IPI HomeAboutStaffJohn L. Hirsch


  |  share share back back

John L. Hirsch

Senior Adviser | hirsch@ipinst.org

John L. Hirsch is currently a senior adviser to IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen after having held various positions at IPI, including Vice President and Acting Head of the Africa Program. He is also Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and served as Director of the Occidental College United Nations Program from 2002-2011.

Before joining IPI, Ambassador Hirsch served as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone from 1995-1998. His extensive African experience includes assignments in Somalia from 1984-1986, and subsequent roles as Political Adviser to the Commander of UNITAF, General Robert Johnston, and as Deputy to President Bush's Special Envoy, Ambassador Robert Oakley from 1992-1993.

Ambassador Hirsch served as Consul General in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1990-1993, the years of transition from apartheid to non-racial multiparty democracy. His earlier assignments in Israel at the start of the Middle East peace process in the mid-seventies and, subsequently, at the US Mission to the United Nations and in Pakistan have dealt with major issues of multilateral diplomacy and United Nations peacekeeping.

Ambassador Hirsch was a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1993 and 1994 and Diplomat-in-Residence at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, from 1994-1995. He was Director of the International Fellows Program at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs for the 2000-01 academic year.

Ambassador Hirsch received his BA in American studies from Columbia University in 1957 and his PhD in European history from the University of Wisconsin in 1965. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Turin, Italy, in 1962 and 1963, where he wrote a dissertation on the Italian Resistance Movement and its impact on postwar Italian political developments.

His publications include Sierra Leone: Diamonds and the Struggle for Democracy (Lynne Rienner, 2001) and Somalia and Operation Restore Hope: Reflections on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping, co-authored with Ambassador Robert B. Oakley (US Institute of Peace, March 1995). His chapter "Peace and Justice: Mozambique and Sierra Leone Compared" appeared in Peace versus Justice? The Dilemmas of Transitional Justice in Africa, edited by Chandra Lekha Sriram and Suren Pillay (Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2009).

Global Observatory:

IPI is proud to have received high ratings from three leading charity watchdogs, Charity Navigator and Charity Watchdog, and Guidestar.

IPI is grateful to our generous friends and donors who provide both intellectual and financial support. Their contributions help us in a very practical way to achieve program objectives, and their leadership is an invaluable resource to our organization.

Support IPI

The Global Observatory

History Points to Rough Road Ahead for Ukraine Peace Deal
Previous deals can help shed light on the future of Minsk II.

Key Global Events to Watch in February
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2015: Ten Multilateral Events to Watch This Year
A list of ten events that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2015, compiled by IPI’s Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Featured Publication

Featured Image

January 29, 2015
Building Peace and Development in the Sahel: Enhancing the Political Participation of Women and Youth


The twin security and political crises that erupted in Mali in 2012 revealed the complex and multilayered challenges that threaten peace and stability and delay development across the Sahel.