Shahmahmood Miakhel (Afghanistan) | Holta Kotherja (Albania) | Tatul Manasserian (Armenia) | Ulvi Akhundli (Azerbaijan) | Olga Stuzhinskaya (Belarus) | Junning Liu (China) | Juan Londono (Colombia) | Armel Luhiriri Byamungu (Democratic Republic of the Congo) | Sameh Henien (Egypt) | Ezzat Youssef (Egypt) | Talan Aouny (Iraq) | Gladwell Otieno (Kenya) | Bechir El Hassen (Mauritania) | Kenza Aqertit (Morocco) | Sani Aliyu (Nigeria) | Clement Nwankwo (Nigeria) | Saad Paracha (Pakistan) | Anna Sevortyan (Russia) | Dmitriy Vishnyakov (Russia) | Anna Zelentsova (Russia) | Kavi Chongkittavorn (Thailand) | Natalia Hnydyuk (Ukraine) | Tetiana Soboleva (Ukraine) | Quang Nguyen (Vietnam) | Violet Gonda (Zimbabwe)
Shahmahmood Miakhel is the governance advisor of the Institutional Development/Governance Department of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He assists the Mission in its work on issues such as rule of law, institutional development and civil service reform. Actively involved in the resistance against the Soviet and Taliban occupation, Miakhel became the Deputy Minister of Interior in 2004 to 2005.
Holta Kotherja is an attorney, professor at the Magistrates School of Albania, and director of the Center of Integrated Legal Services and Practices. In these capacities, she has contributed to the drafting of various laws and has represented civil society in various hearings of the legal committee of the Albanian Parliament. For three years, Kotherja has served as the president of the Albanian Coalition Against Child-Trafficking. In addition, she also co-directed a documentary project on the war crimes committed in Kosovo, used as an evidentiary source by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Tatul Manasserian is a member of the National Assembly of Armenia and a professor of World Economy and Economic Security Issues at Yerevan State University. As an MP, he is a member of the Standing Committee on Financial Credit, Budgetary and Economic Affairs, and responsible for drafting and analyzing legislative proposals in these areas. Manasserian has published extensively on economic development, and regional and trans-regional cooperation.
Ulvi Akhundlu is the head of the Council of Europe Office in Moldova since March 2011. The Council of Europe is an international organization that includes 47 member states, promotes cooperation between all European countries and works to protect and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Prior to his appointment, Akhundlu was the program manager of the largest cooperation program between the European Union and the Council of Europe on democracy support in Moldova. He also served as the head of the media monitoring unit and press attaché with the Council of Europe’s Directorate of Communication from 2007-2010. Previously, Akhundlu was the media and political adviser of the Baku Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which addresses human, political, economic and environmental aspects of security and stability in Azerbaijan. He served as a director of information and outreach at the Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia, a U.S.-based NGO working in Azerbaijan for the support of local civil society institutions and grass-root initiatives.
Akhundlu has studied human rights, democracy development and project management at several universities in Germany, Italy and the United States. He is currently pursuing an MA degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Olga Stuzhinskaya is the founder and director of the Brussels-based Office for a Democratic Belarus that seeks to strengthen ties between Belarus and the European Union (EU). Through its programs, the Office promotes European values and best practices in Belarus and fosters approximation with European standards for the benefit of civil society and professional groups.
Stuzhinskaya serves on the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum that was launched in 2009. The EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative aims at closer political and economic ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Stuzhinskaya is the co-author of the concept and one of the founders of the newly established international non-profit association - The Eastern Partnership Advancement Centre - which will serve as a hub for information and coordination of the Eastern Partnership activities by civil society organisations, professional associations, government agencies and EU agencies across the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.
Junning Liu is a senior fellow at the Institute of China Studies in Beijing. He is one of China's most important democratic intellectuals - selected as one of six of ”China’s Bright Young Stars” by the New York Times in 1999 and one of China’s “Democracy’s Vital Voices” by the Washington Post in 2004. Liu has published extensively on democracy, and translated into Chinese a number of major works on democracy. Liu is a signatory of Charter 08.
