The U.S. Institute of Peace is deeply saddened by the loss of Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be appointed the U.S. Secretary of State. Her commitment to bipartisanship in promoting democracy, human rights and peace has been an inspiration to generations of leaders.

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright served with distinction in Democratic administrations, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and on the staff of the National Security Council. After her distinguished career in public service, Albright taught a new generation of American leaders as a professor of diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She also was a principal of Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm.

“Madeleine Albright embodied the American ideal of public service in pursuit of peace,” said USIP President Lise Grande. “For countless women and men, she has been the kind of leader we aspire to be.”

“Secretary Albright knew that democracy and human rights are the only stable foundation for international peace,” said Ambassador George Moose, Chair of USIP’s Board of Directors. Secretary Albright co-led USIP’s Genocide Prevention Task Force in 2007-2008, and a 2013 working group with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brookings Institution on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, one of the most important advancements in the struggle to protect people from ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  

When Congress tasked USIP with convening a bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States, Secretary Albright served as one of its 13 members, helping to prepare a report that contributed to the framing of the 2019 Global Fragility Act.

“Madeleine Albright always argued that America is stronger when it is united. She believed in bipartisanship and knew it was key to our global standing and strength,” said Judy Ansley, Vice-Chair of USIP’s Board of Directors. “Not every bipartisan policy has been successful, yet virtually every successful foreign policy initiative has been bipartisan,” Albright declared in a 2017 essay for Politico, co-written with USIP colleagues, Stephen Hadley and Nancy Lindborg.

“Everyone who worked alongside Secretary Albright considered it an honor. She was one-of-a-kind, the type of leader who helped to make America the leader of the democratic world,” said Stephen J. Hadley, the former Chair of USIP’s Board and former National Security Advisor. “She experienced both fascism and communism first-hand, knew their horrors, and worked throughout her life to ensure that they never happened again.”

Secretary Albright’s book Fascism: A Warning, was published in 2018. Secretary Albright’s family fled her native Prague ahead of the Nazi take-over and fled again in 1948 after Soviet-backed Communists seized power. “I’ll never forget sailing into New York Harbor and beholding the Statue of Liberty for the first time with the immortal words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on its pedestal,” Albright told an audience at Wellesley College, her alma mater. The college now hosts the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs.

During his first administration, President Bill Clinton nominated Madeleine Albright to be Ambassador to the United Nations, her first diplomatic post. During his second term, President Clinton asked her to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State, a position she held from January 1997 to January 2001.  

Walter Isaacson described the “Albright Doctrine” in Time magazine in 1999. It was, he said, “a tough-talking, semi-muscular interventionism that believes in using force—including limited force such as calibrated air power, if nothing heartier is possible—to back up a mix of strategic and moral objectives. In an administration that grew up gun-shy by reading and misreading the lessons of Vietnam, she's the one who grew up appeasement-shy by learning in painfully personal ways the lessons of Munich.” 

Secretary Albright once commented that “it never, ever occurred to me that I could be secretary of state.” She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2012.  

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