Abiodun Williams

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Abiodun "Abi" Williams
Personal details
Born (1961-12-24) December 24, 1961 (age 55)
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Alma mater

University of Edinburgh

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Profession Diplomat, academic

Abiodun Williams (born 1961 in Freetown, Sierra Leone) is the first President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice in The Hague, Netherlands and a noted academic in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and conflict management. He was formerly a senior official at the United Nations.


In January 2013, Williams became President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, which is an independent ‘think and do tank’ established to conduct interdisciplinary policy-relevant research, develop practitioner tools, and facilitate knowledge-sharing on issues at the intersection of peace, security and justice. Under Williams, the Institute has advanced cutting-edge research, and developed its convening power by providing a platform for global leaders and notable thinkers to engage with the community of policymakers, diplomats, entrepreneurs and academics in The Hague and the wider region. It has forged key partnerships with a range of important established institutions.

The Hague Institute in partnership with the Brookings Institution established the Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture on International Law in 2014 and the Madeleine K. Albright Lecture in Global Justice in 2015. In partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the Institute organized a twentieth anniversary conference on the Rwandan Genocide in 2014, and a similar conference on the Srebrenica Genocide in 2015. In 2014 the Institute and the Stimson Center convened the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance, co-chaired by former US Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright and former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Ibrahim Gambari. The Commission’s final report, Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, was launched in 2015 and develops new frameworks for collective action in response to threats to global security and justice.

The Institute was nominated by Prospect Magazine as European Think Tank of the Year in 2014. On the Institute’s fifth anniversary in June 2016, the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Bert Koenders, commented: “In the five years since its establishment, The Hague Institute for Global Justice has become an important resource for policymakers in the Netherlands and beyond”;[1] and Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, observed: “Since its inception in 2011, The Hague Institute has quickly distinguished itself as an intellectual hub for serious interdisciplinary thinking about ways of promoting international peace and justice.”[2]

From 2008 to 2012, Williams served at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C., first as Vice President of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, and later as Senior Vice President of the Center for Conflict Management leading its work in major conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Prior to joining USIP, Williams served as Director of Strategic Planning for United Nations Secretaries-General Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan. From 1994 to 2000 he served in three peacekeeping operations in Macedonia, Haiti, and Bosnia-Herzegovina as Special Assistant to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and Political and Humanitarian Affairs Officer.

Williams’ academic career has included appointments as Associate Dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., and faculty appointments at Georgetown, Rochester, and Tufts universities. He was the youngest faculty member of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, where he co-taught courses on international relations with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright who later described him as "brilliant, talented and an inspiring leader."[3] His students at Georgetown included King Felipe VI and Kate Snow an American television journalist. In 1990 he was awarded the Constantine E. Maguire Medal for Outstanding Service to the School of Foreign Service, and in 1992, he won the School’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was awarded a Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs in 1990. He is the recipient of Tufts University’s Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award.

In June 2015 he delivered the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture on "Can the United Nations Guarantee Security and Justice?"[4] In November 2014 he was invited by the Hans van Mierlo Stichting of the D66 political party in the Netherlands to deliver the Marchant Lecture. He led the development of The Hague Approach - Six Principles for Achieving Sustainable Peace in Post-Conflict Situations - which was presented to King Willem-Alexander and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the occasion of the centenary of the Peace Palace in August 2013. He spoke on The Hague Approach at a TEDx at the University of St. Andrews in April 2014.[5] He delivered the William V. O'Brien Lecture on "The Capabilities and Limits of Peacekeeping" at Georgetown University in 2002.

Dr. Williams is an American member of the Netherlands Fulbright Commission, a Member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Justice, a Member of the Group of Senior Experts of the United Nations' Human Rights Up Front Initiative, and a Member of the Executive Board of the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University. He is past chair of the Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS).[6] He was a Member of the International Board of Directors of the United World Colleges, a Trustee of the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, and a Member of the Advisory Board of the Ralph Bunche Institute, City University of New York. He has published widely on conflict prevention, international peacekeeping, and multilateral negotiations.


Dr. Williams was a student at the Sierra Leone Grammar School, and the Lester B. Pearson United World College in British Columbia, Canada, from where he received his International Baccalaureate Diploma. He earned an M.A. (Honors) in English Language and Literature from Edinburgh University, where he was an avid debater and won the Student Societies Debating Championship in 1980. He also earned a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (M.A.L.D.) and a Ph.D. in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he was the first Annual Commencement Class Speaker.



Articles, Chapters, Commentaries[edit]

