The Ralph Bunche Chair in Africa Policy Studies

In 2003, the Council on Foreign Relations established the first endowed chair in Africa Policy Studies at any U.S. think tank or public policy school. The chair holder leads a program that brings together existing American talent on Africa with new American talent and with African leaders to address Africa’s problems and place Africa as a major priority in U.S. foreign policy thinking.

The mobilizing idea behind the chair is that the United States should contribute to the solution of Africa’s problems because it is right to do so and because doing so is in America’s national interest. The underlying belief is that helping to solve matters of economic and political development in Africa will help advance U.S. national security interests as well.

Ralph Bunche (1904-1971)

Ralph J. Bunche was a scholar, public servant, and international statesman. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations for twenty years.

Born in Michigan in 1904, he attended the University of California (Los Angeles) and Harvard University, where he took a doctorate in government and international relations. His doctoral research focused on colonial administrations in West Africa. His academic work, as a faculty member at Howard University and on various fellowships, continued to focus on issues of race, class, and poverty both in the United States and in Africa; his studies led him to field work throughout Africa.

When war broke out between Israel and the Arab states in May 1948, Dr. Bunche was designated as the Secretary General’s representative in Palestine. His role as a mediator helped bring armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, and for his success he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.

Dr. Bunche later became Under Secretary General of the UN for Special Political Affairs, and played a key role in such peacekeeping operations as the Sinai, Congo, Cyprus, Yemen, and India and Pakistan, until his retirement in 1965.


Ralph Bunche Fellows in Africa Policy Studies:

2009  John Campbell
2003–2006  Princeton N. Lyman