Gay J. McDougall (Chair)


Gay McDougall served as the first United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues from 2005 through 2011. She was Executive Director of the international NGO Global Rights from 1994 through 2006.

Among her many international roles, from 1997- 2001 she served as an Independent Expert on the UN treaty body that oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, during which time she negotiated the adoption of General Recommendation XXV on the Gender Dimensions of Racial Discrimination, which requires governments to report explicitly on the situation of women impacted by racial discrimination. She played a leadership role in the UN Third World Conference against Racism.

Among her recent academic roles have been the Mulligan Distinguished Visiting Professor in International Law at Fordham Law School (2013); the Robert Drinan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. (2011-2012); Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American University Washington College of Law (2006-2008); and Professor in the annual Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University (2010 and 2012).

Bill Samuel (Treasurer)

Bill Samuel is a chartered accountant with broad private sector experience in banking, finance, and tourism. He has lived and worked in Europe, East Africa, the Gulf and the Caribbean. With a strong interest in human rights and conservation, he has extensive experience of the Charity Sector, having served on the councils of Education Action International, The Book Trade Charity, The Ilois Support Group and the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Network. He is also a director of Foyles Bookshop and lives in London.

Tom Astor

Tom Astor is an entrepreneur specialising in the media. He has run a number of businesses and produced a variety of projects in the film, TV, music and advertising industries.


Albert Braume

Dr. Albert K. Barume is a world expert in indigenous peoples’ rights, with over twenty years of work experience in human rights law at regional and international levels. He is currently the Chairperson of a seven-members United Nations Experts Mechanism of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), a sub-organ of the United Nations Human Rights Council based in Switzerland. Previously, he worked for numerous international organizations, including the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation (ILO) as Senior Specialist. He has also worked for the African regional human rights mechanism – the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – as independent Expert member of the Working Group on indigenous peoples.

Joshua Castellino

Joshua is Professor and Dean of Law at Middlesex University, London, with honorary positions in Ireland, Poland, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands. He worked as a journalist in Mumbai, was awarded a Chevening Scholarship, and completed his PhD in International Law in 1998. His academic output includes eight books and two hundred articles and reports on legal topics in international law, human rights, minorities and indigenous peoples. He engages with multilateral organizations, judges, advocates and NGOs in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America on aspects of access to justice, and is on the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He chaired the 8th Forum on Minority Issues under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.

Joe Frans

Joe Frans is founder and Chief Operating Officer of NGA Novum AB, a company specializing in digitizing terrestrial television networks in Africa. He is board member of the Swedish Association of ethnic minority entrepreneurs IFS and previously served as chairperson of the Swedish Civil Society umbrella Forumsyd 2005-2010. He was also chair and member of the United Nations Human Rights Councils Working Group of Independent Experts on People of African Descent 2003-2009. He served as communications director and chief political adviser to the mayor of the City of Stockholm and represented the social democratic party of Sweden in the Swedish Parliament (2002-2006) working for the Justice affairs committee and on the European Affairs Committee. Further, he served on the board of the University of Stockholm and the National Police Board.

Mahdis Keshavarz

Mahdis Keshavarz is founder and principal of The Make Agency. Since establishing The Make Agency, Keshavarz’s clientele has included international dignitaries, Hollywood stars, global artists, numerous film festivals and events focusing on the Middle Eastern community. She has placed news stories and op-eds with media outlets around the world – including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, NPR, The National and Al Jazeera. Since 2013 she has produced TV segments for the BBC and the acclaimed series, MTV: Rebel Music. She also serves on the board of the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA).

Willy Mutunga

The Honorable Willy Mutunga was Kenya’s Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court from 2011 to 2016. In that capacity he worked on the implementation of the progressive 2010 Constitution. He supported the Judiciary Training Institute as a nucleus for juristic training and an institution of higher learning. He advocated, in his writings and judgments, for the development of jurisprudence that reflected the transformative vision of the Constitution. In carrying out judicial reforms he sought to lay permanent and indestructible foundations for a transformed Kenyan Judiciary. Under his watch the notion of the Judiciary as an institutional political actor under the Constitution began to take root.

Dr Melakou Tegegn

imagedrDr Tegegn completed an MA in Development Studies: Politics of Alternative Development Strategies at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague and a PhD in Sociology, concentrating on development, freedom and democracy in Ethiopia, at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. He has worked as a Development Consultant and coordinator for many country and regional development programmes with regional NGOs. His areas of expertise include civil society, gender, indigenous and pastoral peoples’ issues and development media. From 2001-2005 he lectured part time at the University of Addis Ababa and at the Institute of Gender Studies, on issues including civil society, globalization, gender and development and advocacy. His many publications include Power Politics: Kinijit in the 2005 Elections; in Zegeye, A., Togia, P., and Tegegn, M., Ethiopia: Ethiopian Millennium Special Publication (SAGE, New Delhi, forthcoming), and The Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict: A Critical Observation, with Abebe Zegeye, (Institute of Global Dialogue, Occasional Paper No. 54, Johannesburg, 2007).

Meena Varma

imagemeenaMeena has been Director of Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN-UK) since 2007. DSN-UK campaigns against the atrocities, humiliation and poverty that over 260 million Dalits or ‘untouchables’ suffer due to caste discrimination.

Meena is also the Chair of the International Dalit Solidarity Network; a Board member and the Treasurer of the Ethical Trading Initiative and Coordinator of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dalits.


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