Richard W. Murphy has followed Near Eastern developments for over 50 years, 34 of which were spent as a career foreign service officer. He holds A.B. degrees from Harvard and Cambridge University. After service in the U.S. Army he joined the foreign service of the State Department and from 1955-68 served in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); Beirut Lebanon; Aleppo, Syria (1960-63); Jeddah, Saudi Arabia(1963-66); and Amman, Jordan(1966-67). He spent 1968-71 in Washington, D.C., as Country Director for the Arabian Peninsula and Director of Personnel for the Near Eastern Bureau. In 1971, President Nixon nominated him as Ambassador to Mauritania and in 1974 he became Ambassador to Syria (1974-78). He then served as Ambassador to the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. From 1983-1989 he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. During that period he was particularly active in the Israeli-Arab peace process.
After retiring from government service in 1989, and until the summer of 2004, Mr. Murphy served as the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and has continued to visit that region several times a year. He is now an independent consultant based in New York City.
He is a director of the American Friends of UNRWA and was its founding chair, on the Board of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, former Chairman of the Middle East Institute in Washington where he is now an Adjunct Scholar, and a trustee emeritus of the American University of Beirut.