Nearly every modern U.S. administration has named special envoys or special representatives to address high-stakes conflicts by applying the kind of concentrated attention that exceeds the day-to-day capacity of the State Department and other regular bureaucratic structures. But how well does this approach really work? And what should be done to bolster the effectiveness of these envoys?

Pictured from left to right, Robert Beecroft, Dan Kurtzer, Abramowitz

The U.S. Institute of Peace and the American Academy of Diplomacy recently published a Special Report, Using Special Envoys in High-Stakes Conflict Diplomacy, to explore these issues. Authors and former envoys Ambassador Princeton Lyman (USIP) and Ambassador Robert M. Beecroft (AAD) drew their findings from interviews with former U.S. envoys and other officials, as well as memoirs and published reflections. On Dec. 19, 2014, USIP and AAD hosted a discussion examining the relevance and effectiveness of the current model and delving deeper into the report’s recommendations.

The panel featured Ambassadors Lyman and Beecroft, as well as former envoy Ambassador Dan Kurtzer and Humanity United Vice President of Policy and Government Relations David Abramowitz. Former Congressman Tom Perriello, who is leading the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, moderated the discussion.

Related Publications

Four Lessons from Outbreaks in Africa for the Age of Coronavirus

Four Lessons from Outbreaks in Africa for the Age of Coronavirus

Monday, March 30, 2020

By: Aly Verjee

As the coronavirus pandemic continues and new behavioral practices—from social distancing to avoiding handshakes and hugs—become expected norms overnight, there are crucial policy lessons to be learned from struggles against previous outbreaks of disease in Africa. Despite widespread poverty, weak infrastructure, and relatively few health professionals, there is an encouraging, long record of African countries—often with significant international assistance and cooperation—eventually managing to overcome dire health challenges. For non-African countries already facing large numbers of COVID-19 infections, as well as for African countries where the epidemic is now at an early stage, policymakers would do well to recall these four lessons of past epidemics—of both what to do and, perhaps almost as importantly, what not to do to confront this global threat.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global HealthHuman Rights

The Perilous Path to Elections in the DRC

The Perilous Path to Elections in the DRC

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sighs of relief resounded throughout Central Africa and far beyond when Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), announced his decision to take a step back in the December 23 presidential elections. His support of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari (former interior minister and loyalist of Kabila’s PPRD) as the ruling party candidate removes the possibility that Kabila would ignore or eliminate term limits, which would further destabilize the fragile country.

Type: Blog

Electoral Violence

View All Publications