British minister Rory Stewart to discuss ‘how not to fix’ failed states

Rory Stewart, O.B.E.
Rory Stewart, O.B.E.

Rory Stewart, O.B.E., the member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border (the largest geographical constituency in England), author, senior diplomat, the founder of Turquoise Mountain, and a documentary maker, will present the George Herbert Walker Jr. Lecture in International Studies at Yale on Monday, April 9.

Titled “Failed States — And How Not to Fix Them,” his talk will be delivered at 4:30 p.m. in Henry R. Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave. Sponsored by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, the talk is free and open to the public.

In January 2018, Stewart was appointed minister of state at the Ministry of Justice, having previously been the minister of state for Africa in both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID); the minister of state in DFID; and, minister for the environment and rural affairs at the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. After the devastating floods of December 2015–January 2016, he was appointed by the prime minister as flood envoy for Cumbria and Lancashire, overseeing recovery efforts, and was chair of the Cumbria Floods Partnership. Before becoming a minister in 2015, Stewart served for four years on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and in 2014 was elected chair of the Defence Select Committee by all parties in Parliament as the youngest ever select committee chair.

His previous career was in foreign affairs, particularly focused on military intervention and international development. On leave from the Foreign Service he walked for 21 months crossing Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal, staying in 500 village houses on the journey.


From 2005 to 2008, Stewart was the chair and chief executive of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation based in Kabul, which he built from 100 to 300 employees, working to restore a section of the old city; establish a clinic, primary school, and Arts Institute; and bring Afghan crafts to international markets.

Stewart has written four books: “The Places in Between” (a New York Times bestseller, which describes his walk across Afghanistan in the winter of 2001-2002), “Occupational Hazards or The Prince of the Marshes” (which describes his time as an administrator in southern Iraq), “The Marches” (which describes a walk through Cumbria and the Borders with his father), and “Can Intervention Work?” (with Gerald Knaus, an essay on military intervention). He has written more than 70 articles on Parliament, and U.K. politics.

He has presented three BBC television documentaries: “In Search of Lawrence of Arabia,” “Afghanistan: The Great Game,” and “Border Country: The Story of Britain’s Lost Middleland.” 

Stewart has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (for his work in Iraq), the Gold Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (for his work in Afghanistan), the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature, the Spirit of Scotland award, the Radio France award, the Prize del Camino del Cid (for his books), a Scottish BAFTA (for his documentary making), and honorary doctorates from Stirling University and the American University of Paris.

George Herbert Walker III, formerly the U.S. ambassador to Hungary, established this lecture series in 1986 in memory of his father, a graduate of the Yale Class of 1927. Previous George Herbert Walker Jr. Lecturers in International Studies have included George Schultz, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Madeleine Albright, Brent Scowcroft, James Baker III, George Mitchell, Richard Holbrooke, Carla Hills, Christopher Hill, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Goldstone, John Major, Nicholas Burns, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, among other notable international figures.

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Marilyn Wilkes: marilyn.wilkes@yale.edu, 203-432-3413