Marta Welander   Keynote Speaker

Marta Welander is the the founder of the Refugee Rights Data Project which aims to fill data gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Europe. Currently working as Deputy Director of the Democratic Progress Institute, she has previously been involved with Girls Not Brides, a gender project initiated by The Elders, where she facilitated collaboration between member NGOs of a vast international network. She is a founding member of a women’s rights coalition in the Middle East & North Africa, and has previously served a number of non-governmental organisations including the Refugee Council UK, Front Line Defenders, and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.

Marta holds an MA in Human Rights & Democratic Governance from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights, as well as an MA in International Relations from King’s College London. She speaks English, French, Swedish, Spanish and Arabic. She is a research fellow for FRAME; a large-scale collaborative research project focusing on the contribution of EU policies to the promotion of human rights worldwide.

Fiona Samuels   Panel on ‘Women: Victims or agents of conflict?’

Fiona Samuels is a Senior Research Fellow in the Social Development Programme at ODI. A social anthropologist, working across the fields of social development and public health, Fiona’s areas of expertise include maternal and child health, gender based violence, the role of gender and social norms in shaping adolescent girls’ lives, social protection and HIV vulnerabilities and coping. She has recently led a study on mental health and psychosocial support service provision for adolescent girls in fragile and post-conflict settings.

Marilyn Thomson     Panel on ‘Women: Victims or agents of conflict?’

Marilyn Thomson is a founding member and Co-Director of the Central America Women’s Network which was set up in 1991. CAWN is a UK-based organisation carrying out research and disseminating information on the violation of women’s rights in the region and supporting the campaigns of Central American women’s organisations. Marilyn has lived and worked in Latin America for many years, carrying out research and working with women’s grass roots, human rights organisations and at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico. She completed a PhD at the Institute of Education, University of London, (1995). She was employed for over seven years by Save the Children UK as the global Gender Advisor, providing training and technical support to programmes and partners in many countries around the world, including emergency relief programmes. Later on she was a visiting research fellow at the Gender Research Institute, City University, London (2005 –2009).

She currently works as an independent social development consultant carrying out research and evaluations, training and building the capacity of organisations on issues and tools relating to gender and development.

Professor Funmi Olonisakin     Panel on ‘Women: Victims or agents of conflict?’

Professor Funmi Olonisakin is the founding Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC), which aims to build the next generation of African scholars and analysts generating cutting edge knowledge for conflict, security and development in Africa. She is Professor of Security, Leadership and Development in the School of Global Affairs, King’s College London and a Research Associate with the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Olonisakin served as Director of the Conflict, Security and Development Group at King’s College London from 2003 until 2013. Prior to this, she worked in the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict overseeing the Africa work of that Office.

Trained in Political Science (Bsc. Ife, Nigeria) and War Studies (PhD, King’s College London), Olonisakin has positioned her work to serve as a bridge between academia and the world of policy and practice. Her academic research and writing has contributed to strategic thinking in post-conflict contexts and in the work of regional organizations such as ECOWAS and the African Union.

Farah Mihlar    Panel on ‘Ethnic minorities, vulnerability, and conflict’

Farah Mihlar is a human rights activist and academic. She has worked for over 10 years in the field of human rights, specialising in minority rights in situations of conflict and on religious minorities. She has conducted field research in Israel, Kenya, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and published a number of reports and policy documents on minority rights. Her previous was as Head of Asia at Minority Rights Group International. Farah has completed a PhD on political Islam in Sri Lanka and is awaiting examination. She is a Research Associate of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

Dr Alexander Ramsbotham  Panel on ‘Ethnic minorities, vulnerability, and conflict’

Alexander joined Conciliation Resources in August 2009 as Head of Accord and Series Editor. Before this he was a research fellow in the international programme at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

He worked as specialist adviser to the House of Lords European Union (EU) Select Committee in its inquiry into the EU Strategy for Africa, before which he was head of the Peace and Security Programme at the United Nations Association-UK. He has also been an associate fellow in the International Security Programme at Chatham House. Alexander completed a PhD in July 2011.

