• Awarded: 2013
  • Issue Areas: Peace · Peace and Human Rights
  • Region: Eastern and Southern Africa · Europe · Middle East and North Africa · North America · Oceania · Southeast Asia · West and Central Africa
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Independent Diplomat (ID) is a unique non-profit venture in the world of international relations, diplomacy, and conflict prevention.

    ID provides independent and confidential advice and assistance in diplomatic technique and strategy to governments, political groups, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations. ID’s work helps those facing complex international and political challenges to achieve their objectives.

    Their staff includes experienced former diplomats, international lawyers, and other experts in international relations. Their advice is impartial and staff members have no allegiance or affiliation to other governments or institutions.

    ID has had projects in Africa, Asia, and Europe; a project to improve the effectiveness of the UN Security Council; and an initiative to assist small island states in global climate change negotiations.

    They work with a broad network of individuals and organizations, including law firms, commercial consultancies, and universities, who support and assist ID’s work on a pro bono basis.

    ID holds itself and its clients to strict ethical standards. It requires its clients to be committed to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

    Globalization has changed diplomacy. Parties lacking skills and experience to have their needs addressed peacefully often become marginalized, increasing the risk of conflict.

    ID advises marginalized governments and political groups to improve access and influence in diplomatic processes that affect them. On recent example was giving voice to the Mauritius and the impact of climate change during a session at the UN.

    Carne Ross has made Independent Diplomat a respected and effective actor in the system, changing processes and contributing to more sustainable outcomes.

    ID has engaged in and positively influenced some of the biggest recent international policy issues such as the debate on Southern Sudan in the UN.

    Ambition for Change

    The rules of diplomacy become more inclusive, leading to successful resolution of more conflicts.

    Path to Scale

    Organizational Growth

    As a result of the Skoll Award, Independent Diplomat was able to open offices in additional countries.

    Business Model

    Philanthropic and public support.

    Carne Ross was a British diplomat for 15 years, serving for 4 years as the UK’s Middle East/Iraq expert at the United Nations Security Council. He resigned in protest over the manipulation of intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He loved diplomacy, but believed that there was something deeply wrong with how it was practiced. He was working at the time with the UN in Kosovo, and observed how the democratic government of Kosovo, prohibited from having a foreign service, was marginalized. This contributed to frustration, violence, and bad diplomacy: Kosovo’s people were expected to accept the outcome of negotiations without having a say. This was the genesis of Independent Diplomat (ID), a nonprofit that advises and assists marginalized governments and political groups to improve their access and influence in diplomatic processes that affect them. This was a new idea: most of these excluded parties had not considered using diplomacy to their strategic advantage. At the time of the Award, ID had become established as a respected and effective actor, not merely guiding clients through complex and opaque processes, but seeing its work changing the processes and contributing to more sustainable outcomes.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • ID has been behind the scenes of some of the biggest international policy issues of the past two years, including:
      • climate change (working with the Republic of Marshall Islands’ President and Vice President equivalent),
      • Syrian peace negotiations (working with the Syrian National Coalition and its President), and
      • The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (with Somaliland’s Ministry of National Planning and Development).
    • However, ID faced a major disappointment and saw its ethical criteria put to the test in December 2013 after disturbing reports of state violence by the South Sudanese government (with whom they had worked to help South Sudan gain independence).


    Carne RossExecutive Director, Independent Diplomat
    Jacqueline MillerDirector of External Relations, Independent Diplomat
    Nick ScottExternal Relations Officer, Independent Diplomat
    Sherrie Streit AgerDirector of Development and External Relations, Independent Diplomat

    See All Awardees →