Bios

Dr. Sadek Jalal al-Azm 
A leading thinker in the Arab world also recognized as a courageous defender of human rights, free speech, and intellectual freedom. Professor Emeritus of Modern European Philosophy at Damascus University, he is a worldwide respected scholar and political commentator who has offered innovative, often controversial challenges to conventional narratives on issues surrounding Islam and the West, secularism, Orientalism, and the Israel-Palestine issue. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from AUB, and earned a M.A. and a PhD from Yale University majoring in Modern European Philosophy. In addition to Damascus University and AUB, he has taught at Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Hamburg.   He received international recognition for his work, notably the Leopold-Lucas prize from the University of Tübingen, Germany, the Erasmus Prize in 2004, and in 2005 was awarded Dr. Honoris Causa by Hamburg University. (continue)

Prof. Martín Böhmer 
Mr. Böhmer is a Professor of Law at Universidad de San Andrés and at University of Buenos Aires. He serves as the Director for the Justice sector at the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC), and is Director Emeritus of the Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ). He was also Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Palermo and Founding Director of Public Interest Legal Clinic. He was Vice President and founding member of the Association for Civil Rights (ADC) and Vice President and founder of the Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest Bar Association of Buenos Aires. A Fulbright Fellow, he was also a Visiting Scholar at Yale Law School, and served as Advisor for the Consejo para la Consolidación de la Democracia (Council for the Consolidation of Democracy), an advisory body for Constitutional and Judicial Reform to Argentine President Raul Alfonsín. (continue)

Prof. John Borneman
John Borneman has conducted fieldwork in Germany and Central Europe, and is currently engaged in research in Lebanon and Syria. He has completed projects on the symbolic forms of political identification, the relation of the state to everyday life, forms of justice and accountability, and on regime change. Currently he is working on an anthropology of secularism. From 1991 to 2001 he taught at Cornell University, and has been guest professor at the University of California, Berkeley; Stockholm University (Sweden); Bergen University (Norway); guest professor at l’école des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (France); Fulbright Professor at Humboldt Universitaet zu Berlin (Germany) and the University of Aleppo (Syria). (continue)

Dr. Ishac Diwan 
Prof. Ishac Diwan is a leading international development economist with a formidable record of applied experience with the World Bank spanning more than two decades and encompassing direction of successful, ambitious initiatives most notably around issues of economic development related to commercial agriculture and natural resources, employment for youth, and protection of basic services. World Bank country director for Ethiopia, Sudan, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, Diwan also worked closely on conflict prevention and on state building – in Palestine, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Yemen, and Guinea – and participated in the negotiations on the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as well as in the Darfur Peace and Oslo negotiations. Currently at Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a lecturer in public policy and director of the Africa Growth Project at the School’s Center for International Development, he also chairs the Economic and Political Transformation group at the Cairo-based Economic Research Forum, a prestigious network of regional economists he helped formed.  (continue)

Prof. John J. Donohue, sj  
John Donohue epitomises far more than the meeting of East and West. A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, he was so much at home in Baghdad and Beirut that Lebanese and Iraqis from all hues and cries considered him very much one of their own. His scholarship is one of a kind: few if any are at ease both in classic and modern studies of their societies: how many scholars have run a modern American or European Studies Center and have written a book on intellectual and political life of 10th century Cuzco or Rome? Major works include Islam in Transition (with John Esposito) (2007), and The Buwayhid Dynasty in Iraq 945-1012: Shaping Institutions for the Future (2003), and he has published numerous articles on topics ranging from secularism and Christianity, Islamic constitutions, the development of Shiite thought, and Arab nationalism. (continue)

Amid Carlos Eddé 
A sustained, courageous, and consistent voice for human rights, Lebanese self-determination, and the rejection of fascism and sectarianism in Lebanon and the region, Mr. Eddé is a key figure of the Cedar Revolution of 2005 that started through nonviolence the ongoing Middle East human rights upheaval. ‘Amid’ (Dean in Arabic) of the Lebanese National Bloc, one of the oldest parties in the country, he has promoted modernization of the political process in particular through electoral law reform, citing the sectarian and inegalitarian law as the major obstacle to democratic development in Lebanon. In an article published in both L’Orient le Jour and an-Nahar, he maintains that “Democracy is, for all its risks and shortcomings, the best political system; while it does not prevent mistakes along the way, it allows for their correction, and results – in the long term – in the development of a mature and stable society. (continue)

