Atlanta loses Nobel peace summit after months of turmoil

The long-troubled Atlanta Nobel peace summit is no more as plans for new organizers to host the event have collapsed.

The Rotary Club of Atlanta, which was approached in recent months to take over the event following strife with its original organizer, has voted against taking the reins of the planned fall event, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the Rome-based organization that originally designated Atlanta as this year’s host city, has now decided to relocate the summit following the Rotary’s decision. Barcelona is said to be considered as an alternative host city.

The decision is the latest turn in a saga that's become an international embarrassment for the city. The fate of Atlanta's World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates has been in doubt in recent months following the resignation of several notable Atlantans — including Mayor Kasim Reed — who have clashed with the event's lead organizer, Mohammad Bhuiyan.

“I am disappointed that the hard work of those committed to the 2015 Nobel Summit will not result in the event being hosted in the city of Atlanta,” Reed said in a statement Tuesday. “However, I want to thank all those who worked diligently to bring this extraordinary event to the City. I am hopeful that the work we began this year will bring a Nobel Summit to the city in the near future.”

The secretariat’s organization did not immediately respond to an email query on Tuesday. A Rotary representative deferred comments to Reed’s office.

Plans for Atlanta to host the event began with Bhuiyan, the CEO of Yunus Creative Lab. He and his wife, Shamima Amin, began the nonprofit with Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who has since resigned from his own organization because of the controversy.

The public trouble began when Reed withdrew the city’s participation in March, citing concerns over its management. Reed and others clashed with Bhuiyan on issues including hiring decisions and where to house donations.

Yunus resigned just weeks later, stating in his resignation letter that his continued support of the event was misrepresented by his own board. Former gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, Laura Turner Seydel and Willis Potts, the former chairman of the Georgia Board of Regents, are also among those to withdraw from the effort.

The secretariat warned Atlanta leaders to find a resolution in early May, prompting event organizers to approach the Rotary.

Despite his detractors and lack of widespread support, Bhuiyan has maintained that his organization will move forward with plans to host its own Nobel-oriented event.

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