Richard Bourne OBE

Contact details

Richard Bourne OBE
MA ( Oxon )
Position/Fellowship type:
Senior Research Fellow
Fellowship term:
2009 to 31-Dec-2016
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Home institution:
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
26 Bennett Park, London SE3 9RB
020 7297 4182
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Contemporary History, Globalization & Development, Human rights, Social Sciences
Summary of research interests and expertise:

My current areas of interest include a) the contemporary Commonwealth ( including issues of development, for I was Secretary to the Ramphal Institute, 2007-2014, and of human rights, for I serve on the London board of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative ); b) the modern history of Nigeria, following the merger of Northern and Southern Nigeria in January 1914; and c)the contemporary imprint of the former British, French, Spanish and Portuguese empires. Arising out of previous work I have done I have a continuing interest outside the Fellowship in current affairs in Zimbabwe and Brazil.

Project summary relevant to Fellowship:

I coordinated a group representing various Commonwealth organisations in January-March 2012 and prepared a memorandum on options for a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights. I am preparing a contemporary history of Nigeria, focusing on the difficulty of creating a modern nation state out of three large sociolinguistic groupings and some 250 ethnicities, due for publication by Zed Books, London in 2015; in this connection I made research visits to Nigeria in May 2013 and March 2014. With Professor Murphy and international colleagues I have been preparing a research project comparing the impact of former European empires on European policymaking today; an application with Dr Torrent of Diderot University, Paris, has gone to the French research agency ( ANR ) and there will be an initial workshop in London in early 2015. With Dr Torrent I am co-convening a panel at the ECAS conference in Paris in July 2015. 

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
14-Oct-2015 Nigeria: a new history of a turbulent century


Zed Books

01-Apr-2015 Ramphal on Record/The Record on Ramphal: A Review Article


 with Terry Barringer, Peter Clegga, Stuart Mole, The Round Table, Volume 104, Issue 2, 2015, Special Issue: Fiji: Elections and the Future

01-Feb-2015 Nigeria's Centenary: Anything to Celebrate?


The Round Table, February 2015

01-Aug-2013 The Round Table Special Issue: Indigenous Peoples in the Commonwealth, August 2013

Journal articles

 Richard Bourne guest edited this special issue -- volume 102, issue 4, August 2013 and wrote the editorial "The Commonwealth's First Peoples." Contributors included Julian Burger ( "Indigenous Peoples in Commonwealth Countries: The Legacy of the Past and Present-Day Struggles  for Self-determination "); Stephen Corry ( "Like Mother, Like Daughters? Campaigns for Tribal Peoples' Rights in the Commonwealth "); Maria Sapignoli and Robert K. Hitchcock ( "Indigenous Peoples in Southern Africa" ); Janette Bulkan ( "The Struggle for the Recognition of the Indigenous Voice: Amerindians in Guyanese Politics" );  and Walter Fernandes ( "Tribal or Indigenous? The Indian Dilemma" ).

04-Jan-2013 Nigeria: Fragile, Failed or Fizzling with Energy?


Review article in The Round Table, Vol 102, issue 02, April 2013

12-Jan-2012 Into Africa: The Imperial Life of Margery Perham


Review published in The Round Table, vol 101, issue 06, December 2012

01-Jan-2011 Catastrophe: what went wrong in Zimbabwe?

Zed Books, 2011

Publications available on SAS-space

Publications available in Senate House Libraries

Consultancy reports:

Date Details
2013 Report on easing visa restrictions for legitimate travellers between Commonwealth states

 This was a report commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat from the Ramphal Institute in 2013, following a recommendation by the Eminent Persons Group ( 2011 ). It was written by Richard Bourne, following visits by three leading personalities to 15 Commonwealth capitals and background research. Copies may be donwloaded from Among recommendations were that a system similar to the APEC business card could be introduced to facilitate business travel, and that the 2013 protocol for visa-free travel between South Africa and Nigeria for those on official business might be copied elsewhere; regional groupings which enable visa-free travel for tourists and other legitimate visitors could exchange agreements. The Sri Lankan Commonwealth Heads of Government ,2013, agreed to set up a working party of officials to take these proposals forward.  

Government/policy work:

Date Details
Paper on Islamic Finance as an alternative source of development finance

Written on behalf of the Ramphal Institute for the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting in October 2014.

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
12-Feb-2015 The Nigeria Project: 1914-2014

ICWS Fellows' research seminar

26-Sep-2013 Conference on Indigenous Rights in the Commonwealth

 This conference, held at London University Senate House on 26 September 2013, focused on rights issues affecting the Commonwealth's First Peoples. Speakers included Julian Burger, Stephen Corry, and Les Malezer, who founded the Commonwealth Association of Indigenous Peoples ( CAIP ). It was jointly organised by Richard Bourne and Dr Helena Whall, who had been project officer from 2000 to 2003 at the Indigenous Rights in the Commonwealth project at the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, Institute of Commonwealth Studies. It was related to the special issue of the Round Table of August 2013 on Indigenous Peoples in the Commonwealth.

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