News & Awards

Eric P. Schwartz MPA/JD '85 Appointed by President Obama to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

Apr 17, 2013

On April 11, The White House announced that President Obama is appointing Eric P. Schwartz, who earned a joint MPA/JD degree in 1985 from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and New York University School of Law, to be a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. Composed of nine members, USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties.

Schwartz is currently dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, a position he has held since 2011. Prior to joining the Humphrey School, he spent 25 years in senior positions at the State Department, the National Security Council, the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, and in the NGO community. From 2009 to 2011, he was U.S. assistant secretary of State for population, refugees, and migration. Schwartz also served as the United Nations Secretary General’s deputy special envoy for tsunami recovery from 2005 to 2007, and as chief of office in Geneva for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2003 to 2004. From 1993 until 2001, he served on the staff of the National Security Council, and from 1986 to 1989 he served as Washington director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch. He is a member of the board of directors of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

“USCIRF welcomes Eric Schwartz,” said USCIRF chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, in a statement following the White House announcement. “Given his remarkable depth of knowledge, experience, and commitment, I am confident that he will be a great asset to our commission as we work to help advance the cherished right of freedom of religion or belief around the world.”