Secretary General, NATO (1999-2003)
Minister of Defence, UK (1997-1999)
Member, House of Commons, UK (1978-1999)
In 2003, the Right Honorable Lord Robertson of Port Ellen completed a stellar career in public service, culminating at the highest levels of the Government of the United Kingdom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He joined The Cohen Group as a Senior Counselor in April 2004, advising and assisting our clients globally.
In addition to his role at The Cohen Group, Lord Robertson is a Special Advisor to BP plc and Chairman of BP Russian Investments Ltd. He is a Non-Executive Director of Western Ferries Ltd. Earlier, he was Deputy Chairman of TNK-BP, BO's $50 Billion Joint Venture in Russia. He has served on the Board of The Weir Group plc, Cable and Wireless plc (where he was Executive Deputy Chairman), the Smiths Group, and Monaco Telecom sa. He is Chairman of the Ditchley Foundation and of the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society.
Lord Robertson began his career as an official of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union, responsible for the Scottish Whisky industry in 1968. After a decade of service, he was elected as a Labor Party representative to the House of Commons for Hamilton and Hamilton South at the age of 32. He quickly earned a solid reputation as a focused and committed public servant, resulting in his reelection a total of five times. In Parliament, Lord Robertson advanced quickly to increasingly responsible positions. His record of significant accomplishments garnered him numerous recognitions. His service and leadership during the Maastricht Treaty ratification merited his selection as joint Parliamentarian of the Year in 1993. In the same year, he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and served as Principal Opposition Spokesman on Scotland (Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland).
Scotland on Sunday newspaper editorialized that "Robertson is meant for higher things" in 1993. After the 1997 general election, Prime Minister Blair fulfilled that prophecy and named Lord Robertson as his Minister of Defence. During his service at in that position, he led the UK's active and crucial military role in the Kosovo conflict. He also pushed through a widely heralded series of reforms and modernizations of British forces during his tenure, and managed the UK participation in East Timor and in the 1998 air strikes in Iraq.
In 1999, he was invited to serve as the tenth Secretary General of NATO and Chairman of the North Atlantic Council. In the four turbulent years that followed, he presided over the dramatic restructuring and enlargement of the Alliance to Central and Eastern Europe. He was the first leader of NATO to invoke the Article V mutual defense provision, responding to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and he prodded NATO to deal more effectively with new threats of terrorism. He oversaw the successful involvement of NATO in Afghanistan, deftly managed the crisis over whether to provide Turkey with defense assets as the war in Iraq approached, and helped to broker an end to a prospective civil war within Macedonia in 2001 through the use of NATO peacekeepers.
President George W. Bush presented him in November 2003 with the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor and only rarely given to foreign nationals. In the 2004 Queens New Year Honors he received one of Britain's highest awards, the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. The following year he was made one of the Knights of the Thistle, chosen personally by Her Majesty The Queen, which is the highest honor in the UK, equal to the Order of the Garter. He has the highest national honors from Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands and many other countries. Since 1997, he has served as a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council.
He was Joint President of Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs) for a decade and serves today on its Panel of Senior Advisors and its North American Committee. He is an Elder Brother of Trinity House, on the Councils of the European Council on Foreign Affairs and the International Institute of Strategic Studies. He is a Prime Ministerial appointee to the World War One Commemoration Advisory Board, a Trustee of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, and on the Board of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He is Honorary Regimental Colonel of the London Scottish Regiment.
Lord Robertson was born in the village police station in Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Scotland on April 12, 1946. His father and grandfather were village policemen (as are his brother, son and nephew), and his mother was a French teacher. Self-discipline and service to community and country are family traditions that he has continued. Lord Robertson attended the University of Dundee and received a Masters Degree with honors in economics in 1968. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Dundee and Bradford, St Andrews, Glasgow Caledonian, Lincoln, Robert Gordon University, Stirling, Cranfield University (Royal Military College of Science), Baku State University of Azerbaijan, the Academy of Science of the Kyrgyzstan Republic, European University of Armenia, and the Romanian National School of Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He resides in Scotland and London.