On April 7, 2000, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School honored former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell with the first Great Negotiator Award. Mitchell was recognized for his role as a master coalition builder at home and abroad. Under his leadership the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of Northern Ireland agreed on an historic accord, ending decades of conflict. Major accomplishments during his tenure as a U.S. Senator (1980 – 1995) include passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The Program on Negotiation established the Great Negotiator Award to honor individuals of extraordinary achievement in dispute resolution. The award is designed not only to honor the accomplishments of outstanding negotiators, but also to focus public attention on the important role of negotiation as society faces increasingly complex disputes in all sectors–public and private, technological and ethical, personal and professional.