Speaker: The Rt. Hon. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT, GCMG, hon FRSE, PC (Former NATO Secretary General).
Convenor: Lord Jonathan Oates and Baroness Arminka Helic, Visiting Parliamentary Fellows, St Antony's College.
Discussant: Professor Roy Allison, St Antony's College, REES.
Series: RESC's Visiting Parliamentary Fellows Programme.
Lord (George Islay MacNeill) Robertson is Senior Counsellor at the Washington DC-based Cohen Group (USA). He was NATO Secretary General from 1999-2003 and UK Defence Secretary from 1997-1999. He was Member of Parliament for Hamilton and then Hamilton South from 1978-1999.
From 1979-1993 he held senior parliamentary Opposition roles including 11 years on Foreign Affairs and was Chief Spokesman on European Affairs (he was named Parliamentarian of the Year in 1992). In 1993 he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and served as Principal Opposition Spokesman on Scotland (the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland). He was appointed the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence in 1997. In October 1999 he took up appointment as the 10th Secretary General of NATO and Chairman of the North Atlantic Council and was elevated to the House of Lords.
During his time at the Ministry of Defence he oversaw the 1998 Strategic Defence Review which radically reconfigured Britain’s military. His time also coincided with the conflict over Kosovo and its liberation. In NATO he invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty – the first time in the Alliance’s history and chaired the first ever NATO Russia Council. With Javier Solana of the EU, he delivered the Ohrid Agreement which ended the 2001 conflict in what is now North Macedonia. He chaired the NATO Summit in Prague in 2002 which enlarged the Alliance with seven new countries, three of them formerly part of the Soviet Union.
Lord Robertson was appointed to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in 1997. In 2004 he was personally appointed by the Queen as one of the sixteen Knights of the Thistle (KT) and awarded the GCMG (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. He was Chancellor of that Order 2011-2021. He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s top civilian honour, in 2003, and has been awarded the highest national honours from many countries. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2003 and has fourteen Honorary Doctorates. He is Honorary Professor of Politics at the University of Stirling and Visiting Professor at Kings College, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Defence Studies.
Professor Roy Allison is Professor of Russian and Eurasian International Relations and Director of the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre of St Antony's College. He was previously Reader in International Relations at the London School of Economics. He has also held positions at the universities of Southampton and Birmingham (the Centre for Russia and East European Studies), has been a visiting scholar at Moscow State University and the Brookings Institution, was the Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme of Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) during 1993-2005, and a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre of International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, 2001-05. He has acted as Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Committee and the House of Lords European Union Committee. Professor Allison’s research focuses in particular on the international relations, foreign and security policies of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia and the South Caucasus. His broader interests cover regional conflicts, regionalism, international norms and foreign policy analysis.
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Image - Official portrait photographs from the UK Parliament website, released for sharing under an Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence, and adapted for our use.