Photo: Dale Robbins

Carne Ross

Economist and Former British Diplomat

Carne Ross is a former senior British diplomat and author who now runs a unique nonprofit that advises democratic countries and governments on diplomacy. After a 15-year career in the foreign service, Ross resigned after giving then-secret evidence to an official inquiry into the Iraq war. Drawing from his work as the U.K.’s Iraq expert at the U.N., Ross’ evidence stated that the British government had exaggerated the threat from Iraq and had ignored available alternatives to war, including shutting down the Iraqi regime’s illegal revenues, an option that was never properly attempted by the U.S. or U.K. When his evidence became public, it triggered widespread calls for a full public inquiry into the war, an inquiry that is now taking place (and to which Ross has also testified).

During his diplomatic career, Ross served as head of the Israel-Palestine Middle East peace unit as well as a speech writer for the British foreign secretary. He also served in British embassies in Norway, Germany and Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. At the age of 32, he was appointed head of Middle East policy for the United Kingdom’s mission to the United Nations where he was also the British lead on Iraq, negotiating international law on issues of WMD and sanctions.

After his resignation, Ross founded Independent Diplomat, a unique nonprofit organization that “helps marginalized governments and political groups maneuver through the complex, secretive machine of international diplomacy.” With offices around the world, Independent Diplomat has successfully assisted countries including Kosovo before its independence, Croatia, Burma’s democratic opposition, Southern Sudan, Western Sahara, and Pacific island states on U.N. climate change negotiations.

Just before the Occupy Wall Street movements were launched in 2011, and after five years of research, Ross’ latest book The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century was published by Penguin (Blue Rider Press). The book argues that current forms of politics, led by governments and international institutions, are failing to manage the problems that most concern us, including economic volatility, climate change and mounting inequality. Instead, Ross proposes a new form of politics, fired by our own convictions, taking action directly to address our political concerns. As part of Occupy, Ross has put these ideas into practice in a working group seeking to establish a new bank, embodying principles of democracy and equality in its very structure.