Richard Williamson, President George W. Bush's special envoy to Sudan from 2008 to 2009 and nonresident senior fellow with Brookings, passed away December 8, 2013. He was 64. Williamson was a partner in the law firm of Winston & Strawn, but also served as a U.S. diplomat and aide to three Republican presidents.
In 1992, Williamson gained national attention when he ran for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat against Democratic candidate Carol Moseley Braun. Williamson was a longtime leader within the Illinois Republican Party, chairing the state organization from 1999 to 2001. In 2010, Williamson became a member of the Republican National Committee. Williamson later went on to serve as a senior policy adviser to Republican presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Governor Mitt Romney.
Earlier in his career, Williamson served in senior foreign policy positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs and as an assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs during the Reagan administration. In 2004, President George W. Bush appointed Williamson as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In 2008, President Bush appointed Williamson to the position of special envoy to Sudan, where he worked to end the genocide in that war-torn country.
In July 2013, as a Brookings nonresident senior fellow, Williamson co-authored a prominent report on genocide prevention. The report, The United States and the Responsibility to Protect: From Words to Action, was co-authored with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and examined the responsibility to protect (R2P) principle, an emerging political norm that aims to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Williamson held an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and was a graduate of University of Virginia’s School of Law.