Elizabeth Nakian has been the Deputy in the Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues (SEHI) at the U.S. Department of State since November 2005. Hoping to provide a measure of justice for Holocaust survivors and their families, SEHI develops and implements U.S. policy with respect to the return of Holocaust-era assets to their rightful owners, compensation for wrongs committed during the Holocaust, and Holocaust education and remembrance. SEHI encourages Central and East European governments to restitute illegally-confiscated and nationalized communal and private property to rightful owners and, using the guidelines of the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, encourages the restitution of artworks to rightful owners. Ms. Nakian is a career civil servant and joined the State Department in 1991.
Prior to her current position, Ms. Nakian was the legislative affairs director in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Other assignments include: The U.S. Mission to the United Nations (2000-2004) where she served as a delegate to the UN’s Fifth Committee and negotiated the budgets of the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and represented the U.S. on the Management Committee of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; the Bureau of Intelligence and Research as the Turkey and EU analyst (1991-1997 and 1999-2000); and the U.S. Embassy, Ankara, Turkey (1997-1999) serving as a political–military officer.
Ms. Nakian received her Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and a Master of Arts Degree in European Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
From the Front Lines: International Holocaust Restitution and Compensation Efforts