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Former SIPRI Director Alyson Bailes—tribute

SIPRI mourns the passing of the Institute’s former Director Ambassador Alyson J. K. Bailes (United Kingdom), who died on 29 April aged 67. Bailes was Director of SIPRI from July 2002–August 2007.

Bailes was a British diplomat and academic with a long and successful career in the diplomatic service with positions in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the European Council. She pursued her academic career at among others the EastWest Institute and Chatham House. Before her appointment to SIPRI, she served as British Ambassador to Finland. From 2007 to 2015, she was an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Iceland, and she also taught at the College of Europe in Bruges.

‘Alyson was a brave, straightforward and outspoken Director of SIPRI who by her actions and statements further increased the credibility of the independence and relevance of the Institute’ said Chairman of the SIPRI Governing Board Sven-Olof Petersson. ‘She was never afraid to refute poor or ignorant arguments, but always in a gentle, subtle and non-confrontational way’, he added.

At the forefront of cooperative threat reduction in Europe

Bailes was one of the first to recognize the need to shift the security perspective in Europe from a focus on military deterrence to cooperative security, and during her directorship at SIPRI she continued to research and advocate various European security-building efforts.

She was also among the first to recognize the need to engage many more non-state actors as contributors to security building. In cooperation with others, she further developed the idea of societal security during her directorship at SIPRI, and her SIPRI book Business and Security: Public–Private Sector Relationships in a New Security Environment exemplifies this approach. It is still one of the landmark publications in the field.

Bailes published widely on topics of general security policy development and in recent years her research interests included Nordic cooperation and ‘small state’ studies as well as Arctic affairs. Her final contribution to SIPRI was a chapter on security in the Arctic for a SIPRI book published earlier this year, The New Arctic Governance.

Dr Ian Anthony, SIPRI Director of the European Security Programme, remembered Bailes: ‘She was an original, a great thinker with a very strong and positive impact on SIPRI with all the energy and ideas she brought to the organization.'

SIPRI’s Director Dan Smith remembered Alyson Bailes from his time in Oslo, where he moved in 1993 while Bailes was Deputy Chief of Mission at the British Embassy: 'She was one of the most extraordinary diplomats I ever met. Not always diplomatic, and never ordinary. She was much appreciated by her colleagues in the Oslo diplomatic corps. In many ways, she was a unique spirit and will be deeply missed by many.’

For editors: publications and videos

Bailes had a comprehensive publication record both at SIPRI and elsewhere. Two well-referenced books include Business and Security: Public–Private Sector Relationships in a New Security Environment, edited by Alyson J. K. Bailes and Isabel Frommelt (Oxford University Press, 2004) and The Nordic Countries and the European Security and Defence Policy, edited by Alyson J. K. Bailes, Gunilla Herolf and Bengt Sundelius (Oxford University Press, 2006)

Videos of her press conferences on the Yearbook Launch are at