Chris Gunness

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Person.png Chris Gunness   Companies House LinkedIn TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(broadcaster, reporter, writer)
Chris Gunness.webp
BornChristopher Robert Paul Gunness
November 1959
Alma materUniversity of Oxford

Chris Gunness is the former chief spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He is currently the Director of the Myanmar Accountability Project.

Early life

Gunness was born in 1959 in what was then the Crown Colony of Trinidad, part of the British West Indies. He was educated in England, initially at Ardingly College, before gaining a scholarship to Oxford University in 1979.


He joined the BBC as a graduate trainee in 1982. During his 23-year career in broadcasting, he covered all the following roles: producer, studio manager, reporter, correspondent and anchor.


In 2005, Gunness left the BBC to join the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), which was created following the signing of the Oslo Accords. He was a member of a UN mission mandated by the UN to halt the Lebanon war in July 2006.


In 2007, he was appointed Spokesman and Director of Strategic Communications at UNRWA.

In 2014, during the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he made several media appearances.

On 27 July 2014 Gunness was interviewed by David Gregory on Meet the Press;

On 30 July 2014, following a live TV interview from his office in Jerusalem with al Jazeera-Arabic Gunness broke down in tears discussing the shelling of the UNRWA schools in Gaza, which resulted in the death of 15 people.[1]

In 2014, Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, called for Gunness’s suspension, accusing Gunness of “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias"; Gunness responded by saying: “We guard our neutrality jealously, and we have a plethora of measures that we take to guard our neutrality." This exchange took place against the backdrop of caches of rockets having been discovered at three separate UNRWA schools, and accusations by the Israeli government that UNRWA had turned over one cache of rockets to Hamas; Gunness called these allegations unsubstantiated.

On 4 December 2014, in response to the Jerusalem Post's publication of a piece by Palestinian activist Bassem Eid, Gunness tweeted "boycott the JPost! Don't read their lies!"; in response, the US State Department issued a statement underscoring the importance that UNRWA "uphold its stated policy of neutrality." Through a spokesperson, Gunness clarified that "he was not calling for a boycott against any media outlet but instead was making his objections to a single article."

Consulting & Myanmar Advocacy

In 2019, Gunness left the UN; he founded the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP) in 2021, and also runs the consultancy Tiresias Communications. In 2021, Gunness advocated on behalf of Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar's former ambassador to the UK, as means of undermining the legitimacy of the junta that seized power in a coup d'état earlier that year. In September 2021, MAP assisted in producing a legal opinion regarding which ambassador would be officially credentialed to represent Myanmar at the United Nations.

2023 Gaza-Israel conflict

On 18 October 2023, interviewed on Al Jazeera, Chris Gunness said Israel’s denial that it was behind the attack on al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza that killed at least 500 people is not surprising:

“When was the last time a homemade rocket from Gaza destroyed an entire building and killed 500 people? Of course, we have to await the outcome of the Israeli investigation into this incident,” Gunness told Al Jazeera, adding that Israel has a history of spreading disinformation, even against UN agencies.
“In 2014, Mark Regev and the rest of the Israeli spin doctors wasted no time in putting out all sorts of disinformation about UNRWA,” Gunness said.
“They put out a video live on American TV telling the world that there were militants firing rockets from UNRWA schools. These were all investigated by the UN and other agencies and they were all found to be complete nonsense.”[2]

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