Robert Francis Cooper was a British diplomat until 2002 when he assumed the role of Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. He is responsible to Javier Solana, High Representative of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, and has assisted with the implementation of European strategic, security and defence policy.

Biography and career

He was born on 28 August 1947, in Brentwood, Essex, and educated at the Delamere School for Boys, Nairobi, Kenya, and Worcester College, Oxford. He spent the academic year 1969-70 at the University of Pennsylvania on a Thuron Scholarship, and joined the Diplomatic Service of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1970.

As a diplomat, he has worked at various British Embassies abroad, notably those in Tokyo and Bonn. At the Foreign Office, he was Head of the Policy Planning Staff from 1989 to 1993.

He has also been seconded to the Bank of England and spent a period in the as Deputy Secretary for Defence and Overseas Affairs. He was the UK's Special Representative in Afghanistan until mid-2002. Since 2007 he has been a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

His longstanding partner is Mitsuko Uchida, an internationally acclaimed concert pianist.

Honours and distinctions

Following the State Visit to Japan by Queen Elizabeth II, he was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (5th Class). He has subsequently been awarded a CMG.

In 2004, Cooper was awarded the Orwell Prize for The Breaking of Nations.

In November, 2005, he was listed among the top 100 in Prospect magazine's Global Intellectuals Poll.


Cooper is best-known for his exposition of the doctrine of New liberal imperialism, as expressed in his The Post-Modern State (2002). This contains such ideas as the designation of countries as "Failed States", "Modern states" and "Postmodern states", and statements such as "The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards". His world-view is said to have been influential in the political thinking of Tony Blair as well as the development of European Security and Defence Policy.


His publications, apart from a number of articles in Prospect and elsewhere, include:

  • The Post-Modern State and the World Order (Demos, 2000).

  • The Post-Modern State, in Mark Leonard (ed.) Re-Ordering the World: The long-term implications of September 11 (Foreign Policy Centre: London, 2002) Observer Special Report Full text (pdf)

  • The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (Atlantic Press, 2003).