Project Advisory Working Group (2015 – 2018)

Dr. Erin McCandless

Research and Project Director
Erin McCandless, Associate Professor in the School of Governance, University of Witwatersrand, is a widely published scholar and policy advisor with over twenty-five years of experience working on and in conflict affected settings, broadly on issues of peacebuilding, statebuilding, security, governance, development and resilience – and their intersections. In addition to directing ‘Forging Resilient Social Contracts’, she serves as a civil society Co-Chair on the ‘New Deal’ Implementation Working Group of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, and is co-founder and Books Editor of the internationally referred Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. Consulting widely across the United Nations and with other international organisations, she conducts research and evaluation to inform policy and programme design for peace impact, facilitates strategic processes and conducts trainings. Dr. McCandless is author of more than fifty publications, including three books and several influential United Nations reports, i.e. “Peace Dividends: Contributions of Administrative and Social Services on Peacebuilding,” and “Second Generation DDR Practices in Peace Operations.” For further information:

Dr. Orzala Ashraf Nemat

Orzala Nemat is an Afghan scholar and an activist. As an expert in political ethnography, her key research interest includes studying local governance relations that results from external interventions. Born, lived and worked in Afghanistan (and for fourteen years in Pakistan as refugee), Dr. Nemat experienced different aspect of life in varying environments. As an Afghan scholar with over 16 years of experience in development practice, activism and women’s rights, Nemat brings an enriching experience into her new career path, leading Afghanistan Research & Evaluation Unit (AREU), one of the top research think-tanks in Central Asia region & Afghsnistan. Nemat provides regular analysis through her writings, talks, media appearance and scholarly work on the evolution of governance relations that results from liberal interventions in developing countries at war and conflict.

Susanne Schmeidl

Susanne joined UNSW Sydney in 2015 as a Lecturer in Development Studies. A trained social worker and PhD in sociology, she worked for over twenty years at the intersection of peace, security and development. Her expertise lies in three areas: 1) forced migration and mobility, 2) context-sensitive, participatory and inclusive development practice, and 3) early warning, conflict prevention and civilian peacebuilding; with a cross-cutting focus on gender and civil society. Susanne has worked in various contexts, including Central America (as social worker in urban slums in Mexico-city; facilitating a peace brigade to Nicaragua), the Horn of Africa (co-designing the Conflict Early Warning Mechanism (CEWARN) for the Inter-Governmental organization for Development), and South Asia (research in India and Pakistan) and over a decade in Afghanistan where she co-founded two grassroots organizations (Afghan Civil Society Forum; The Liaison Office) working on conflict-sensitive development practice, access to justice, civil society development and participatory peacebuilding.

Roberto Belloni

Roberto Belloni is Professor of International Relations at the University of Trento (Italy). Previously, he has held teaching and research positions at the University of Denver, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Queens Belfast. His research focuses on democratization and peacebuilding, with particular attention to issues pertaining to civil society in post-conflict areas. He has extensive field experience in the Balkans and particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His publications include the book State Building and International Intervention in Bosnia (Routledge, 2008).

Jasmin Ramovic

Jasmin Ramović is a Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies in Politics Department at the University of Manchester, UK. He holds a PhD in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response from the University of Manchester, and as a Chevening scholar, he obtained an M.Litt. degree in International Security Studies from the University of St Andrews. His research focuses on local actors in conflict-affected settings, with a specific focus on the economic dimension of their everyday. Dr Ramović is also interested in interdisciplinary approaches to studying international relations, particularly the intersection of anthropology, international political economy and peace and conflict studies. In addition to his academic achievements, he also has extensive experience working with various international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has recently co-edited the Palgrave Handbook of Disciplinary and Regional Approaches to Peace (2016).

