Alan Watt (diplomat)

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Sir Alan Watt CBE
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F012042-0012, Bonn, Handeslvertrag mit Australien.jpg
Watt (left) meeting German diplomats
Secretary of the Department of External Affairs
In office
19 June 1950 – 24 January 1954
Personal details
Born Alan Stewart Watt
(1901-04-13)13 April 1901
Croydon, New South Wales
Died 18 September 1988(1988-09-18) (aged 87)
Aranda, Australian Capital Territory
Nationality Australian
Mildred Mary Wait
(m. 1927; d. 1983)
Children 3 sons and a daughter[1]
Alma mater University of Sydney
University of Oxford
Occupation Public servant, diplomat

Sir Alan Stewart Watt CBE (13 April 1901 – 18 September 1988) was a distinguished Australian diplomat.

Born of Scottish heritage,[2] Watt attended Sydney Boys High School.[3] A graduate of the Universities of Sydney and Oxford, he was a New South Wales Rhodes Scholar for 1921.[4][5][6]

Watt first joined the Commonwealth Public Service in the Department of External Affairs, in 1937.[1] He served in the United States during World War II and was one of the Australian delegates at the United Nations Conference on International Organization.[4] In 1947 Watt became the Australian minister to the Soviet Union and in 1948 the first Australian Ambassador in Moscow.[4] In 1950 he returned to Australia and was appointed Secretary to the Department and was instrumental in negotiation of the ANZUS and SEATO treaties. He then served as High Commissioner to both Singapore and Southeast Asia (1954–1956), Ambassador to Japan (1956–1960) and Ambassador to Germany (1960–1962).[4] Leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1962, he became a Visiting Fellow of the Australian National University, and Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (1963–1969).[4]

He wrote a number of books and articles in retirement, including The Evolution of Australian Foreign Policy 1938–1965 (1967, Cambridge University Press, 67-10782), Vietnam - An Australian Analysis (1968, Melbourne, F. W. Cheshire for Australian Institute of International Relations), and Australian Diplomat - Memoirs of Sir Alan Watt (1972, Angus and Robertson, ISBN 0-207-12354-3).

Awards and honours[edit]

Alan Watt was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in June 1952,[7] and as a Knight Bachelor in June 1954.[8]

In 2011, a street in the Canberra suburb of Casey was named Alan Watt Crescent in Watt's honour.[9]


  • The changing margins of Australian foreign policy, 1964, Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Australian defence policy 1951-63: major international aspects, 1964, Dept. of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University
  • Vietnam, an Australian analysis, 1968, Cheshire for the Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Australian Diplomat - Memoirs of Sir Alan Watt, 1972, Verlag Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0-207-12354-3


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary: Diplomat, author and athlete: Sir Alan Stewart Watt". The Canberra Times. 20 September 1988. p. 8. Archived from the original on 16 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Prentis, Malcolm David (2008), The Scots in Australia, UNSW Press, p. 137, ISBN 978 1 921410 21 5 
  3. ^ ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE (PDF), Sydney High School Old Boys Union 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Retirement of Sir Alan Watt as director". Australian Outlook (now known as Australian Journal of International Affairs). 23 (3): 298. 1969. doi:10.1080/10357716908444356. ISSN 1465-332X. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Woodard, Garry (2012), "Watt, Sir Alan Stewart (1901–1988)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, archived from the original on 7 March 2016 
  6. ^ "Sir Alan Watt's New Post". The Canberra Times. 2 August 1963. Archived from the original on 16 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Search Australian Honours: WATT, Alan Stewart, Australian Government 
  8. ^ Search Australian Honours: WATT, Alan Stewart, Australian Government 
  9. ^ Alan Watt Crescent, ACT Government Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate, archived from the original on 27 February 2014 
Government offices
Preceded by
John Burton
Secretary of the Department of External Affairs
1950 – 1954
Succeeded by
Arthur Tange
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Laurence McIntyre
Australian Commissioner to Singapore
1954 – 1956
Succeeded by
Ralph Harry
Preceded by
Edward Ronald Walker
Australian Ambassador to Japan
1956 – 1960
Succeeded by
Laurence McIntyre
Preceded by
Patrick Shaw
Australian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
1960 – 1962
Succeeded by
Frederick Blakeney