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Derek Plumbly

London, UK

Leading diplomat and expert on the Middle East and Africa

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon (2012-2015)

Chair of the International Commission overseeing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan (2008-2011)

Sir Derek Plumbly is one of the UK’s most respected diplomats and international officials, and an expert on the dynamics of the Middle East and North Africa. Derek is currently Visiting Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, King’s College London.

From 2012 to 2015 he was the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, resident in Beirut and reporting regularly to the Security Council. From 2008 to 2011 he chaired the international commission which oversaw the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan prior to the independence of South Sudan. He had previously served as British ambassador to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and was the Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1997 to 2000.

His earlier career at the FCO included postings to the UK mission to the UN in New York and as Deputy Head of Mission in Riyadh during the Gulf War. He was appointed CMG in the Gulf War honours list in 1991 and KCMG in 2000. He has an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University.

Sir Plumbly is fluent in Arabic, which he studied in Lebanon and Jordan in the 1970s after graduating in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford and teaching in Pakistan.

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Our Comment

"Sir Derek Plumbly has served as the representative of the UK government and UN in some of the most geopolitically complex regions in the world. His work in Africa and the Middle East has won him plaudits as one of the foremost diplomats of his generation. Few are as well-placed as he to offer analysis of the region's political and economic dynamics."


Briefing the media after a UN Security Council meeting on Lebanon (2014)


[youtube http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/conferencessummits/3rd-international-conference-on-financing-for-development-addis-ababa-ethiopia-13%E2%80%9316-july-2015/watch/derek-plumbly-special-coordinator-on-lebanon-security-council-media-stakeout-12-november-2014/3888744163001]

On the situation in Lebanon (2015)


[youtube http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/2015/01/un-plumbly/]


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