Owen, David (Anthony Llewellyn) 1938-
OWEN, David (Anthony Llewellyn) 1938-
PERSONAL: Born July 2, 1938, in Plymouth, England; son of John William Morris (a doctor) and Mary (Llewellyn) Owen; married Deborah Schabert (an American literary agent), 1968; children: two sons, one daughter. Education: Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, B.A., 1959, M.B., B.Chir., 1962, M.A., 1963. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing.
ADDRESSES: Home—78 Narrow St., Limehouse, London E14, England. Office—House of Lords, London SW1, England; fax: 0171-233-0574.
CAREER: St. Thomas's Hospital, London, England, house physician, 1962-64, neurological and psychiatric registrar, 1964-66; research fellow of Medical Unit, 1966-68; House of Commons, London, Labour member of Parliament for Plymouth, Sutton, 1966-74, and Plymouth, Devonport, 1974-81, Social Democrat member of Parliament for Plymouth, Devonport, 1981-92; European Union, co-chairperson of International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, 1992-95; Humanitas, chairperson, 1994—. Positions in Parliament included parliamentary under-secretary of state for defense for the Royal Navy, 1968-70, opposition defense spokesman, 1970-72, parliamentary under-secretary of state for Department of Health and Social Security, 1974, minister of state for health and social security, 1974-76, and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1976-77, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, 1977-79, opposition spokesman on energy, 1979-80. Appointed member of Privy Council, 1976. Social Democratic party, co-founder, 1981, chairman of parliamentary committee, 1981-82, deputy leader of party, 1982-83, leader, 1983-90. Member of Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, 1980-82, and Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues, 1983-86. Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, member, 1994—. Middlesex Holdings, executive chairperson, 1995—; non-executive director of Coats Viyella, 1994—, and Abbott Laboratories, Inc., 1996—. University of Liverpool, chancellor, 1996—. Has made sound recording Where Britain Stands, CBS News Audio Resource Library, 1981.
AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 1977; created Life Baron, Lord Owen of the City of Plymouth, 1992; created Companion of Honor, 1994.
(With B. Spain and N. Weaver, and editor) A Unified Health Service, Pergamon (Elmsford, NY), 1968.
The Politics of Defence, Taplinger (New York, NY), 1972.
In Sickness and in Health: The Politics of Medicine, Quartet (London, England), 1976.
Human Rights, Norton (New York, NY), 1978.
Face the Future, J. Cape (London, England), 1981.
A Future That Will Work: Competitiveness and Compassion, Viking (New York, NY), 1984.
(With others) Democracy Must Work: A Trilateral Agenda for the Decade, Trilateral Commission (New York, NY), 1984.
A United Kingdom, Penguin (New York, NY), 1986.
The Time Has Come, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1987.
David Owen: Personally Speaking to Kenneth Harris, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1987.
Our NHS, Pan Books, 1988.
Time to Declare (autobiography), Viking (New York, NY), 1991.
(Compiler) Seven Ages (poetry anthology), M. Joseph (London, England), 1992.
Balkan Odyssey, Harcourt (San Diego, CA, and New York, NY), 1995.
Ethnic Minorities in Great Britain: Patterns of Population Change, 1981-1991, University of Warwick (Warwick, England), 1995.
Irish-Born People in Great Britain: Settlement Patterns and Socio-Economic Circumstances, University of Warwick (Warwick, England), 1995.
Contributor to Social Services for All, 1968, and to medical, scientific, and economic journals.
ADAPTATIONS: Seven Ages was adapted to audio cassette.
SIDELIGHTS: David Owen, the statesman/author, was born in pre-World War II Plymouth, England, to a country doctor and his wife. Seeking to follow in his father's footsteps, Owen studied medicine at St. Thomas Hospital, where he also served six years as a neurological and psychiatric registrar. But Owen soon heeded the call of politics, running for a seat in the House of Commons as a Labour candidate. His first foray was unsuccessful, but his fortunes turned in 1966, when he won a seat to represent the Sutton division of Plymouth. A defense specialist, Owen in 1967 became parliamentary private secretary to the minister of defense for administration. A year later, he became parliamentary undersecretary of state for defense for the Royal Navy, "a position he held for two years until the Conservatives regained control of the government in 1970," according to an Encyclopedia of World Biography entry.
The Labour party returned to power in 1974, with Owen turning his attention to domestic issues. With his background in medicine (Owen retired from his hospital position in 1968), he served as parliamentary undersecretary of state in the Department of Health and Social Services. During that period, Owen published the health study In Sickness and in Health: The Politics of Medicine. Owen had served in the Office of Foreign Affairs for a year when the sudden death of Tony Crosland opened the position of foreign secretary to him. According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography essayist, "he became the youngest (at age 39) foreign secretary since Anthony Eden assumed the office in 1935." By 1981 Owen had co-founded the Social Democratic Party, designed to appeal to a British public that disagreed with some of Labour's views. The SDP did not exactly thrive in parliament, though Owen himself moved up the ranks until he held the position of the leader from 1983 through 1987. The party merged with Britain's Liberals in 1988, leaving Owen without an affiliation. That changed when he became leader of the Campaign for Social Democracy, a remnant of the SDP.
In 1992 Owen received his life peerage as baron of the city of Plymouth and, as the Encyclopedia of World Biography writer related, "began another kind of public service." International peace beckoned Owen, and he served on the Palme Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues and on the Independent Commission of International Humanitarian Issues. A chief issue during that era was the proposed NATO deployment of Pershing II and Tomahawk missiles in Europe. In contrast to Owen's views, many British leaders advocated using the missiles against either the Bosnian Serbs or Serbia itself. In response, Owen and former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance formulated the 1992 Vance-Owen Peace Plan (VOPP) which critics claimed "sanctioned the results of Serbian ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina and acted as midwife to the birth of a Greater Serbia," as Misha Glenny put it in the New York Times Book Review. Owen was placed in the position of defending himself against accusations that his stance was aiding and abetting the horrific crimes against humanity being waged in the former Yugoslavia.
In his book Balkan Odyssey Owen "is determined to set the record straight," as Glenny noted. "The VOPP, he argues, was the only peace plan for Bosnia . . . that would, if properly implemented, insure the return of refugees from areas whence they had been expelled." The author backs his claim with what the critic labeled as "much documentation from unpublished sources [and] essential materials for students of the Yugoslav crisis." Still, Balkan Odyssey "is not an easy book," Glenny added. Owen "often demands of his reader exceptional knowledge of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The deployment of a few tactical punctuation marks would also have helped on occasion. But henceforth nobody can talk authoritatively about the course of this war without engaging this text in detail."
David, Lord Owens told CA that he has "written books related to my political life, with the exception of the anthology of poetry, Seven Ages, which was a joy to compile and reflects a lifetime passion."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998. Owen, David, Time to Declare, Viking (New York, NY, 1991.
New York Times Book Review, January 21, 1996, Misha Glenny, "The 51 Percent Solution."*