weintz,” said VanRooyen. “Mrs. Weintz was a dedicated community leader in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut, but she also had a global vision. She was a passionate advocate for advancing the research and training of humanitarian leaders around the world. As one of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s founding benefactors and most loyal supporters, she helped build the academic humanitarian community at Harvard University.

In 2015, J. Frederick Weintz established the Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award to celebrate the memory, compassionate spirit, and transformative leadership of Betsy Weintz. The Award is to be bestowed annually upon a visionary public figure who has demonstrated superior leadership in a time of humanitarian crisis. The Award Fund also provides a grant for a faculty member or postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University whose work aligns with that of the awardee, which this year is awarded to Dr. Teresa Chahine, a research associate and leader of the Social Entrepreneurship Program in the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Award Recipient Peter Maurer
President, ICRC