Expert Team: International Advisory Council

Adelaide Sosseh is an educator, gender specialist and human rights advocate. She recently served as the Deputy Chairperson of The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) set up by government to establish the historical record of human rights violations committed during the 22 years of the Jammeh regime, promote national reconciliation, and consider the granting of reparation to victims. 

Mrs. Sosseh is a former Director of Schools (1990-1993) and had served in various roles in the education sector before rising to the position of Director under the restructured Ministry of Education. From there, she transited to Women’s Affairs and worked under the Office of the President as Project Manager of the multi-donor Women in Development Project (1993-1995). 

Post government, Mrs. Sosseh became an active member of civil society and was appointed Executive Director of Worldview The Gambia, a communications development agency in 1999, a position she held until 2010.  She also founded or chaired several civil society organisations at the national, regional and global levels, including the Education for all Campaign Network (EFANet), as founder and chairperson (2000-2010); the Pro-Poor Advocacy Group (Pro-PAG), as founder and chairperson (2000-2009);  the National Human Rights Defenders, as founder and Secretary General (2000-2006); The Gambia Red Cross Society, as Member of the Executive Board (2004-2007); Amnesty International The Gambia, as member (2000-2005); and the Global Campaign against Poverty (GCAP), inculding as Global Co-Chair (2005-2010) and Ambassador (2010 to date).

Mrs. Sosseh has also served as the Executive Director of the GAM Africa Institute for Leadership (GAIL): an organisation focused on developing the leadership capacities of emerging youth leaders. At the regional level she served as a resource expert for the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (EGDC) from 2005-2016, conducting gender training in all the ECOWAS countries and developing gender training manuals for the region. At the global level she served on the Global Advisory Committee for UN Girls Education (UNGEI GAC) and as a Representative of the Africa Campaign Network on Education for All (ANCEFA).

Ellen Friedman (she/her) is a social change strategist, organizer, philanthropic advisor, and network weaver. For eleven years she served as the Executive Director of the Compton Foundation, which seeks to ignite change toward a sustainable, just, and peaceful future. During Ellen’s tenure, the Foundation aligned its investment and grantmaking program with the Foundation’s mission and made the courageous decision to spend out the Foundation’s assets after 75 years of operation. Ellen served on the coordinating committee of the Divest/Invest Philanthropy campaign, was a member of the Steering Committee of Peace and Security Funders Group, and the Trust Based Philanthropy Project.

Prior to her tenure at Compton, Ellen served as the executive vice president of Tides where she worked for twenty-three years with individual donors and other social change activists. Previously, as a program officer, Ellen designed the Domestic Violence program at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and was an organizer on issues of gender-based violence for many years. She is a trustee of Rockwood Leadership Institute, the Tara Health Foundation and Criterion Institute. She is also a member of the Directors Circle of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

Ellen holds an MBA from UCLA, studies Jewish meditation and feminist spirituality, and leads the grief support team in her synagogue community in San Francisco. She is the proud mother of two remarkable humans and the partner of another.

Shaharzad Akbar is the Executive Director of Rawadari and the former Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Previously, she served as Deputy National Security Council on Peace and Civilian Protection as well as Senior Advisor to Afghan President on High Development Councils (August 2017 – August 2018) where she coordinated the prioritization of development projects and programs for executive decision-making. Prior to this, Shaharzad was Country Director for Open Society Afghanistan (September 2014 – July 2017), a non-profit that supports Afghan civil society and media in areas of peacebuilding, human rights and promoting tolerance. Before this, Shaharzad was partner and chief operating officer with QARA Consulting, a firm owned and run by young Afghans in Kabul which she co-founded in 2010; an analyst for the Free and Fair Elections Foundation; a journalist for BBC Afghanistan; and a research assistant on the Women of Courage book project. In 2012, she was the first elected chairperson for the Afghanistan 1400 movement.

Born in Jawzjan, Afghanistan in 1987, Shaharzad lived for a few years as refugee in Pakistan during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Shaharzad completed an MPhil at Oxford University as a Weidenfeld scholar in 2011; previously she obtained her BA (cum laude) in anthropology from Smith College in the U.S.

