Professor Stephen Chan OBE

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Professor of International Relations, SOAS

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Stephen advises African ministers, big corporations, peacekeepers and British and Chinese governments on Africa. While several of the continent’s 54 states have shown increases in GDP, investment still carries many dangers. Stephen highlights risks and benefits, compares investment models, warns against tailored democracies, assesses infrastructure issues and looks at the new generation of entrepreneurs. He reveals surprises in places like Angola.


As a New Zealander born of Chinese refugee parents, who spent many years living in Africa and has married into a Croatian family, it is perhaps inevitable that Professor Chan is one of the UK’s most respected academics on international politics and relations, particularly in Asia and Africa. He also served as a member of the Africa-China-US Trilateral Dialogue, an effort to establish a common set of principles to help govern the emerging trade disputes involving the three.

Stephen is widely credited with greatly contributing to the understanding of international politics in general and African politics in particular. He has also made a significant impact on political developments in Africa through his involvement in high-level diplomacy and involvement on the ground. He was awarded an OBE for his services to Africa and to higher education.

After periods as a civil servant and a newspaper editor in Africa and the UK, Stephen began his academic career as a lecturer in International Relations at University of Zambia, before returning to New Zealand and then back to Britain. He has served as Professor of International Relations and as Dean of Law and Social Sciences at the respected School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

Professor Chan has published twenty-seven books on international relations, more than 300 articles, features and reviews, plus novels, poetry and short stories. Heavily involved in the transition of many African nations, he participated in the move to independence of Zimbabwe, the reconstruction of Uganda after Idi Amin, and also advised and trained government ministries in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Kenya. Furthermore he was involved in the establishment of government departments in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

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