SOAS University of London

Professor Stephen Chan Awarded OBE

14 June 2010
Professor Stephen Chan

Professor of International Relations Stephen Chan has been awarded an OBE for 'services to Africa and to higher education' in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours list, published on Saturday 12 June.

"I hope the award is of benefit to SOAS as it seeks to project itself as an increasingly important actor in the world of educated public opinion," said Professor Chan in reaction to the announcement. "It's not an award I sought but, after several glasses of champagne, I've decided I'm very happy with it."

Professor Chan is widely respected as a distinguished academic who has made a major contribution to the academic 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 actions and advice on the ground.  

The firstborn son of Chinese refugees to New Zealand, Stephen Chan was a national student president, publisher, newspaper editor and international civil servant before he became an academic, first in Africa and later in Britain.

He began his academic career as a lecturer in International Relations at University of Zambia in 1983 then worked briefly as a visiting lecturer at the University of Wellington before moving on to academic posts at the University of Kent, then Nottingham Trent University, where he was Dean of Humanities. He joined SOAS in 2002 as Professor of International Relations and served as Dean of Law & Social Sciences for five years from 2002 to 2007.

"Stephen really deserves this honour," said SOAS Director and Principal Paul Webley. "As both an innovative scholar and a committed humanitarian, he epitomises the best of SOAS."

Professor Chan has published 27 books on international relations and more than 200 articles and reviews in the academic and specialist press, as well as over 100 journalistic feature articles. Particularly notable are his 2002 biography of Mugabe (Robert Mugabe:  A Life of Power and Violence), his 1991 book on Zambian issues (Kaunda and Southern Africa: Image and Reality in Foreign Policy) and his 2006 volume of interviews with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (Citizen of Africa: Conversations with Morgan Tsvangirai).  His most recent work is The End of Certainty: Towards a New Internationalism.  

Earlier this year, he received  the 2010 Eminent Scholar in Global Development award of the International Studies Association, a significant academic honour.

Professor Chan has had a long-term involvement with African causes. He participated in the reconstruction of Uganda after the fall of Idi Amin, and also advised and trained government ministries in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Kenya. He established a consortium that trained the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately before and after independence in 1993. He was also part of a consortium that trained the parliamentarians and ministers of post-Dergue Ethiopia from 1998-9. From 2006-7 he was a member of the Africa-China-US Trilateral Dialogue, an effort to establish a common set of principles to help govern the emerging trade wars involving the three continents.

For nearly 30 years, Professor Chan has also been involved in philanthropic work in Africa. In 2001 he established the Kwok Meil Wah Foundation, which assists young martial arts students in Africa. An expert in Karate, he teaches at numerous martial arts clubs in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the majority in deprived areas, during the evenings and weekends of his regular research visits. He also undertakes pro bono legal work on behalf of political refugees seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

For further information, contact:

William Friar
Communications Officer
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
tel. (0)20 7898 4135