Juan Londono is the chief of staff of the Liberal Party of Colombia, helping with the formulation of party strategy for the forthcoming 2006 elections. He is also working as a consultant for the Organization of American States, shaping a project aimed at strengthening the political party systems of the Andean countries. In the past, Londono served as an advisor to OAS Secretary General and Executive Coordinator of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy and has also worked for the Colombian government and Congress.
Armel Luhiriri Byamungu
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Armel Luhiriri Byamungu is the regional coordinator of francophone Africa at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC). The CICC includes more than 2,500 organizations from 150 countries, and is working to end genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity through a commitment to the core values of human rights and justice.
Prior to joining the CICC, Byamungu represented human rights victims in courts and other governmental bodies, and enforced international standards on detention conditions in domestic courts. He has worked for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor and the United Nations Integrated Bureau in Burundi.
Byamungu graduated from Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He completed his masters degree at the Irish Center for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland.
Sameh Henien is the assistant managing editor of Watani, a weekly Cairo newspaper devoted to promoting citizenship rights for disadvantaged groups in Egypt, particularly Christians and women. He is also consultant to the group Coptic Evangelicals for Social Services on issues related to Muslim-Christian dialogue and civic education. Henien writes on a regular basis for many other independent and official newspapers, and he wrote several books, among them Accountability in Public Administration, Coptic Grievances in Egypt, and Governance Issues in the Egyptian Context.
Ezzat I. M. Youssef
Ezzat I. M. Youssef is the deputy head of the political department of Al-Ahram, Egypt's largest and most influential newspaper. Youssef is also a contributing writer to Al-Ahram English language edition. His objective reporting and analysis is a key part of the new wave of reformist journalism in Egypt.
Talan Aouny is the director of the Civil Society Resource Center, responsible for supervising and managing all aspects of the Center's Iraq Civil Society Program (ICSP), a USAID-funded project implemented by America's Development Foundation in Iraq. Through her work, Aouny ensures that ICSP fosters the development of over 500 indigenous Iraqi civil society organizations and supports them in promoting legislative proposals, monitoring elections, establishing independent media outlets and advancing human rights.
Gladwell Otieno is the executive director of the Africa Center for Open Governance. Until 2005, she was the executive director of Transparency International (TI) - Kenya. Under her leadership, the organization gained international recognition for its anti-corruption campaign and advocacy work. However, Otieno was ousted from the TI leadership because of her strong anti-corruption stance.
Bechir El Hassen
Bechir El Hassen is a private entrepreneur and president of “Pacte Republicain,” an organization advocating political, economic and social reforms in Mauritania. A leader of his country’s young democratic forces during his student years, he was arrested twice by the military regime and forced into a two-year exile. El Hassen has been invited to speak and testify about his work for Mauritania’s democratic movement, including at the U.S. State Department, Congress and the National Academy of Sciences.
Kenza Aqertit is the program manager of the Legislative Strengthening project of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) - Rabat. In this capacity, Aqertit designs and implements programs that aim to assist the Moroccan legislative body in becoming more accountable, and lobbies parliamentarians to promote greater public participation in the legislative process. In May 2006, Aqertit will transfer to Kuwait as NDI's field representative, responsible for building and maintaining relationships with political parties and parliament. She is currently co-authoring a book entitled Women, Democratisation and Islam.
Sani Aliyu is the principal editor of the News and Current Affairs Section of the Nigerian Television Authority (JOS). At JOS, he supervises all the newsroom operations and coordinates the production of all Current Affairs programs. Aliyu is also the National Vice President of Nigeria’s umbrella youth body, NACOMYO, where he struggles to “imbibe” the culture of peaceful coexistence and civil responsibility. In addition, he is also the national secretary of the Association of Christian Muslim Mutual Relations, one of the foremost bodies working for peaceful interfaith relations in the country.
Clement Nwankwo is the executive director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Cener (PLAC), an organization which hosts and leads the Civil Society Nigeria Election Situation Room in Abuja, Nigeria. He is also an attorney and principal counsel at LawRight Associates, a law and consultancy firm taking on broad range of cases and providing consultancy services in the field of constitutional law, political economy, and institution and capacity building.