Angelika Rettberg

Angelika Rettberg is an associate professor at the Political Science Department at Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá – Colombia), where she leads the Research Program on Armed Conflict and Peacebuilding and the M.A. Program on Peacebuilding. She is also a Global Fellow at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO). Her research has focused on the private sector as a political actor and, specifically, on business behavior in contexts of armed conflict and peacebuilding. She has also been involved in research about other aspects of the political economy of armed conflict and peacebuilding, such as the relationship between legal resources, armed conflict, and crime in several Colombian regions as well as the dynamics of transitional justice and reconciliation.

Alexandros Lordos

Alexandros Lordos is the Research Director of the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD). In this capacity, he has led the development of the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index in partnership with UNDP. The SCORE has been designed to assess social cohesion challenges in conflict-affected societies, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the UN and major development organizations in preventing conflict. Specifically, the SCORE Index, under the leadership of Dr. Lordos, has been implemented so far in Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nepal, Ukraine, Liberia and Moldova. Additionally, Dr. Lordos has been advising the European and Arab Region bureaus of UNDP on ways to assess social cohesion in conflict affected countries with a view to enhancing programmatic effectiveness. Dr. Lordos holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology, during which he investigated issues related to youth violence and its prevention. Dr. Lordos is also a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University, where he is collaborating with colleagues to develop novel assessment methods in support of efforts to address political violence.

Ilke Dagli Hustings

Ilke Dagli Hustings holds a PhD in Politics and International Studies, focusing on identity, security and peacebuilding nexus from the University of Warwick, where she taught World Politics for three years. She has over ten years of experience in providing consultancy and project development services for SMEs and NGOs, including independent evaluation of their programmes, aiming at a wide range of donors such as the EU, UNDP, UNDEF, WDB and USAID. She co-authored and managed myriad projects in Cyprus such as The Civil Society Dialogue Project, Cyprus Community Media Centre initiative, Access Info Cyprus Project and was closely involved with the award winning ENGAGE Do Your Part for Peace project as a facilitator. As Head of Operations at the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD), Ilke has been focusing on rolling out SeeD’s Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Index (SCORE) as an evidence-based peacebuilding tool in multiple contexts including Eastern Europe, MENA Region and West Africa.

Subindra Bogati

Subindra Bogati is the Founder / Chief Executive of Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative – an organisation devoted to evidence based policy and action on peacebuilding and humanitarian issues. He has been working for conflict transformation and peace process in Nepal through various national and international organisations for the last several years. Currently, he is one of the principal investigators of the project on “Innovations in Peacebuilding”. This is a two-year research, dialogue, and policy project which represents a partnership between the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, The Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in South Africa and the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative (NPI). He holds an MA in International Relations from London Metropolitan University (2006) and was awarded the FCO Chevening Fellowship in 2009 at the Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy, the University of Birmingham.

David Francis

David J. Francis (PhD) holds a Research Professorial Chair in African Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Bradford in UK. He has served as Head of Department of Peace Studies and currently the Director of the John & Elnora Ferguson Centre for Africa Studies (JEFCAS). Professor Francis is extensively published with 9 books and more than 30 journal articles, book chapters and policy-relevant reports. He currently serves as Commissioner (Board of Director) of the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission as well as UNESCO Chair at the University of Bradford.

Deqa Hagi Yusuf

Hon. Deqa Yasin Hagi Yusef serves as the Minister of Women and Human Rights Development of the Federal Government of Somalia. She has extensive experience in the promotion of women’s empowerment, human rights, peacebuilding and conflict resolution through government, civil society and international fora. She previously held the position of Deputy Chair of the Federal Indirect Election Implementation Team (FIEIT), where she played a central role in enabling women to take up 25 per cent of seats in both the house of the people and the upper house of the Federal Parliament of Somalia. She also served as a member of the Oversight Board Committee in the Special Financing Facility (SFF) Committee of the Ministry of Finance. Prior to joining the government, she worked as Operations Manager with IIDA Women’s Development Organization, a civil society organisation working to advance peacebuilding, women’s empowerment and human rights in Somalia since 1991. In this capacity, she held positions as Somalia focal point for the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding and representative in the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding.

