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Jonathan Tait-Harris has been there and done that, with humour and style, often in a hostile land and under fire. He is to be found where conflict is happening and was present in Gaza during the fighting in 2014 and Libya before that. His knowledge of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Middle East and Africa is extensive and he is called upon to advise media, governments and NGOs.
He began his career as a commissioned officer in the British Army and served mainly in Northern Ireland in the mid-1980s. Thereafter he worked as a police detective including an important period with the Central Counties Air Operations Unit, before serving as a leading UN War Crimes Investigator in the former Yugoslavia, focusing on the Siege of Sarajevo and the roles of war crimes suspects Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić. His work and that of a select group of investigators lead directly to the indictment of Slobodan Milosević.
From 2004-2007 he worked as a war crimes investigator for the US government in Iraq, playing a prominent part in the trial of Saddam Hussein (“I was shot at more by Americans than by insurgents”). He also has taken part in covert surveillance in China for an NGO trying to disrupt the illegal trade in tigers.
Jonathan also works with a number of companies that help NGOs, journalists and professional travellers to stay alive by training them how to handle situations and threats in the world’s most dangerous places.
Jonathan Tait-Harris is a powerful speaker who draws on many extraordinary episodes from an action-packed life (not least the way he saved a colleague in Bosnia from an assailant armed with a prosthetic leg). Despite having been face to face both with Saddam Hussein and Chemical Ali, and having dug up a lot of mass graves in Kosovo, he both amuses and moves audiences with the lessons learned around the world from many dramatic and improbable, yet all too human encounters.
“Jonathan gave one of the most entertaining lectures that Oxford University Strategic Studies Group has hosted in some time. He is a tremendous speaker with contagious enthusiasm for his subject matter, tempered with a considerate handling of sensitive topics. His stories and anecdotes from decades spent as a practitioner were extremely well received by an audience more used to theoretical discussions, and he handled a lively Q&A with gusto. In spite of the ostensibly dark subject matter, we’d happily recommend Jonathan to any group with an interest in the history or practice of international affairs.”
Oxford University, October 2016
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