Carne Ross

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Carne Ross
Carne Ross (Independent Diplomat).jpg
Carne Ross in February 2012
Alma materExeter University
EmployerBritish Foreign Office
Known forIndependent diplomat

Carne Ross (born 1966) is the founder and executive director of Independent Diplomat, a diplomatic advisory group.[1] Carne Ross taught in Zimbabwe before attending the University of Exeter where he studied economics and politics. He joined the British foreign service in 1989.

Ross's testimony in the Butler Review directly contradicted the British position on the justification behind the invasion of Iraq.


After graduating from Exeter University, Ross joined the British Foreign Office and worked at the UK embassy in Bonn, Germany before moving to the UK mission to the UN,[2] where he worked from December 1997 to June 2002.

At the UN, Ross served as the UK delegation's expert on the Middle East. Ross also worked on several important Security Council resolutions such as SCR 1284 which rewrote the Council's Iraq policy and established UNMOVIC, the weapons inspection body. He also negotiated for the UK the resolution establishing the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the Council's resolution of 12 September 2001 condemning the attacks of the day before.

Ross then served as Strategy Coordinator for the UN in Kosovo (UNMIK) where he devised and led a joint UN and government policy to implement a series of standards to improve governance, the rule of law and human rights protection, and advised the Secretary-General's Special Representative on diplomatic and political tactics.[citation needed]

He resigned from the Foreign Office after 15 years of service, citing his then-secret evidence to the Butler Review as the reason.[1] In 2007, he is a supporter of a UN Parliamentary Assembly.[3] In 2004, he founded the non-governmental organisation Independent Diplomat.[1]

Testimony on the UK's role in the invasion of Iraq[edit]

Ross testified during the Butler Review (2004), which investigated intelligence blunders in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. He testified that at no time during his work on Iraq (1998–2002) did the UK or US assess that Iraq's WMD posed a threat. He also argued that available alternatives to war, namely targeting Iraq's illegal oil revenues, were ignored. This testimony directly challenged Blair's assertions that the war was legally justified by Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction which posed a threat to British interests.

The testimony was published by the Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs after MPs sought assurances from the Foreign Office that it would not breach the Official Secrets Act. In an interview with the Brooklyn Rail, Ross stated that "[i]n many ways, the sanctions on the Iraqi people were worse than the war because the economy was taken back decades and the health service deteriorated massively."[4]

Publications and documentary[edit]

Ross published a book called Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite in 2007[5] and a book called The Leaderless Revolution in 2011.[6] He wrote a play called The Fox,[7] which enjoyed a short run in New York in early 2001. He also appeared as an extra in an Alan Partridge Christmas Special.[citation needed]

In the "Acknowledgements" section of his 2013 novel, A Delicate Truth, John le Carré thanks Ross for "his example demonstrat[ing] the perils of speaking a delicate truth to power."[8]

In 2017, BBC4 broadcast a documentary about Ross's life and ideas called The Accidental Anarchist. The documentary charts Ross's change from a civil servant in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to an anarchist. The linguist, cognitive scientist and political activist Noam Chomsky appears in the documentary. Ross explores the philosophy of democratic confederalism developed by Abdullah Öcalan and its influence on Kurdish groups in the Syrian Civil War such as the YPG and YPJ. Ross sees these groups as anarchist.[9]

Private life[edit]

Ross is the grandson of linguist and academic Alan S. C. Ross.[10]


  • Carne Ross (2019). "Chapter 29: The time is now". In Extinction Rebellion (ed.). This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook. Penguin Books. pp. 176–180. ISBN 9780141991443.


  1. ^ a b c "Carne Ross". Independent Diplomat. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  2. ^ Moss, Stephen (20 June 2005). "Diplomat at large". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Palmer, John (26 March 2007). "The road from Rome". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007.
  4. ^ Ross, Carne (3 May 2012). "The 'Leaderless Revolution'". The Brooklyn Rail (Interview). Interviewed by Nikolas Kozloff.
  5. ^ Ross, Carne (2007). Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4557-6.
  6. ^ Ross, Carne (2012). The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Blue Rider Press. ISBN 978-0-399-15872-8.
  7. ^ Sommer, Elyse (2001). "The Fox". Review. Curtain Up. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  8. ^ le Carré, John (2013). "Acknowledgements". A Delicate Truth. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-61802-8 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Anthony, Andrew (9 July 2017). "Ex-diplomat Carne Ross: the case for anarchism". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  10. ^ Rosie Gray (10 July 2013). "How Carne Ross Created a New Kind of Diplomacy". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 24 February 2018.

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