Given the challenges of the noble task and Dr Francis Deng’s longstanding professional track record, showing his clear commitment to human rights and justice, it was not difficult to select him as the presenter of the 2010 Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture. Like few others, Francis Deng combines the diplomat, elder statesman, scholar and international civil servant in a spirit related to the legacy of the second Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Speaking freely, he captured the attention of the several hundred people in the auditorium mainly because he did not shy away from addressing the dilemmas inherent in his current position. He impressed many among the audience by his sensible treatment of the difficult choices his office has to make: walking the thin line between justice, prosecution and pragmatism. While it is difficult to accept that perpetrators commit their crimes by impunity, this might under certain circumstances bring an end to mass violence and save the lives of thousands more potential victims. The moral dilemma of handling such a choice made a strong impression on the listeners and resulted in a thought-provoking encounter.
On 29 May 2007, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Dr. Francis M. Deng of the Sudan as the new Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, a position he holds at the level of Under-Secretary General.
From 2006 to 2007, Dr. Deng served as Director of the Sudan Peace Support Project based at the United States Institute of Peace. He also was an Wilhelm Fellow at the Center for International Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a research professor of international politics, law and society at Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Deng was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. Dr. Deng served as Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons from 1992 to 2004, and from 2002 to 2003 was also a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.
Dr. Deng served as Human Rights Officer in the United Nations Secretariat from 1967 to 1972 and as the Ambassador of the Sudan to Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States. He also served as the Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. After leaving his country’s service, he was appointed the first Rockefeller Brothers Fund Distinguished Fellow.
He was at the Woodrow Wilson International Center first as a guest scholar and then as a senior research associate, after which he joined the Brookings Institution as a senior fellow, where he founded and directed the Africa Project for 12 years. He was then appointed distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York before joining Johns Hopkins University.
Among his numerous awards in his country and abroad, Dr. Deng is co-recipient with Roberta Cohen of the 2005 Grawemeyer Award for “Ideas Improving World Order” and the 2007 Merage Foundation American Dream Leadership Award. In 2000, Dr. Deng also received the Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action.
Dr. Deng holds a Bachelor of Laws [with honours] from Khartoum University and a Master of Laws and a Doctor of the Science of Law from Yale University. He has authored and edited 40 books in the fields of law, conflict resolution, internal displacement, human rights, anthropology, folklore, history and politics and has also written two novels on the theme of the crisis of national identity in the Sudan. He was born in 1938 and in 1972 married Dorothy Anne Ludwig, with whom he has four sons.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture
is given in memory of Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, and in recognition of the values that inspired him as Secretary-General and generally in his life – compassion, humanism and commitment to international solidarity and cooperation.
The invited speaker should be an outstanding international personality who in significant and innovative ways contributes to a more just, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world through valuable achievements in politics or research.
The Annual Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture is co-organised by Uppsala University and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. The lecture is free and includes a performance by Allmänna sången. The lecture will be filmed and available here on this webpage.