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GFYPS - Speakers, Moderators & Lead Facilitators


Speakers, Moderators & Lead Facilitators

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Abou Fassi-Fihri

Regional Director, Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Programs, Search for Common Ground (SFCG)

Based in Tunis, Abou Fassi-Fihri is Regional Director, MENA, with over nine years of experience with NGOs and multilateral agencies, including the World Bank and the European Commission. Mr. Fassi-Fihri brings extensive experience on designing and managing conflict prevention and institution-building programs focused on mediation, alternative dispute resolution, youth and media.

Mr. Fassi-Fihri headed SFCG's European office, where he served as representative in Brussels and was responsible for overseeing country programs. He is a former board member of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), the largest alliance of peacebuilding organizations in Europe. Mr. Fassi-Fihri began working with SFCG's office in Rabat, Morocco in 2004 and served as Morocco Country Director from 2005 to 2008. 

Mr. Fassi-Fihri holds a Master’s Degrees from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) in International Humanitarian Assistance.  He has published articles on international affairs and mediation in newspapers in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Mr. Fassi-Fihri is a dual Moroccan-Belgian citizen and speaks French, English and North African Arabic.


Agnès Callamard

Director, Global Freedom of Expression & Information, Special Adviser to the President, Columbia University

Dr. Agnès Callamard is the Director of Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression & Information, an initiative seeking to advance understanding on freedom of expression global norms and Special Adviser to the President of Columbia University, first amendment scholar Lee Bollinger.

Dr. Callamard has a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work globally. She spent nine years as the Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, the international human rights organization promoting freedom of expression globally. Under her leadership, ARTICLE 19 extended its international reach with the opening of six regional offices while earning global recognition for its cutting edge public policy thinking on diverse issues including national security, equality and development.

She founded and led HAP International (the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership), which is the first self-regulatory body for humanitarian agencies at the international level. Prior to this, Dr. Callamard was Chef de Cabinet for the Secretary General of Amnesty International (AI) and AI’s Research-Policy Coordinator, leading AI’s policy work and research on women’s human rights.

She has advised senior levels of multilateral organizations and governments around the world and has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries. She has published broadly in the field of human rights, women’s rights, refugee movements and accountability and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the New School for Social Research in New York.


Ahmad Alhendawi

UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth

As Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi is mandated with the task of bringing the voices of young people to the United Nations System. Moreover, he also works with different UN Agencies, Governments, Civil Society, Academia and Media stakeholders towards enhancing, empowering and strengthening the position of young people within and outside of the United Nations System.

Mr. Alhendawi is a youth advocate at the national, regional and international levels. He was a Co-Founder for Youth for Democracy Network at the Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture which he headed. Internationally, he is a Co-Founder of the International Youth Council, based in New York.

He previously worked as a Team Leader for the World Bank funded programme to the League of Arab States on Institutional Development to Strengthen Arab Policy and Participation. Prior to this, he served as the Youth Policy Advisor in the League of Arab States in Cairo and as an Officer in the Technical Secretariat of the Arab Youth and Sports Ministers Council. Past experience also includes serving as a Team Leader for the National Youth Policy Project in Iraq, a Youth Programme Associate at the Iraq office of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and as an Emergency Programme Officer at the non-governmental organization Save the Children. As a regional consultant, he has also supported the Danish Youth Council’s projects in the Middle East and North Africa.

Born in 1984 in Jordan, Mr. Alhendawi holds a Master’s degree in Advanced European and International relations, a diploma as “Policy Officer in European and International Organizations” from the Institut Européen in Nice, and a Bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from the Al-Balqa Applied University in Jordan.


Aiza Baldonado

International Coordinator, Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), Philippines

Ms Aiza Baldonado is International Coordinator for National Organization Development of Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER) working to promote a healthy life style through a peer to peer approach and to empower young people to make responsible decisions. Additionally, Aiza currently serves as Board Member of Stiching HIV Young Leaders Fund (HYLF) a youth-led Organisation & funding mechanism that provides small grants to youth-led initiatives focused on young people most affected by HIV, including young people living with HIV.

Previously, Aiza was a Youth Coordinator for Davao Oriental and Area Coordinator for Compostela Valley for Humanitarian Response-Pablo (Typhoon Bopha) of Family Planning Organization of the Philippines for ensuring that the well-being of young girls, boys and mothers is at the forefront of emergency response. 


Akil Awan

Associate Professor in Modern History, Political Violence and Terrorism at Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr. Akil Awan's research interests are focused around the history of terrorism, radicalization, social movements, protest, and new media. In addition, he is also Research Associate with the New Political Communication Unit, with the Centre for Public History, and the Centre for Minority Studies.

Dr. Awan is regularly consulted by government bodies, think-tanks, media and other organisations in his fields of expertise, and has served in an advisory capacity to the UK Home Office, the Foreign Office, the US State department, and the US Military amongst others. Most recently, he served as special advisor on Radicalization to the UK Parliament, as academic expert on Genocide to the UK House of Lords delegation to Srebrenica, and as expert advisor on Youth Radicalization to the United Nations. He is Founder and Chair of the Political Science Association’s Specialist Group on Political Violence & Terrorism.

Twitter: @Akil_N_Awan


Alaa Murabit 

Founder & President, The Voice of Libyan Women

With a strong focus on challenging societal and cultural norms and utilizing traditional and historical role models Murabit champions women’s participation in peace processes and conflict mediation. Her programs, such as the groundbreaking “Noor Campaign” are replicated internationally. Nicknamed “The Libyan Doogie Howser” by Jon Stewart and applauded by Oprah for her innovative approach to security, Murabit acts as advisor to numerous international security boards, think tanks and organizations. Most recently she was nominated to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (women, peace and security) Global Advisory Board, UN Women Global Advisory Board and Harvard University’s “Everywoman, Everywhere” initiative.

At the young age of 15 Alaa Murabit completed high school and moved from Saskatoon, Canada to Zawia, Libya. It was there that she enrolled in medical school and, driven by her desire to create inclusive processes and institutions, founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW) in 2011 at the age of 21. The first Ashoka Fellow elected from Libya, Murabit is the youngest recipient of the Marisa Bellisario International Humanitarian Award by the Italian Government, was named the “International Trust Women Hero 2014” by The New York Times and "One of 25 women under 25 to watch" by Newsweek.  Most recently she was selected as a "100 Top Woman" by the BBC and the SAFE Global Hero. 


Alaa Toutounji

Co-Founder, Nehna Hoon and Founder, Smile of Hope

Alaa Toutounji is the Co-Founder of "Nehna Hoon" ("we are here"), a peace initiative aimed at community based peacebuilding working on local social dialogue and culture for the past two years. She is also the Founder of "Smile of Hope", a psychological support initiative for children.

Ms. Toutounji is a trainer and facilitator with the Mobaderoon peacebuilding NGO, working on many social programs including active citizenship, conflict and violence analysis, leadership and community development. She works with community leaders and active members to achieve a vision of peaceful coexistence in Syria.

Ms. Tutanji is a Computer Engineer by studies and a volunteer in the Syrian Red Crescent as a medic and community based health and first aid trainer.


Aleida Patarroyo

Co-Coordinator / Editor, Juventud con Voz

Aleida Patarroyo is a researcher on youth participation, human rights, the Colombian armed conflict and peace building. She is the founder of Dirime and currently coordinates the largest Latin American online platform promoting youth rights, participation and political voice: Juventud con Voz (“Youth with Voice”). Aleida has worked as a human rights advocate in several peace initiatives lead by Colombian NGOs, mainly supporting victims of the Colombian armed conflict.  

Aleida has also been an independent consultant for different UN agencies such as UN Women, UNHCR, and UNDP. In 2014 she was part of a team which accompanied armed conflict victims at the peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC-EP, held in Havana, Cuba.

She is a journalist with a Master’s Degree in Political Science with a strong focus on conflict resolution, and a specialist in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.


Ali Fayez

Programs Coordinator, Afghans for Progressive Thinking (APT)

Ali Fayez has been working for Afghans for Progressive Thinking since 2011 and currently serves as Programs Coordinator and member of the Executive Committee: He has been writing for local papers, facilitated leadership discussions, debate sessions and media talks as well as leading a team of students on radio talks in Kabul throughout 2012.

Mr. Fayez has generally been involved in activities of Afghan civil society organizations from giving lectures to civil society meetings, protests and environment projects in Kabul. More recently, he attended in Advocacy for Conflict Transformation and Human Security Training in The Hague which was held by UNOY.

Born in Kabul in 1991, he is currently pursuing his B.A. in Sociology.


Amanda Melville

Senior Protection Officer, UNHCR Regional Office

In her function as Senior Protection Officer, Amanda Melville focuses on child protection. She was previously working for SAVE the Children on an interagency project on strengthening child protection systems for children affected by the Syria crisis in Lebanon and Jordan. She also worked for UNICEF in the Jordan, Middle East, HQ, Indonesia, and OPT for 10 as a child protection and psychosocial specialist. Prior to that she worked in Gaza on community based conflict resolution.

She graduated from Melbourne University with a PhD in social psychology and conflict resolution.


