James Thornton » British High Commissioner to Zambia

Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict – Time to Act

It is difficult for a man to understand what it is like to be raped. Like most men, I am fortunate that it has never happened to me. But rape involves a violation of the most profound kind. It is an invasion of one’s body. There is no sexual pleasure. Rather, it normally involves a lot of physical pain. Worse, rape normally deals a massive blow to the victims’ self-esteem. … Read more »Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict – Time to Act

Happy Birthday, KK

As a schoolboy in the UK in the 1970s I heard of Kenneth Kaunda, alongside other liberation “greats” such as Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. But I never dreamed that I would meet him, let alone do so as High Commissioner here in Zambia. It has been a great privilege to do so, on several occasions. I hope that I reach his age and that, when I do, I will still … Read more »Happy Birthday, KK

Does foreign aid do any good?

Many think not. Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian intellectual well known in the West, wrote a book called “Dead Aid”. And there are many examples of aid projects that have been abandoned when their sponsors left, vehicles that have broken down and not repaired, buildings erected by donors that lie empty and crumbling. Donors do not always stop to ask whether what they want to provide is really wanted by the … Read more »Does foreign aid do any good?

Unilateral annexation of territory

Imagine if heavily-armed soldiers started patrolling the streets of Mwinilunga, in North-West Province.  Imagine that these soldiers were not from the Zambian Armed Forces, but they wore no identifying insignia.  Suppose there were in fact strong indications that they came from a neighbouring country. Then suppose that a small element of the Lunda Royal Establishment met under the watch of these gunmen and elected a new Chief. And then that … Read more »Unilateral annexation of territory


I was delighted to take part in the International Women’s Day events on Saturday. International Women’s Day gave me, and no doubt many other people, time to reflect on the enormous contribution that women make to our respective societies and around the world. I also reflected upon women’s rights. Zambia celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence from Britain later this year. The Zambia@50 Secretariat’s theme this month is human rights. … Read more »WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

What is an Ambassador?

In the UK, thanks to a memorable advertising campaign, everyone thinks that Ambassadors hold parties at which they serve a certain brand of chocolate. I was curious to find out what people here thought about Ambassadors, so I asked some Zambians. “They are privileged.” “They spend their time hosting dinner parties.” “They are remote.” “They are spies.” “They seek to impose a foreign agenda on our country or to destabilize … Read more »What is an Ambassador?

What I said on ZNBC TV 1

I appeared on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) TV 1 “National Watch” programme; Sunday 16 February 2014. The programme focussed on Zambia’s current relationship with donors and how this might change. Many points were made in the hour-long discussion. The points I and others made included the following: The UK has supported Zambia since independence and will continue to do so. We have recently been ramping up our programme, which … Read more »What I said on ZNBC TV 1

Thoughts from a friend of Zambia

Zambia’s natural wealth One of the things that still surprise me about Zambia is how few Zambians who can afford to travel have seen the country’s fantastic wild animals. South Luangwa National Park is up there with the best parks in the world, in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, for game viewing. There is also fantastic game to be seen in Zambia’s many other parks. Lions, elephants and the rest … Read more »Thoughts from a friend of Zambia