Conflict negotiator who helped avert nuclear war advises DExEU on Brexit

Written by Richard Johnstone on 9 May 2017 in News

William Ury, who has also helped end conflicts in Colombia, the Middle East and the Balkans, has met with officials

Photo: PA

The Department for Exiting the European Union has confirmed that civil servants have met with an expert negotiator who specialises in military conflict resolution to provide advice on forthcoming Brexit talks.

Officials from the department met with William Ury, a Harvard fellow whose work on crisis management helped avert nuclear war in the 1980s, a spokesman confirmed.


Ury, who is not employed by the department, met with officials on one occasion as part of DExEU’s efforts to draw on external advice for the negotiations. These are formally underway after Theresa May triggered the Article 50 exit process in March, and are expected to begin in detail following both the UK election and the German elections in September.

A DExEU spokeswoman told CSW that it was “perfectly standard for any government department to draw on this external advice and [that it] would continue to do so when appropriate”. However, she would not go into detail on what was discussed, or when the meeting took place.

Ury’s website states that he helped both the US and Soviet governments create nuclear crisis centres designed to avert an accidental nuclear war in the 1980s.

Most recently he worked to end the civil war in Colombia, where the government has been battling the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since the 1960s. A peace deal reached between the government and rebels late last year brought the conflict to an end.

Ury has also acted as a mediator in a number of conflicts in the Middle East, Indonesia, and the Balkans, and has taught negotiation to company executives, union leaders, diplomats, and military officers around the world.

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