After a career in business and journalism, I joined the UN for two decades in peacekeeping, political, and humanitarian missions in some of the world’s toughest zones, deploying strategic communications to resolve a variety of security and diplomatic crises.
I began my international public service work with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1997, and then managed large teams for the UN in Bosnia and Kosovo, before I was relocated for a year to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the days immediately following 9/11.
As UNICEF's head of Emergency Communications based in New York, I dealt with a full range of complex development, emergency, aid and security issues. I was a member of the Avian 'Flu Pandemic Taskforce, and I was in the first UN team to reach ground zero in Aceh after the 2004 Tsunami. I was boots-on-the-ground in theatres of conflict and natural disaster in Africa, India, former Soviet Central Asia, the Western Balkans, the Caribbean, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. I was the head of UN communications during the final three years of Sri Lanka's civil war and, from 2015 to 2018, the head of Global Communications for UN-Habitat, based in Kenya.
Between UN engagements I was a visiting scholar at Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (department of Political Science), a research professor at Griffith University’s Asia Institute (department of Government), a joint founder of the International Crimes Evidence Project, and a director for ActionAid Australia.
I am currently the Head of Global Affairs and Emerging Markets for Pressland.com, a publicly-listed company dedicated to radical press transparency by building a media supply chain to expose false news, misinformation, disinformation, hidden bias, conflicts of interests, and consolidation of ownership; and a Senior Fellow of the ARTIS International group, applying research and social science insights to a range of policy, stability, and human development issues including terrorism and radicalisation.
“This powerful book is a reminder of the price countries pay for flawed choices”
– THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“An excellent account”
– THE ECONOMIST
“This shattering tale of savagery lifts the veil
and helps us understand”
– NOAM CHOMSKY
“A parable of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil”
– THE SPECTATOR
(best summer reading 2011)
“Weiss provides harrowing details, as well as insight”
– FOREIGN AFFAIRS
(book of the day, April 2016)
“A striking account”
– Jon Swain THE SUNDAY TIMES
“Unpicks the roots of the problem”
– THE LITERARY REVIEW"
“Tightly-written, clear-eyed, a riveting cautionary tale.
– JON LEE ANDERSON
New Yorker staff writer
“A compellingly readable account...
scrupulously even handed”
– GARETH EVANS
fmr Australian Foreign Minister
“Some of the best coverage of Sri Lanka”
– NICK BRYANT (BBC)
– THE AUSTRALIAN
“Deeply informed, humane and compassionate… a beautifully articulated insight into the human experience.”
– THE INTERCEPT
(Best Summer Reading List 2015)
“A knockout blow. No wonder the government had it taken off the shelves; it does not want you to read it”
– THE ISLAND (Sri Lanka)
“Painstakingly researched and referenced study... he lines up his targets carefully, then picks them off with surgical precision”
– THE SCOTSMAN
"Absolutely enthralling and brilliantly written..."
– GOODREADS ☆☆☆☆
The points of light project
OK, that's the serious work stuff, so if you made it this far..
I am the son of an immigrant who became an early female judge in Australia, and a refugee whose family was extinguished during the Holocaust (he died last year). As a teenager he learned English while labouring on Australia's great Snowy Mountains River Hydroelectric Scheme, before studying to be a lawyer.
I lived for extended periods in New York, Ashgabat, London, Prishtina, Colombo, Sydney, Barcelona, Sarajevo, Tokyo, Nairobi, Luanda, and Islamabad. Covid-19 aside, I currently live between Prague and Sicily, and the port of Newcastle, Australia, to which the Scots part of my family immigrated in 1850. I raised two girls, with my former Turkmen/Belorusian partner, a public health specialist and excellent chef.
Interests and pursuits
I’m primarily a devoted father, but beyond that… a gardener and apiarist; a rusty jazz singer; a lapsed (but reforming) writer; a horseman (although somewhat stymied by injury); an exercise junkie (for meditation, breathing, and strength); a crude carpenter; an art gallery and museum haunter for transcendental inspiration; a hiker (Camino de Santiago last year, and I had planned to walk the Lyceum Way in Turkey this April); a player of badminton (the clash of duelling racquets); and of course, a lover of poetry, reading, film, and wine (with convivial company).
My intellectual and esoteric interests include the place of human rights in diplomacy; Thucydides; the role of art as a spiritual and intellectual foundation for all of life (German Expressionism and the Spanish schools, Japanese aesthetics); the neoliberal economic project and its corrosive impact; the human urge for identity and its role in statecraft; stoicism in the modern world; urbanisation and ugliness; new economic theory; state information warfare (in particular the brilliant Russian school that combines sociology with spycraft); domination in social organisation (the role of sociopathic behaviours and the poisonous effect on mission efficiency); altruism, and the role of the hero in insurgency (including terror); micro-environmentalism (such as not mowing your bloody lawns), and the list goes on...