Prof. Deena Hurwitz
Associate Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and the director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic, her interests include the rights of women; economic, social and cultural rights; and the rights of indigenous peoples.  From 2000-2003, Deena was a teaching fellow with the Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic at Yale Law School. She has worked as a legal counselor with the Washington Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; with the Center for International Human Rights Enforcement in Ramallah, Palestine and with the OSCE and Global Rights in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Before attending law school at Northeastern University, she worked more than a decade at the California-based Resource Center for Nonviolence, where she was involved in capacity building and training with NGOs in the United States and the Middle East. (continue)

 Dr. Mansoor al-Jamri 
A prominent Bahraini publisher, writer, and human rights activist noted for his relentless support for non-sectarian moderation and enlightened thinking on harmonizing Islamic principles with contemporary democracy. Dr. Al Jamri was a founding member in 2002 of the leading Bahraini daily Al Wasat serving as Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief . The author of two books in Arabic, Memories of childhood, 2007 and Interventions on thought and politics, 2008, he also wrote a widely-read daily column for Al Wasat between 2002 and 2011 and has published a number of articles for conferences, political journals, and foreign policy think tanks, notably Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (continue)

Prof. Paul Kahn 
Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. Professor Kahn teaches in the areas of constitutional law and theory, international law, cultural theory and philosophy. Before coming to Yale in 1985, he clerked for Justice White in the United States Supreme Court and practiced law in Washington, D.C., during which time he was on the legal team representing Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice. (continue)

Prof. Chibli Mallat
A law professor and practicing attorney,  Chibli Mallat is an active defender of human rights, constitutional law, and judicial accountability.  He is Presidential Professor of Law at the University of Utah and EU Jean Monnet Professor of European Law at Université Saint Joseph in Lebanon. He was the 2011 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Visiting Professor of Islamic Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and will be Visiting Professor at Yale Law School in the fall of 2012 teaching war and human rights, and Islamic and Middle Eastern law. Mallat has published and edited over thirty-five books, including Introduction to Middle Eastern Law, OUP 2007; and Iraq: Guide to Law and Policy, Kluwer 2009. (continue)

Prof. Jane J. Mansbridge
Jane Mansbridge is the Adams Professor at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  Her first books, Beyond Adversary Democracy and Why We Lost the ERA, focused on the quality of deliberation first in small participatory democracies and second in social movements.  She is also editor of Beyond Self-Interest, co-editor, with Susan Moller Okin, of Feminism, and co-editor, with Aldon Morris, of Oppositional Consciousness:  The Subjective Roots of Social Protest. Mansbridge’s work on deliberative democracy includes “Everyday Talk in the Deliberative System,” in Steven Macedo, ed., Deliberative Politics 1999; “Deliberative and Non-Deliberative Negotiation,” HKS Working Paper 2009;, “The Place of Self-Interest and the Role of Power in Deliberative Democracy,” with eight co-authors, in the Journal of Political Philosophy. 2010; and “A Systemic Approach to Deliberative Democracy,” with seven co-authors, in Parkinson and Mansbridge, eds. Deliberative Systems, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming. (continue)

Mr. Edward Mortimer
Veteran journalist and leading human rights advocate, at the UN as Director of Communications to Secretary General Kofi Annan, and is now Senior Program Director at the Salzburg Global Seminar. Edward Mortimer has been one of the most influential writers on global affairs beginning in the 1970s and 80s with both the London Times and the Financial Times. He was a key figure in the early nonviolent resistance to Saddam Hussein through the International Committee for a Free Iraq, and continues his work for democracy and human rights across the world, notably for Sri Lanka as chair of the Campaign for Peace and Justice, and at the forefront of building democratic networks for the Middle East Revolution. (continue)

Mr. Jamil Mroue 
Jamil Mroue is a leading figure in Arab and international media. The son of Kamel Mroue, who was assassinated in Beirut by pro-Naser thugs in 1966 for his liberal defense of Arab values in his papers, al-Hayat and the Daily Star, Jamil Mroue took up the tradition of innovation, independence and vision that his father had charted. In 1990, he revivedal-Hayat in London as a pan-Arab daily, which was soon published in several editions in Arab capitals. Al-Hayat set new standards for Arab journalism, and became in a matter of months the most influential Middle East newspaper. By 1996, Mroue had left the Hayat to its original Saudi funders, and reestablished in Beirut the Daily Star. Again, in a matter of months, the paper became the leading English-speaking paper in the Arab world. (continue)

