Jonathan E. Pearl
Great Mediators in History #6. Giandomenico Picco
Updated: Jul 8, 2019
· Born 1948
· 1973- 1992 United Nations
· 1991 - U.S. President's Special Award for Exceptional Service in December 1991
· 1992 - Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in August
· British Order of St. Michael and St. George (C.M.G.)
· 1993 - Lebanese Order of the Cèdre du Liban, (Commandeur)
· 1993 - Italian Order of Grande Ufficiale della Repubblica.
As the United Nations hostage negotiator, Giandomenico Picco took part in vital peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, in Afghanistan during the soviet occupation and in several other international hostage crises.
While carrying out these missions, Picco repeatedly risked his life and was often "escorted” to meetings by masked terrorists who would throw a hood over his head, toss him to the floor of a car and drive him to a secret location.
Picco admits that he was often in the dark, and almost nothing went according to plan.
On one occasion he was asked by a hostage-taker: “Why do you risk your to save people who are not members of your tribe” Picco says his response required thinking on three different levels. “First of all, what do I tell him? Second, in what way do I convey what I want to convey to him? And third, if this is wrong - what I answer - or if he does not understand it, then I am in trouble. What I said to him was a difficult answer - I said ‘I like to pay forward’. I risk my life now for people I do not know, because I hope that if it happens, ten years from now, your son will be in position to save the life of my son, I hope he will do it, because I’m paying in advance.
Despite the fear of leaving his wife a widow and his son an orphan, he never gave up. UN General Secretary Javier Pérez de Cuéllar called him a "disarmed soldier of diplomacy".