Sir John Holmes

Director of The Ditchley Foundation, Co-Chair of the International Rescue Committee UK and former UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

Sir John Holmes is Director of the Ditchley Foundation. Before serving as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator between 2007 and 2010, he was British Ambassador to Portugal and subsequently Ambassador to France. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1973 and served in a wide range of diplomatic roles in New York, Moscow and New Delhi. He was Overseas Adviser to Prime Minister John Major from 1997-99, and Principal Private Secretary and Overseas Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 1999. He was awarded a knighthood in 1998 for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, particularly the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. He is a member of the International Rescue Committee UK’s Board of Trustees.
Strengthening Britain's Voice in the

Strengthening Britain's Voice in the World

Is the UK really abdicating from its role as an influential power in the world, as many of our friends and allies fear? And does a diminution in our global role make sense? These were the questions a group of foreign and security policy experts set out to answer over the summer.
11/11/2015 11:27 GMT
Scotland: The Strategic

Scotland: The Strategic Choice

We recognise the appeal of separate nationhood, but the choice is about much more than that: the everyday lives of the people of these islands, our collective future security, our jobs and our livelihoods. Cutting Scotland out of the UK would cause massive upheaval and risk for both Scots and all other Britons.
09/09/2014 17:33 BST
Gaza: How Not to Learn the Lessons of the

Gaza: How Not to Learn the Lessons of the Past

What can anyone from the outside do in such circumstances? In the short term the need is for maximum pressure for a ceasefire and for the provision of humanitarian aid. Once the violence stops, we have to get to grips with the underlying problems. This is not just about restarting the same old peace process and hoping it will go somewhere this time. There is little or no chance of that, unless there are real changes of personalities and policies on both Israeli and Palestinian sides. I would start by suggesting we all face up to four realities.
27/07/2014 22:20 BST
Developing Ties That Bind in

Developing Ties That Bind in Asia

It is hard to think of two countries that have more in common than Australia and Britain. We share a language and a rich history - and, in the main, a sense of humour. We are both maritime trading nations. Australia inherited many fine British institutions including parliamentary democracy and the common law...
15/07/2014 11:17 BST
Afghanistan: Humanitarian Needs Remain

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Needs Remain Great

Afghanistan is entering a new phase after the Afghan people went to the polls with so much enthusiasm a few days ago. Whatever the result of the election, with NATO troops continuing their withdrawal, it is clear that the burden of responsibility for the country now rests with the Afghans themselves. However, it is vital that the international community do not lose interest, and that western governments in particular do not now consider their responsibility to the Afghan people to be over.
08/04/2014 17:15 BST
Ukraine: How Can We

Ukraine: How Can We Help?

Any government which starts to kill its own citizens while they are engaging in legitimate protest has forfeited the right to go on governing (would that the same applied in Syria - but we are long past that point there). At the same time, it was and is impossible not to worry about what might happen next.
25/02/2014 10:55 GMT
The DRC and Sexual Violence: Too Often

The DRC and Sexual Violence: Too Often Forgotten

Some places almost never get the attention they deserve. One of these is the Democratic Republic of Congo. A vast country of some 80 million people, at the heart of Africa. It has struggled since independence in 1960 with a poor colonial legacy, cold war manipulations, venal and incompetent governments, and a succession of wars.
25/04/2013 17:43 BST
Syrian Refugees: The World Is Not Doing

Syrian Refugees: The World Is Not Doing Enough

Up to 230,000 Syrians are now estimated to be in Jordan and 500 more are crossing the border every day, stretching the scarce resources of a country that is already battling an economic crisis and cutting fuel subsidies for its own population.
27/11/2012 17:36 GMT
South Sudan Threatened by 'Perfect Storm' of Famine, Tribal Violence and Escalating Conflict Over

South Sudan Threatened by 'Perfect Storm' of Famine, Tribal Violence and Escalating Conflict Over Oil

We cannot abandon the people of South Sudan at such a moment of renewed need, whatever our frustrations. They have suffered so long for their prized independence and deserve so much better. But even if the present crisis is mitigated by some kind of agreement after even worse north-south brinkmanship than we are used to, the international community will have to demand much more and better from the government in Juba, as well as pressing Khartoum. The message may be unwelcome. But accepting responsibility is part of independence too.
02/02/2012 23:38 GMT