Ana Glenda

Regional Director for Central America, Interpeace

Ana Glenda has almost 20 years of experience working in governmental and non-governmental arenas and on international environmental issues: She has expertise in security sector reform, youth related violence and violence reduction, institutional capacity-building, management and administrative improvement of government institutions to increase state capacity. Additionally, she focuses on capacity building for civil society to improve advocacy and oversight of government institutions, conflict transformation and peacebuilding in development and post conflict countries. Ms. Glenda also has know-how and extensive experience in participatory action research (PAR), facilitation of conflict transformation processes and multi-stakeholder dialogues on peacebuilding issues. 

Ms. Glenda holds a Bachelor degree in Sociology from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca in Spain, where she is currently also working on her PhD thesis in the sociology field, and  pursued Studies in Political Science at the Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala. She has published: articles about private security, security sector reform, citizenship security, intelligence, youth violence prevention, youth gangs, conflict transformation, dialogue and peacebuilding.


Andras Beszterczey

Peacebuilding Adviser, Mercy Corps

Andras is a Peacebuilding Adviser with Mercy Corps, supporting the implementation of the organisation’s peacebuilding programming across the Arab world, and previously a Project Manager with Mercy Corps in Lebanon implementing activities to address the rising tensions between Lebanese host and Syrian refugee communities. Andras has over 5 years’ experience working in peacebuilding, before joining Mercy Corps also having lived and worked in Egypt, Serbia and Colombia. His professional focus is youth, identity politics and social mobilisation: how non-state actors recruit youth, maintain control, and normalise violence. Andras holds an MA in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College, London.


Babatunde Osotimehin

Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Under-Secretary-General United Nations (UN)

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin is a global leader of public health, women’s empowerment and young people, particularly focused on promoting human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as population and development. Since his appointment as UNFPA Executive Director, effective 2011, he has spearheaded efforts by the international community to advance the milestone consensus of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994.

Before this appointment, Dr. Osotimehin was Nigeria’s Minister of Health. Prior to that, he was Director-General of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS, which coordinates HIV and AIDS work in a country of about 180 million people. He was appointed Professor at the University of Ibadan in 1980 and headed the Department of Clinical Pathology before being elected Provost of the College of Medicine in 1990.

Dr. Osotimehin completed his medical studies at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1972 and received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom in 1979. He has served as chair and member of several academic and health organizations, including as Chair of the National Action Committee on AIDS, between 2002 and 2007. Dr. Osotimehin received the Nigerian national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger, in December 2005.

Full bio available here.


Baruani Ndume

Founding Member, The KidsRights Youngsters (DRC)

Baruani Ndume is a true advocate for children's rights in a refugee context. He has lived in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania since he fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at the age of 7. As the presenter of radio show ‘Sisi kwa Sisi’ (Children for Children), that aired in Tanzania, DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi between 2008 and 2012, Baruani enabled many refugee children to speak out on their challenges and concerns. Using the radio, over 50 children were reunited with their families. Baruani currently leads the children’s parliament in the camp to teach children about their rights. He also engages children and youth from both inside and outside the camp to connect through sports. Baruani is a proven and charismatic changemaker, with first-hand knowledge and experience on children's rights in the context of the protracted crisis situation of the DRC and surrounding countries. He is one of the many children and youth who have lived the larger parts of their lives in displacement, largely disconnected from the outside world. Baruani exemplifies as no other the resilience of youth and children as changemakers and their critical contributions to sustainable peace and development, through his unceasing work for children's rights.

In 2009, Baruani received the International Children’s Peace Prize from KidsRights, at the age of 16.  Baruani is a founding member of The KidsRights Youngsters, a youth-led advocacy and awareness raising platform formed by the International Children’s Peace Prize winners that aims to realise children rights around the globe.


Benoit Kalasa

Technical Division Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Since April 2015, Benoit Kalasa has held the position of Technical Division Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), having previously served as Director of the UNFPA Regional Office for West and Central Africa (2013-2015).

Mr. Kalasa joined UNFPA in 1996; where he has since occupied different positions within the organization. After 4 years (2006-2010) serving as UNFPA Representative in Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, Mr. Kalasa was accredited to Ethiopia for the same position from 2010 to late 2012. In this position, he was in charge of the UNFPA representation, policy, programme, finance, staff management, as well as office administration. He has motivated and led the UNFPA team into developing relevant and innovative approaches for their interventions in issues related to population and development, and sexual and reproductive health including gender. From 1996 to 2006, Mr. Benoit Kalasa was Regional Adviser for Africa at the Country Support Team (CST) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..

Before joining the United Nations in 1996, Mr. Kalasa worked as expert on population issues at the OECD / Club du Sahel- Paris from 1992 to 1996, where he participated in the study “West Africa Long-Term Perspective Study (WALTPS)”. He was also an assistant professor at the University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr. Benoit Kalasa holds a PhD in economics with a specialization in economic demography of the “Institut d'Etudes Politiques” (Sciences Po) in Paris, France.


Bibhuti Bista

Nepal Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding

Bibhuti Bista is a young professional who has more than 10 years of experience in the development field, having been involved in a number of projects which were supported by various partners.

During his career, Mr. Bista has worked for numerous organisations in different senior level positions. He has been involved in program planning and implementation, monitoring and evaluating related tasks, is familiar with the benchmark setting, logical frameworks, operational planning, and result chain analysis.

As an independent researcher and consultant, Mr. Bista was also involved in performance evaluation assignments for international/non-governmental organizations such as APEIRON Italy, Child Rights Foundation, Cambodia, Back to Life e. V., Germany, The Development Fund Norway, Oxfam Hong Kong, CARE International in Nepal, UN Women, JICA and Practical Action.

His fields of interest include: monitoring and evaluating, peacebuilding, research, private sector development, children and youth, programme planning, renewable/alternative energies, environmental sociology, sustainable development.

Brenda Torres Garcia

National Board Member, National Movement of Children (Colombia)

Brenda shared one of the Inspiring Stories of Extraordinary Young People. Her presentation is available here.


Chernor Bah

Global Forum Co-Lead Facilitator

A leading youth advocate for global education, a girl champion and former refugee from Sierra Leone, Chernor Bah recently became an Associate at the Population Council, leading a collaborative initiative to provide solutions to adolescent girls affected by the Ebola Outbreak. He is a Co-Founder of A World at School-a digital mobilization and campaign organization for education. Chernor is the youth representative on the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Steering committee for the Global Education First Initiative and was the founding Chair of its’ Youth Advocacy Group. As a teenager, he founded and led the Children’s Forum Network, Sierra Leone’s Children’s Parliament-playing a leading role in the peace building process that country. Following the outbreak of Ebola in his country in 2014, Chernor co-founded the Salone Adolescent Girls Network- leading advocacy, relief and program efforts for affected and marginalized girls. In 2014, Chernor was honored with the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Voice of Courage Award and the Population Council’s Ideas with Impact Award for his global efforts on behalf of girls, children and youth affected by conflict. He holds a Masters in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Chernor is 30.

Follow Chernor on twitter @cee_bah.


Cindy Chungong

Program Officer, West and Central Africa, Search for Common Ground

Since 2011, Cindy Chungong has worked with Search for Common Ground, one of the foremost peacebuilding organisations in the world, in a variety of grant cycle management functions to support their West and Central Africa programs. Since 2012, she has worked with the Sahel team on a multi-country (Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad) project to enhance constructive youth leadership, in order to counter the threat of violent extremism. She is highly committed to this project, which puts young people at the forefront of design and implementation of social transformation activities. She firmly believes that when we stop seeing youth purely through the lens of vulnerability and need, then we can jointly develop action models whereby they have options, agency, and space to enact their own visions for the future.

Born in Cameroon and having grown up in Geneva, Ms. Chungong studied social and political sciences at Cambridge University as well as international relations at King’s College London and Sciences Po Paris. Her job has enabled her to travel extensively across West and Central Africa. She is always eager to discover new parts of the globe and learn from others about their solutions to the challenge of sustainable peace.


Edit Schlaffer

Executive Director, Women Without Borders/SAVE

Dr. Edit Schlaffer is a sociologist and founder of Women without Borders, an NGO based in Vienna, Austria. She started the organisation in 2002 to strengthen women¹s role in security through education and capacity-building to establish a female power base in countries in crisis and transition.

In 2008 she launched the Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) campaign, focusing Women without Border¹s efforts to the security arena, organising women (and men) internationally to participate in a research-based, family-centered counter-radicalization platform.

SAVE's central project is the Mothers School Model, which empowers and trains mothers to recognize and respond to early warning signals of radicalization in their young adolescents. Mothers Schools have been implemented in partnership with key community mobilisers in six countries including Tajikistan, Pakistan, India/Kashmir, Nigeria, Indonesia and Zanzibar. The model will travel to Europe this year to address the growing foreign fighter phenomenon.

In recognition of Women without Borders/SAVE¹s innovative work, Schlaffer received the Aenne Burda Award for Creative Leadership in February 2015 and the Soroptimist International of Europe Peace Prize in July 2015.

She is a regular speaker, presenting to platforms such as TED talks, Washington, Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, Women in the World, New York and Davos as well as a regular contributor to Austrian and international news outlets such as the Der Standard, Die Presse, ORF, Huffington Post Blog and Reuters Trust Blog advocating for the importance of an integrated prevention approach to counter-radicalisation, one that is embedded in civil society.


