November 4, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Ambassador Talks About Role of Non-Profits, Private Sector in Diplomacy

Ambassador Mary Ann Peters talks at Ohio University.

Ambassador Mary Ann Peters talks at Ohio University.

Former Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters delivered the 2019 Elizabeth Evans Baker Lecture on the role of non-profits and the private sector in diplomacy at Ohio University on Oct. 24.

Currently, Peters is the chief executive officer at the Carter Center, which has as its mission a “fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering … [along with seeking] to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”

In her talk titled, “Diplomacy, Non-Profits and the Private Sector: Exercising Power and Influence Without Firing a Shot,” Peters discussed how the Carter Center serves as a conduit between private donors and those who need aid. She emphasized the necessity of focusing on local needs instead of what outsiders believed was needed and tailor aid programs accordingly. Often non-profits and private initiatives have an advantage over government in giving aid because their programs can last much longer than government budgets or timetables allow.

Peters also highlighted the Carter Center’s work with micro-finance and combating disease in Africa. Overall, she argued, such aid programs were often more effective in promoting U.S. diplomatic goals than the use of military force.

Peters served for 30 years in the State Department, including on the National Security Council at the White House as the director for European and Canadian affairs from 1995 to 1997. She later served as the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh from 2000 to 2003 were she worked on the diplomatic side of the war on terrorism.

Peters’ talk was hosted by the Contemporary History Institute (CHI) and sponsored by the Baker Peace Studies program.

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