Originally charged with obtaining the return of religious artifacts confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, Stuart Eizenstat, the fourth winner of the annual award, ultimately constructed a settlement consisting of compensation for forced labor as well as assets seized by the Nazis and their collaborators.
This arrangement, totalling $8 billion, was concluded with the governments of Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria, as well as other private corporations.
Eizenstat recently wrote the book Imperfect Justice about his experiences negotiating the settlement.
He writes in the book that he did not hope to place a monetary value on people’s suffering but rather to set a precedent in which perpetrators are forced to admit their crimes publicly.
Eizenstat said he hoped the settlement would spawn “a new kind of foreign policy” in which a greater number of legal tools would be available to victims of political oppression and violence.
Eizenstat also helped negotiate compensation for victims of terrorism supported by the Cuban and Iranian governments.
As a 1967 graduate of Harvard Law School, Eizenstat emphasized the importance of his ties to the school during the ceremony.
“This is a very emotional experience for me...because of the institution giving the award,” he said.
Eizenstat noted that he had developed his negotiation skills as a student at HLS.
“My roots in this great University are very deep,” he said.
University President Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Ecuador Jamil Mahuad, and Holocaust survivor Greta Beer all attended the speech at Pound Hall last night.