This profile was prepared when Jerry White was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
When a 20-year old Jerry White stepped on a landmine on a weekend camping trip in Israel and lost his left leg, it would have been easy to remain a victim. However, Jerry chose life, not death, and not revenge. He literally stood up and committed himself to creating a world in which victims do not exist; one in which survivors thrive.Since 80% of the victims of war are civilians, it is essential than civilians stand up in the effort to end war. Jerry created the Survivor Corps network, which utilizes the power of partnerships, community, and leadership to bring issues of justice, human security, reconciliation, and inclusive development to the forefront of international decision-making. Survivors of conflict recover through peer support, rebuild through collective action, and reform through advocacy, creating policy reform and public awareness that cycles back into the original purpose of breaking the vicious cycle of victimization and violence throughout the world. Indeed, Survivor Corps is the only worldwide network that supports survivors of conflict.The network shows survivors how they can rebuild their lives and communities in order to break free of the cycle of victimization and violence. Landmines and legs are ‘things’; Survivor Corps rejects the importance of things in relation to people and survival in an effort to systemically break down the concept of the “victim”. Not only does Survivor Corps promote mass empowerment of these survivors and support their reintegration back into society, it also create platforms for these rehabilitated leaders to address the sources of conflict and destruction throughout the world. What began as the Landmine Survivor Network has now expanded into the Survivor Corps community of regional hubs in 19 conflict-scarred nations – from Azerbaijan to Vietnam, and from Burundi to the United States – spanning all the major continents bar Australia. These hubs, all led by survivors themselves, service an additional 40 countries.Jerry has also played a global leadership role in giving survivors a voice on the world stage by bringing them to the table with other CSOs and international bodies, such as the United Nations, to fight for survivor rights and violence reduction. Jerry’s Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) was an instrumental organizer of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), for which Jerry was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. Since then, Survivor Corps has led other CSOs in the effort to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008) – an effort to end discrimination and provide equal opportunity to 650 million people with disabilities globally – and then the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008) – designed to phase out the use of cluster bombs due to the disproportionate harm they cause civilians.