Shaharzad’s writing has appeared in international and Afghan media including Newsweek and Al Jazeera, and in academic journals. In 2017, she was selected by World Economic Forum as Young Global Leader.

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Maria Livanos Cattaui was Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce from July 1996 to June 2005. She has championed the role of world business in the global economy and was instrumental in establishing a global partnership between business and the United Nations, leading to greater business input into UN economic activities.

Mrs. Cattaui worked with the World Economic Forum in Geneva from 1977 to 1996, where she became Managing Director, responsible for the celebrated Annual Meeting in Davos, building the public awareness it enjoys today.

She holds board and advisory board memberships on the EastWest Institute (New York), the International Crisis Group (Brussels), the Institute of International Education (New York), the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), the Schulich School of Business (York University, Toronto) and the Elliott School of International Affairs (George Washington University, Washington D.C.).

Mrs. Cattaui, who is of Swiss nationality and Greek origin, was educated in the United States. She is an honours graduate of Harvard University. She holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from York University, Toronto.

Jennifer Widner is Professor of Politics and International Affairs and Director of Innovations for Successful Societies, a Woodrow Wilson School research program on improving government performance.  Before joining Princeton, she taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan.  Her current research focuses on the political economy of institutional reform, government accountability and service delivery.  She also remains interested in constitution writing, constitutional design and fair dealing—topics of earlier research. She is the author of Building the Rule of Law (W. W. Norton), a study of courts and law in Africa, and she has published articles on a variety of topics in DemocratizationComparative PoliticsComparative Political Studies, Journal of Development StudiesThe William & Mary Law ReviewDaedalus, the American Journal of International Law and other publications.  She is currently completing work on a book about making government work in challenging settings, drawing on experiences in Africa, Asia and parts of Latin America. 

Jennifer received her PhD from Yale University.


Oscar Vilhena Vieira is the Dean of the School of Law at São Paulo of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV Direito SP), where he teaches Constitutional Law, Human Rights, and Law and Development. He has a B.A. in law from the Catholic University of Sao Paulo, an LL.M. from Columbia University in New York, an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of São Paulo, and completed his post-doctoral studies at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University.

He served as state attorney for São Paulo, was executive secretary of the United Nations Latin American Institute in Brazil, executive secretary of the Teotonio Vilela Commission for Human Rights, and legal adviser for the Center for the Studies of Violence of the University of São Paulo. He participated in the board of Open Society Foundation’s Human Rights Initiatives, and the board of Ethos Institute. He also was a founding member of Conectas Human Rights, Pro Bono Institute and former president of Law Schools Global League (LSGL). He has also been a Global Fellow at the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and founding members of the Arns Commission for Human Rights.

Oscar Vilhena Vieira has written several books and academic articles on constitutional law, human rights, law and development. He is a columnist at one of the most important newspapers in Brazil – the Folha de São Paulo – and an active pro bono lawyer in several human rights cases. 


Rafael Vilasanjuan is the Policy and Global Development Director of ISGlobal, a major institute that addresses urgent challenges in global health. He has a long and distinguished career in international humanitarian and development issues.

Mr Vilasanjuan worked for over 12 years with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), starting as Communication Director in 1995 and later as General Director of the Spanish section of MSF. In 1999, when the organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he was appointed General Secretary of MSF International, a position he held until 2005. During this period, he worked in conflict zones such as Rwanda, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, Sudan, West Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia. As General Secretary of MSF, between 2002 and 2004 he was the chair of the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, representing the largest international humanitarian organisations before the UN. He was a founding member of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), which develops and delivers new drugs for diseases in developing countries – an organisation in which he still collaborates.

Mr Vilasanjuan is a professional journalist with a degree in information sciences. He has a weekly opinion column on international affairs in El Periódico and contributes weekly as a political affairs analyst on the news programme of Cadena SER, the leading radio station in Spain.  


