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Monday, 21 May 2012

Sir Nicholas Bayne

Review to appear in academic Journal in China.

From the confrontational atmosphere of the Cold War to the era of globalization, international economic relations have changed dramatically over the last 50 years. In Economic Diplomat Sir Nicholas Bayne gives an insider’s account of it all. As a former British Foreign Service officer and a seasoned academic, he offers a rare unbroken perspective on the political forces shaping the world economic system.
The author’s direct involvement in economic diplomacy begins with the oil price surges of the 1970s and the first G7 summits; continues through the debt crises provoked by ‘Reaganomics’; and reaches a climax with the economic transformation at the end of the Cold War. He moves between the FCO, the Treasury, major capitals like Paris and Ottawa and key international institutions, with an interlude in the City of London. Having begun his academic activities as a serving diplomat, he has continued his research into economic diplomacy right up to the financial upheavals of the present day, tracing the G7/G8 summits until their eclipse by the G20.
This account of his professional career is leavened by personal material. He describes flagging down a moving aircraft in Berlin and tracking smugglers in the Philippines; encounters with gorillas in Rwanda, the infamous President Mobutu in the Congo and the world’s most northerly community in Canada. He tells of his working honeymoon at the United Nations and family tragedy in Africa. His early attachment to archaeology, formed at school and university, at times breaks through in later life.

Sir Nicholas Bayne was a member of the British Diplomatic Service for 35 years.

Sir Nicholas Bayne is a Visiting Fellow at the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He currently serves as Chairman of the Liberalisation of Trade in Services (LOTIS) Committee, British Invisibles. As a British diplomat, he was High Commissioner to Canada from 1992 to 1996, Economic Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1988 to 1992, and UK Ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris from 1985 to 1988.He also served as Ambassador to Zaire, Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, 1983-84, Head of the Economic Relations Department, FCO, 1979-82, and Economic Counsellor with the British Embassy, 1975-79.During 1982-83, he was the FCO Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs where he co-authored, with Harvard's Robert Putnam, a book entitled, Hanging Together, an analysis of the G7 process.In 2000, he published Hanging Together: The G7 and G8 Summit in Maturity and Renewal (Ashgate).He specializes in the area of international economic relations and continues to advise the FCO on trade matters.

Sir Nicholas Bayne has published numerous articles and books, including :
‘Excavations at Lyneham Camp, Lyneham, Oxon’, Oxoniensia Vol XXII (1957), 1–10.
‘The Grey Wares of North-West Anatolia in the Middle and Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age and their Relation to the Early Greek Settlements’, completed in 1963, published in Asia Minor Studien Vol 37 (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt 2000).
‘Western Economic Summits: Can They Do Better?’ The World Today, Vol 40.1 (1984), 4–11.
With Robert D. Putnam, Hanging Together: the Seven-Power Summits (London: Heinemann 1984); also editions in German (1985), Japanese (1986) and Italian (1987) and revised English edition (London: SAGE 1987).
‘Making Sense of Western Economic Policy: the Role of the OECD', The World Today, Vol 43.2 (1987), 27–30.
‘In the Balance: the Uruguay Round of International Trade Negotiations’, Government and Opposition, Vol 26.3 (1991), 302–15.
‘The Course of Summitry’, The World Today, Vol 48.2 (1992), 27–30.
‘International Economic Relations after the Cold War’, Government and Opposition, Vol 29.1 (1994), 3–21.
‘The G7 Summit and the Reform of Global Institutions’, Government and Opposition, Vol 30.4 (1995), 492–509.
With Robert D. Putnam, ‘The G-7 Summit Comes of Age’, in Sylvia Ostry and Gilbert R. Winham (editors), The Halifax G-7 Summit: Issues on the Table (Halifax: Dalhousie University 1995), 1–14.
Britain and Canada – 500 Years: Common Heritage, Shared Vision (London: Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1997).
‘What Governments Want From International Institutions and How They Get It’, Government and Opposition, Vol 32. 2 (1997), 361–79.
‘Globalization and the Commonwealth: International Economic Relations in the Post-Cold War World’, The Round Table, No 344 (1997), 473–84.
Opening Markets for Financial Services: the BI Guide to the Financial Services Agreement in the World Trade Organization (London: British Invisibles 1998).
‘Why Did Seattle Fail? Globalization and the Politics of Trade’, Government and Opposition, Vol 35.2 (2000), 131–51
Hanging in There: the G7 and G8 Summit in Maturity and Renewal (Aldershot: Ashgate 2000).
With Stephen Woolcock, The New Economic Diplomacy: Decision-Making and Negotiation in International Economic Relations (Aldershot: Ashgate 2003, second revised edition 2007).
Staying Together: the G8 Summit Confronts the 21st Century (Aldershot: Ashgate 2005).
With Nigel Spencer, ‘The Ceramics of the North-East Aegean Region from the Middle Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age’, in Kyriacos Lambrianides and Nigel Spencer (eds), The Madra River Delta: RegionaStudies on the Aegean Coast of Turkey (London: British Institute of Ankara Monograph 35, 2007).
Burma and Tudor History: the Life and Work of Charles Bayne 1860–1947 (Bideford: Edward Gaskell 2008).
‘Financial Diplomacy and the Credit Crunch: the Rise of Central Banks’, Columbia Journal of International Affairs, Vol 62.1 (2008), 1–16.