Luka Biong Deng

Luka Kuol (PhD) is Professor of Practice for Security Studies at Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), National Defense University, US. He is also Associate Professor at University of Juba, South Sudan and a Global Fellow at Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway. He was Resident Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and Director of Center for Peace, Development and Security Studies at University of Juba. He served as a Minister of Presidency of Southern Sudan and as a National Minister of Cabinet Affairs of Sudan until he resigned in May 2011. He also worked as a Senior Economist for the World Bank in Southern Sudan. He received his PhD from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at University of Sussex, UK and earned a Master of Arts in Economics and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium and BSc from University of Khartoum, Sudan. He has published scholarly articles in a wide array of international journals and contributed with many peer-reviewed chapters in various books. His most recent research products include report by the World Food Program (WFP) titled “At the Root of Exodus: Food security, conflict and international migration” and by United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) on “The Humanitarian – Development Nexus: What do evaluations say about it?”

Masana Ndinga

Masana Ndinga-Kanga is Senior Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. With a multi-disciplinary background in politics, economics, international development and law, Masana has an MSc in Political Economy of Late Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to this, she worked as a Researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative, involved in facilitating and collaborating multi-sector engagements and evidence-based policymaking. As Machel-Mandela Fellow at The Brenthurst Foundation in Johannesburg, Masana partook in a multi-country study on Chinese small businesses in Southern Africa, and provided policy recommendations for South-South policy development. Masana is also an alumnus of the South African Washington International Program and a Chevening Scholar from 2012–13.

Youssef Mahmoud

Youssef Mahmoud (PhD) is Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute (IPI) supporting the Africa, Middle East, and peace operations programs and serving as focal point on mediation policies and practices. Before retiring from the United Nations in January 2011, he was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). From 2007 to 2009 he served as Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Burundi (BINUB).  Prior to these assignments, he held several other UN senior positions, notably as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Director in the UN Department of Political Affairs, and Head of the Office of the Undersecretary-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.   He is currently a Visiting Professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College, London.  Dr. Mahmoud has a PhD in Linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin (J.D.) is a Research Fellow at the International Peace Institute. She leads IPI’s projects on inclusive peacebuilding and women’s peace leadership, and engages in related UN policy development. She currently leads a nine-country study on Local Networks for Peace, drawing lessons on how peacebuilders collaborate and cooperate through community-led network organizations. Andrea has worked on strengthening gender equality and women’s political voice since 2006, when she researched local responses to gender-based violence and the impact of constitutional gender equality in rural South Africa. As a George J. Mitchell Scholar in Ireland, she conducted extensive fieldwork among new communities of refugees. She holds a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law and a BA in Political Science and Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Fatima Abo Al Asrar

Fatima Abo Alasrar is an independent policy analyst from Yemen and an advisor to a number of nonprofit organizations in peace building, conflict, governance and human rights. She is the co-founder of Basement Foundation, a youth led organization in Yemen that works on promoting democratic values and social justice through cultural programs. Between 2002 and 2005 she worked for the Department for International Development (DFID) in Yemen, where she managed the development programs. She also worked in an advisory capacity for the Yemen mission in Washington DC. Abo Alasrar is a former fellow of the Open Society Foundations. Fatima obtained a master’s in public administration from Harvard University, a master’s in international relations from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Sanaa University in Yemen.

Showers Mawowa

Showers Mawowa (PhD) is a Deputy Director at the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO), a regional policy think tank based in South Africa, post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pretoria’s Political Sciences Department and member of the International Experts Panel (IEP) at the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM).  Dr. Mowawa holds a Ph.D in Development Studies (2013) and Masters in Economic History (2007) both from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and is an alumnus of the African Program on Rethinking Development Economics (APORDE). Research interest include extractives governance, political economy and South Africa’s Foreign Policy. He has written and published several articles in peer-reviewed. Showers has taught at Universities in South Africa, researched and campaigned for pro-poor economic policy, participated in local and international advocacy on public debt, aid effectiveness, development co-operation, extractive governance and sustainable development.

