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30 August 2018
Tribute to an exemplary diplomat – Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman
By Paula Boland, UNA-NCA Executive Director
On August 24, 2018, UNA-NCA and the international affairs community lost one of its finest diplomats less than a week after the passing of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Ambassador Princeton Lyman was an active Advisory Council member and avid supporter of our chapter.

Ambassador Lyman began his government career with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and served as USAID Director in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 1976 to 1978. His extensive career in government also included assignments as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-1986), U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (1986-1989), Director of Refugee Programs (1989-1992), U.S. Ambassador to South Africa (1992-1995), and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1996-1998).Princeton Lyman will be deeply missed, but he will live on as an exemplary patriot, diplomat, and friend,” Constance “Connie” A. Morella spoke of her fellow Advisory Council member.As a member of Congress in the 90’s, I traveled to South Africa before and during his Ambassadorship and salute his legacy of negotiating an agreement in the country’s transition to democracy. In all his diplomatic assignments, Ambassador Lyman’s calm, reasonable demeanor enhanced his practice of listening, learning, and leading.”

More recently, he served as the United States special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from March 2011 to March 2013. As special envoy, he led U.S. policy in helping in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Ambassador Lyman previously held the position of Ralph Bunche Fellow for African Affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. From 1999 to 2003, he served as Executive Director of the Global Interdependence Initiative at the Aspen Institute. From 2008-2010, Ambassador Lyman was a member of the African Advisory Committee to the United States Trade Representative.

In his role as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, Ambassador Lyman supported the U.S. government in developing a strong relationship with the United Nations. His predecessor, Sheba Crocker, saidPrinceton understood better than most the value of US engagement and leadership in multilateral institutions, and the importance of those institutions to advancing U.S. interests on issues ranging from peace and security and conflict resolution to protection of refugees, human rights, and humanitarian issues.  His voice and commitment will be sorely missed.”  

Fellow Advisory Council member and longtime friend of Ambassador Lyman, Ambassador George Moose noted,

“Princeton is no doubt best known for his critical role as U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, in nurturing and facilitating the negotiations that led in 1994 to South Africa’s historic and peaceful transition from apartheid to multi-racial democracy. Less well known, but no less important, was his leadership of the State Department’s International Organization Affairs Bureau from 1996 to 1998, which coincided with the first two years of Kofi Annan’s tenure as UN Secretary-General.  Here, again, Princeton played an indispensable role in facilitating communication between the UN in New York and the U.S. policy makers in Washington. Their partnership was instrumental in mobilizing and galvanizing U.S. support for Annan’s ambitious agenda for reforming and revitalizing the UN and restoring its credibility, most notably in the areas of peacekeeping and human rights.  I had the opportunity to see and appreciate the value of his efforts from my perch as head of the UN Office in Geneva.  The fact that the world has lost both of these extraordinary leaders and visionaries in the space of just one week is doubly tragic.”

Ambassador Lyman was an active supporter of the UN Association and its mission of educating and mobilizing its members for a strong US-UN partnership. UNA-NCA awarded Ambassador Lyman with its Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award in 2015 at its Annual Membership Meeting. In his remarks, he emphasized, “What we do here at UNA and in UN Associations across the world is vital to enabling the UN to be effective, for its writ to be respected, and for it to be able to do its work…” “…No matter what its shortcomings and problems, the United Nations time and time again is the institution to which the world turns for some of the most difficult problems.”    

Ambassador Lyman was admired by his colleagues and consulted regularly by the network of foreign affairs organizations. Ambassador Lyman will certainly be missed at home and abroad, but his legacy will live through the work of the many organizations and people he touched and mentored throughout his journey. Rest in Peace.

UNA-NCA welcomes contributions in honor of Ambassador Lyman. See details here

Ambassador Lyman 
receiving the 2015 UNA-NCA Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award at the Annual Membership Meeting. 


Ambassador Lyman with UNA-NCA Board members Karen Mulhauser and Richard Ponzio at the 2016 UN Day event at the National Education Association.