The World Food Prize announced today that Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn will become only the second individual ever honored as the recipient of the Steven Krulis Champion of Humanity Distinguished Service Award. The award, which is presented by the Aegis Trust of Great Britain, recognizes those who have contributed significantly to confronting and preventing genocide, with an emphasis on promoting the values of humanity.
“I am truly humbled to be recognized with this award named in memory of Steven Krulis,” said Amb. Quinn. “The incomparable suffering of the millions of victims of genocide in the 20th century is an indelible stain on human history. I want to express my most profound gratitude to Dr. James Smith and the Aegis Trust for this extraordinary honor that they are bestowing upon me, and my unending admiration for all that the Aegis Trust is doing to ensure that future genocides do not occur again in the 21st century or beyond. In that same regard, I want to acknowledge the special role being played here in Iowa by Steve Noah to highlight the devastating impact of the Rwandan genocide.”
Dr. Smith, the President and Co-Founder of the Aegis Trust, said, “It is truly remarkable to have someone who played such a leading role in responding to the humanitarian fallout of a genocide, in this case the genocide in Cambodia. He raised the alarm some two years prior to the genocide starting, although this fell on deaf ears. Imagine if we had listened; imagine a world where we had used our ethical intelligence to invest in early prevention. Then, years later, he developed an ingenious way to eradicate the remnants of the perpetrators of this mass murder. That is exceptional.”
Amb. Quinn will receive the award in a ceremony hosted by Lord Alton of Liverpool in the House of Lords, London, on March 5, 2019. Two additional events highlighting Amb. Quinn’s achievements will take place at the Genocide Memorial in Rwanda on Friday, March 1, and at the UK National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Nottinghamshire, England, on Sunday, March 3.
The award honors Amb. Quinn’s service over several decades in confronting and countering genocide in relation to the people of Cambodia. While assigned as an American Foreign Service Officer on the remote Cambodian border in Vietnam, he is widely acknowledged as the first person anywhere to report, in 1974, on the genocidal policies of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, the worst genocidal, mass-murdering, terrorist organization of the second half of the 20th century. His 40-page report likened the Khmer Rouge policies and practices to those of Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia.
In 1979, while serving on the staff of then Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray, Quinn lead the Iowa SHARES Campaign which rushed food, medicine and volunteer Iowa doctors and nurses to the Cambodian border of Thailand to aid the more than 30,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide who were dying at the rate of 50 to 100 a day, with their bodies bulldozed into mass graves.
A decade later, while serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia in the 1990s, his plan of agricultural enhancements and improved rural roads led to the final eradication of the remaining 25,000 Khmer Rouge, who had still controlled much of the Cambodian countryside. On March 6, 1999, Ambassador Quinn reported to the U.S. State Department Operation Center that the last Khmer Rouge had just surrendered, thus completely eliminating the radical regime that had caused the death of approximately 1.7 million Cambodians out of the total estimated population of seven million.
Ambassador Quinn rose to become one of the most decorated Foreign Service Officers of his generation, recognized for the important role he played in humanitarian endeavors, as well as for his actions in dangerous and violent situations.
He is the recipient of the State Department medal for heroism and valor, and was the only civilian to receive the U.S. Army Air Medal for participating in over 100 hours of helicopter combat operations in Vietnam during the war. In 2014, he became only the 23rd person to receive the Iowa Medal, Iowa’s highest civilian honor.
Nicole Barreca, Director of Communications and Events
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ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE: The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored 48 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger.