MEET THE TEAM
Composer and Lyricist
David and Rosey Woollcombe
Founders, Peace Child International
International Activist on Youth, UN, Cultural and Inter-faith issues
PANELLIST: Ella Faye
Ella Faye is an Actor and climate activist with Extinction Rebellion. She is a performance artist and advocates for the use of protest with political theatre and art to create the shift we need for the survival of our planet.
PANELLIST: Lauren Banham
Lauren is currently studying for A levels in Economics, Drama, Government and Politics at St George’s School, Harpenden where she is also an experienced public speaker and prize-winning drama student. She has volunteered for charitable work in the UK and at the “Jenga” project in Uganda. Lauren leads this Youth Panel because she leads on the idea of a Digital Citizen’s UN within Peace Child Intl. She raised it first with Richard Jolly at the Harpenden UNA’s UN75 meeting in January then fleshed it out at the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council of the United Nations in June and will present her latest thoughts on the idea at this Intergenerational Dialogue.
PANELLIST: Sebastian Dodt
Sebastian is a student in International Relations at SOAS University of London and London School of Economics. In his studies he aims to understand the present and future challenges posed through big data and artificial intelligence from a political science as well as a data science perspective. Moreover, in taking this interdisciplinary approach, Sebastian is trying to identify regulatory and practical ways through which data analysis and AI can be employed to benefit people across the world while simultaneously safeguarding their privacy and freedom. Addressing these issues related to Digital Security, Sebastian has worked at the United Nations in New York as well as the EU parliament.
PANELLIST: Anahita Parsa
Anahita is currently an MA candidate at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, at SOAS University of London. Having worked on issues of gender and militarism throughout her undergraduate, her research now focuses on the mainstreaming of minority voices and applying intersectional approaches to international security. She seeks to highlight the constructive impact of doing so on peacebuilding and policymaking. An active disarmament campaigner, she has collaborated with numerous NGOs to promote the cause. She has been involved with the #UN75 campaign, speaking as a panellist on Peacebuilding and Intercultural Dialogue at the UN75 Conference in Estonia.
PANELLIST: Toma Moran
Toma is a bi-lingual French-Irish citizen mother who has spent time in the Middle East learning basic Arabic. A postgraduate student at the SOAS Centre for International Studies, he is writing his master’s thesis on the necessity for a new Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR 2.0). adapted to today’s digital challenges. Toma worked with several educational organisations in the Middle East, most recently the Academic Union in Haifa. He also worked with Doctors Without Borders in Lebanon, Skillz Beirut and others promoting youth empowerment and education. Toma has come to pay particular attention to digital rights as some governments continue to act with impunity regarding mass surveillance and imprisonment of youth activists without fair trial. Therefore the need for a UDHR 2.0 is essential: UN member states must be reminded of the importance of respecting Human Rights, online as well as offline.
PANELLIST: Noeleen Heyzer
Noeleen Heyzer is currently a member of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. She was an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations (2007-2015) and the first woman to serve as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific since its founding in 1947. Prior to that she was the first Executive Director outside of North America to lead the United Nations Development Fund for Women (1994-2007). She was widely recognized for playing a critical role in the Security Council’s adoption and implementation of the landmark Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security. Dr. Heyzer was also the UN SG’s Special Adviser for Timor-Leste, working to support peace-building, state-building, and sustainable development.
Dr. Heyzer has served on numerous boards and advisory committees of international organizations, including the UNDP Human Development Report, Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Governing Board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy(NUS), the Kofi Annan Global Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age. She was also on the High-level Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding chaired by Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Upper Hons.) and Master of Science from the University of Singapore, and a Doctorate in Social Sciences from Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
PANELLIST: Tom Rivett Carnac
Tom has spent his career working on solutions to the climate crisis. He ran political strategy for the UN towards the Paris Agreement of 2015, widely regarded as one of the great achievements of global diplomacy. Since then he founded Global Optimism together with Christiana Figueres and from that platform seeks to elevate and support individuals and entities that are delivering real change on the road to a regenerative future. He is an Advisor at X (formerly Google X) and a Founding Partner at the Climate Pledge, in partnership with Amazon. Tom recently co-authored The Future We Choose and co-hosts the weekly podcast Outrage + Optimism . Early in his career, he spent 3 years as a Buddhist monk in South East Asia.
