Candidate Profile

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History - Military
Politics & Current Affairs
World Affairs
Sir Andrew Burns is a British Diplomat with extensive experience of Asia, especially the Indian Subcontinent, China/Hong Kong and South-East Asia; Israel and the Middle East; Central and Eastern Europe; the US and Canada. He was High Commissioner to Canada, having previously been Ambassador to Israel and Consul-General in Hong Kong and Macau. Earlier postings took him to India, Romania and the United States.

He became the British Government’s UK Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues between 2010 and 2015, actively involved in handling some of the lingering consequences of WWII and working to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust Era are never forgotten. He is still actively involved in Holocaust remembrance and in supporting the leading Peace Village in Israel.

Since retirement to the Exmoor National Park, he has been the International Governor of the BBC and deeply involved in university governance at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, being also for a while the Chair of the Committee of all University Chairs in the UK. He has chaired the Bar Standards Board which regulates the barristers of England and Wales; the International Polar Foundation (UK) which seeks to educate the young in polar science and climate change; Hestercombe Gardens Trust which manages two famous historic gardens in the in the West Country of the UK; and bilateral associations with China, Israel and Canada.

He is married to Sarah, a professional bookbinder who chairs the British Society of Bookbinders.
Sir Andrew lectures on World Affairs, ie contemporary and historical, cultural and foreign policy subjects in a tailor-made way that illuminates the geographic region and international context of each cruise (eg Indian Ocean, Canada and the Arctic, South-East Asia, Middle East) and draws on his own experiences as a diplomat with an eye for the humorous incident and involvement of world leaders.

1. Still Coping with the Consequences of the Holocaust
Seventy years after the end of WWII the world is still coping with the terrible Nazi legacy of prejudice, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Yet a new generation of diplomats, scholars, survivor descendants and NGOs are working hard to resolve outstanding issues and educate future generations so as to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust stays at the front of our minds as we grapple with 21st Century problems.

2. Imperial Echoes
In The Price of Beauty: Holloway’s Pills, Empire, Lunacy and Educating Girls I draw upon the remarkable history of Royal Holloway, University of London to illuminate 19th century society at the height of Britain’s imperial rule.

1. Polar Politics: The Arctic’s role in world affairs and how Scandinavian, Russian and North American views differ.

2. Holocaust Diplomacy: Jewish experiences around the Baltic in WWII. How the international community is ensuring the memory and lessons of the Holocaust live on.

3. Divided Europe: Border disputes and the continuing challenges of maintaining European peace

1. The Spice Route
The Spice Route across the Indian Ocean grew to rival in importance the ancient land route across Asia: the Silk Route. Both were the internet of their age bringing commerce and culture across the globe. But as navies became more sophisticated the European struggle to control the riches of this trade led to mighty imperial struggles and the rise of the East India Company.

2. The Bay of Bengal
While the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands hide some isolated and protected tribes, the shores of the Bay, in India, Bangladesh and Thailand are homes to a giddy variety of different peoples. Now that Myanmar is opening up again the battle is on for access to Indian Ocean ports, with China, India, Thailand and the US competing for influence.

3. South East Asian Interludes
The British struggled with the Portuguese, Dutch and French for influence and control over the amazingly varied societies of South East Asia, but for centuries this critical crossroads of world trade was seen as part of India or China. Now it has grown into one of the most significant cultural and economic influences of the modern world and the South China Sea is a battleground once again for regional supremacy.

4. Sri Lanka: Civil War in Paradise
The civil war with the Tamil Tigers wreaked havoc in Sri Lanka and its bitter conclusion has left a trail of continuing unhappiness. This talk looks at the long exotic history of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, discusses what happened and why in the civil war and explores the prospects for a happier future.

5. Indian Memories
The relationship between India and the UK is hugely complex and emotionally charged. This talk draws on personal experience of the highs and lows over the last 40 years.

1. Prospects for a Middle East Peace
Ruminations on the latest prospects for peace: the hurdles and the dangers, but also the goals and the prizes from someone who was a close observer of the Oslo Peace Process in the 1990s and has kept in touch with Israelis and Palestinians ever since.

2. Red Sea Trade Routes
A canter round the nine countries bordering the Red Sea, from incense and myrrh to Nabataeans and Romans, and now to Somali pirates and revolutionary movements.

3. Black Sea Quartet:
Four talks disentangling the complicated history of the Black Sea and the states around its coast
i. Western Influences: The impact of the Ancient World, Greek forays, Roman rule leading up to the transfer of the Roman Empire to Constantinople
ii. Eastern Influences: The empire of the Commenes following the destruction of the 4th Crusade, and then the Ottoman Empire
iii. Russian Influences: Russian ambitions, the Crimean War, WWI, WWII and Yalta, the emergence of Ukraine
iv. Balkan Approaches: First hand experiences of Communist Romania under Nicolai Ceausescu

1. Four talks about the successive impacts of ancient civilisations life on and around the Mediterranean: Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Jewish

2. The role of the Mediterranean in the Napoleonic and two World Wars and its strategic significance amidt refugee movements and clashes of civilisations in the 21st Century.

1. What is Canada and who are the Canadians?
A light-hearted romp through Canadian history, culture and other idiosyncrasies. The second largest country in the world: the great out-patient clinic for disaffected Americans or Scotland’s revenge on the English? A federal monarchy infused by bilingualism and multiculturalism.

2. The Gardens of the St Lawrence
Strung along the St Lawrence from Montreal to Labrador and the Gaspe are some of the finest Gardens in the world, lovingly created by Americans and Canadians inspired by Gertrude Jekyll and other English plants men and women

3. Highlights of Canadian Art
Canadian artists have produced some of the world’s finest and most descriptive art. The early artists in Quebec, the Group of Seven in Ontario and British Columbia, and Inuit art in the Far North

4. Newfoundland through the eyes of David Blackwood
A visit to one of the most inhospitable regions of the North Atlantic, seen through the eyes of one of the world’s greatest and most distinctive artists. From the Vikings to the fishermen off the Coast of Labrador and over the Grand Banks. An independent Dominion which played a heroic part in two World Wars and felt the full brunt of the Great Depression before joining Canada.
Over ten years of lecturing on world affairs, international history and diplomacy drawing on long experience as a senior British diplomat and policy-maker.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Orion OR181007 Far East Discovery 14 Hong Kong Sunday, October 7, 2018
Crystal Serenity V8305 Across the Bay of Bengal 18 Singapore Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Viking Sky SK170311 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land 14 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Saturday, March 11, 2017
Viking Star ST160821 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Sunday, August 21, 2016
Crystal Serenity V6307 Glacial Grandeur 22 Tokyo Thursday, April 14, 2016