US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarid were awarded a prestigious prize on Monday for their roles in negotiating the historic Iranian nuclear accord signed between six world powers and Iran last year.
The agreement gave sanctions relief to Iran in return for it curtailing its controversial nuclear program. Implementation of that deal began in January this year.
The two diplomats won the 2016 Chatham House Prize, according to a press release published by the think tank, for their part in resolving what was “considered to be one of the most intractable diplomatic stand-offs in international affairs in the 21st century.”
The London-based Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs, said the prize is awarded annually “to the person, persons or organization deemed by members… to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.”
The think tank said Kerry and Zarif’s “leadership and commitment… were imperative to sustaining and driving the negotiations to their successful conclusion,” while “overcoming enormous technical complexity, entrenched domestic opposition in the United States and Iran and three decades of intense hostility between their two countries.”
“With the vital participation of officials from other permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the EU, they secured a deal, endorsed by the UN Security Council and more than 90 countries, which was a victory for diplomacy as well as against nuclear proliferation,” Chatham House said.
The award is presented on behalf of the institute’s patron, Queen Elizabeth II, and the ceremony is set to take place next month.
In Washington, the State Department — which does not maintain full diplomatic relations with Tehran’s Foreign Ministry — said Kerry was “grateful for being selected for this prize,” stressing that the deal was “a team effort internationally, with the other members of the P5+1, as well as the European Union.”
Other nominees for this year’s Chatham House award included former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for their roles in the global climate agreement at the COP 21 meeting in Paris in December 2015 and Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Nigeria from 2010-2015. He was nominated for “his professionalism, determination and integrity as chairman of Nigeria’s electoral commission, which, in 2015, ensured the conduct of Nigeria’s most credible election since the country’s return to civilian rule in 1999.”
Previous winners of the award have included former US secretary of state and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (2013), Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2014), and the French NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (2015).
AFP contributed to this report