Erin Saltman

Senior Counter Extremism Researcher, Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD)

Dr. Erin Marie Saltman is a Senior Counter Extremism Researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue overseeing research and project development on ISD's Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and the Women and Extremism (WAE) Network. Both networks aim to scale up civil society involvement in countering violent extremism while developing action-oriented research and evaluation around projects that are innovative, credible and effective.

Dr. Saltman's background and expertise includes both far-right and Islamist processes of radicalisation, counter-extremism and political socialisation. She regularly advises governments and security sectors across Europe and North America on issues related to online extremism and the role of the internet in radicalisation. She also specialises in work on how governments, private and civil society sectors can work together in CVE efforts.


Father Bernard Kinvi

Priest and Hospital Director, Catholic Mission of Bossemptélé

Since 2010, Father Bernard Kinvi is ordained priest and pastor of the Parish of St. Therese Bossemptélé in the Central African Republic. Additionally, he became the Director of the Saint John Paul II Hospital of Bossemptélé in 2013. During his prior, nine-year long training he studied nursing, philosophy and theology.

During the peak of the political and military crisis in Central African Republic, he saved the lives of many people, regardless of their religious, political or military affiliation. He was honored with the Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award. Father Bernard Anani Kinvi continues to defend human rights in Bossemptélé.


Forster Akuoko

Programme Specialist - Governance, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Forster Akuoko’s work experience with UNDP spans over thirteen years. He currently serves as a Programme Specialist with the Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster of the UNDP Regional Service Center in Addis Ababa, where he supports regional governance institutions (the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities), mechanisms, and processes for enhanced democratic governance in Africa. Prior to that, he worked in the Dakar Regional Service Center in the same capacity, supported the development and implementation of the National Programme of Governance as a Programme Officer in Burundi, monitored and evaluated post-crisis activities of the post-crisis unit of the Cote d’Ivoire Country Office as an International Expert in Monitoring and Evaluation, and built capacities of justice and security sector institutions (JSSR) in the Central African Republic (CAR) as an International Expert in Rule of Law. Forster holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the City University of New York (CUNY), and a Bachelor’s degree in Law and French from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana.


Francine Muyumba

President, Pan-African Youth Union

Francine Furaha Muyumba is the first woman to hold the post of President of the Pan African Youth Union, the leading youth organization in Africa, which retains special status within the African Union. As the President of this body since 2014, she collaborates with Heads of State and the African Union to address issues affecting young people across the continent.

A native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she served as a Bilingual Secretary for her government’s delegation to the M23 Peace Dialogue in Uganda, as well as a Coordinator of the International Youth Conference on Peace, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region. She has also served as the Coordinator of the peace and development-oriented Congolese National Youth Forum, the first female President of the Students’ Representative Council of the University of Namibia, the President of the Administrative Board of the Congolese National Youth Entrepreneurs Federation, the National Coordinator for the United Nations Association in Namibia, and as Co-Founder of the consulting firm Maendeleo.

She holds an honours degree in Media Studies from the University of Namibia and is currently studying Law at the Protestant University of Congo.


George Okutho

Country Office Director for Ethiopia, International Labour Organization (ILO)

As the Director of the ILO Country Office, George Okutho provides managerial and technical leadership, as well as diplomatic representation to Ethiopia and Somalia. Youth employment is a priority in both countries' Decent Work Programmes (DWCP). He oversees the technical cooperation programmes through the Decent Work Country Programmes, which are aligned to the national development strategy as well as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). Mr. Okutho (Uganda) has been the ILO Country Office Director for Ethiopia since 2008.

Before joining the ILO he worked as statistician and rose to the rank of the principal statistician in the Uganda civil service. In 1994, he was appointed by the British DFID as the Economic Adviser to the Uganda Government’s Public Service Reform Programme, a position he served for four years before joining the ILO in 1998.


Hajer Sharief

Co-Founder, Together We Build

Aged 23, Hajer Sharief is Co-Founder of  Together We Build it: an association which has been working since September 2011 on the democratic transition in Libya emphasizing the relevance of youth and women's political participation in the political process.

She has been engaged in number of youth led activities promoting for peace in Libya, most recently she is project manager of the 1325 Network in Libya which advocates for the implementation of UN resolution 1325 on women peace and security in the country.


Hardya Pranadipa

Programme Officer, Search for Common Ground Indonesia

As Programme Officer Hardya Pranadipa is responsible for providing technical assistance to the Directorate General of Corrections in handling convicted terrorists through conflict management training as well as to engage hundreds of youth in schools and universities to take peace-building initiatives against violent extremism and intolerance narratives.

Born in Jakarta in 1990, Mr. Pranadipa graduated from the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in 2012. While he was in college, his interest in peace and development studies led to his involvement in several peace-building programs and research regarding violent radicalism, the Islamic identity, and peace education in suburban areas.


Henk-Jan Brinkman

Chief, Policy, Planning and Application Branch, United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (UN PBSO)

Henk-Jan Brinkman is chief of the Policy, Planning and Application Branch of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office since June 2010.  Between 2006 and 2010, he held various positions in the World Food Programme. From 2001 to 2006, he advised Secretary-General Kofi Annan on economic, social and environmental issues. Between 1989 and 2001, he was in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He holds an M.A. in economics from the University of Groningen and a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research.  He has written on such topics as the socio-economic factors behind violent conflicts, high food prices, nutrition and human stature.  He is the lead author of WFP’sWorld Hunger Series – Hunger and Markets (Earthscan, 2009) and the author of Explaining Prices in the Global Economy:  A Post-Keynesian Model (Edward Elgar, 1999). He holds Dutch citizenship.


Hirotaka Koike

UN Major Group for Children and Youth

Hirotaka Koike is a Deputy Organising Partner for the Habitat III Working Group of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, to facilitate youth participation in the process, associated with the Japan Youth Platform for Post-2015. 

For more than a year, Mr. Koike has worked in the tsunami affected area doing community development and reconstruction planning. He strongly believes that all constituents should be involved in the reconstruction planning, especially marginalised but actually active people, such as youth and children. Additionally, he focuses on disaster risk reduction at local, national and global level. He conducted activities to promote inclusive preparedness for disasters, especially focusing on the policy and practical problems which are the result of urban design. On a global level, he has functioned as a core member engaged in the DRR process concluded in Sendai, March 2015, through policy making and advocacy.


H.E. Nasser Judeh

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Jordan

Since March 2015, H.E. Nasser Judeh serves as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, having held the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2009.

Throughout his career, H.E. Nasser Judeh has held various positions both in government and in the private sector, including amongst others, State Minister for Media Affairs & Communication; Official Spokesperson of the Government; Chairman of the Board of Information and Communication Expertise (ICE); Minister of Information; Director General of Jordan Radio and Television Corporation and Director of the Jordan Information Bureau (JIB) in London.

Born in Amman in 1961, H.E. Nasser Judeh holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (International Politics, Law and Organizations) from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. A native speaker of Arabic, he is equally fluent in English and a proficient speaker of French.


His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II of Jordan

Born in Amman on the 28th of June 1994, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is the namesake of his grand-father the late Majesty King Hussein, the founder of modern Jordan.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II is the 42nd-generation direct descendant of Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him). The Crown Prince is the eldest son of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah. He has one brother, His Royal Highness Prince Hashem, and two sisters, Their Royal Highnesses Princess Iman and Princess Salma.

HRH the Crown Prince, who holds the rank of second lieutenant in the Jordan Armed Forces, completed his high school education at King’s Academy in Jordan, and is currently pursuing a university degree in International History at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

HRH Crown Prince Al Hussein was named Crown Prince by a Royal Decree on the 2nd of July 2009.  The Crown Prince accompanies His Majesty King Abdullah II on visits across The Kingdom to check on local communities and ensure the wellbeing of citizens.

The Crown Prince also accompanies His Majesty on several official and military missions, as well as other functions at home and abroad. His Royal Highness has been appointed as Regent several times during His Majesty’s travels abroad.

The Crown Prince also heads many initiatives such as Haqiq, a youth based initiative to advocate for volunteerism in the country; Qusai, aimed at training sports therapists in Basic Life Support and First Aid; the Allgau- Orient Rally which incorporates projects by German donors and participants in the kingdom, and the Cochlear Implant Initiative which aims to decrease the number of deaf children by providing them with cochlear implants and specialized education so that they can attend regular schools. The Crown Prince enjoys reading and sports, especially football.


Imre Veeneman

Program Coordinator, United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY)

As Program Coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, Imre Veeneman is responsible for the capacity development program at the International Secretariat of the network based in The Hague. She has been involved in coordinating capacity building projects for youth organisations active in the field of peacebuilding and has worked for several peacebuilding, humanitarian and international development organisations in the Netherlands.

Imre Veeneman holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on youth and refugees.


Irina Bokova

Director-General, United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO)

Irina Bokova has been the Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009, and was successfully reelected for a second term in 2013. She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to lead the Organization.

As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova is actively engaged in international efforts to advance gender equality, quality education for all, and combat terrorist financing by preventing the illicit traffic of cultural goods. A leading champion in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, Bokova has spearheaded UNESCO’s activities on Holocaust remembrance and awareness and is the first Director-General of the Organization to appoint a Special Envoy for Holocaust Education.

