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Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, November 21, 2011

IU faculty member Sawyer awarded Gusi Prize for peace-building work in Africa

Nov. 21, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Amos Sawyer, a research associate with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, will receive the 2011 Gusi Peace Prize, an international award given to recognize individuals who work for peace and respect for human life and dignity.

The award will be presented Thursday, Nov. 24, at a ceremony in Manila, the Philippines. Sawyer is one of 20 people who will receive the 2011 award. The prize is presented each year by the Manila-based nonprofit Gusi Peace Prize Foundation and supported by a proclamation by former Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Sawyer, a citizen of Liberia, is being recognized for having "worked tirelessly for peace and the establishment of democratic governance in his home country as well as for the establishment and strengthening of institutions and processes of democratic governance and development in Africa." He served as interim president of Liberia in 1990-94 and in recent years has chaired the Governance Commission of Liberia at the appointment of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

At Indiana University, Sawyer has been co-director and associate director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and remains an affiliated faculty member with the research center.

"We have been fortunate to have Dr. Amos Sawyer as a colleague, faculty member and researcher here at IU," said Elinor Ostrom, co-founder and research director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and a 2009 Nobel Prize laureate in economic sciences.

"He has been instrumental in bringing peace to Liberia in many ways," Ostrom said. "His support for the presidential candidacy of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf brought new opportunity to Liberia after centuries of coping with corrupt officials. President Johnson Sirleaf's recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize is an international acknowledgment of her contribution and the importance of Amos' extensive efforts to help her be successful. We all send our very best congratulations to Dr. Sawyer for this recognition and look forward to many opportunities in the future to learn still more from him."

Sawyer has led peace-building and election observation missions and has worked to build capacity for democratic governance in several African nations. He is one of seven members of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism, a program of the African Union. Last week, Sirleaf bestowed Liberia's highest national honor on Sawyer, admitting him into the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers with the grade of Grand Cordon.

"Amos Sawyer has been an important figure in Indiana University's long-standing and productive engagement in Liberia," said Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie. "He has worked for decades to bring peace and reconciliation to his war-torn nation, most recently as a key adviser to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and chairman of the Governance Commission of Liberia. He is richly deserving of this award, and Indiana University extends to him its deepest congratulations for the honor."

Added Karen Hanson, IU Bloomington provost and university executive vice president: "We at Indiana University are tremendously proud of Amos Sawyer and his efforts in support of democratic governance and reconciliation in Liberia. He is not only a respected public official but a scholar whose work has examined policy issues and identified opportunities for peace and progress in Africa. We are delighted by the news of the Gusi Peace Prize and this important recognition of Dr. Sawyer and his work."

Sawyer holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University and served as a professor and dean at the University of Liberia in the 1970s and '80s. He is the author of the books Beyond Plunder, Toward Democratic Governance in Liberia and The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia, Tragedy and Challenge, as well as numerous scholarly articles.