Princeton N. Lyman

Senior Advisor to the President

Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman served as 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 (CFR). He was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. From 1999 to 2003, he was executive director of the Global Interdependence Initiative at the Aspen Institute.

Ambassador Lyman’s previous career in government 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). From 2008-2010, he was a member of the African Advisory Committee to the United States Trade Representative. He began his government career with the U.S. Agency for International Development and served as USAID director in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 1976 to 1978.

Ambassador Lyman is a member of several boards, including the National Endowment for Democracy, the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative, the Buffleshoek Trust in South Africa, and the board on African science academy development for the National Academy of Sciences.

Ambassador Lyman has a PhD in political science from Harvard University. He has published books and articles on foreign policy, African affairs, economic development, HIV/AIDS, U.N. reform, and peacekeeping. He has published op-eds in The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, and International Herald Tribune. His book, "Partner to History: The U.S. Role in South Africa’s Transition to Democracy" (U.S. Institute of Peace Press), was published in 2002. He was co-director of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report, "More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa", issued in 2006, and co-editor of "Beyond Humanitarianism: What You Need to Know About Africa and Why It Matters" (Council on Foreign Relations) published in 2007. Most recently he has published several articles on Sudan and South Sudan.

Expert In the News

Articles & Analysis from this Expert

July 20, 2015

Six years after Barack Obama first visited sub-Saharan Africa as a presidential messenger of democracy, he faces a more complicated task in turning back to the continent next week. Obama hosts Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on July 20, and then flies to Kenya and Ethiopia. As he does, the continent’s security threats and its urgent need to address ongoing poverty are forcing him to balance priorities and messages, say two former assistant secretaries of state now at the U.S. Institute of Peace.


October 1, 2014
Special envoys or representatives have been used by nearly every administration to address high-stakes conflicts and to address situations with a degree of attention outside the capacity of the State Department and other regular bureaucratic structures. This report focuses on the issues surrounding the use of special envoys or representatives and how they can be used most effectively.
January 9, 2014
Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman is a senior advisor to the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace and a former U.S. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.
January 8, 2014
Only two and a half years since its birth, South Sudan is in crisis. But, horrific as the violence since mid-December has been, the crisis also presents an opportunity to put South Sudan back on the path of democratization, good governance, and peace. USIP’s Princeton N. Lyman, Jon Temin, and Susan Stigant examine what needs to happen to create a foundation for lasting peace and stability.
August 13, 2013
Sudan urgently needs to embark on a national dialogue and reform process that is led by Sudanese and supported by the international community.  Without such a process, Sudan has little chance of breaking its destructive cycle of instability. Authors Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, a special advisor to the president of USIP and former special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, and Jon Temin, director of USIP’s Horn of African program, examine the way forward.