December 9, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply saddened by the passing of longtime friend and partner Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, a distinguished public servant who devoted his career to advancing the causes of genocide prevention, human rights, diplomacy, nuclear nonproliferation, and post-conflict reconstruction.
Williamson recently co-chaired, along with former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, the Working Group on the Responsibility to Protect and was co-author of its 2013 report, The United States and R2P: From Words to Action, which sought to advance the understanding of this emerging international norm. The Museum, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Brookings Institution co-convened the working group. Williamson also spoke on the importance of genocide prevention at numerous Museum-sponsored events.
“We are shocked and saddened by Rich Williamson’s untimely death,” said Mike Abramowitz, director of the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “Rich has been a tremendous ally for the Museum in our efforts to promote genocide prevention in the US government and around the world. Drawing on his own experiences in public service, he tirelessly made the case that preventing genocide is both a vital moral and national security interest of the United States.
“We will greatly miss Rich,” Abramowitz added. “There are few public servants who gave so willingly of themselves on behalf of the Museum and our causes. There is almost nothing I ever asked of him that he would not do. He loved the Museum and saw its enduring significance in the world. We are so grateful for his friendship and partnership and extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Jane, and his children.”
Secretary Albright said of Williamson, “Through our work together, I came to respect Rich’s intellect, his courage, and his heart. Rich said in July at the Holocaust Museum that ‘What has made the United States different is not only that it was founded on a belief in human rights, but in the last 100 years we have allowed it to animate our foreign policy.’”
At the time of his passing, Williamson was a senior director of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, among others. In his long career of public service, he held numerous governmental and diplomatic positions, including serving as the president's special envoy to Sudan from 2007 to 2009.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Visit ushmm.org for more information.