Dispatches: The YZ Prize for Peace

Our roving reporter, Steve Finch, has an interesting story today that he asked us to file under “that’s something that would really benefit humanity.”

SANTA MONICA, CA — The YZ Prize Foundation–of no relation to the X Prize Foundation–announced a new reward today which they’ve called simply the Peace YZ Prize. Like all such prizes, the foundation is offering substantial financial reward–they’ve estimated that it will be nearly five billion dollars–to anyone who can accomplish it’s objective.

The prize’s conditions for completion aren’t pinned down exactly, but the foundation assures us that it requires a substantial commitment to peace by two longstanding rivals. They suggested that the resolution in Northern Ireland is a good model for the type and stability of solution they’re seeking.

Asked where they would like this prize won, the chairman said, “anywhere that needs peace.” Pressed he offered that he’d like to see peace anywhere, and agreed that Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Darfur, Columbia, Chechnya, and Spain’s Basque regions were all viable candidates. “And of course,” the chairman said, “we’d love to reward the prize for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

When questioned as to whether those were the only possible candidates the panel admitted it’s ignorance. “Anywhere which has a substantial history of conflict and can muster a meaningful resolution to the grievances is a candidate. We’d certainly consider places other than those mentioned. A favorable solution between Ethiopia and Eritrea could certainly be considered, for example.”

The disbursement of the prize also raised some questions. The rough response was that it would be split between the two parties involved, or given as a lump sum to the government in the case of internal conflicts. This lead to some disappointment that the resolution would not go to a person, as the Nobel Peace Prize does.

Reached for comment, most observers feel that this is a good move. Said Ben Silverburg, a professor of International Relations at Yale, “I’m not naïve enough to believe that the prize will lead to a sudden outbreak of peace movements all over the world, but I do think it’s a good idea. Anything that offers increased incentives for peace is likely to, if only a little bit, lead to greater peace in the world.”

The prize has no deadline. If it takes 3, 35 350 years for this prize to have a viable winner, the organizers assert that they will get the prize. How exactly that will work is unclear. Also unclear as we go to print, is how exactly this prize will be paid for. Though some have speculated that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has financed the prize, there is absolutely no support on that notion.

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