Throughout her career, Irina Bokova has held numerous positions, including Minister for Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of Bulgaria-European Union relations and Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO, Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the “Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie” (OIF), Secretary of State for European integration and Member of Parliament. She is also a founding member and Chairman of the European Policy Forum, and Executive Secretary of the Steering Committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) and co-Vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission.

Irina Bokova, born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria), graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and studied at the University of Maryland (Washington) and the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University). 

Full bio available here.


James Rogan

Principal, Exterion LLC and Lead Consultant, PeaceNexus

James Rogan has over 20 years of international experience, including senior management roles with the UN and the private sector. He is the Founder and Principal of Exterion, a consulting firm, which supports PeaceNexus and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office on the development of inter-agency guidance on youth and peacebuilding, and is a USAID sub-contractor providing conflict and crisis expertise to the new Education in Conflict and Crisis Network.

His previous roles have included Chief of UNICEF’s Peacebuilding and Recovery Section in New York, General Manager of SIPU International’s interim executive management and restructuring of a best-practice youth education and peacebuilding NGO, UN mayor and CEO of a multiethnic municipality in post-war Kosovo, and US State Department secondee to the OSCE in Bosnia and Herzegovina, directing its Governance Programme and coordinating the development of the country’s first post-war election law.

Mr. Rogan holds a BSFS from Georgetown University and an MA from the University of Chicago.


Jeanne Abdulla

Co-Founder and Programme Director, Human Security Collective

Jeanne Abdulla is one of the three founders of Human Security Collective, a foundation that brings together civil society actors from different fields (peace-building, development, human rights) facing the same issues related to the shrinking space of civil society. As a Director of Programmes, she works with local partners from the Middle East and East and West Africa to capacitate young leaders to engage with key players at the local, national and international levels that have an authority with regard to their safety. These young leaders are also supported in developing and implementing innovative community approaches to improve the daily safety in their communities.

Prior to founding Human Security Collective in 2013, she worked for almost 15 years at Cordaid, a Dutch development organization. In her advisory role as a policy officer she worked on the development of a Community Security policy. She was the initiator and developer of the two thematic areas ‘Identity Matters’ and ‘Youth engagement for Social Change’. Amongst others, she designed a training for young community leaders in conflict areas to work on common ground in relation to human security. In her capacity as Senior Programme Officer for the Middle East, she was responsible for three main areas: managing a portfolio of civil society partners in the Middle East, strengthening the capacity of nongovernmental organizations and monitoring and evaluating programmes. She holds an M.A. in Social Science, Cultural Anthropology and a post doc in International Relations.


Jihad Zahir

International Coordinator, Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), Morocco

Jihad Zahir is a young Moroccan advocate who joined Y-PEER in 2012. Today she is one of the 7 International Coordinators of the network. She is also a national fellow at UNFPA Morocco office and is currently preparing her PhD in computer science. Jihad is passionate about peer education and edutainment as a great approach to empower and educate adolescents and youth. She strongly believes in the remarkable potential of youth and their power to promote peace and be real engines of development. Linking together her passion and her field of studies, she became interested in Research using social media data for automatic youth opinion mining and sentiment analysis.


John Kerry

Secretary of State, United States of America

On February 1, 2013, John Forbes Kerry was sworn in as the 68th Secretary of State of the United States, becoming the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman to become Secretary in over a century. Secretary Kerry joined the State Department after 28 years in the United States Senate, the last four as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was also the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States in 2004.

Previous to joining the United States senate, Secretary Kerry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1982 and worked as a top prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts after receiving his law degree from Boston College Law School.

Shortly before he graduated from Yale University, Secretary Kerry enlisted to serve in the United States Navy, and went on to serve two tours of duty. Back in the United States, Secretary Kerry began to forcefully speak out against the Vietnam War and began a lifelong fight for his fellow veterans as a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Secretary Kerry is the author of best-selling books, including A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America and This Moment on Earth, a book on the environment which he co-authored with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Together they are proud of a blended family that includes two daughters, three sons, and three grandchildren.

Full bio available here.


Johnny J. Mack

Founder and President, Communities without Boundaries

Johnny J. Mack is a scholar-practitioner whose career history includes working in both profit and not for profit sectors. His work includes nonviolence, peace and conflict, social change, social movement, and human development. He is extensively traveled in North and South Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia, designing and carrying out comprehensive community-based development programs, as well as writing, teaching and lecturing on the topics of nonviolent social change, social movements, and human development.

He is Founder and President of Communities Boundaries International, a peace and development organization. Additionally, he is Co-Founder with Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King, III of Realizing the Dream, Inc., where he served on its board and as its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He founded and served as President and CEO of the National Institute for Community Empowerment, Inc., a national intermediary in the community development field. Mr. Mack launched this program which was founded by Coretta Scott King from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc. after serving two consecutive three-year terms first as its Chief Financial Officer and then, as its Chief Administrative Officer.

Mr. Mack is a certified public account who received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a second major in Theology from Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL. He is a recipient of the Honorary Doctorate of Humanity conferred by Beulah Heights University. He is the Henry Hart Rice Fellow at the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University in Virginia where he received a Master of Science degree from its School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He is also a Doctor of Philosophy candidate there with all but dissertation status, which he will defend this fall.


Laila Baker

Director for Relief and Social Services, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

Laila Baker has 25 years of international experience in both humanitarian and development settings with a focus on the Arab region. She has served with a number of international agencies that support youth programs globally. Ms. Baker’s history includes employment with UNDP in Jerusalem, International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Regional Office in Tunisia and more recently with UNFPA as the Representative in Syria during the conflict.

As the current director for UNRWA’s Relief and Services Program at the headquarters in Amman, Jordan, she has been enhancing Relief and Social Services' programme to promote community stabilization in refugee situations, particularly for young people.

Ms. Baker has an academic background in family health policy from Cardiff University.


Lalaina Randriarimanana

Co-founder and Executive Coordinator, Liberty 32

Lalaina Randriarimanana is a passionate development worker, interested in the issues of human security, natural resources, leadership, conflict and development. She is currently a researcher and trainer freelance consultant and also dedicates her time to youth empowerment and education. She has developed her love of peace education in scouting and is now a leader trainer and serves as National Commissioner in the Education Department of the Scout Association Tily Eto Madagasikara.

Additionally, she is a co-founder and now the Coordinator of Liberty 32, a non-partisan youth-led organization in Madagascar which promotes political, social and economic citizens’ participation through volunteering, youth empowerment, awareness on democracy and civic engagement. Lalaina was a Fellow of the Peace and Security Fellowship for African Women, at King’s College London and has a Master’s degree in Economics and a Postgraduate certificate in Environment and Development from the University of Antananarivo. She is also a graduate of the Programme for African Leadership at London School of Economics and Political Science and an alumna of the Institute for Security Studies in Addis-Ababa.


Layne Robinson

Youth Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

Layne Robinson is the Head of Programmes at the Commonwealth Secretariat's Youth Division. He leads the divisions work in the areas of Youth Participation, Youth Work Professionalisation and youth development programmes. His academic background is in the field of political science and economics.


Lena Slachmuijlder

Vice President of Programs, Search for Common Ground (SFCG)

Lena Slachmuijlder has worked for SFCG in various positions since 2001, including acting as the Country Director for SFCG in DR Congo beginning in 2005. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she pioneered tools such as participatory theatre, a reality TV show, and innovative approaches to army and police reform.

Ms. Slachmuijlder has lived and worked in Africa for 21 years as a journalist, editor, human rights defender, director, producer, performing artist, cultural facilitator, trainer, and project manager. She has trained journalists and peace builders on all continents, has been an invited speaker to more than a dozen international conferences, wrote and produced a documentary film about Burundi’s ‘Heroes’ and has supported SFCG’s work around the globe.

Born in New York, Lena graduated from Stanford University before heading to South Africa in 1990 where she worked and lived in African townships as a journalist and human rights monitor.


Loubna Hanna Skalli

International Scholar

Dr. Loubna Hanna Skalli is an international scholar, educator and consultant in the areas of youth, gender, communication, and the politics of development in the Middle East and North Africa. She has published several books, journal articles and chapters on these subjects and taught for over 25 years at several universities including Ibn Tofail University in Morocco, the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and the School of International Service at American University in Washington DC.

Dr. Skalli served on the Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Chair “Women and their Rights” and on the Board of Directors of the Washington-based based Maghreb Center. She has consulted with numerous development actors and agencies including World Learning, InterMedia the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of State as well as USAID.

She is a recipient of several awards and fellowships including the Fulbright Scholarship and the American Consortium on European Union Studies. She received her M.A. from Essex University in England, and her Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University.


Maher Nasser

Director of the Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information

Mr. Maher Nasser has over 28 years of work experience in the United Nations System during which he has worked in various capacities in Gaza, Jerusalem, Amman, Cairo, Vienna and New York. Mr. Nasser became Director of DPI’s Outreach Division in February 2011. From April to mid-August 2012 and from August 2014 to February 2015, Mr. Nasser was Acting Head of the United Nations Department of Public Information.

