The American Foreign Service Association established its award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in 1995. The award honors those who have made extraordinary contributions to diplomacy over a period of many years. By giving this high-profile award, AFSA also seeks to bring greater recognition to its other awards, including its unique annual awards for constructive dissent. Candidates are proposed by AFSA’s Awards and Plaque Committee. The AFSA Governing Board makes the final decision.
Originally, there were no criteria beyond those implied by the award’s name. In 2009, the AFSA Governing Board specified that “lifetime” means at least a decade of service to diplomacy, ideally including continuing involvement after retirement. The contributions should include involvement in foreign policy development and/or implementation as well as efforts that advance the diplomatic profession. Recipients will normally be career diplomats, but may include other individuals in exceptional cases. Recipients must attend the annual AFSA awards ceremony.
The presentation takes place during AFSA’s annual Awards Ceremony in June in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Room of the State Department. The Secretary of State is invited to present this award. If the Secretary is unable to attend, a distinguished individual who has worked with the recipient is asked to present the award. Colin Powell presented the award to Thomas Pickering and to George Shultz; Elliot Richardson presented the award to Frank Carlucci; Mr. Carlucci presented it to Lee Hamilton; Robert Zoellick presented it to Richard Lugar; Senator Lugar presented to award to Senator Nunn; and Lawrence Eagleburger presented the award to Joan Clark. Honorees are presented with a globe and certificate.
For information on these awards, please contact AFSA's Coordinator for Special Awards and Outreach, Perri Green, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-719-9700.
The 2012 Winner Was Ambassador William Lacy Swing
Ambassador William Lacy Swing was elected as the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in October 2008 where he has carried on his legacy and commitment to public service and countries in transition.
At the IOM, Ambassador Swing has worked tirelessly to ensure that the estimated 1billion international migrants and internally displaced persons – roughly one out or every seven persons in the world -- are treated with dignity and recognized for the contributions they make. In the face of rising anti-immigrant attitudes and policies at home and abroad as a result of the global financial crisis, he has sought to educate leaders, governments and the general public about the positive roles immigrant populations can have to address demographic, labor market and economic trends.
From May 2003 till January 2008, as UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ambassador Swing successfully led all facets of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in history. Prior to his work in the DRC, he served as the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Chief of Mission for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
Throughout his career at the United Nations and during a long diplomatic career at the US Department of State, Mr. Swing has promoted dialogue and the exhaustion of all options short of war in the resolution of disputes. In his six-time ambassadorial career, he addressed some of our most intractable foreign policy challenges, notably our efforts to isolate South Africa during its period of Apartheid and our efforts to restore democracy to Haiti. He managed some of our largest diplomatic missions and foreign development and humanitarian aid programs in two hemispheres, with a record of strengthening bilateral relationships.
Ambassador Swing has said that he knows failure, that his efforts have not always achieved successful outcomes; citing in their respective moments his inability to convince Nigerian President from aborting elections leading to a long delay in that country’s return to democracy, as well setback in advancing the Congo’s peace process among his biggest regrets. But it is these shortcomings that have convinced him of the need for diplomacy as sustainable engagement. He has challenged the Department and other foreign policy leaders to look beyond short term engagement, noting that in most cases this ultimately results more loss blood and treasure. He has championed the need for to engage the public and their public representatives in Washington on the need for resources and how these resources are vital to advancing our national interest.
In his over 50 years of diplomatic service to his country and to the international community, Ambassador Swing has represented the best of the U.S. Foreign Service. The American Foreign Service Association is proud to bestow upon him its 2012 Lifetime Award for Contribution to American Diplomacy.
CLICK HERE TO READ AMBASSADOR SWING'S REMARKS FROM THE CEREMONY