Edward J. Perkins

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Edward J. Perkins
Ambassador Perkins.jpg
United States Ambassador to Australia
In office
November 24, 1993 – July 19, 1996
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Melvin F. Sembler
Succeeded by Genta H. Holmes
19th United States Ambassador to the United Nations
In office
May 12, 1992 – January 27, 1993
President George H.W. Bush
Preceded by Thomas R. Pickering
Succeeded by Madeleine Albright
United States Ambassador to South Africa
In office
October 16, 1986 – May 22, 1989
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Herman W. Nickel
Succeeded by William L. Swing
United States Ambassador to Liberia
In office
July 12, 1985 – October 22, 1986
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by William Lacy Swing
Succeeded by James Keough Bishop
Personal details
Born (1928-06-08) June 8, 1928 (age 88)
Ouachita Parish
Louisiana, USA
Spouse(s) Lucy Chen-mei Liu
Alma mater University of Maryland University College
University of Southern California

Edward Joseph Perkins (born June 8, 1928) is a former American diplomat who served as U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, South Africa, and the United Nations. He was later the director of the United States State Department's Diplomatic Corps.


Perkins was born in Sterlington in Ouachita Parish in north Louisiana, the son of Edward Joseph Perkins, Sr., and Tiny Estella Noble Holmes. He grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated in 1947 from Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon. He earned his B.A. from the University of Maryland University College in 1967, and his M.A. and Doctor of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and holds the highest honor the fraternity bestows on its members, the Laurel Wreath award.


After serving in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, including stints in Tokyo and South Korea, he held numerous positions in the Department of State and Foreign Service. He was appointed ambassador to Liberia in 1985, and in 1986 was appointed ambassador to South Africa, where he would serve until 1989. He returned home to serve in the State Department until 1992, when he was appointed ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Representative to the U.N. Security Council.[1][2] In 1993, he was appointed representative to the Commonwealth of Australia, where he served until 1996 before retiring at the rank of Career Minister in the United States Foreign Service.

He taught at the University of Oklahoma where he served as Senior Vice Provost Emeritus of International Programs at the International Program Center, and Professor Emeritus of the School of International and Area Studies. He is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.[3]


  • Mr. Ambassador, Warrior for Peace (memoirs,) published by The University of Oklahoma Press in 2006.
  • The Palestinian Refugees: Old Problems - New Solutions (Studies in peace politics in the Middle East) - co-editor with Joseph Ginat, Sussex Academic Press, 2002.
  • The Middle East Peace Process: Vision Versus Reality (Studies in peace politics in the Middle East) - co-editor with Joseph Ginat, Sussex Academic Press, 2002.
  • Palestinian Refugees: Traditional Positions and New Solutions = co-editor with Joseph Ginat, University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.
  • The seedlings of hope: U.S. policy in Africa, U.S. Department of State, 1989.


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Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Herman W. Nickel
U.S. Ambassador to South Africa
1986 – 1989
Succeeded by
William L. Swing
Preceded by
Thomas R. Pickering
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
1992 – 1993
Succeeded by
Madeleine Albright
Preceded by
Melvin F. Sembler
U.S. Ambassador to Australia
1993 – 1996
Succeeded by
Genta H. Holmes