Marie-Joelle Zahar

Marie-Joëlle Zahar is professor of Political Science and Director of the Research Network on Peace Operations at the Université de Montréal. From March 2013 until August 2015, she served as Senior Expert on the Standby Team of Mediation Experts at the UN Department of Political Affairs. Her research focuses on war to peace transitions and the conditions that sustain durable peace. Other foci include the dynamics of the violence of non-state armed actors and the use (and abuse) of powersharing as an institutional solution on the morrow of civil wars. A graduate of McGill University, Professor Zahar has been visiting professor at the Université Lyon II and the Institut d’études politiques de Lyon (France), visiting scholar at the Centre d’études pour le monde arabe moderne, Université Saint-Joseph (Lebanon), and research fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (United States). The author, co-author and/or editor of more than seventy academic books, articles, and chapters, she most recently co-authored Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World (Lynne Rienner 2012).

Alina Rocha Menocal

Originally from Mexico, Alina is a Senior Research Fellow in the Politics and Governance Programme at the Overseas Development Institute, as well as a Senior Democracy Fellow at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Alina completed a two-year secondment at the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) at the University of Birmingham in October 2016, where she led a stream of work on Political Settlements and the Politics of Inclusion. Her areas of expertise include democratisation, linkages between state and society, and peace-and-state building processes in comparative perspective. Over the past ten years, she has been involved in a series of projects and assignments that seek to bridge the gap between research and policy in thinking about governance, as well as to inform more effective ways of working among international development actors. Alina has written extensively on these themes for a variety of publications and outlets. She holds a BA from Yale University and an MPhil from Columbia University, both in political science.

Mary Hope Schwoebel

Mary Hope Schwoebel (Ph.D) is an Assistant Professor of peace and conflict studies at Nova Southeastern University (NSU). She holds a Ph.D. from the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and a Masters in international development from the University of California. Most recently, she lead two research projects for USAID on preventing violent extremism in Africa. Prior to NSU, she spent five years at the United States Institute of Peace in the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, where she designed and led dialogues and training in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Colombia, Nigeria, and elsewhere and wrote policy-oriented publications on a variety of topics related to international peacebuilding. Dr. Schwoebel brings 30 years of experience in the fields of peacebuilding, governance, humanitarian assistance, and development, and has worked for UN agencies, USAID, Peace Corps, and non-governmental organizations.

Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou

Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou (Ph.D.) is Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and Lecturer at the Doctoral school Sciences Po Paris. Previously, Professor Mohamedou was Associate Director of the Harvard University Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research, and Deputy-Director and Academic Dean of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. He is the author, notably, of Iraq and the Second Gulf War (2002), Understanding Al Qaeda – Changing War and Global Politics (2011), and Democratisation in the 21st Century (2016). In 2013-2015, he served as Commissioner in the Kofi Annan-appointed West Africa Commission on Drugs. His research focuses on political violence and transnational terrorism, the transformation of warfare, transitions to democracy, and contemporary Middle Eastern and North African socio-political developments and conflicts.

Timothy D. Sisk

Timothy D. Sisk is Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver and a steering faculty member of the Sié Chéou Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the School.  His research, teaching and policy-oriented work focuses on armed conflict and political violence together with understanding and evaluation of processes of conflict prevention, management, and peacebuilding in fragile and post-war contexts.  Professor Sisk has conducted extensive research on the role of international and regional organizations, particularly the United Nations, in peace operations, peacemaking, and peacebuilding.  He is also an Associate Fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Geneva, Switzerland; at the University of Denver, he chairs the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research.