  • "G20 2016, Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance," G20 Magazine - China 2016 (London:G20 Foundation/Intrinsic Communications, 2016).
  • "John Holmes Memorial Lecture," Global Governance 22 (2016), 27-39.
  • "The vision and thinking behind the UN Peacebuilding Architecture" (with Mark Bailey) in Cedric de Coning and Eli Stamnes, eds., UN Peacebuilding Architecture (London and New York: Routledge, 2016).
  • "Protocol at the United Nations and at Think Tanks - A Comparative Perspective" in Gilbert Monod de Froideville and Mark Verheul, An Expert's Guide to International Protocol (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Pres, 2016).
  • "Global Governance and the Responsibility to Protect" in Ramesh Thakur and William Maley, eds., Theorising the Responsibility to Protect (2015 ISBN 978-1-107-04107-3)
  • "The Changing Normative Environment for Conflict Management" in Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall, eds., Managing Conflict in a World Adrift (2015, 978-1-60127-222-5).
  • "The Possibilities for Preventive Deployment: The Case of Macedonia", in Serena K. Sharma and Jennifer M. Welsh, eds., The Responsibility to Protect: Overcoming the Challenges to Atrocity Prevention (2015, ISBN 978-0-19-871778-2).
  • Handbook of International Negotiation: Interpersonal, Intercultural, and Diplomatic Perspectives. Foreword (2015, ISBN 978-3-319-10687-8).
  • "Humanity Demands a Generous Response to the Refugee Crisis" (September 2015)
  • "Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier for Current and Future Conflicts", UN Association of the UK, Special Issue, Climate 2020: Facing the Future (June 2015).
  • The Use of Conference Diplomacy in Conflict Prevention," UN Chronicle, Vol. LI, No.3, (December 2014).
  • "The Hague’s Diplomats are at the Heart of the City of Peace and Justice," Diplomat Magazine, Year 1, No.1, (December 2014).
  • "The UN Secretary-General and Human Dignity: The Case of Kofi Annan," in Mark P. Lagon and Anthony Clark Arend, eds., Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014).
  • "Human Rights and the Rule of Law," in Hans Binnendijk, ed., A Transatlantic Pivot to Asia: Towards New Trilateral Partnerships (Washington, DC: Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS/Johns Hopkins University, 2014).
  • "Nelson Mandela’s Lessons for Today’s Peacebuilders" (December 2013)
  • By Sharing Ideas, We Build the Path to Peace" (December 2013)
  • "Conflict and Poverty: A Vicious Cycle," in Global Development Goals: Leaving no one Behind (London: UNA-UK, 2013).
  • "An Imperative for Preventing Deadly Conflict," The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Vol. 37, No.3, (Special Edition, 2013).
  • "Leadership and the Responsibility to Protect," in W. Andy Knight and Frazer Egerton, eds., The Responsibility to Protect (London: Routledge, 2012).
  • "The Responsibility to Protect and Peacemaking," in Andrea Bartoli, Susan Allen, and Zachariah Mampilly, eds., Peacemaking (Wesport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2012).
  • "Making Sense of the U.N. Impasse on Syria," On The Issues, U.S. Institute of Peace (February 10, 2012).
  • "Conflict Prevention in Practice: From Rhetoric to Reality," Civil-Military Working Paper (Australian Civil-Military Center, February, 2012).
  • "Preventing Electoral Violence: An International Priority," ACUNS Informational Memorandum, No. 3 (2011).
  • "America’s Global Position," On The Issues, U.S. Institute of Peace (November 2011).
  • "The Responsibility to Protect and Peacemaking," E-International Relations, 2011.
  • "The United Nations in Libya," On The Issues, U.S. Institute of Peace (April 21, 2011).
  • "The Responsibility to Protect: Leadership Required," New World (London: Spring, 2011).
  • "Egypt’s ‘Winds of Change’," On The Issues, U.S. Institute of Peace (February 14, 2011).
  • "Strategic Planning in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General," Global Governance 16 (2010), 435-449.
  • "The U.S. Military and Public Diplomacy," in Philip Seib, ed., Toward a New Public Diplomacy: Redirecting U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
  • "The United Nations and International Crisis Management," Global Forces 2007: Proceedings of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Canberra: ASPI, 2007).
  • "The United Nations and Peace Operations," Dean Rusk Center Occasional Papers, #2 (University of Georgia School of Law, 2003).
  • "The United Nations and Preventive Deployment in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," in W. Andy Knight, ed., Adapting the United Nations to a Postmodern Era: Lessons Learned (New York: Palgrave, 2001).
  • In Search of Peace: Negotiations to end the Angolan Civil War (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, 1995).
  • "Sierra Leone and the United Nations System," in Keith Krause and W. Andy Knight, eds., State Society, and the United Nations System: Changing Perspectives on Multilateralism (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1995).
  • "Negotiations and the end of the Angolan Civil War," in David R. Smock, ed., Making War and Waging Peace: Foreign Intervention in Africa (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1993).
  • Article 2 (7) Revisited, Academic Council on the United Nations System, Report No.5, 1994.
  • "Regional Peacemaking: ECOWAS and the Liberian Civil War," in David Newsom, ed., The Diplomatic Record 1990-1991 (Boulder, Co: Westview Press, 1991).
  • "Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s: Challenges of a New Era," The Georgetown Compass, Vol.1, No.1 (Spring 1991).
  • "Whither the United Nations?" Georgetown Magazine, Vol.23, No.1 (Winter 1991).
  • "Profiles of Corazon Aquino, Abba Ebban, William V.S. Tubman, and Desmond Tutu," in Frank N. Magill, ed., Great Lives from History: Twentieth Century (Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1990).
  • "Biographical Essays of Shridath S. Ramphal, Gaston Thorn, and Robert B. von Mehren," in Encyclopedia of World Biography, Vol.15 (Jack Heraty and Associates, 1988).
  • "Biographical Essays of Samuel K. Doe, and Taslim O. Elias," in Encyclopedia of World Biography, Vol.13 (Jack Heraty and Associates, 1987).


External links[edit]