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UNHCR welcomes new Deputy High Commissioner L. Craig Johnstone


UNHCR welcomes new Deputy High Commissioner L. Craig Johnstone

L. Craig Johnstone, a former Boeing executive and US diplomat, assumed his duties as the new Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva on Thursday.
7 June 2007
Leadership team. New Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Craig Johnstone (red tie) poses with (from left to right) Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Judy Cheng-Hopkins.

GENEVA, June 7 (UNHCR) - L. Craig Johnstone, a former US diplomat and international business executive, arrived at UNHCR headquarters Thursday to assume duties as UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.

"All of us are delighted to welcome Craig Johnstone to the UNHCR global family," said High Commissioner António Guterres. "He brings with him more than 40 years of international experience in a wide variety of important positions, including refugee work. His combination of diplomatic, government and private sector experience will be a great asset for UNHCR and the refugees we help around the world."

Assistant High Commissioners Erika Feller (Protection) and Judy Cheng-Hopkins (Operations) greeted Johnstone.

"It is a great privilege to join the UNHCR team and to have an opportunity once again to work on behalf of the world's refugees and displaced," said Johnstone, who worked on US government refugee programmes in the 1960s and 1970s. "Over the past 55 years, UNHCR has helped tens of millions of refugees rebuild their lives and I am honoured to be part of this noble effort at a time of great challenge and change."

Johnstone succeeds Wendy Chamberlin in the agency's No. 2 post and 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 US 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 1980s, he served in Jamaica; as US-Viet Nam negotiator in Paris; as deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America; and as US ambassador to Algeria from 1985-88.

He left the US 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 US Chamber of Commerce before joining Boeing.