Former President Jimmy Carter named 2017 O'Connor Justice Prize recipient

September 19, 2016

Jimmy Carter, whose three and a half decades of international humanitarian work earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, has been selected to receive the 2017 O’Connor Justice Prize.

The award is named for retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and is administered by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. It recognizes exemplary leadership in rule-of-law initiatives. Jimmy Carter Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Download Full Image

Since leaving office as the nation’s 39th commander-in-chief, Carter’s work, through his nonpartisan, nonprofit Carter Center, has come to define a successful post-presidency. 

The Carter Center’s work includes conflict mediation, election observation, democracy promotion and disease prevention. The organization’s efforts span the globe, including Africa, South American, the Caribbean and the Korean Peninsula.

According to his 2002 Nobel citation, his award was “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

The Carter Center has also been integral in the near-elimination of the parasitic guinea worm, which causes a painful infection. In the 30 years since eradication efforts began, guinea worm infections have decreased 99.99 percent from 3.5 million in 1986 to 22 in 2015, according to the center.

Carter, 91, announced in August of 2015 that he had metastatic melanoma which had spread to his liver and brain. He joked at the time, “I would like the last Guinea worm to die before I do.”

In March of this year, Carter announced to Sunday school class he regularly leads that his body was free of cancer and that he no longer was receiving cancer treatments.

One of his most significant successes as president was the 1978 Camp David Accords, a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.  

The O’Connor Justice Prize was founded in 2014. Past honorees include Ana Palacio, former foreign affairs minister for Spain, whose influence was pivotal to the incorporation of human rights into the fabric of the European Union, and Navanethem “Navi” Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who fought to uphold the freedoms of anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. 

Melissa Harris Thirsk

Executive director, Marketing & Communications, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


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