Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
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.
Professor Françoise Hampson is an institutional thinker, revolutionary human rights lawyer, and a kind and influential teacher who shaped generations of students. Francoise taught at the University of Dundee from 1975 to 1983 and has been at the University of Essex since then. She dedicated her career to address some of the most pressing and enduring challenges confronting International Law. She was an independent expert member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 1998-2007. She has acted as a consultant on humanitarian law to the International Committee of the Red Cross and taught at Staff Colleges or equivalents in the UK, USA, Canada & Ghana. She represented Oxfam and SCF (UK) at the Preparatory Committee and first session of the Review Conference for the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention.
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 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).
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.
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.