Ambassador James Swan has served as the United States Special Representative for Somalia since August 2011. The position is responsible for developing U.S. policy recommendations on Somalia and for coordinating all U.S. programs in Somalia. Current Somalia-related programs of the U.S. Government totaled more than $238 million in Fiscal Year 2011. These include major efforts respond to urgent humanitarian needs, improve security, advance economic development, and foster better governance.
Ambassador Swan has devoted most of his Foreign Service career to Africa, and has focused especially on countries facing complex political transitions in challenging security environments. As Ambassador to Djibouti (2008-2011), he led a significant increase in the U.S.-Djibouti security partnership, while also expanding assistance programs in the health, education, and governance sectors.
Prior to his assignment to Djibouti, Ambassador Swan served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2006-2008), with broad responsibility for U.S. policies and programs in 23 central and east African countries. Annual U.S. assistance to these countries totaled more than $2.75 billion. During this period, he was centrally involved in U.S. policy initiatives to address multiple regional crises, including in Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Somalia. Previously, as director of analysis for Africa in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2005-2006), Ambassador Swan led a team of intelligence analysts who produced assessments of significant developments throughout sub-Saharan Africa for senior U.S. policy officials.
As Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa (2001-2004), Ambassador Swan advanced negotiations aimed at withdrawal of foreign forces and agreement on an internal political framework leading to elections. As part of his long professional involvement with the Congo, Ambassador Swan was also Zaire/Congo country officer in Washington (1996-1998), serving as focal point during the rebellion that led to the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko after 32 years in power and the difficult first year of its successor regime. Ambassador Swan served as Deputy Chief of Mission and for more than a year Charge d’Affaires in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (1998-2001) leading efforts to resume diplomatic operations and mobilize the U.S. humanitarian response in the aftermath of a civil conflict that displaced nearly a third of the country’s population.
Earlier in his career, Ambassador Swan served as political section chief in Cameroon (1992-1994), political officer in Nicaragua (1990-1992), and consular officer in Haiti (1988-89). Before joining the Foreign Service, he worked as a management analyst in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.
Ambassador Swan holds a B.S. degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a master’s in national security studies from the National War College, where he was a 2005 distinguished graduate.