Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Brian Barder

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Preceded by  Robert Tesh
Spouse(s)  Jane Maureen Cornwell
Preceded by  Sir Martin Ewans
Name  Brian Barder

Preceded by  Sir John Coles
Role  Diplomat
Nationality  British
Brian Barder httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Preceded by  Sir John Albert Leigh Morgan
Born  20 June 1934 (age 81) Bristol, United Kingdom (1934-06-20)
Education  St Catharine's College, Cambridge

Succeeded by  Harold Berners Walker

British diplomat Sir Brian Barder passed away at 83

Sir Brian Leon Barder, KCMG (born 20 June 1934) is a retired British diplomat; and subsequently author, blogger and civil liberties advocate.


Life and career

Brian Barder was born in Bristol, the son of Harry and Vivien Barder. He was educated at Sherborne School and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the Footlights, the Cambridge University Musical Comedy Club, the St Catharine's College Boat Club and the Cambridge University Labour Club (Chairman, 1957).

Brian Barder did his National Service as 2nd Lieutenant, 7th Royal Tank Regiment, in Hong Kong (1952–1954). He joined the Colonial Office in London in 1957 (Private Secretary to the Permanent Under-Secretary, 1960–61). He transferred to the Diplomatic Service in 1965. From 1964-1968 he was First Secretary, UK Mission to the United Nations, dealing with decolonisation. He returned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London as Assistant Head of West African Department, including dealing with Biafra (1968–71). He became First Secretary and Press Attaché, Moscow (Soviet Union) (1971–73); and Counsellor and Head of Chancery, British High Commission, Canberra (Australia) (1973–77). In 1977-78 he was a course member at the Canadian National Defence College, Kingston, Ontario. In 1978 he returned to London as Head of Central and Southern, later Southern African Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1978–82). He was British Ambassador to Ethiopia (1982–86); Ambassador to Poland (1986–88); High Commissioner to Nigeria and concurrently Ambassador to Bénin (1988–91) and High Commissioner to Australia (1991–94).

He was awarded the KCMG in 1992.

In 1958 Brian Barder married Jane Maureen Cornwell. They have two daughters and one son, and two granddaughters. He lives in Earlsfield, London, with his wife.

The Ethiopian famine

Brian Barder was British Ambassador to Ethiopia during the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85. He played a key role in making possible the deployment of the Royal Air Force to Ethiopia for 14 months to move relief supplies from the ports to remote parts of the country where it was urgently needed. His role in the relief effort is described in The Ethiopian Famine, and A Year In The Death of Africa. In 2009 he took part in a BBC Radio 4 programme which brought together some of the key people involved in the Ethiopian famine including International Red Cross nurse Claire Bertschinger (now Dame Claire); BBC reporter Michael Buerk; Dawit Wolde Giorgis, former head of the Ethiopian Relief and Rehabilitation Commission; and Hugh Goyder, former head of Oxfam's Ethiopia programme.

After retirement

After retirement, Brian Barder served on the Commonwealth Observer Mission, Namibian elections (1994); and as a Chair of Civil Service Selection Boards (1995–96). He was a Know-How Fund Consultant for diplomatic training in East and Central Europe (1996); a member of the Committee of the Speech and Debate Centre of the English-Speaking Union (1996–2009); a member of the Board of Management of the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (1996–2003); a founder member of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (1997–2004); and Honorary Visiting Fellow to the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester (2006- ).

Resignation from the Special Immigration Appeals Commission

Brian Barder was appointed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in November 1997, three years after his retirement from the diplomatic service. He resigned in January 2004 when the Government extended the role of SIAC in a way which he believed to be contrary to Britain's international obligations. He set out the reasons for his resignation in the London Review of Books and in The Guardian. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 made SIAC additionally responsible for hearing appeals by persons indefinitely detained without trial by the Home Secretary on suspicion of being connected with terrorism but who could not be deported because there was no country to which they could safely be sent. Barder took the view, subsequently endorsed by the Law Lords, that sending people to prison indefinitely and without trial and without even being charged with any offence was a breach of Britain’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. On 16 December 2004 the Law Lords ruled that Part 4 was indeed incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, but under the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998 it remained in force. It has since been replaced by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

Blogging and publications

Since retiring from the Diplomatic Service, Brian Barder writes a popular blog and is a regular contributor to the LabourList website. He has had articles and letters published in The Political Quarterly, London Review of Books, Prospect, The Times, The Guardian, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, and elsewhere. He was Editorial Consultant for A Dictionary of Diplomacy and contributed to the Third Edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage.

Brian Barder's book, What Diplomats Do: The Life and Work of Diplomats was published in July 2014. Not a diplomatic memoir, it describes a diplomat's day-to-day life and work through a typical but fictitious diplomatic career. It has been described as "massively authoritative, and original ... a brilliant book" (G R Berridge, Emeritus Prof., Leicester University); "excellent ... I found reading its chapters irresistible, like eating peanuts" (Prof. Alan Henrikson, Tufts University).


Brian Barder Wikipedia