Mr. Nasser first joined DPI in January 2006 as Director of the UN Information Centre in Cairo. Before joining DPI, Mr. Nasser worked in various positions with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza, Jerusalem, Vienna, Amman and New York and with the UNODC in Vienna. After graduating as a civil engineer from Bir Zeit University near Ramallah in 1986, Mr. Nasser worked with two Jerusalem-based NGOs focusing on development and human rights. Mr. Nasser also attended the Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid in October 1991 and the subsequent bilateral negotiations in Washington DC as the personal assistant to Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi, the Head of the Palestinian Negotiating Team.


Malena Famá

President, Foro Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Juventudes (FLACJ)

Argentinian national Malena Famá is the President of Latin American and the Caribbean Youth Forum (FLACJ), the regional organisation which represents the voices of Young people in Latin America.

She is really involved in various aspects of youth, peace and security with specific focus on the regions México, Honduras, Colombia, Brasil, El Salvador, and others. She has been a social activist for the last 20 years despite her only being 32. The most important fact about Ms. Fama is her capacity of being involved in the grassroots works and in the high level advocacy too, as she acts like a bridge between the needs and demands of the more unprivileged and marginalised young people of the continent and the influencers in public policy. She was one of the promotors of the fact that regional platforms must be related to the needs of the more unprivileged and not only be lobbyist without contact with their fields.


Marc Sommers

Visiting Researcher at African Studies Center Boston University

Marc Sommers is an internationally recognized youth, conflict, education and gender expert and an award-winning author. He has consulted for donor agencies, NGOs, UN agencies and policy institutes since 1994, working in 21 war-affected countries across Africa and in Colombia, El Salvador, Kosovo, Macedonia, Pakistan and Timor-Leste. His work addresses a range of war and post-war issues, including youth, development, gender (adulthood, masculinity, sexual violence), child soldiers, security, conflict negotiation, education, employment, governance, urbanization, development, and coordination. He taught for many years at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and was both a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is a Visiting Researcher with the African Studies Center at Boston University.

Dr. Sommers has an extensive publication record. His books include Stuck: Rwandan Youth and the Struggle for Adulthood, which received Honorable Mention for the 2013 Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, Islands of Education: Schooling, Civil War and the Southern Sudanese (1983-2004), and Fear in Bongoland: Burundi Refugees in Urban Tanzania, which received the 2003 Margaret Mead Award. His new book (December 2015) is called The Outcast Majority: War, Development, and Youth in Africa.


Marianne Perez de Fransius

Founder Peace is Sexy and Digital Game Peace Superheroes

Marianne Perez de Fransius is passionate about re-branding peace as something sexy and attractive. To that end she founded which publishes exclusive interviews and unique editorial showing that peace is sexy, possible, profitable and fun. Building on those stories, she is developing the Peace Superheroes to teach kids peacebuilding and conflict transformation skills in a fun and engaging way. 


Martine Miller

Director Asia (regional) and Gender (global), Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers

Ms. Martine Miller is a mediator and conflict transformation specialist with over 18 years of engaged experience—with communities, government and UN agencies, regional bodies (i.e. EU, AU, ASEAN), and a range of inter/national non-governmental organizations coupled with academic institutions. Her work has engaged her directly in fluid war to post-war reconstruction and development contexts across over 75 countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, West to East Europe and North and South America. While engaged directly conducting/advising on conflict assessments, facilitating dialogues, designing, implementing and monitoring peace mediation, building processes to the evolution of networks and communities of practices across these fluid contexts, she works to consistently engage and build the capacity of youth civil society to ensure all processes include these vital stakeholders and evolve from specific local to national and regional contexts.  Ms. Miller derives her formal education linking practical mediation and conflict transformation knowledge and skills from a Masters in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, a Masters in Politics Post-war Reconstruction and Development, a dual Bachelors in Political Science and International Development, coupled with a range of specialized Certifications in Asian and African Studies, Mediation / Negotiation in War Contexts, Conflict Transformation, etc., as well as engagement in Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation and the International Committee for the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC).  At current, Ms. Miller is a Director Asia (regional) and Gender (global) for the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. She also assists as a senior lecturer and advisor for Certificate students at the Peace and Conflict Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.


Matilda Flemming

Leading Coordinator, United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY)

Matilda Flemming (Finland) coordinates the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY), a global network of youth organizations in the field of peacebuilding based in The Hague. She is leading UNOY's advocacy work and is a member of the Council of Europe's Advisory Council on Youth.

Ms. Flemming holds a MA in Development Studies from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.


Matthew Scott

Director of Peacebuilding, World Vision International

Matthew Scott is the Director of Peacebuilding with World Vision International, a Christian, child-focused, community-based NGO with 46,000 staff in nearly 100 countries. Over 20 years working in the non-profit sector, he has promoted both children's empowerment and peacebuilding. He co-organised child speakers and child-friendly spaces at the UN General Assembly Special Session for Children in 2002. Since then, Matthew has partnered with child and youth peacebuilders around the world including in DR Congo, Philippines, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Honduras, Colombia, Kosovo, Uganda, and Rwanda. Since 2013, he has co-led multi-agency research efforts on the impact of child peacebuilders and helped launch the Guiding Principles on Young People's Participation in Peacebuilding.


Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

Founder and International Coordinator, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

Ms. Victoria `Mavic´ Cabrera-Balleza has facilitated workshops and discussions on UNSCR 1325, 1820 and the supporting resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in a number of countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Liberia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. She initiated the 1325 national action planning process in the Philippines and was also actively involved in the development of Nepal’s 1325 national action plan. She is currently providing support to civil society’s participation in 1325 national action planning in Guatemala, Japan and South Sudan among other countries. She pioneered the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program that is regarded as a best practice example in UNSCR 1325 and 1820 implementation and is now implemented in 10 countries.

She leads the capacity building training on the use of the CEDAW General Recommendation No. 30 on Women in Conflict-Prevention, Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations as a complementary accountability mechanism to WPS resolutions. She co-authored the book “Costing and Financing 1325” published in 2010; and edited the recent editions of “Women Count: Civil Society Monitoring Report on Security Council Resolution 1325.”

Under Ms. Cabrera-Balleza's leadership, GNWP has piloted the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The program promotes literacy, builds leadership and peacebuilding capacities among young women and girls in conflict-affected environments.


Meg Villanueva

Global Forum Co-Lead Facilitator

Meg is a specialist and strategist in sustainable peace and youth work, having worked in the peacebuilding, youth work and non-profit sector for the past nine years. She is a freelance trainer on conflict transformation, peace education, human rights education, nonviolent communication and international Peace Advocacy. Since 2005, she has been doing advocacy and lobbying work for the Culture of Peace and disarmament (landmines, small arms and cluster munitions), as well as on youth, children and peacebuilding at the United Nations level. She has published articles on volunteering and peace education, and co-authored two published books in the field of disarmament and peace-building. Based in Barcelona since 2009, she has been coordinating a network of trainers and multipliers in mainstreaming peace education and intercultural dialogue in the EuroMed region, under the project Peace Bag for EuroMed Youth ( She currently manages capacity building projects in peace and human rights through non-formal education in the Euromed and South Caucasus. She has intensive background in peace and conflict work, especially in Asia (Philippines, Indonesia), Europe (S. Caucasus), and the Mediterranean. Meg is 32.

Follow Meg on twitter @maurea8.


Mehdi Ben Youssef

Secretary General, Al Bawsala

Mehdi Ben Youssef currently serves as the Secretary General of Al Bawsala, a Tunisian NGO that aims to promote citizen participation, good governance and transparency. Prior, he worked with various international organizations in providing electoral and technical assistance to national partners.

Ben Youssef studied Public Law and Political Sciences at the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Science of Tunis. As a student he founded the Tunisian International Model United Nations (TIMUN), a student run organization that aims to educate young people about the work of the United Nations and the practice of diplomacy.


Michael Schipler

Regional Director of Asia Programs, Search for Common Ground (SFCG)

Michael has been working in peacebuilding for thirteen years, developing a range of programmes focused on youth, media, civil-military affairs, and governance. He previously served as Director of Programs for SFCG's Nepal office where he co-started and directed a national, multi-pronged media and community program in support of the peace process.

Additionally, Mr. Schipler is the Founder and former Director of SFCG's global Children & Youth Division. In that capacity he co-founded the Washington Network on Children and Armed Conflict (WNCAC) and co-created The Child Soldiers Initiative – a global project aimed at eradicating the use of children as soldiers – done in partnership with Lt. General Roméo Dallaire and other institutions.

Michael is currently pursuing his M.A. in War in the Modern World at Kings College in London. He is the author of The Dancing Country and Other Stories.


Mieke Lopes Cardozo

Assistant Professor, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam

Dr. Mieke Lopes Cardozo coordinates the IS-Academie, a co-funded research project of the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is also Co-Director of a Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding in collaboration with the University of Sussex, the University of Ulster and UNICEF’s Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) programme. In the Consortium, Mieke is leading a team of researchers in a country study on Myanmar as well as the thematic research area of "education for you agency for peace building" covering four countries.

Dr. Cardozo is currently also co-leading a joint research project with Dr. Ritesh Shah at the University of Auckland and colleagues at the International Centre for Acehnese and Indian Ocean Studies (ICAIOS) on peacebuilding and education in Aceh. Her research is focused on education policy and practice in relation to social justice and societal transformation in Bolivia, and the role of education for peace building in Sri Lanka, Aceh/Indonesia and Myanmar.


