"Everyone has a right to peaceful coexistence, the basic personal
freedoms, the alleviation of suffering, and the opportunity
to lead a productive life..."
After leaving office, most presidents either retire to their ranches, go on the political fundraising circuit, play golf, or collect political papers for the creation of their commemorative library. Not former President Jimmy Carter. Since his presidency, Carter has demonstrated that he is undoubtedly an extraordinary person in his ceaseless contributions to the world. Although former President Jimmy Carter's tenure as chief executive ended nearly two decades ago, his dedication to a world characterized by peace and freedom from conflict has grown with each passing year. Jimmy Carter's many contributions to the international community demonstrate that no vision is too great, and no dream unattainable.
His role in resolving disputes between Israel and Egypt, despite their prolonged history of antagonism, illuminates Carter's heartfelt commitment to a more peaceful and better world. One of his most notable accomplishments was his position as mediator during the Camp David Accords of 1978. Hoping to mitigate and ultimately put an end to the volatile Arab/Israeli conflict in the Middle East, Carter instigated a set of peace talks, the Camp David Accords, between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Both leaders were invited to Camp David, the exclusive presidential retreat with the goal of opening lines of communication between the two extremely hostile countries.
The peace talks spanned 13 long days, much longer than initially anticipated. At times, animosities became so unbearable that Begin and Sadat refused to meet face to face. Carter used his influence as President and his mediating capabilities to reestablish communication between the two. Ultimately, the Camp David Accords of 1978 created a landmark framework for peace in the Arab/Israeli conflict which resulted in a formal treaty signed by Egypt and Israel in 1979. What is so remarkable about the Camp David Accords is how Carter recognized the pain and suffering occurring within the Middle East and used his powerful position to influence the future. Even in the Middle East, a region so divided in ideologies, religions, and history, Carter proved that intervention and peaceful negotiation are the most logical and effective means of resolving hostilities.
Yet Carter's legacy as diplomat and statesman truly began after his presidency. His passion for the maintenance and advancement of worldwide peace is most evident in his creation of the Carter Center. Founded in 1982 by the former President and his wife, Rosalyn, the Carter Center's central principle is that "Everyone on earth should be able to live in peace." Rather than simply retire and isolate himself from the public eye and the political arena as so many former presidents have done, Carter instead now "successfully uses his access to world leaders and forms partnerships with other institutions to achieve larger goals." The Carter Center, since its origin, has succeeded in aiding those areas of conflict and suffering which governments and news media often fail to address.
Serving as chair of committees such as the Conflict Resolution Program (CRP), Carter has also created a sub-committee known as the International Negotiation Network (INN), which seeks to monitor global conflicts on a weekly basis. Carter's INN offers advice and assistance to new and struggling democracies that wish to put an end to current conflicts and links different peacemaking groups and their resources to produce a more effective and global effort. The INN focuses on the many civil conflicts that continue to plague developing countries around the world, but are most often neglected by those with the ability to offer assistance.
One of Carter's successes was in North Korea in 1995. A product of Carter's meeting with North Korea's President, Kim Il-Sung, was the neutralization of North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for the commencement of dialogue with the U.S., the first in 40 years.
The INN is currently initiating refugee protection talks in the Great Lakes region of Africa, as well as serving as a conduit for dialogue between the warring ethnic groups in Estonia. Another of Carter's more visible successes as peace leader was during the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both Carter and President Clinton went to Bosnia and formulated a four month cease-fire and a guarantee from all parties to restart peace talks at a future date. Carter's vision of peace emerged when he addressed the U.S. Senate and Armed Services Committee in an attempt to help with negotiations after fighting resumed in the former Yugoslavia. This ultimately led to the Dayton Accords of 1995 in which the U.S. hosted peace talks between the warring groups-the Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats. Liberia, another area in desperate need of assistance following a brutal civil war, requested Carter's presence and insight during their peace talks in the early 1990's.
Another product of the Carter Center's quest for global peace is the Global Development Initiative (GDI), a program devoted to "promoting economic development that is fiscally, environmentally and socially sustainable." GDI strives to expose the growing economic inequities so prevalent throughout the world today and offers feasible solutions to these economic crises.
The Human Rights Program, another branch of the Carter Center, draws attention to "victims of human rights abuses, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental agencies, and governments struggling to build institutions to protect human rights." Using his status as a former president, Jimmy Carter has personally spoken on behalf of those suffering from human rights abuses in an effort to put an end to violations. Carter also chairs the International Human Rights Council, comprised of 28 leaders from around the world, which attempts to prevent human rights violations before they occur. Through the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter is also assisting in the fight against disease in Africa, and addressing child labor issues in Pakistan.
Since his inauguration, Jimmy Carter has taken heroic strides in working towards a more just and peaceful world. Jimmy Carter is an exceptional example of someone who continues to use his past position of power to produce global changes. He has not stopped fighting for greater democratization, protection of human rights, and health care on a global scale. Jimmy Carter is a shining example of someone who uses power not to achieve personal gain, but for the betterment of the entire world.