Dr. Ayman Nour
One of the most prominent dissidents in the Middle East, Dr. Ayman Nour is the founding president of El Ghad – the centrist secular party established in Egypt in 2004 around broad campaigns for human rights, constitutional reform, limits on executive power, and multiple presidential candidates – and is now leader of a successor party, Ghad El-Thawra.  A longtime opponent of Mubarak’s extended rule, he was imprisoned several times since 1979 for his work for democracy in Egypt. Despite threats and constraints, and building on the echo of the Cedar Revolution on the streets of Cairo in 2005, he challenged Mubarak in 2005 to the presidency, garnering 8% of the popular vote despite widespread irregularities and accusations of electoral fraud. He was punished by the Egyptian dictator with four years of additional jail, and was released in 2009 following intense domestic and international pressure on the Egyptian government. (continue)

Justice Adel Omar Sherif  
Deputy chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt since December 2002, Justice Sherif  was previously appointed to the Council of the State where he served in various positions within the judicial section. In addition to his judicial work, he served as a legal adviser to several government agencies, including the Prime Minister’s Office as part of a successful private practice. He is also a member of the Specialized National Councils, Administrative Development Sector, and a faculty member at Helwan University Law School in Cairo. Justice Sherif is a member of the Board of the International Advisers to the International Judicial Academy in Washington, DC, and a council member of Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. (continue)

Prof. Abraham Udovitch
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Prof. Udovitch received his B.S. from Columbia University in 1958, obtaining both his M.A. in 1959 and his Ph.D. in 1965 from Yale University. He  taught at Brandeis University and at Cornell University before arriving at Princeton in 1968 where he served as Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Studies from 1973-77 and again from 1980-1993/94. Prof Udovitch has been on the Board of Governors of the American Research Institute in Turkey since 1969, and is a Trustee of the Northeast Pooled Common Fund. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Islamic Studies of the American Oriental Society from 1972 to 1978, is a member of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Inter-Disciplinary History and of The International Journal of Middle East Studies, and is co-editor of the journal Studia Islamica. (continue)

Prof. Lucette Valensi
Historienne spécialiste de l’islam méditerranéen
Née en 1936 à Tunis dans la famille juive d’un fabriquant de céramique, sous le nom de Lucette Chemla, Lucette Valensi obtenue une licence d’histoire à la Sorbonne (1958). Elle est connue sous le nom de son premier mari. Elle a adhéré un temps au Parti communiste français. Son engagement anticolonialiste l’a fait passer du soutien au FLN algérien aux Comités Vietnam.
Directrice d’études à l’École des hautes études en sciences sociale (EHESS), Lucette Valensi s’est consacrée à l’étude du Maghreb précolonial et aux relations entre Orient et Occident. (Continue)

Dr. YANG Jianli 
is a Harvard Fellow and founding president of Initiatives for China, a pro-democracy movement committed to peaceful transition to democracy in China.  A survivor of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, he is internationally recognized as a leading architect for democracy in China.  Returning to China in 2002, following the completion of his studies at Harvard, to assist the labor movement with nonviolent strategies, Dr. YANG was imprisoned for ‘spying’ until his release in 2007 following an international outcry including a UN resolution and a unanimous vote of both houses of the US Congress. Co-author of a democratic constitution for China, he is publisher of Yibao, Chinese E-Magazine of Ideas, Issues, and Commentary on Contemporary China, and lead organizer of the Interfaith/Interethnic Leadership Conference that in 2009 brought together the Dalai Lamai with Chinese intellectuals from the mainland. Dr. YANG co-chaired the Committee on Internet Freedom at the Geneva Human Rights and Democracy Summit in 2010, with his views on the impact of internet censorship on both Chinese and world security stimulating widespread discussion and coverage in leading publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy magazine. (continue)

Mr. Sharhabeel Al Zaeem
Sharhabeel Al-Zaeem is the founder and senior attorney of Al-Zaeem & Associates, the most prominent law firm in Gaza, offering diverse legal services in six European languages to leading Palestinian and foreign entities. Notably, the firm has also represented more than 1,000 clients before Israeli military courts. Considered the foremost expert in commercial law in Gaza, he is recognized as an authority on arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, and protection of intellectual property. Actively involved in both social and economic development in Gaza through his service to numerous institutional boards, Mr. Al-Zaeem secured funding in 2005 from the World Bank to participate in the drafting of the Public Procurement Law for the Palestinian Authority. He served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian Delegation in the peace talks of Oslo and Cairo, work that he continues through extensive involvement with the peace process and participation in ongoing legal committees. (continue)