Nwankwo has had deep involvement in the founding of the modern Nigerian civil society movement. He was the co-founder and executive director of Nigeria’s oldest human rights organization, the Civil Liberties Organization. In addition, he served as the co-founder and executive director of the Constitutional Rights Project, through which he represented victims of human rights abuses in courts. Nwankwo also founded Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), which played a big role in bringing democracy back to Nigeria. Nwankwo has consulted widely for various Nigerian and International organizations including the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the British Department for International Development (DFID), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and the Overseas Development Agency, UK. He is the recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy’s annual Democracy Award and many other national and international honors.
Saad Paracha served as the democracy and governance specialist of USAID - Islamabad. He managed and developed projects supporting democratic institutions, improving civil-military relations, reforming electoral processes, addressing human rights issues faced by women in his country, and improving the ability of local governments to deliver critical services to their constituents. Paracha now serves as senior programs officer at the Asian Development Bank.
Anna Sevortyanserved as the information programs and research coordinator of the Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights in Moscow. Through her work there, Sevortyanfocused on human rights, good governance and media coverage of disadvantaged groups. She has been teaching a class called “Reporting Diversity” for students of the main schools of journalism in Russia since 2004. Sevortyan is now the director of Human Rights Watch’s Russia Office.
Dmitry Vishnyakov is the institutional development director of the Moscow School of Political Studies, a public policy school that runs programming for mid-career political officials from across Russia. At the Moscow School of Policy Studies, Vishnyakov develops strategy and tactics for the organization as well as programs on democracy building, rule of law, mass media and civil society. He also frequently collaborates with think tank partners in the US and Russia.
Anna Zelentsova is the president of Volgograd Regional Foundation of the Civic Initiatives Support “Citizen'' and the director of the Volgograd School of Public Policy. Since 2004, under her leadership, the foundation provided social and legal help for more than 1800 citizens and 25 NGOs, supported over 20 volunteer social projects, and trained regional politicians, journalists and civil leaders. Zelentsova is also a member of the Federal Political Council of the Republican Party of Russia (RPR).
Kavi Chongkittavorn is the assistant group editor of the Nation Multimedia Group in Bangkok, the publishing entity of the English language daily The Nation. In this capacity, he provides guidelines for news outlets, leads the news discussions, and provides editorial writing to The Nation. Chongkittavorn is also the founder of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, a media advocacy group which fights to promote freedom of press in the region. He also received the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2007 Democracy Award. Chongkittavorn also works with UNESCO in Thailand.
Nataliia Hnydyuk works as a deputy head of the cabinet of the Chief of Staff to the President of Ukraine. In this capacity, she conducts various activities related to the development of new structures of the presidential office and the establishment of mechanisms that could enforce efficiency in the operation of executive bodies.
Tetiana Soboleva is a political party program officer at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) - Ukraine, working to build and strengthen political parties in the spheres of operational and structural development, coalition building, and political campaigns. Soboleva is also involved in NDI programs for Belarus and Azerbaijan and participated in a number of election monitoring missions.
Quang Nguyenis the managing partner of Nhquang & Associates, a law firm engaged in legal practice and development consulting. He has published extensively and applied his research findings in legal development projects focusing on the rule of law and public participation in law - making activities that are conducted by agencies such as the UNDP, the Asian Development Bank and the EU Commission.
Violet Gonda is a producer and presenter for the news section of SW Radio Africa, an award winning London-based station that broadcasts to Zimbabwe and South Africa. Gonda has been part of this station since its inception in 2001. Together with her colleagues, she works on exposing the Zimbabwean government’s wrongdoings, especially in the area of human rights. The radio is barred in Zimbabwe and its reporters are banned from entering the country. Gonda won the 2005 Best Radio Documentary of the International Association for Women in Radio and Television. Being passport-less and state-less, she has had very limited travel and training opportunities and welcomed the opportunity to 'spread her wings' at Stanford. Gonda was awarded a Knight Fellowship for the 2007-2008 academic year and undertook research involving the development of media in emerging democracies.