John Campbell

Council on Foreign Relations, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies

John Campbell is the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York. Rowman & Littlefield published his book, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink. The second edition was published in June 2013. He writes the blog "Africa in Transition" and edits the Nigeria Security Tracker.

From 1975 to 2007, Ambassador Campbell served as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He served twice in Nigeria, as political counselor from 1988 to 1990, and as ambassador from 2004 to 2007. Ambassador Campbell's additional overseas postings include Lyon, Paris, Geneva, and Pretoria. He also served as deputy assistant secretary for human resources, dean of the Foreign Service Institute's School of Language Studies, and director of the Office of UN Political Affairs.

From 2007 to 2008, he was a visiting professor of international relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also a Department of State mid-career fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. Prior to his career in the Foreign Service, he taught British and French history at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.

Ambassador Campbell received a BA and MA from the University of Virginia and a PhD in seventeenth century English history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Foundation Update

Case Study: Nigeria: An Opportunity for Faith-Based Conflict Resolution

Religious conflict in Nigeria is only one challenge facing a polity that is divided into approximately 250 ethnic groups, a political order characterised by weak government and in which there is little regard for the rule of law. Under both military and civilian governments, fierce and bloody competitions between elites, often appealing to ethnic and religious identities, have resulted in a country run for their own benefit with little reference to the needs of the Nigerian people. There is a wide remit for faith groups to be involved in reconciliation and conflict resolution, however such initiatives need to carefully negotiate around local circumstances, writes John Campbell for our Global Perspectives Series.

06 May 2015

Situation Report


Nigeria is divided, and religion is one aspect of that, but in a culture saturated by religiosity grievances are often understood through a religious and moral lens, writes John Campbell of the Council on Foreign Relations.


U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram

Nigeria continues to be ravaged by the homegrown violent Islamist group Boko Haram, which has declared a caliphate in the areas under its control in the northeast of the country and begun implementing a harsh version of sharia law.

John Campbell

20 Nov 2014


The Changing Shape of Nigeria's Conflict

The fallout of the Chibok kidnappings has changed the shape of Nigeria's war with Boko Haram. The group is expanding the scope of its operations, while a potential food emergency and impending elections create a precarious situation writes John Campbell.

John Campbell

26 Aug 2014


Five Questions on...Religion in Nigeria

Boko Haram continues to dominate the headlines on Nigeria, but no extremist group exists in a vacuum. John Campbell explains the religious context of the country.

John Campbell

08 Jul 2014

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