Member, International Advisory Board, Atlantic Council; Former Secretary General, NATO

Lord (George Islay MacNeill) Robertson is special adviser to BP and senior counselor at the Washington, DC-based Cohen Group (USA). He was the secretary general of NATO from 1999 to 2003 and UK defense secretary from 1997 to 1999. He was a member of parliament for Hamilton and then Hamilton South from 1978 to 1999.

He was born in Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Scotland and educated at Dunoon Grammar School and the University of Dundee (MA Hons in Economics in 1968).

From 1969 to 1978, he was a Scottish organizer with the GMB trade union and senior negotiator in the Scotch Whisky Industry. From 1979 to 1993, he held senior parliamentary opposition roles, including eleven years on Foreign Affairs, and was chief spokesman on European Affairs (he was named parliamentarian of the year in 1992). In 1993, he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and served as principal opposition spokesman on Scotland (the shadow secretary of state for Scotland). 

He was appointed the UK secretary of state for defense in 1997. In October 1999, he took up appointment as the tenth secretary general of NATO and chairman of the North Atlantic Council and was elevated to the House of Lords.

Lord Robertson was appointed to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in 1997. In 2004, he was personally appointed by the Queen as one of the sixteen Knights of the Thistle (KT) and awarded the GCMG (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George). In 2011 he was appointed chancellor of that Order. He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s top civilian honour, in 2003, and has been awarded the highest national honours from many countries. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2003 and has fourteen honorary doctorates. He is honorary professor of politics at the University of Stirling and visiting professor at Kings College, London. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Defence Studies.

He is chairman of Western Ferries (Clyde) Ltd., and vice chairman of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  He was deputy chairman of the board and chairman of the Audit Committee of TNK-BP (BP’s £50 bn market cap Joint Venture in Russia) from 2006 to 2013. He was chairman of BP Russian Investments Ltd from 2017 to 2020. He has also served on the boards of Cable and Wireless plc, where he was executive deputy chairman and chairman of CW International 2004 to 2007, the Smiths Group plc, Monaco Telecom SA, and the Weir Group plc.

He is an elder brother of Trinity House, chairman of global road safety charity the FIA Foundation, a trustee of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and the British Forces Foundation and a prime ministerial appointee to the Advisory Board of the First World War Commemoration. He is on the councils of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Centre for European Reform, and the European Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the International Advisory Board of the Atlantic Council. He served as joint president of the Royal Institute of International Affairs 2001 to 2011 and now serves as a senior adviser.  He chaired the Ditchley Foundation from 2009 to 2017. He chairs the Ohrid (Friends of North Macedonia) Group. He co-chairs a joint Commission on Franco British Defence post Brexit with former French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. He served as honorary regimental colonel of the London Scottish (Volunteers) from 2000 to 2016.

He is married to Sandra, has three grown-up children, five grandchildren and lives in Dunblane, Scotland.  He plays golf and takes photographs (he has published two books of photographs, including “Islay and Jura: Photographs by George Robertson”).  He has earned a Licentiate Distinction of the Royal Photographic Society.

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