"It is often difficult to know for whom an autobiography has been written. Nicholas Bayne seems to have a dual motivation, wishing first to record his life for his grandchildren (and many an academic would envy a readership of four), but also to supplement his analytical writing on summitry, which leads to thoughtful concluding reflections on the role of diplomacy. Most of all, the book is a delight for its glimpses of the author."
- The Round Table

"This account of his professional career is leavened by personal material. he describes flagging down a moving aircraft in Berlin and tracking smugglers in the Philippines, encounters with gorillas in Rwanda, the infamous President Mobutu in the Congo and the worlds most northerly community in Canada. He tells of his working honeymoon at the United Nations and family tragedy in Africa. His early attachment  to archaeology, formed at school and university, at times breaking through in later life."
                                                                    - The London School Of Economics And Political Science.

The production by The Memoir Club is exemplary and a rich selection of photographs aid greatly in relating to the characters whose life this account details"
Andrew Stewart from The Defence Studies Department at The Kings College London.


Diplomat, economist, academic, and writer. In the preface Sir Nicholas Bayne advises that his intention is to offer some reflections on the conduct of what he terms as "international economic policy" (p. xiv). In so doing
he warns that "it will not be easy to make this interesting and keep my reader's attention" (p. xiv). He need not have worried as, despite the admittedly sometimes dry subject matter, this proves to be a most engaging and extremely well written account of a long, varied and successful diplomatic career. Having harboured the desire whilst studying at Oxford to become an archaeologist, 35 years in the Diplomatic Service saw him travel the globe and finish his career as the British High Commissioner in Ottawa. One of the great strengths is that this is far more than simply an account of a life spent in diplomacy but instead it provides a memoir in the truest sense. Indeed it is the fortieth page before the author enters the Foreign Office. In the process the reader gains a great intimacy and understanding of both Sir Nicholas and his family and their experience of a diplomatic life. The character and essence of the foreign capitals they visit and work in, the changes they encounter in Britain during their visits home and when they return for spells working back in Whitehall, and the various parts that come in between, are all captured here. Confessing to not having kept a diary at any stage of his career, letters sent to family and friends form the principal source for his overseas postings, an apparently sharp memory does for the rest. There are great highs as he modestly traces his progress from desk officer in the United Nations Department and an initial three months spent in New York as part of the visiting British delegation to his final first class flight home from Canada as a retiring high commissioner. There is also tragedy with one of his sons, who suffers an accident in Zaire that leaves him a quadriplegic, and overcomes his injuries to embark upon a career in government before dying at a young age. The writer is always conscious of his surroundings and the role he played in them. Tracing his distinguished heritage he makes clear his belief that the readiness shown by his ancestors to travel and work abroad had prepared him for the role of diplomat. His classical education also had a role to play-interests in history, architecture, and mathematics prepared him well for what was to follow. As he notes "my training in logic proved very valuable, as I could easily tell valid arguments from spurious ones" (p. 45). Ancient history, however, proved generally to be of much less use beyond providing some basis for understanding the difficulties getting the Soviet Union to pay its dues to the United Nations. The era in which he was working was that of the Cold War and he "helped to maintain the peace during the uneasy confrontation between democratic West and communist East" (p. xiii). At the same time he was able to balance public service with a life-long interest in academic pursuits (a Fellow at the London School of Economics, over the course of 50 years he has written a wide range of articles and books on archaeology and economics including an acclaimed series of studies looking at economic summitry). He also interestingly later acknowledges that political instincts did not come to him naturally, a frank admission from a diplomat but a self-professed deficiency which ultimately was not an impediment to professional advancement. As the title suggests, pervading this account is what he refers to as "economic diplomacy." In the preface he acknowledges that from the very outset of his career he found himself increasingly involved in the economic strand. This initially meant working to resolve disputes with former colonies that had fought for their political freedom and retained a combative approach arguing that "the existing international system was created for the benefit of the rich and was loaded against them" (p. 46). It also included a positive spell working on secondment to the Treasury which proved valuable as his career developed.
This experience was tested frequently in sometimes equally belligerent dealings with the Soviets; one of his greatest achievements appears to have been the central role he played in helping negotiate the Four Power
Agreement on Berlin that was signed on 3 September 1971 and is seen by some commentators as being one of the earliest instances of dialogue and detente between the superpowers. Ever the diplomat, the author occasionally lets his guard drop offering some acute personal observations. He confesses that the visiting Beatles, whose "diva" tendencies he had to deal with during a concert they gave in Manila in July 1966, did not impress him. There is also a lovely description of Margaret Thatcher-"she fascinated me, but as a snake fascinates a rabbit, so that I was intimidated in her presence" (p. 105). The fifteen pages recounting his time spent in Kinshasa as ambassador, "a diplomatic experience like no other" (p, 120), is particularly well written and provides a valuable account of the Mobutu regime and life in Zaire. He is also honest in his assessment
of the war fought with Argentina over the Falkland Islands (“even now I do not believe that keeping the Falklands British justifies the casualties at the time or the resources expended since," p. 107). Finally, the deeply reflective final chapter neatly captures and amplifies the key ideas Sir Nicholas holds about what it means to be a diplomat, his achievements, the state of the global economy and Britain's place in the world.
A gentle account filled with bonhomie-and some sadness-this is a measured, most informative and enjoyable read. The production by The Memoir Club is exemplary and a rich selection of photographs aid greatly in relating to the characters whose life this account details. Upon his retirement a farewell dinner provided the author with the opportunity to quote his renowned French predecessor Talleyrand and his belief that "diplomacy is not a science of deceit and duplicity." Certainly the version Sir Nicholas practised and perfected appears to have upheld this ideal to the full.

                    Andrew Stewart from The Defence Studies Department at The Kings College London.

Price £9.95  P & P £2.75  UK £3.75 Europe £7.00  ROW

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