Seth D. Kaplan

Seth D. Kaplan is a Professorial Lecturer in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, Senior Adviser for the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT), and consultant to organizations such as the World Bank, USAID, United Nations, and African Development Bank. Mr. Kaplan is currently working on the first United Nations World Bank Joint Flagship Study (on conflict prevention) and leading efforts to update USAID’s Fragility Assessment Prototype and Application Guidance. He is the author of two books: Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development (Praeger Security International, 2008) and Betrayed: Promoting Inclusive Development in Fragile States(Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and runs the website

Neven Knezevik

Dr. Neven Knezevic is UNICEF’s Education Chief for Somalia.  He has worked in the fields of education, peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery for the past 15 years spanning work with the World Bank in East Timor, UNICEF, UNDP and IOM in Indonesia. Prior to his current assignment he worked in UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office as an Education and Peacebuilding advisor covering Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya.  He has authored several studies on education such as a mixed methods study on Teacher Absenteeism in Papua, Indonesia, youth participation in curriculum development in Somalia, the role of education in humanitarian action in South Sudan, a meta-analysis on the recovery and reintegration needs of ex-combatants in Aceh, Indonesia, and an Access to Justice in Aceh study for UNDP.

Habib Ur Rehman Mayar

Habib Ur Rehman Mayar is the Deputy General Secretary and Policy Specialist at the international secretariat of the g7+ hosted in the Ministry of Finance, Dili, Republic of Timor-Leste. He has been working in the area of aid management since 2008. He was head of the Aid Coordination Unit in the Ministry of Finance, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan before joining the g7+ Secretariat. He has been involved in the aid effectiveness forum since 2008 particularly the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action, Busan partnership including the New Deal for Engagement in fragile states.

Sarah Lister

Sarah Lister is a policy researcher with more than 15 years’ experience working on governance and civic engagement, with a focus on transitional societies. She joined UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre as Director in May 2015 from BBC Media Action where she was the Acting Director of Research and Learning, leading a team of 100 researchers globally.  She worked at the Oslo Governance Centre from 2006-2013 first as Governance and Civil Society Advisor, and then as Democratic Governance Advisor, with particular responsibility for emerging trends in governance and social accountability.  Prior to this, she held research appointments at the London School of Economics, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit in Kabul, and the Institute of Development Studies, UK. She consulted for many multilaterals, bilaterals, think-tanks and NGOs. She has lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Sarah holds a PhD and MSc in Social Policy from the London School of Economics, and an MA in History from Cambridge University.

Henk-Jan Brinkman

Henk-Jan Brinkman is chief of the Policy, Planning and Application Branch of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office. Previously, he worked in the World Food Programme, the office of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He co-chaired the Working Group on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding indicators of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in 2012-2013 and has been a (co-) chair or member of several working groups and advisory boards. He has published on such topics as the peace and justice in the post-2015 development agenda, socio-economic factors behind violent conflicts, the impact of high food prices and human stature. He is the lead author of WFP’s World 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 an M.A. in economics from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He holds Dutch citizenship.

Project Support

Gabrielle Belli

Gabrielle Belli is the project digital strategist, and is responsible for the design and development of the Social Contracts for Peace website. She holds an M.A. in International Affairs from The New School and a B.A. in International Studies from Ohio University. Her work focuses on context-specific issues surrounding reintegration of refugees and ex-combatants, as well as countering and preventing violent extremism. Gabrielle has recently conducted projects with the International Organization for Migration, the International Rescue Committee and the Countering Violent Extremism and Reintegration Initiative and is Program Associate at the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. She regularly consults for peacebuilders and a wide range of NGOs as a researcher, analyst and digital strategy developer.

Rebecca Hollender

Rebecca Hollender will receive her doctoral degree in May 2018 in Public and Urban Policy from The New School in New York City. She conducted dissertation research as a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador, where she examined an emerging set of Alternatives to Development theories, proposals, and practices which offer locally appropriate strategies for meeting human development goals without environmental or social destruction.  Her work as a PhD student has resulted in five academic publications, fourteen academic conference presentations in five countries, myriad guest lectures, and an adjunct professor position in the heterodox economics department at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Prior to doctoral studies, Rebecca worked at grassroots and policy levels for over 15 years at the nexus of environment and development.  Her professional experience includes serving as a member of the official Bolivian Delegation at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17), Durban, South Africa (Nov-Dec 2011) and U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Rio, Brazil, (June 2012).