William Lacy Swing (1934 - 2021)

It is with great sadness that the Principal and Fellows of Harris Manchester College have learnt of the death of William Lacy Swing.

An Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Mr Swing spent 40 years as a diplomat in the United States Foreign Service, including six Ambassadorial postings. He followed this with a second career with the United Nations. Ambassador Swing served as the United Nations Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Western Sahara (2001-2003) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2003-2008); and was elected Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2008. Under Ambassador Swing’s stewardship, the IOM grew to 174 member states, and a related organization of the United Nations. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his sadness over the death of William Swing:

‘A true humanist, Bill Swing dedicated his life to serving the most vulnerable of the vulnerable in our world. I will never forget his dedication and compassion as we worked together side by side in the face of some of the worst displacement crises’.

The College sends its deepest condolences to Mrs Yuen Chong Swing, Ambassador Swing’s children Brian and Gabrielle, to his wider family, and to former colleagues and friends. A tireless advocate on behalf of migrants and refugees, Director-General Swing was interviewed by the BBC in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, in Oct 2017, as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were fleeing across the border from Myanmar.

william lacy swing

Pic: IOM/ Muse Mohammed