AMBASSADOR WILLIAM LACY SWING
In a half century as an American and United Nations diplomat, William Lacy Swing was a six-time Ambassador under four of the ten US Presidents under whom he served; Special Representative (SRSG) of two United Nations Secretaries-General and Chief of UN Peacekeeping Missions; in the Congo (DRC) and Western Sahara. In his ten years as it’s Director General, the International Organization for Migration became a UN Agency in 2016. For twenty-two of his forty-years as a US Diplomat, William Swing served as Ambassador to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, the Republic of the Congo and Haiti.
William Lacy Swing was named Ambassador to South Africa in 1989, shortly before Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The posting was a culminating experience for Ambassador Swing, who began his diplomatic career in South Africa in 1963 only a few.months before the Rivonia trial and Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment on Robben Island. A decade earlier as a Harvard Fellow, Swing published a monograph urging a tougher US policy against apartheid entitled, “U.S. African Policy and the Case of South Africa: Dilemmas and Priorities.”
In Washington, Mr. Swing was Principal Deputy to the Director General of the Foreign Service and, earlier, Deputy Director for Central African Affairs.
Upon completion of his US diplomatic career in 2001, Ambassador Swing then served in senior United Nations positions for nearly twenty years at the level of Under Secretary-General. From 2003 to 2008, he was Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Chief of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - the first billion dollar Mission and largest peacekeeping operation in UN history. Earlier, he was SRSG and Chief of Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), 2001-2003.
In his third international/diplomatic career, Ambassador Swing was elected in 2008 to be Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and re-elected in 2013, completing his second term in 2018. Under his ten-year leadership, IOM expanded its membership and global footprint and became a United Nations Agency in 2016.
Several foreign governments have decorated Ambassador Swing, including France (Legion d’Honneur); Germany (Federal President); and Japan (Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun), as well as Liberia, Niger, Djibouti and the Sovereign Order of Malta. The American Academy of Diplomacy gave him the Annenberg Award for “Excellence in Diplomacy”, and the American Foreign Service Association recognized him for his “Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy”. Ambassador Swing has also been awarded the US Presidential Certificate of Commendation and Distinguished Service, Superior and Meritorious honor awards: the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service and Valor Awards; the US Coast Guard’s “Distinguished Public Service Award;” and the US Information Agency’s Meritorious Honor Award. Several US and foreign universities have given him honorary doctorates. Ambassador Swing is an Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford University; and is currently a "Distinguished Visiting Fellow" at Penn (University of Pennsylvania).
After graduating from Yale Divinity School (BD), Willian Swing did post-graduate studies at Tuebingen University in Germany, then taught at a private German school. Ambassador Swing speaks French, German and several African languages. He and his wife, Yuen Cheong, have a son, Brian, an economic consultant in South Africa, and a daughter Gabrielle, a career United Nations peacekeeper.