The idea of establishing a national peace institute got a boost in 1783 from President George Washington. But it was only in 1984—after nearly 150 previous congressional attempts to create such an agency had failed—that the U.S. Institute of Peace was approved.

The institute has been active since April 1986. And last month, Samuel Lewis, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, became the agency’s new president.

The Peace Institute is a federally funded, nonprofit agency created to promote “scholarship, education, training, and the dissemination of information about the peaceful management of international conflicts.” In its fall report, the agency says it is ready to work toward becoming “an important and respected force in achieving a more peaceful world.”

Studying Peace

The institute divides its activities into three categories: grants to finance peace studies and projects; a fellowship program to research peace issues; and a series of special institute projects. Since its founding, the institute has approved more than 50 grants totaling about $1.7 million.

Lewis said he would like to see the agency begin teaching American diplomats “better techniques for being peacemakers and mediators.” Lewis served as assistant secretary of state in the Ford administration, and as ambassador to Israel in the Carter and Reagan administrations. He is credited with playing a key role in Arab-Israeli negotiations, including the Camp David Accords.

“I felt during those [diplomatic] experiences that we had a lot to learn about how we play our role,” he said. “… The institute is a unique and exciting new institution which can help to fill some of that gap.”

A delicate ...

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