January 19, 2001
The legacy of Nobel Prizewinner Ralph Bunche, who died in 1971, has faded from public consciousness in the 30 years since his death. Given the historical significance of his life as a diplomat and scholar, and his impact on the shape of twentieth-century political life, this neglect is particularly lamentable. Ralph Bunche was a national icon in the decades after World War II. His role as the behind-the-scenes mediator of the 1949 armistice between Israel and its four Arab neighbors marks the only time in the history of this Middle Eastern conflict that an agreement has been signed by all parties. It was also the event that precipitated his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.