Robert Cooper (diplomat)

Sir Robert Cooper
EEAS Counsellor
Assumed office
DG for External and
Politico-Military Affairs
(Council of the European Union)
In office
Personal details
Born (1947-08-28) August 28, 1947 (age 66)
Brentwood, United Kingdom
Nationality  United Kingdom
Alma mater Worcester College, Oxford
University of Pennsylvania

Sir Robert Francis Cooper, KCMG, MVO (born 1947 in Essex, United Kingdom) is a British diplomat and advisor currently serving as a Counsellor in the European External Action Service. He is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and is an acclaimed publisher on foreign affairs.


He was born on 28 August 1947, in Brentwood, Essex, and educated at the Delamere School for Boys, Nairobi, Kenya, and Worcester College, Oxford. He won a Thouron Award, and spent the academic year 1969-70 at the University of Pennsylvania, joining the Diplomatic Service of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1970.

As a diplomat, he has worked at various British Embassies abroad, notably those in Tokyo and Bonn. At the Foreign Office, he was Head of the Policy Planning Staff from 1989 to 1993. He has also been seconded to the Bank of England and spent a period in the Cabinet Office as Deputy Secretary for Defence and Overseas Affairs. He was the UK's Special Representative in Afghanistan until mid-2002.

In 2002 he began to work for the European Union (EU). He assumed the role of Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. In that role, he was responsible to Javier Solana, the former High Representative of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, and has assisted with the implementation of European strategic, security and defence policy. Since 2007 he has also been a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

After the Treaty of Lisbon's shake up of EU foreign policy structures, and Solana's replacement by Catherine Ashton, Cooper sat on the steering committee which drew up the proposals for the new European External Action Service (EEAS).[1] After the EEAS, the EU's foreign service, was formally established in December 2010 Cooper was made an EEAS "Counsellor".[2]

Personal life

His longstanding partner is Dame Mitsuko Uchida, an internationally acclaimed concert pianist.[3]


In March 2011, Cooper came under fire for his support of Bahraini government crackdowns[4] against protesters, waving off suggestions of police violence and saying "accidents happen."[5] His comments came a week after a video[6] surfaced showing a Bahraini police convoy performing drive-by shootings against unarmed protesters.

Honours and distinctions

Following the State Visit to Japan by Queen Elizabeth II, he was appointed Member of the Royal Victorian Order. He was subsequently appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).

In 2004, Cooper was awarded the Orwell Prize for The Breaking of Nations.

In November, 2005, he was listed among the top 100 in Prospect magazine's Global Intellectuals Poll.

On 14 November, 2012, he was listed by EurActiv, the European media network, as the 28th out of 40 "most influential Britons on EU policy".[7]

Cooper was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to international peace and security.[8][9]


Cooper is best known for his exposition of the doctrine of "new liberal imperialism", as expressed in his The Post-Modern State (2002). This contains such ideas as the designation of countries as "Failed States", "Modern states" and "Postmodern states", and statements such as "The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards". His world-view is said to have been influential in the political thinking of Tony Blair as well as the development of European Security and Defence Policy.


His publications, apart from a number of articles in Prospect and elsewhere, include:

  • The Post-Modern State and the World Order (Demos, 2000). Full Text (pdf)
  • The Post-Modern State, in Mark Leonard (ed.) Re-Ordering the World: The long-term implications of September 11 (Foreign Policy Centre: London, 2002) Full text (pdf)
  • The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (Atlantic Press, 2003), ISBN 0-7710-2266-2.


External links

  • 2003 interview in the Daily Telegraph
  • Robert Cooper, working hard for the EU, 2005 interview with Cafe Babel
  • The new liberal imperialism, Robert Cooper in the Guardian
  • Robert Cooper on the assets and shortfalls of EU crisis response capacity and the need for a unified political strategy
  • Saudi News Today Bahrain's Interior Minister Meets Robert Cooper, 20 March 2011.
  • euobserver, Robert Cooper defends Bahrain Crackdown
  • Guardian, Robert Cooper in the Guardian "Accidents happen"

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