National Geographic : 2015 Oct
nationalgeographic.com/3Q 3 Questions PHOTO: MARTIN SCHOELLER, AUGUST My Work Since the White House and My Legacy Jimmy Carter, 90, was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he and his wife, Rosalynn, founded the Carter Center to work on peace, justice, and health issues; in 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This interview took place before Carter’s August 12 announcement that he’d been diagnosed with cancer and would seek treatment. Why did you found the Carter Center? When I left the White House, I wanted to capi- talize on my having been president of a great country, and I thought about filling vacuums and things I knew governments didn’t do. The first concept we had was to negotiate peace agree- ments between people who wouldn’t be accepted by normal governments; that’s something we’ve continued through the years with the Maoists in Nepal, Kim Il Sung in North Korea, and Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian community. Later we filled other vacu- ums, including monitoring elections and dealing with neglected tropical diseases. Which center efforts make you proudest? One, we have the only international task force on disease eradication. We settled on guinea worm and found it in 23,700 villages. Since then we’ve reduced the number of cases from 3.6 million to 126. Second, we promote human rights in the form of democracy and free- dom. By the end of this year the Carter Center will prob- ably have monitored more than a hundred elections to validate they’re conducted honestly and safely. What will be the center’s next big challenge? The horrible abuse of women and girls around the world. Many are strangled at birth by their parents or aborted when a fetus is determined to be female. Some 70 percent of the peo- ple sold across international borders now are females, to be sold into sexual slavery. One out of five college freshman girls can expect to be sexually assaulted before they graduate. This crime is seldom investigated in our country, and it also exists in our military. These are things on which the Carter Center will focus a lot of our attention in future years.