Moa Herrgård

Deputy Organising Partner, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY) and Liaison Officer for Human Rights and Peace, International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA)

Moa Herrgård is the Deputy Organising Partner for the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group in the Major Group for Children and Youth, and coordinates youth participation in Disaster Risk Reduction policy design, implementation, monitoring and reviewing.

Ms. Herrgård is a third year medical student at Lund University Sweden. She has a background and active involvement in Disaster Risk Management and humanitarian actions. She previously studied Disaster Medicine,  the research for her bachelor consisting of a quantitative field study monitoring the degree of mental health amongst Syrian refugee children which had escaped Syria a maximum of six months before. Ms. Herrgård has been working at the Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response at the World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


Mohammad Naciri

Regional Director, Arab States Region, UN Women

Mr. Mohammad Naciri is UN Women’s Regional Director for the Arab States Region. Mohammad has extensive experience in the region and in gender and development issues. Prior to joining UN Women, Mohammad was the Deputy Country Director of UNDP in Yemen, where he supported the country in the formulation of its Gender Strategy and the Gender Responsive Budgeting process. He has worked in Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Cambodia, dealing with issues from human trafficking to ethnic cleansing.

A national of Morocco, Mohammad holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and International Development from the Harvard University, as well as a Master's Degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford. He also has a Master's degree in Business Administration from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria-Egypt.


Mohammed Mahir

Project Coordinator, Search for Common Ground Sri Lanka

Mohammed Mahir is Project Coordinator – Reconciliation of the SMART project, which tries to mobilize youth to promote reconciliation at community level, implemented by Search for Common Ground Sri Lanka. He started his peacebuilding journey at a local peacebuilding organisation in 2008. For the last seven years he was involved in many processes engaging multi-religious clergies and youth in peacebuilding and reconciliation.

Born in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka, in 1985, Mr. Mahir holds BA in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and a MA in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies from Pannasastra University, Cambodia. 


Nabila Nasir

Founder, Championing SARA

Nabila Nasir has progressive experience in women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS at national, regional and global levels. She founded Championing SARA, a group that champions and advocates for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) awareness, specifically in post-disaster and conflict situations, based on one humanitarian volunteer’s experience speaking to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and 2006 Central Java Earthquake survivors.

After her last post at IPPF East, South East Asia and Oceania Region as Regional Resource Mobilization Officer, she pursued a Masters in International Studies and Diplomacy at School of Oriental and African Studies in London under the Chevening Scholarships Programme by the British government. Her thesis was on the accountability of UN Peacekeepers and their crimes of sexual violence.


Nada Al-Nashif

Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

Nada Al-Nashif was appointed Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO in February 2015. Since 2007, she held the post of ILO Regional Director for Arab States, based in Beirut, and ILO Assistant Director-General. During her tenure, she prioritized the roll-out of Decent Work Country Programmes with emphasis on enhanced employment policies; entrepreneurship culture; social dialogue mechanisms; and social protection for all.

Ms. Al-Nashif came to the ILO from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) where she started in 1991. During her UNDP years, she served in positions of increasing responsibility in Libya, at UNDP Headquarters in New York, and in Lebanon, integrating UN Reform initiatives and expanded partnerships approaches.

She holds a Masters’ in Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) from Balliol College, Oxford University.

She serves on several boards, including as a Member of the Advisory Board at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme (UK), a Member of the Board of trustees of the NGO “Welfare Association” and the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University.


Nader Atta

Program Analyst, UNDP Palestine

Currently, Nader Atta is the Deputy Team Leader a.i. (Program Analyst) for the Governance and Social Development unit and handles a diverse range of portfolios addressing governance, social infrastructure, culture, sports, and youth issues. Mr. Atta has been very actively engaged in improving the lives of young people through various initiatives implemented jointly by the Government, UNDP, and CSO’s in the areas of participation, reconciliation, public oversight, planning, sports, etc.

As a young adult, Nader Atta was one of the founding members of ROOTS, a Palestinian American Youth Organization based in Washington DC.  Since 1995, Mr. Atta has been working with the United Nations Development Programme / Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) in various capacities including managing a range of large scale infrastructure projects such as the construction of the first Modern Courthouse in Nablus and the Ramallah Cultural Palace.

Born and raised in the United States, Nader Atta is presently living in El Bireh, Palestine. He has a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University in International Relations and a Masters of Technology in International Development from North Carolina State University.


Narimene Dkhil

Narimene Dkhil is a 25 year old Tunisian researcher and blogger. Her main fields of interest are: Human Rights, Sustainable Development and Politics, in addition to Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution. Dkhil participated in the establishment of more than 30 international, regional and national organizations. She received several titles and prizes, most important among them are: Advisor at United Nations Youth Advisory Panel Tunisia, 2015-2017; Ambassador of International Day of Peace in Tunisia with MasterPeace for the year 2014; Youth Ambassador at Arab Thought Foundation, awarded in Dubai, UAE in 2013 and 2014; Youth Delegate of Tunisia at the United Nations Environment Program UNEP Tunza Conference in 2013; and Best Academic research with HRC_BAU (Human Rights Center in Beirut Arab University) in Beirut, Lebanon in 2012.

Dkhil represented Tunisia in many international and regional forums. She studied Energy & Mineral Resources, and is now studying for a Master’s Degree in Geo-resources and applications.


Noëlla Richard

Youth Policy Specialist, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Noella Richard is the Youth Policy Specialist in UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support in New York, in charge of the coordination of UNDP’s work on Youth, and the co-chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development for 2015-2016.

She previously served in UNDP’s Democratic Governance Group as Special Assistant to the Director, and as Democratic Governance Specialist, leading UNDP’s Global initiative on Gender Equality in Public Administration.

Prior to UNDP Headquarters, Ms. Richard worked for the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, UNESCO, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, the French Ministry of Finance, the Paris Economic Council for Sustainable Development and UNDP Country Office in Morocco.

Ms. Richard was educated in France, Morocco, Spain and Argentina. She graduated from the Institut d’Études Politiques ‘Sciences Po’ in Paris and holds a second Master’s degree in Development, International Cooperation and Humanitarian Action from Sorbonne University.


Oliver Rizzi Carlson

United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY)

As Representative at the UN for the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY Peacebuilders), Oliver Rizzi Carlson advocates for the culture of peace, peace education and the role of youth in peacebuilding. A member of the Youth Team that prepared the World Report from Civil Society at the end of the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace, he is also a member of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace (GAMIP), among other initiatives.

Mr. Carlson also serves as Editor of the Global Campaign for Peace Education (GCPE) Newsletter and facilitates learning spaces with youth on the culture of peace, both within a high school context and through non-formal learning events. He also accompanies youth and organizations in the creation of restorative systems and other spaces for peacelearning, and writes and speaks on the subject at various events.

Mr. Rizzi grew up in Italy, the US and Switzerland. He holds an MA in Peace Education from the UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE).


Oscar Fernandez-Taranco

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (UN PBSO)

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco assumed his position as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support on 1 November 2014. Prior to this he has worked for 5 years as Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He was responsible for overseeing the Department’s divisions dealing with the Americas, Asia and Pacific, Europe, Middle East and West Asia, and the Decolonization Unit and Division for Palestinian Rights.

Mr. Fernandez-Taranco has worked in the United Nations system for over 30 years, both at Headquarters and in the field.  He has served in various capacities during that period, including Deputy Special Representative of the Administrator in the West Bank Gaza Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti, and Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Regional Bureau for Arab States. Immediately prior to Mr. Fernandez-Taranco’s current appointment, he had served as Resident Coordinator in Tanzania where he led the UN reform initiative of “Delivering as One”.

Mr. Fernandez-Taranco is a graduate of Cornell University and MIT.


Patrick Keuleers

Director and Chief of Profession, Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Patrick Keuleers brings over 30 years of experience in the field of governance, with assignments in headquarters, in Central and West Africa and in the Asia and the Pacific region, including support to crisis affected environments (Aceh, Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste,).  He worked consecutively for DTCD (currently UNDESA); the UN Office for Project Services, the International Labour Organization and UNDP.

Mr. Keuleers was the Senior Advisor and Team Leader of the Responsive Institutions Cluster in the Democratic Governance Group in the Bureau for Development Policy. Prior to that, he served as Democratic Governance Team Leader in the Asia Pacific Regional Centre, Regional Governance Advisor in the Bangkok Sub-Regional Resource Facility, CTA of the Governance and Public Administration Reform Programme in the prime Minister’s Office in Laos; Advisor to the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Improvements in Burundi, Advisor (on public administration reform) to the  General Secretariat of the Presidency in Mali, Associate Expert to the Commission for Administrative Reforms in Mali.

A Belgian national, Mr. Keuleers worked as a lawyer and for the Ministry of Finance in Belgium prior to his UN career. He holds a Law Degree from the University of Leuven in Belgium. 