Nathalie Tocci is Director of Istituto Affari Internazionali, Editor of The International Spectator and former Special Adviser to EU HRVP Federica Mogherini, in charge of outreach to think tanks and coordination of work on a new European Security Strategy. She is honorary professor at the University of Tübingen. Previously she held research positions at the Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels, the Transatlantic Academy, Washington and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Florence. Her research interests include European foreign policy, conflict resolution, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Her major publications include Turkey and the European Union, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (co-author); Multilateralism in the 21st Century, London and New York, Routledge, 2013 (co-editor), Turkey’s European Future: Behind the Scenes of America’s Influence on EU-Turkey Relations, New York and London, New York University Press, 2011 (author); The EU and Conflict Resolution, Routledge, London, 2007 (author); and EU Accession Dynamics and Conflict Resolution: Catalyzing Peace or Consolidating Partition in Cyprus?, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2004, (author). Nathalie is the 2008 winner of the Anna Lindh award for the study of European Foreign Policy. 

Chaiwat Satha-Anand is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Thammasat University, Thailand. His works have been published both in Thailand and abroad, and some of his writings have been translated and published in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Korean.

Recent international research projects which he led and have recently been published include: Chaiwat Satha-Anand and Olivier Urbain (eds.) Protecting the Sacred, Creating Peace in Asia-Pacific (Routledge, 2017); Chaiwat Satha-Anand and Olivier Urbain (eds.) The Promise of Reconciliation? examining violent and nonviolent conflicts in Asia (Routledge, 2017). His latest publications include Nonviolence and Islamic Imperatives (Irene Publishing, 2017), Barangsiapa Memelihara Kehidupan (Mizan, 2016-in Bahasa Indonesia), and Appreciating Women in the Life of Nonviolence (Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, 2015-in Thai).

In 2006, he was named “Thailand’s Best Researcher in Political Science and Public Administration” by the National Research Council and Thammasat University’s Kiratiyajaraya Distinguished Professor. He received the National Sri Burapha Distinguished Writer Award in Bangkok, and the International El-Hibri Peace Education Prize in Washington D.C. in 2012.

Among other things, Professor Satha-Anand is also: Chairperson, Strategic Nonviolence Commission, Thailand Research Fund; Director, Peace Information Center, Foundation for Democracy and Development Studies; and Academic Advisor, International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), Washington D.C.

Dr. Nasser H. Saidi is the Founder and President of Nasser Saidi & Associates. He is the former Chief Economist and Head of External Relations of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Executive Director of the Hawkamah-Institute for Corporate Governance and The Mudara Institute of Directors at the DIFC between 2006 and 2012. 

Dr. Saidi is a member of the IMF’s Regional Advisory Group for MENA and Co-Chair of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) MENA Corporate Governance Working Group. He is a member of the Private Sector Advisory Group of the Global Corporate Governance Forum, an institution of the World Bank driving global corporate governance reforms. He is also Chair of the regional Clean Energy Business Council.

In 2013, he was named among the 50 most Influential Arabs in the World by The Middle East magazine, for the fourth consecutive year and named among the 500 Most Powerful Arabs in the world by Arabian Business for the second consecutive year.

Dr. Saidi was the Minister of Economy and Trade and Minister of Industry of Lebanon between 1998 and 2000. He was the first Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon for two successive mandates, 1993-1998 and 1998-2003. He was a Member of the UN Committee for Development Policy (UNCDP) for two mandates over the period 2000-2006, a position to which he was appointed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in his personal capacity.

He has written a number of books and numerous publications addressing macroeconomic, capital market development and international economic issues in Lebanon and the region and is the author of, “Corporate Governance in the MENA countries: Improving Transparency & Disclosure”. His research interests include macroeconomics, financial market development, payment systems and international economic policy, and information and communication technology (ICT).

Dr. Saidi was a private banker and served as an economic adviser and director to a number of central banks and financial institutions in Arab countries, Europe and Central and Latin America. Prior to his public career, Dr. Nasser pursued a career as an academic, serving as a Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics in the University of Chicago, the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (Geneva, CH), and the Université de Genève. He also served as a lecturer at the American University of Beirut and the Université St. Joseph in Beirut.

Dr. Saidi holds a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Economics from the University of Rochester in the U.S.A, a M.Sc. from University College, London University and a B.A. from the American University of Beirut.