Great Lakes envoy leaves the State Department
The State Department’s special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, Howard Wolpe, will leave his post later this month due to health reasons, he tells The Cable. Wolpe, a former Democratic congressman from Michigan, also served as Great Lakes envoy during the Clinton administration and led the U.S. delegation to the Arusha peace talks that ...
The State Department's special envoy for Africa's Great Lakes region, Howard Wolpe, will leave his post later this month due to health reasons, he tells The Cable.
The State Department’s special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, Howard Wolpe, will leave his post later this month due to health reasons, he tells The Cable.
Wolpe, a former Democratic congressman from Michigan, also served as Great Lakes envoy during the Clinton administration and led the U.S. delegation to the Arusha peace talks that ended the Rwandan civil war. Before entering the State Department, he led the Africa program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
"I’ve had some minor health issues, and decided it was time for a less frantic existence," he said in an email. "I still intend to remain engaged, both as a consultant and a trainer — but I also have some other projects in mind, including a book on the Burundi peace process that I began long ago but had to put aside."
He said he was proud of his accomplishments since returning to the State Department, even though most of his office’s activities have been below the radar of the national press. For example, he helped to revamp the diplomatic architecture for engaging the Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
"When I began my tenure, the so-called Contact Group included the European Union, the U.S. government, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France. But the South Africans and Angolans had fallen away, the Chinese were not involved in this international effort, and some countries that were deeply involved in the DRC — most notably, Canada, Norway and Sweden — were excluded from the Contact Group," he said.
Working with Roland Van der Geer, the European Union’s Great Lakes special envoy, Wolpe created an inclusive network of special envoys from all the stakeholding countries that will now begin working directly with the Congolese government on security-sector reform and other projects.
"I believe we have set the stage for a much more dynamic, pro-active and coordinated diplomatic effort in the region," said Wolpe. "The challenge will be to complete a substantial amount of unfinished business in the DRC and the region — most notably, ending the FDLR threat in the eastern Congo, bringing an end to the LRA’s brutal campaign, and strengthening the Congolese government’s commitment and capacity in building a more open, transparent and accountable government."
No replacement has yet been announced.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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