Peter Mahfouz

Educator, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center

Peter Mahfouz works as an Educator at Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center in North Lebanon and is highly dedicated to volunteer work: He serves as Caritas' youth coordinator in the Koura district since 2007 and the Head of Recruitment Committee in the national youth office since 2012. He also functions as the Koura district coordinator of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections since 2010, and a civil defense volunteer within the Lebanese Ministry of Interior since 2014. He took part in a lot of trainings and is currently able to give trainings himself on volunteering, leadership and many other topics. Previously, he gained experience working in various positions in Lebanon and Australia.

He attended the University of Balamand in Lebanon and obtained a minor in Biology, BS in Environmental Science and a Masters degree in Environmental Science.


Pradip Pariyar

Founding Chairperson, Nepal Policy Center

Pradip Pariyar functions as Founding Chairperson at the Nepal Policy Center, a youth led think tank based in Kathmandu. Prior, he worked with various media organizations and key media actors, bringing them together from across dividing lines, providing various capacity building trainings on media and peace building; and facilitating discussions between media and architects of the peace process to develop communication strategies for peace building.

Mr. Pariyar was President of the Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON). Additionally, the Ministry of Youth & Sports appointed him as a Task-Force Member to review National Youth Policy and to build Youth Vision 2025. For Search for Common Ground (SFCG) he headed a USAID funded project called Nepal Government Citizenship Partnership Project and worked with conflict affected youth around the country including child soldiers. He was also invited as a speaker in First Global Forum on Youth Policies. He was selected as one of World Bank and IMF Youth Fellows in 2011.


Rashid Zuberu

Coordinating Secretary, Young Peace Brigades and Member of the Steering Group, United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY)

Rashid Zuberu is the coordinating secretary for Young Peace Brigades and a field researcher and consultant on youth related issues, a member of the International Steering Group of UNOY Peace Builders and has extensively been involved with youth, peacebuilding and community development initiatives in Ghana and Africa for the past 10 years.

Mr. Zuberu is involved in addressing land and natural resource based conflicts, helping communities to protect their environment and seeking appropriate compensation, and to remove child workers from mining industries. He also provides trainings on non-violence, mediation, conflict resolution and human rights, and develops peace education manuals for schools and the youth. He is also a youth social entrepreneur.


Ruxandra Tanase

Director, Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR)

Currently serving as Director of PATRIR and as a UNOY International Steering Committee member, Ruxandra (Andra) Tanase engages both as a researcher and analyst, implementer and evaluator.  

Her work includes international training and facilitation, research and programme coordination on the themes of education, peace education, strategic programme design, intercultural intelligence, policymaking and civil society development from the perspective of diversity, and conflict transformation. She worked as consultant, trainer and advisor with different institutions such as the European Commission, GIZ, The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Red Cross, European Roma Rights Center, and Save the Children.

Together with CONCORD Europe, the Romanian NGDO Platform and the National Agency for Youth in Action Programmes and other national and international organisations, Andra studied and practiced innovative formal and non-formal education methods on diversity, multiculturalism, inclusion and reducing violence of all kinds. Several times she engaged with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in projects analysis of the education system and youth participation.


Saiful Haque

Founder & President, MOVE Foundation

Saiful Haque has been promoting non-violence, inclusive education and de-radicalization of youth through MOVE Foundation, a youth-led civil society organization that he founded in 2013.

For more than a decade, he has worked with the US Department of State, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, The Asia Foundation and the Danish Working Environment Authority on good governance, electoral reform, labour rights and civilian security issues. He has outlined an election-time-government formula during 2014 pre-election unrest and appealed for peaceful resolution of political conflict through consensus and later, guided several local NGOs to conduct a nationwide anti-violence campaign.

As a young leader, Mr. Haque has participated in the US Department of State’s ‘International Visitors Leadership Program’ in 2013. Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, he is a post-graduate in International Relations from the University of Dhaka, a TV talk-show guest and an international election observer. He aspires for political office and expects to play a bigger role in ensuring global peace and security.   


Saji Prelis

Director for Children & Youth Programs, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and Co-Chair, Inter-Agency Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding

Saji Prelis has over twenty years’ experience working with youth, youth movements and youth focused organizations in various conflict and transition environments in West Africa, Central Asia to South and Southeast Asia. Prior to joining SFCG, Mr. Prelis was the Founding Director of the Peacebuilding & Development Institute at American University. Mr. Prelis has served as an adviser to governments and governmental agencies from countries such as Nepal, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Haiti and Uganda, developing training programs, drafting policy frame - works, and designing community participation programs. His experiences range from addressing alternatives to gang life in Los Angeles, developing collaborative accountability mechanisms for and with youth in Liberia, enhancing youth capacities for peace in Nepal, and other youth focused initiatives around the globe.

Mr. Prelis obtained his Master’s Degree in International Peace & Conflict Resolution from American University.


Sangeet Kayastha

International Coordinator In-charge, Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), Nepal

Mr. Sangeet Kayastha, 26, is working as International Coordinator In-charge at Y-PEER (Youth Peer Education Network). He has expertise in Peer Education and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights and has been involved in this field for more than 8 years.

He is based in Nepal and supporting Y-PEER national networks in Asia Pacific Region around the globe and also has expertise in programs focusing on Men & Boys’ engagement to reduce gender based violence. Following the Nepal earthquake in early 2015, he is focusing on engaging youth in raising awareness and services related to SRHR & GBV in Nepal.


Sarah Al Ghazou

Coordinator, Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), Jordan

Sarah Al Ghazou is Youth Peer Network Coordinator (Jordan), based in the United Nations Population Fund Country Office, where she manages the network on a national level to promote healthy life styles among youth and raise their awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights.

Sarah developed a strong sense of devotion for the youth humanitarian and development field. This passion changed her career path from the business sector after graduation to becoming a national youth development specialist in a regional project with the United Nations Volunteers to continue her career in the youth development path.

She graduated from Jordan University of Science and Technology, with a Bachelor’s Degree in English for Special Purposes (ESP). She has been a social activist since 2008 and has volunteered and worked in different Jordanian NGOs and participated in European Union youth ex-change programs, seminars, trainings and voluntary programs.


Scott Atran

Director of Research in Anthropology, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut Jean Nicod-Ecole Normale Supérieure and Senior Research Fellow, Harris Manchester College, Oxford University

Besides the above stated functions, Dr. Scott Atran also holds positions as Presidential Research Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Visiting Professor, Psychology and Public Policy, University of Michigan, and Director of Research, ARTIS Research and Risk Modeling.

Previously, Scott served among others as Assistant to Dr. Margaret Mead at the American Museum of Natural History, as member of the Conseil Scientifique, Laboratoire d’Ethnobiologie-Biogéographie, Museum National D’Historie Naturelle, Paris, as Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University and as Visiting Professor, Truman Institute, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Scott has experimented extensively on the ways scientists and ordinary people categorize and reason about nature, on the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, and on the limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict. He has repeatedly briefed NATO, members of the U.S. Congress and the National Security Council staff at the White House on the The Devoted Actor versus the Rational Actor in Managing World Conflict, on the Comparative Anatomy and Evolution of Global Network Terrorism, and on Pathways to and from Violent Extremism. He has been engaged in conflict negotiations in the Middle East, and in the establishment of indigenously managed forest reserves for Native American peoples.

Scott is a recurrent contributor to renown professional journals and newspapers such as The New York Times. His publications include In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion as well as Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists.

Scott received his B.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University (and an M.A. in Social Relations from Johns Hopkins) and is currently a Fellow at various renown universities such as Stanford.


Shamil Idriss

President of Search for Common Ground (SFCG)

Shamil Idriss became the President & Chief Executive Officer of Search for Common Ground in September 2014. Before, he worked with SFCG in a variety of capacities from 1993 to 2004, including as Burundi Country Director and as first Chief Operating Officer from 2001 to 2004.

Prior to returning to SFCG, Mr. Idriss was the CEO of Soliya, a pioneer in the use of new media for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange and founding member of the Exchange 2.0 Coalition. In 2005 he was appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Deputy Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, a project of the Secretary-General established to improve cross-cultural understanding and cooperation between Western and Muslim-majority societies. He has served on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders and the Board of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders.


Sima Bahous

Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Sima Sami Bahous was appointed in February 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. In this post, Ms. Bahous leads UNDP’s 18 Country Offices in the Arab region in their efforts to develop national capacities for poverty reduction, democratic governance, sustainable development, crisis prevention and recovery, and women’s empowerment.

From 2008 to 2012, Ms. Bahous served as the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Development Sector at the League of Arab States, leading the work of the Arab League’s Departments of Social Policies, Health and Humanitarian Assistance, Youth, Women, Children and Family, Population and Migration, Human Rights, Civil Society, and Studies and Research.

Previously, she served in two ministerial posts in Jordan: as President of the Higher Media Council and as Adviser to King Abdullah, respectively.  Other posts include Head of the Media and Information Division at the Royal Hashemite Court, Executive Director of the King Hussein Foundation, and Development and Communications Specialist and later Executive Director of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation.  She has taught development and communication at Yarmouk University and at Petra University, both in Jordan, and was a producer and host with the Jordan Radio and Television Corporation.

Ms. Bahous is deeply committed to promoting sustainable socio-economic development, alleviating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the Arab world.  She works passionately towards enhancing gender equality, youth empowerment, quality education and human rights.  She is a keen advocate of democratic governance and human development, and is a strong believer in international development cooperation.

