IT is a genius of American democracy that it continually creates national institutions devoted to furthering human knowledge, understanding among nations, and freedom. Today these include, among others, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the Peace Corps, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the National Endowment for Democracy. In this tradition, a new national institution, the United States Institute of Peace, has quietly been born.
Its mandate is to encourage research, education, and information exchange in enhancing our ability to resolve and manage conflict. Its method will be the pursuit of excellence in an interdisciplinary climate of intellectual freedom. By law independent and nonpartisan, it will promote scholarship in public and private institutions around the world as well as offer its own center of excellence.
The Institute of Peace is the product of a bipartisan congressional effort of more than 200 members of Congress and the vision of a dedicated few such as Sens. Mark Hatfield, Spark Matsunaga (who chaired the blue-ribbon congressional-presidential commission that recommended establishment of the institute), Claiborne Pell, Jennings Randolph, and Robert Stafford and Rep. Dan Glickman. The first meeting of the board of directors was held Feb. 26. The board was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger.
This first board of the institute has collectively earned more than 20 advanced degrees and published more than 50 books. Perhaps most fittingly, in view of the institute's strong roots in the soil of democracy, it has received an outpouring of suggestions and support from individuals all over the world, including heartwarming offers of permanent sites and other support from communities around the country.