According to the 2017 Almanac of American Philanthropy, one of the great achievements in the history of philanthropy was what the Open Society Foundations did in Bosnia 25 years ago. “Western governments,” the Almanac says, “were pathetically slow and inadequate in their response to the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia that killed tens of thousands. The most effective actor by far was philanthropist George Soros—who used $50 million of his own money to insert a highly effective relief team into the city of Sarajevo while it was under siege, re-establishing gas and electric service during the bitter winter, setting up an alternate water source, and bringing in desperately needed supplies. It has been estimated that Soros’s gift saved more lives than the efforts of all national governments plus the United Nations combined.”
In fact, Soros’s $50 million gift financed a lot more than relief efforts. On the 25th anniversary of the gift, four of those who took part in “saving Bosnia” will speak about one of the most important and dramatic chapters in the history of the Open Society Foundations
- Aryeh Neier is president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations.
- Mark Malloch-Brown served as deputy secretary-general and chief of staff of the UN under Kofi Annan, currently serves in the House of Lords of the UK, and is a member of the Global Board of the Open Society Foundations.
- Mabel van Oranje is the initiator and chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, and serves on the Global Board of the Open Society Foundations.
- Beka Vučo is the regional manager for the Western Balkans at the Open Society Initiative for Europe.
- Laura Silber (moderator) directs strategic communications and public affairs at the Open Society Foundations. She is the coauthor of the critically acclaimed Death of Yugoslavia.