Diplomat brings foreign-affairs expertise to classroomBy William Harms
Public-policy students will soon have the opportunity to learn foreign affairs from a veteran diplomat. Peter Jon de Vos, a former ambassador with more experience in that role than any current U.S. envoy, has joined the faculty of the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies as Visiting Senior Lecturer.
During his stay, de Vos will serve as a resource for students and faculty, meet with students and teach courses in international relations, including a course during spring quarter, titled "Global Issues and U.S. Foreign Policy," that will be open to graduates and undergraduates. He will teach at the University through the 1998-99 academic year.
De Vos said he will bring the perspective of five ambassadorships and other foreign service experience to bear on classroom discussions.
"One of the aspects of foreign policy-making that is not readily apparent to the lay audience is the impact from diverse constituencies on the policy process," de Vos said. "For instance, in issues related to the environment, non-governmental organizations, such as advocacy groups, are quite important in influencing policy decisions."
De Vos said he would also like to help students appreciate more fully the meaning of global leadership for the United States. "To be a leader doesn't mean a country goes in and takes care of a problem. It often means that you are able to persuade other countries to develop and implement a viable solution," he explained.
The current situation in Bosnia is an example of the limits of American influence, he added. Although the United States was able to help impose a cease-fire on the country, the parties have yet to resolve any of the conflicts that led to the eruption of violence in the Balkans.
Before retiring as U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica in October, de Vos had been ambassador to Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mozambique and Tanzania. He was appointed the first presidential envoy to Somalia in 1992, during the height of a civil war.
As ambassador to Tanzania, he led U.S. participation in negotiations to end the Rwandan civil war and directed humanitarian relief efforts in Tanzania for hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees. When he was ambassador to Liberia, from 1990 to 1992, he was instrumental in helping evacuate 23,000 Americans and other expatriates during that country's civil war, and negotiating a truce.
De Vos attended the National War College, National Defense University, in Washington, D.C., and received his B.A. from the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. He received his M.A from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, de Vos received the Presidential Distinguished Honor Award from President Clinton in 1994.