Abi Williams

Abi Williams

Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University
96 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA 02155
Research/Areas of Interest:

Conflict Prevention and Management; United Nations; Peace Operations; The Responsibility to Protect


  • Ph.D., The Fletcher School at Tufts University
  • MALD, The Fletcher School at Tufts University
  • M.A., University of Edinburgh


Abi Williams is professor of the practice of international politics at The Fletcher School of Tufts University and director of The Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University. Prior to returning to his alma mater, he served for four years as president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Professor Williams served at the United States Institute of Peace as senior vice president of the Center for Conflict Management from 2010 to 2012, and as vice president of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention from 2008 to 2009. From 2001 to 2007 he was director of strategic planning for United Nations Secretaries-General Ban Ki-Moon and Kofi Annan in New York. He gained valuable field operational experience, serving with the United Nations from 1994 to 2000 in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Haiti, in senior political and humanitarian roles.

Professor Williams has held previous academic appointments including as Centennial Fellow and assistant professor of international relations at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and associate dean for academic affairs, Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. He is the author of a book on conflict prevention, and editor of two others. He is the co-editor of “The UN Secretary-General and the Security Council: A Dynamic Relationship,” published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He moderates the Conversation Series Global Perspectives on Race, Justice and Equity.

Professional Activities

  • Member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
  • Board Member, U.S.-Netherlands Fulbright Commission, 2014-2016
  • Member, World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Justice, 2014-2016
  • Member, Group of Senior Experts of the United Nations’ Human Rights Up Front Initiative, 2015-present
  • Member, Advisory Council of The Hague Process on Refugee and Migration, 2015-2016
  • Chair, The Academic Council on the United Nations System, 2012-2015
  • Advisory Board Member, Ralph Bunche Institute, City University of New York, 2009-present
  • Member, American Bar Association Africa Council of the Rule of Law Initiative, 2009-2013
  • Member, International Advisory Board Public Diplomacy Magazine, 2009-present
  • Vice-Chair, 2005-2008 and Member, Board of Directors, 1996-1999, The Academic Council on the United Nations System
  • Advisor to the Club of The Hague on refugee and migration policy, 2003-2013
  • Trustee, U.S. Committee for United World Colleges, 2003-2006
  • Member, Editorial Board, Global Governance, 2002-2005
  • Member, Steering Committee, Inter-University Consortium on Security and Humanitarian Action, CUNY Graduate Center, 2002-2010
  • Member, International Board of Directors, United World Colleges, 2000-2007
  • Trustee, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia, 1998-2001
  • Member, Board of Directors, QSI International School, Skopje, Macedonia, 1996-1998

Other Affiliations

  • The Institute for Global Leadership
  • Science Diplomacy Center

Selected Publications and Presentations


“The Legacy of Kofi Annan,” Global Governance 25 (2019), 1-5.

"The Responsibility to Protect and Institutional Change," Global Governance 23 (2017), 537-544.

"Can the United Nations Guarantee Security and Justice?," John Holmes Memorial Lecture, Global Governance 22 (2016), 27-39.

"The Hague's Diplomats are at the Heart of the City of Peace and Justice," Diplomat Magazine, Year 1, No.1, (December 2014).

"The Use of Conference Diplomacy in Conflict Prevention," UN Chronicle, Vol. LI, No.3, (December 2014).

"An Imperative for Preventing Deadly Conflict," The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Vol. 37, No.3, (Special Edition, 2013), 25-33.

"The Responsibility to Protect: Leadership Required," New World (London: Spring, 2011).

"Strategic Planning in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General," Global Governance 16 (2010), 435-449.

"The United Nations and International Crisis Management," Global Forces 2007: Proceedings of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Canberra: ASPI, 2007).

"The United Nations and Peace Operations," Dean Rusk Center Occasional Papers, #2 (University of Georgia School of Law, 2003).


"The UN Secretary-General and the Security Council: A Dynamic Relationship," (co-editor with Manuel Frohlich, and chapter author), Oxford University Press 2018.

The Brilliant Art of Peace: Lectures from the Kofi Annan Series, United States Institute of Peace, 2013.

Preventing War: The United Nations and Macedonia, Rowman and Littlefield, 2000.

Many Voices: Multilateral Negotiations in the World Arena, Westview Press, 1992.


"Order with Justice: The Challenge for Global Governance" in Stavros Zouridis, Sam Muller and Peter Polakovic, eds., Towards Shockproof European Legal and Governance Strategies (Brussels: Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2018).

"Protocol at the United Nations and at Think Tanks – A Comparative Perspective" in Gilbert Monod de Froideville and Mark Verheul, An Expert's Guide to International Protocol (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016).

"The vision and thinking behind the UN Peacebuilding Architecture," with Mark Bailey in Cedric de Conig and Eli Stamnes, eds., UN Peacebuilding Architecture (London and New York: Routledge, 2016).

"Conflict and Poverty," in Sam Daws and Natalie Samarasinghe, eds., The United Nations, Vol.7: Poverty and Development (London: Sage Publishing, 2015).

"Global Governance and the Responsibility to Protect" in Ramesh Thakur and William Maley, eds., Theorising the Responsibility to Protect (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

"The Changing Normative Environment for Conflict Management," in Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall, eds., Managing Conflict in a World Adrift (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2015).

"The Possibilities for Preventive Deployment: The Case of Macedonia" in Serena K. Sharma and Jennifer M. Welsh, eds., The Responsibility to Protect: Overcoming the Challenges to Atrocity Prevention (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

"Human Rights and the Rule of Law," in Hans Binnendijk, ed., A Transatlantic Pivot to Asia: Towards New Trilateral Partnerships (Washington, DC: Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS/Johns Hopkins University, 2014).

"The UN Secretary-General and Human Dignity: The Case of Kofi Annan," in Mark P. Lagon and Anthony Clark Arend, eds., Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014).

"Leadership and the Responsibility to Protect," in W. Andy Knight and Frazer Egerton, eds., The Responsibility to Protect (London: Routledge, 2012).

"The Responsibility to Protect and Peacemaking," in Andrea Bartoli, Susan Allen, and Zachariah Mampilly, eds., Peacemaking (Wesport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2012).

"The U.S. Military and Public Diplomacy," in Philip Seib, ed., Toward a New Public Diplomacy: Redirecting U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

"The United Nations and Preventive Deployment in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," in W. Andy Knight, ed., Adapting the United Nations to a Postmodern Era: Lessons Learned (New York: Palgrave, 2001).

"Negotiations and the end of the Angolan Civil War," in David R. Smock, ed., Making War and Waging Peace: Foreign Intervention in Africa (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1993).

"Regional Peacemaking: ECOWAS and the Liberian Civil War," in David Newsom, ed., The Diplomatic Record 1990-1991 (Boulder, Co: Westview Press, 1991).