Richard S. Williamson
Senior Fellow for Multilateral Institutions
Ambassador Richard S. Williamson joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs as a senior fellow for multilateral institutions in July 2010. Williamson, who served as ambassador to the United Nations and special envoy to Sudan, comes to the Council with extensive international policy and diplomatic experience, including positions as a political advisor, lawyer, author, and professor.
As a Chicago Council senior fellow, Williamson is developing a project examining how changes in the balance of power, such as the rise of China, will affect the efficacy of international institutions, and offer recommendations for how the U.S. should respond. He recently served as a member of a group of experts and leaders convened by The Chicago Council to produce a 2009 report on Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Hunger and Poverty, which calls for an increased U.S. commitment to alleviating global poverty through agricultural development.
Previously, Williamson held foreign policy positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including as an assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs in the White House. During Reagan's first term, Williamson served as the U.S. permanent representative to the UN offices in Vienna, Austria, and he finished Reagan's second term as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs in charge of America's U.N. policy.
While serving under President George W. Bush as ambassador to the United Nations and ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Williamson helped plan the process of delivering international aid to East Timor, met with Ethiopian refugees and Sierra Leonean abuse victims, and led a team of U.N. members who monitored the 2004 Afghan elections. He also served on the seven-member Panel of Eminent Persons for Reform of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and has headed the U.S. delegation to the OSCE annual conference on Human Rights. In 2007, President Bush appointed Williamson as his special envoy to Sudan. He resided in various Sudanese cities to study the Darfur conflict and develop policies to solve the crisis.
A Chicago resident, Williamson recently founded Salisbury Strategies LLP, a consulting company focusing on strategic advice for international business and administrative and regulatory issues. Previously, he was a partner at the Chicago-based international law firm Winston & Strawn LLP. Williamson also is currently serving as the Roberta Buffet Visiting Professor of International Relations at Northwestern University’s Buffet Center for Comparative and International Studies, and is a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.
Once nominated in 1992 by the Republican Party for the U.S. Senate, Williamson was chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and currently serves on the board of directors of the International Republican Institute. He also is a trustee of Freedom House and co-chair of the advisory committee for the Notre Dame University Center for Human and Civil Rights.
Williamson is the editor of three books and author of more than 180 articles and eight books, most recently America’s Mission in the World: Principals, Practices, and Predicaments. He graduated cum laude with an A.B. from Princeton University and earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School.