William L. Swing

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William L. Swing
William Lacy Swing.jpg
William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration during visit to Indonesia, April 2013.
William Lacy Swing

(1934-09-11) September 11, 1934 (age 85)
Alma mater Catawba College
Yale University
University of Tübingen
Occupation Diplomat

William Lacy Swing (born September 11, 1934 in Lexington, North Carolina). He is a diplomat and former United States Ambassador, and United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Under Secretary General. He was the Director General of the International Organization for Migration until António Vitorino's appointment in 2018.


Swing graduated from Catawba College in North Carolina ( Bachelor of Arts). He received his Bachelor of Divinity from Yale University. He did post-graduate studies at the University of Tübingen in Germany. He was a Fellow at Harvard University from 1976 to 1977.

He holds an honorary degree from Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations and Hofstra University ( Doctor of Humane Letters, and is an Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

He speaks fluent French and German.

Ambassadorial posts

United Nations

Western Sahara

Swing served as UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Western Sahara from 2001–2003. He was Chief of Mission for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Swing then successfully led all facets of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in history in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (May 2003 - January 2008). [1] He was appointed as Special Representative of the Secretary General to the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), with the rank of Under Secretary General. MONUC, now known as MONUSCO ( United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), is the UN's largest peace operation. The Mission is engaged in the peace process and providing security support to the country as it seeks to end armed conflict in the war torn eastern part of the Congo. [2]

International Organization for Migration

In June 2008 Swing was elected Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). [3] In early 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed him to the 9-member High-Level Task Force to Improve the United Nations Approach for Preventing and Addressing Sexual Abuse. [4]

Calls Migration a 'Right' in a 'World on the Move'

Penning an article for International Migrants Day entitled, "Our Right of Passage Should Be Safe Migration", International Organization for Migration (IOM) chief William Lacy Swing opined that the right of "safe migration" should not be limited to the "global elite" – of which the "privileged" caste he believes to include tourists, students, and legal migrant workers – but should be extended to those who would "have no chance of getting a visa or work permit".

"While we live in a time when a privileged elite considers global mobility virtually a birth-right, it is denied to countless others, trapped in hopelessly bad economic or conflict circumstances," Swing writes, lamenting that "hundreds of millions who are not part of the growing, truly global labour talent market find themselves outside looking in, and looking onto a world they can only dream of."

Swing, a former U.S. ambassador, has previously demanded the European Union (EU) open her borders to migrants and described endless third world migration to Europe as "inevitable".

Swings term as Director General will end in September 2018. He will be succeeded by Portuguese politician Antonio Vitorino on October 1. [5]


He is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. In 2012, he received the American Foreign Service Association's Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy.

In 2019, he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, by the government of Japan.

See also


  1. ^ "Press Release SG/A/836 AFR/622".
  2. ^ "Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award 2012".
  3. ^ "Ambassador William L. Swing Elected Director General of The International Organization for Migration".
  4. ^ Secretary-General Creates High-Level Task Force to Improve United Nations Approach for Preventing, Addressing Sexual Abuse United Nations, press release of January 6, 2017.
  5. ^ UN snubs US and picks Portuguese politician Antonio Vitorino to run IOM migration office. Deutsche Welle, June 29, 2018, retrieved the same day.

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Daniel H. Simpson
United States Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Succeeded by
Aubrey Hooks
Preceded by
office reestablished
United States Ambassador to Congo
Succeeded by
Kenneth L. Brown
Preceded by
Robert P. Smith
United States Ambassador to Liberia
Succeeded by
Edward Joseph Perkins
Preceded by
Lannon Walker
United States Ambassador to Nigeria
Succeeded by
Walter C. Carrington
Preceded by
Edward Joseph Perkins
United States Ambassador to South Africa
Succeeded by
Princeton N. Lyman
Preceded by
Vicki Huddleston (as Chargé d'Affaires)
United States Ambassador to Haiti
Succeeded by
Timothy M. Carney