Ms. Bahous is a national of Jordan and holds a PhD in mass communication and development from Indiana University, USA, a Master of Arts in literature and drama from Essex University, UK, and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Jordan University.


Simone Filippini

CEO, Cordaid

Simone Filippini became the CEO of Cordaid mid-October 2013. Previously, she worked as Consul General to the Southeast of the U.S. based in Miami, and as the Dutch Ambassador to Macedonia.

During her 25 year diplomatic and international career, Filippini worked on a broad range of issues and regions, ranging from the Middle East and North Africa to Asia & the Pacific, from European Enlargement to Women’s rights. As the Head of the Gender Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2007 she played a crucial role in bringing back women’s rights on the Dutch agenda and reinforcing the formal European stand on the issue. During that period, she also served as elected member in the National Board of Dutch political party D66, holding the international portfolio. She started her career at a commercial conference organization.

She has held several other positions during her career, including as member of the Board of the Dutch Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), and Chairperson of the Board of the International School in Skopje, Macedonia. In addition, she has been actively involved in the establishment of networks in The Netherlands to promote the discussion on European Cooperation. At the moment she is a Member of the Committee of Recommendation of the Via Egnatia Foundation, which promotes knowledge build-up on and proper development of the former Roman Road ‘Via Egnatia’, connecting at the time Rome to Constantinople. She has recently been elected President of the Dutch Association for the United Nations (NVVN), promoting knowledge and discussion in The Netherlands on the role of the United Nations. She also serves as a Board member in the Foundation for Integrated (Albanian-Macedonian) Education in Macedonia. 

Ms. Filippini studied Slavic languages and literature at the University of Utrecht.


Snezana Bačlija Knoh

The Youth Dialogue Programme

Snežana Bačlija Knoch is an international freelance trainer and facilitator, with particular interest in intercultural learning, conflict transformation and empowerment of young people, youth workers and youth NGOs. She is passionate about facilitation of non-formal education and the creative possibilities it brings along, as well as dedicated to exploring spaces for embracing conflict.

She has been active in youth work and the non-formal education field for the past 13 years and has worked on more than 100 different educational activities on local, national and international level, mainly focusing on the South East Europe and the Middle East. She is a member of the trainer pools of a number of different EU institutions and the Council of Europe youth department. She holds a Master degree in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies. 


Sotheary You

Sotheary You is currently working on a short-term consultancy with UN Women Cambodia, providing technical support for the Political Economy Analysis of the Women Peace and Security field in Cambodia. Sotheary also started the Life of Women Human Rights Defenders project (, which showcases the stories of women human rights activists and has reached thousands of people across the globe.

Ms. You is a 24-year-old young Cambodian female human rights activist dedicated to eliminate gender inequality in Cambodia. She is an inspirational young woman with several public speaking engagements on radio and public events. She has been working on gender equality and women’s empowerment since early 2013, right after graduation.


Sphend Qamili

UN Communications Analyst, Office of the UN Development Coordinator, United Nations Kosovo* Team

Since 2013 Sphend Qamili works at the UN Development Coordinator’s Office as a Communications Analyst. Additionally, he is involved with various projects of different UN agencies in Kosovo -- not only in communications, but also in creative solutions and innovation. Mr. Qamili is also a focal point of the UN Development Coordinator’s Office in Kosovo for the Youth Engagement piloting and programme development.

Prior, he worked for UN agencies in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, for various non-governmental organisations in Kosovo and Serbia, and for the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Mr. Qamili was among the founders of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (a regional network of sisterly organisations in Balkan) and among the founders of ENCOMPASS Centre for Psychological Studies and Services in Prishtina.

Born in Kosovo (ex-Yugoslavia), Mr. Qamili studied General Psychology at the University of Prishtina and completed his graduate studies at UMass Lowell on Community Social Psychology.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the Security Resolution 1244 (1999)


Tamar Zalk

Associate Director of Program Development, Lapis Communications

Tamar Zalk is a strategic communications specialist with specific expertise in the fields of peacebuilding, governance and elections, women’s empowerment and civil society capacity building. Her work is predominantly focused on youth populations in conflict and post-conflict environments.

Working across the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, Ms. Zalk has over seven years of experience developing effects driven communications programming in some of the most complex geo-political, social and cultural territories.

She has supported the work of the United Nations, United States Government, United States Agency for International Development, Department for International Development, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a number of governmental and non-governmental entities.

She is a recipient of the Boren Fellowship for National Security Education Program and holds a Masters in Conflict Resolution and Arab Studies from Georgetown University. 


Thevuni Kotigala

Programmes Coordinator, Sri Lanka Unites

Having worked for Sri Lanka Unites since 2012, Thevuni Kotigala has -- among others -- been coordinating their annual all island tour which conducts reconciliation based leadership workshops, served for the tri-lingual (Sinhala, English and Tamil) magazine on reconciliation with articles of youth across the country and taken part in a bus campaign named S.H.O.W. (Stop Harassment Of Women) You Care, to raise awareness on public harassment of women in Sri Lanka.

Additionally, Ms. Kotigala has been a part of a team that established tertiary education for underprivileged students of the North, South and Eastern provinces of the country and is involved in two campaigns named “TH!NK’’ and “SPEAK UP!” that encourage people to stand up against hate speech and religious intolerance. She was also a participant at Peace Boat’s Special Global University Programme (Autumn 2014) on Social Cohesion in multi-ethnic Asia. Moreover, Ms. Kotigala served as Sri Lankan delegate for Global Unites Summit 2015 which focused on connecting and equipping Youth Movements for Conflict Transformation.

Born in Sri Lanka and now aged 22, she is a third year undergraduate at University of Sri Jayawardenapura studying Business Statistics. Ms. Kotigala also holds a diploma in International Relations, and currently follows a diploma on Diplomacy and Global Affairs which would qualify her as a junior diplomat.


Tobias Bütow

Centre International de formation européenne

Tobias Bütow, born in 1978 in East Germany, directs the Euro-Mediterranean Studies department at the Centre international deformation européenne (CIFE) in Nice. Before joining this 60 years old teaching institute of higher education in the South of France, the historian and political scientist lived in the Middle East and the Western Balkans and worked primarily in the fields research and education: In West-Jerusalem, Israel, he worked for the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in Berlin, Germany, he has co-curated exhibitions at the German Historical Museum.

Mr. Bütow was awarded "Young European of the year 2000“. In 2007 he joined the board of Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe that runs the European Youth Parliament (EYP). In his research and teaching he is mainly focusing on violent conflicts, extreme violence, and collective memories, with a primary focus on the Mediterranean region. He writes for the German weekly DIE ZEIT and the daily Der Tagesspiegel.

Twitter: @tobiasbtow


Victor Ochen

Founder, African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET)

Born in 1981 in Uganda, Victor Ochen founded the nongovernmental organisation "African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) at the peak of war, which lasted for over two decades. AYINET has established itself as a victim-centered organisation, delivering lifesaving psychological assistance, medical operations and promoting responsible leadership for reconciliation, peace and development through capacity building programmes.

In 2010, during the ICC Review Conference in Kampala, AYINET organized the War Victims Day Football Game in order to mobilize global support for victims of war, in which high-ranking UN officials played football alongside war victims.

This year Mr. Ochen and AYINET were jointly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Additionally, Victor was named by the Forbes Magazines as one of the 10 Most Powerful men in Africa.


Yousef Assidiq

Co-Founder, JustUnity

Yousef Assidiq is Co-Founder of JustUnity, a Norwegian organisation successfully working on extremism prevention and de-radicalisation of youth. This includes cooperating closely with Norwegian municipalities, schools, police and other relevant actors such as parents. JustUnity for instance helps them with getting their loved ones home again. Yousef is also a practitioner in the European RAN (Radicalisation Awareness Network) and he consulted on the Action plan against Radicalisation and Violent Extremism in Norway. 

A former extremist himself, Mr. Assidiq shares his personal experience in conversations with youth and in lectures. 


Zahra Lohdi

Young Professional Officer and Special Assistant to the Country Director, Crisis Prevention & Recovery Unit, UNDP Pakistan

Zahra Lohdi works with the Crises Prevention and Recovery Unit of UNDP, where she focuses on return and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Afghan refugees, social cohesion and youth related issues in vulnerable communities. She has previously worked as an Economist for the Korea International Cooperation Agency where she managed various ODA projects in the area of economic policy and development sectors such as Education, Energy & Infrastructure, Health and Sanitation. She has also worked with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), International Growth Center (IGC), UK Department for International Development (DFID), Save the Children, and Citizen Voice Project USAid in different capacities.

Prior, Ms. Lohdi worked as a Research Associate at Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Government of Pakistan. She has taught graduate and postgraduate subjects at different universities. Additionally, she authored and co-authored a number of publications and writes regularly in English and Urdu newspapers. She is acknowledged in the development sector for her public budget analysis skills. While working for a National Endowment for Democracy (NED, US Congress) project, she developed a district level Open Budget Index for her country. Her struggle for open, transparent and participatory budgeting is lauded by the civil society.

Ms. Lohdi holds a post graduate degree from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and a bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from London School of Economics (LSE).