L. Craig Johnstone appointed UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees

19 April 2007

GENEVA - L. Craig Johnstone, a former diplomat and U.S. State Department official with extensive foreign aid, refugee and private sector experience, has been appointed UNHCR's Deputy High Commissioner.

"I am extremely pleased to announce the appointment of L. Craig Johnstone, who brings to UNHCR more than 40 years of international experience in a wide variety of relevant positions, including refugee work," said High Commissioner António Guterres, who made the appointment in consultation with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The global humanitarian environment in which UNHCR operates is constantly changing and we must be prepared to anticipate and quickly adapt so we can better meet the needs of tens of millions of uprooted people. Craig Johnstone's background in aid and refugee programmes, in international diplomacy, in government service and in the private sector provide the leadership skills and experience that will help us meet those challenges."

Johnstone is expected to assume duties as Deputy High Commissioner in June, succeeding Wendy Chamberlin.

"The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees faces the daunting task of dealing with complex humanitarian issues every day," said Johnstone. "Refugees fleeing persecution and violence are among the most vulnerable people in the world. I am honoured to have this opportunity to combine my background in management and diplomacy to help tackle these difficult but imperative global challenges. I look forward to a productive tenure at this critical and highly regarded institution."

Johnstone comes to UNHCR after more than five years as European vice president and general manager for The Boeing Company.

He began his international career in 1965 on assignment with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Viet Nam, where he worked on refugee programmes. A Vietnamese linguist, Johnstone spent five years in Viet Nam, first with USAID and later as a US Foreign Service Officer.

In the early 1970s, he was a Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and subsequently a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard. He also served with the US Embassy in Ottawa; on the staff of then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; and as a State Department coordinator with the UN General Assembly.

Johnstone returned to Viet Nam in 1975 on a personal mission to rescue Vietnamese who had worked for the US government. Upon returning to the United States, he worked on refugee resettlement programmes and was then assigned to the team working on the Egypt-Israel negotiations on the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai. In the late 1970s and 80s, he served in Jamaica; as U.S. Viet Nam negotiator in Paris; as deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America; and as U.S. ambassador to Algeria from 1985-88.

He left the U.S. Foreign Service in 1989 to take up senior international positions with the Cabot Corporation based in Brussels. He returned to government in 1994 as director for resources, plans and policy in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he remained for five years. He was then a senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before joining The Boeing Company.