Tech grad, UN special expert speaks about work around world

Oct 14, 2010 | General News, Liberal Arts

 Sometimes one has to take a chance to make a change. With that, UN special expert Clint Williamson told how events in his life came together to take him from a job as an assistant district attorney in New Orleans to a career in the foreign service. “I took a chance,” said Williamson, this year’s Louisiana Tech College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumnus. “Instead of going to work for a conventional law firm, I ended up taking a job at the DA’s office that didn’t pay a lot.” He said he almost didn’t apply for a job at The Hague, Netherlands, which started his career in foreign service. “I thought I was too junior,” Williamson said. “But nothing I did was charted out in advance.” As part of this week’s Homecoming festivities, Williamson spoke Thursday to a standing-room only audience of students, faculty and community members in the first event held in the newly-renovated auditorium in George T. Madison Hall classroom building. Williamson’s present job is as special expert to the secretary-general of the United Nations. Williamson has served as director of the Department of Justice in the U.N. mission in Kosovo, trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, where he supervised investigations and field operations in the Balkans, compiled indictments and prosecuted cases at trial. The cases he handled included the indictment and trial against Milosevic Slobodan, the late president of Yugoslavia, who was charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. Williamson worked in Kosovo and in Iraq with the justice departments after those countries destabilized to assist them in a return to normalcy. Williamson said the U.S. used to be cautious of countries with heavy military and nuclear powers, but history has recently shown that destabilizing countries need to be assisted. “Why do we in the U.S. care about them?” he asked. “Afghanistan is the reason why it is our interest. Look at Afghanistan in 2001. They had no functioning economy, and very little of the country was connected to water, but one of the most devastating attacks to the U.S. came from Afghanistan.” Williamson added that countries need to have a steady government. “Without secure environments and the establishment of law, nothing else works,” he said. “When you look at the world, there are lots of reasons for discouragement. The world is an unstable place. But there are reasons for encouragement. In 1994, it was the first time we dealt with international war crimes. (The International Criminal Court) indicted the first sitting head of state with Yugoslavia’s (former) President Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein was also indicted by the International Criminal Court.” Liberal Arts Dean Edward Jacobs said it was good to see one of Tech’s own come back and discuss his work. “This was a rare opportunity to hear a very experienced diplomat talk about all the problems we are facing today,” Jacobs said. Janie Stephenson, of Ruston, said Williamson and her son, Richard, were friends in Cub Scouts as kids. “I saw them grow up together,” Stephenson said. “He has an incredible career. His speech was inspirational.”