International Advisory Council / Co-founder and former Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative

Bassma Kodmani

Bassma is a co-founder of the Arab Reform Initiative and its former Executive Director from 2005 to mid-2019. She is also an Associate Professor of International Relations at Paris University, currently on leave from her post. She has served as a senior adviser on international cooperation at the French National Research Council (2007-09), Associate Senior Research Fellow at CERI-Sciences Po (2006-07), an adviser to the director of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale (2007-2009) and Senior Visiting Fellow at the Collège de France (2005-06).

From 1998 to 2005, she was the head of the Governance and International Cooperation program at the Ford Foundation office for the Middle East and North Africa in Cairo where she was in charge of support to research institutions, NGOs, and public agencies in the region. From 1981 to 1998, she established and directed the Middle East Program at the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) in Paris. In 2011-2012, she took a temporary leave from the Arab Reform Initiative to take on a mission as Head of Foreign Relations and spokesperson with the Syrian National Council, the opposition coalition seeking democratic change in Syria. She resigned from that role in 2012. She is also the co-founder and Treasurer of the Initiative for a New Syria, an NGO based in Paris specialized in relief work and support for civil society in Syria. Bassma holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Sciences-Po in Paris.

She has authored books, reports, and articles on conflicts in the Middle East, regional security, political developments in Arab societies, security institutions, religious authority and political authority in the Muslim world and the question of Palestine. Her book on the Palestinian Diaspora (in French) was awarded the prize of Association France-Palestine in 1998. She regularly lectures in Arab and European academic institutions and policy forums. Bassma is a member of the Advisory Boards of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Middle East Center, of International IDEA in Sweden and of Banca Prossima in Italy. She was awarded the Légion d’Honneur of France as Chevalier in 2012, and the Raymond Georis Prize for Innovative Philanthropy in 2011 for her role in developing the Arab Reform Initiative and promoting democracy in the context of the Arab Spring.