Maryyum Mehmood   Panel on ‘Ethnic minorities, vulnerability, and conflict’

Maryyum is an ESRC Doctoral Scholar and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Maryyum’s thesis explores Antisemitism and Islamophobia through the target’s lens. Her research focuses on responses to religious and racial stigmatisation, and prejudice against Muslims in contemporary Britain and Jews in Weimar Germany, respectively. Her other research interests include identity politics, sectarian violence and South Asian security trends. Currently, she contributes to a range of research subjects in academic journals as well as international media outlets. She holds an MA from the department of War Studies and a BA in Political Science from SOAS.

Shaun Danquah     Panel on ‘Marginalisation and radicalisation of youth ’

Shaun Danquah has over 15 years’ experience as a practitioner working at a local level across London and the East Midlands among various communities and young people from diverse cultural backgrounds deemed as ‘hard to reach’ and who are involved in gang culture and at risk of Islamic extremism. He is now disseminating that knowledge and insight into academic research via his PhD and teaching at the London Metropolitan University.

His research to date has included researching hundreds of ‘at risk’ young men who are involved in gang activity, young men susceptible to Islamic extremism as well as individuals who have been involved in gun and knife crime.

He has developed an academic framework called the ‘3 stage social model’, which assesses ‘isolation, relative deprivation and intellectualisation’ as key components towards pathways into violent radicalization.

Abdul Rahman Al-Ageli     Panel on ‘Marginalisation and radicalisation of youth’

Abdul Rahman Al-Ageli is currently a non-resident fellow at The Atlantic Council and a War Studies Masters candidate at King’s College London. He is a former National Security file coordinator in the Office of the Prime Minister of Libya and representative of the Prime Minister’s Office and Deputy Head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Border Affairs. After graduating from the UK in Economics and International Business, he left to participate in the Libyan Revolution. Abdul Rahman then began working with the Stabilization Team of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2011 as well as the Supreme Security Committee and the Military Council. In addition, he is a founder of the Libyan Youth Forum, one of the largest and earliest youth organisations created during the revolution, which aims to empower youth in Libya. Furthermore, he is part of the World Economic Forums Global Shapers community and is a co-founder of the Malta International Crisis Centre.

Dr Erin Marie Saltman        Panel on ‘Marginalisation and radicalisation of youth’

Dr Erin Marie Saltman is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. She manages research and project development on ISD’s Women and Extremism (WaE) initiative as well as the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN). Dr Saltman’s background and expertise includes both far-right and Islamist processes of radicalisation, counter-extremism and political socialisation. Her primary research looks at online extremism, gender dynamics and cognitive openings for countering violent extremism. 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 processes of radicalisation.

Mak Chishty     Panel on ‘Integrating Communities’

Commander Mak Chishty has been a police officer for over 30 years and brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience. He began his career in Warwickshire police, where he was quickly promoted to CID. He then went on to hold a variety of senior positions before moving back into uniform as Borough Commander for the Warwickshire town of Rugby, where he took a pioneering approach to community relations, involving the public in the drawing up of policing priorities, helping to build trust and support between the force and the communities it served. He later joined the Metropolitan police in 2011 where he has held various commands within the force. He is currently serving as the Commander for community engagement and has been at the forefront of engaging with all communities across London. He is also a member of a number of multi-faith forums.

Yasmine Ahmed         Panel on ‘Integrating Communities’

Yasmine has been Director of Rights Watch (UK) since April 2014. She brings a wealth of experience from working in civil society, government, the UN and academia.She started her career in Australia working on issues concerning asylum seekers and refugees. As part of this work, she established an NGO, Australian Refugee Support Group and worked with legal groups assisting asylum seekers in detention. She was a member of the South Australian Muslim Reference group appointed by the South Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs. The Reference Group provided advice on plans for promoting a balanced public awareness of Muslim communities, educating the public about Islam, and addressing physical and verbal attacks on Muslims.To discover more about Yasmine Ahmed’s contribution to this field and the work of Rights watch (UK) please click on the following:

Dr Rebekka Friedman        Panel on ‘Integrating Communities’

Rebekka joined the War Studies Department as Assistant Professor of International Peace and Security in September 2013. Her research and teaching are broadly at the intersection of reconciliation, transitional justice, collective memory, gender and peace-building, especially in protracted social conflicts and divided societies. She has strong cross-regional expertise, having conducted extensive field research in rural and urban areas in Peru, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka. She holds an MA and PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA Joint Honours in Political Science and International Development from McGill University. She has previously served as an editor of ‘Millennium: Journal of International Studies’.


To listen to these as well as other excellent panelists, please click here to book your place at the conference.