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J U LY - A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
39
n December 1967, as the Vietnam War was
raging, AFSA unveiled two annual awards to rec-
ognize and encourage constructive dissent and
risk-taking within the Foreign Service: the
W. Averell Harriman Award
for constructive
dissent by junior officers (FS-6 through FS-4) and
the
William R. Rivkin Award
for mid-level of-
ficers (FS-3 through FS-1).
A
Foreign Service Journal
editorial that month expressed
the hope that the awards would “result in even higher pro-
fessional standards in the Foreign Service. In this regard, we
are particularly pleased that in stressing excellence, these two
awards are to be received primarily by those officers who
show intellectual courage or creativity.”
First given in 1968, the Harriman and Rivkin Awards were
joined the following year by the
Christian A. Herter Award
,
honoring constructive dissent by Senior Foreign Service of-
ficers. And in 2000, AFSA created the
F. Allen “Tex” Har-
ris Award
for dissent by Foreign Service specialists in honor
of the renowned FSO and AFSA activist, who received the
Rivkin Award in 1984.
Ambassador Thomas D. Boyatt, himself a recipient of two
AFSA dissent awards, points out that in a culture where peer
regard is very highly prized, these awards bestow extraordi-
nary distinction. Moreover, most awardees have gone on to
enter the Senior Foreign Service and account for a much
higher percentage of ambassadors than the Service as a
whole.
Together, the four AFSA constructive dissent awards con-
stitute a program unique within the federal government, one
that celebrates the courage and integrity of Foreign Service
personnel at all levels who have challenged the system from
within.
The association confers its dissent awards, as well as per-
formance and other awards, each June in the Benjamin
Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room at the Department of
State in the annual AFSA Awards Ceremony, which is co-
sponsored by the director general of the Foreign Service.
The Secretary of State or Deputy Secretary has frequently at-
tended the ceremony, as well.
Profiles of this year’s award-winners begin on p. 53; look
for coverage of the June 26 ceremony in the September edi-
tion of
AFSA News
.
A Unique Program
Commenting on the distinctiveness of the AFSA con-
structive dissent award program in a September 2010 Speak-
ing Out column, retired Ambassador Edward L. Peck, the
1973 recipient of the Rivkin Award and a longtime member
of AFSA’s Awards and Plaques Committee, observed:
“Doing battle with authority is certainly not a major facet
of the Foreign Service’s public persona. When people think
C
ELEBRATING
I
NTELLECTUAL
C
OURAGE
: AFSA’
S
C
ONSTRUCTIVE
D
ISSENT
A
WARDS
T
HESE UNIQUE AWARDS TRULY HONOR THE BEST OF THE
F
OREIGN
S
ERVICE
.
B
Y
J
OHN
W. L
IMBERT
John W. Limbert, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer,
chairs AFSA’s Awards and Plaques Committee. He was am-
bassador to Mauritania from 2000 to 2002 and AFSA presi-
dent from 2003 to 2005, among many other assignments.
Ambassador Limbert is the author of
Iran: At War with His-
tory
(Westview Press, 1987),
Shiraz in the Age of Hafez
(Uni-
versity of Washington Press, 2004) and
Negotiating with Iran:
Wrestling the Ghosts of History
(U.S. Institute of Peace Press,
2009).
I