PANELLIST: Sir Richard Jolly
1982 to 1995, Richard was Deputy Executive Director in UNICEF, with responsibilities for UNICEF's programmes in over 130 countries of the world, including UNICEF's strategy for implementing the goals agreed at the 1990 World Summit for Children. In UNICEF, he was also directly involved in efforts to ensure more attention to the needs of children and women in the making of economic adjustment policies, and co-authored the book Adjustment with a Human Face. From 1996 to 2000 he became principal coordinator of the widely acclaimed Human Development Report. As Co-Director of the UN Intellectual History Project (1999-2010), he oversaw the production of the 17 volume history of the UN's contributions to economic and social development covering the ideas emerging and promoted by the UN since 1945. He was appointed Director of the Institute of Development Studies from 1972 until 1981 where he currently serves as Honorary Professor and Research Associate. He was recently named one of the fifty leading development economists globally.
PANELLIST: Natalie Samarasinghe
Executive Director of the United Nations Association since 2006, responsible for campaigning, advocacy, outreach, fundraising and education activities. In 2018, she contributed a chapter on human rights norms and machinery to the Oxford Handbook on the United Nations. 2015, she completed an eight-volume compendium of articles on the United Nations for SAGE Publications, co-edited with Sam Daws. She has also partnered with the UK National Commission for UNESCO on UN teaching materials. Prior to joining UNA-UK, Natalie worked in various roles in the public, private and education sectors, including for the University of Oxford. In 2013, she co-founded the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, which seeks a fair, open and inclusive process to select the UN Secretary-General. In 2018, her submission was one of three to be awarded the Global Challenges Foundation 'New Shape Prize' to reshape global governance. She has degrees in human rights and modern history from the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics.
PANELLIST: Ed Kessler MBE
Founder Director of the Woolf Institute and a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily, Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. In 2002, he was elected Fellow of St Edmund's College; in 2007, Dr Kessler was described by The Times Higher Education Supplement (London) as 'probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia' and in 2011 was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for services to interfaith relations. He has written or edited 12 books, including the standard undergraduate textbook, An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge, 2010). He was Convenor and Vice-Chair of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life (2013-15), which published a major policy report entitled, Living with Difference. He is Principal Investigator on a research project examining the relations between strictly observant religion, gender and the nation state. He also presents the series, Covid-19 Chronicles (2020), which consists of more than 50 interviews on the impact of the coronavirus on religion and belief as well as community life. As well as teaching Cambridge University students, Kessler teaches at the Cambridge Theological Federation and on occasion, at the Cambridge Muslim College. Internationally, he contributes to an annual online course on Muslim-Jewish relations (jointly with American University in Washington).
PANELLIST: Jane Alexander
Author, award-winning actress with one Tony, two Emmy’s and 4 Oscar nominations under her belt, Jane Alexander was also appointed by President Clinton to serve as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1993 -97. Now living in South-West Nova Scotia, she is increasingly focussed on conservation. Over the past three decades, Alexander has travelled to the sprawling Pantanal wetlands in the Amazon basin, to the Himalayas and the volcanoes of Halakeal to study how humans are hurting nature. The result is her book Wild Things, Wild Places, which captures Alexander’s deep love of flora and fauna all over the world and tells the story of 23 endangered ecosystems where different scientists are working to make amends for humanity’s damage to Nature.
PANELLIST: Richard Ponzio
Director of the Just Security 2020 Program at the Stimson Center in Washington DC. He is the lead author of UN 2.0 – a 10-step plan for how to create a global governance architecture that is more inclusive, effective, and just. Previously, he directed the Global Governance Program at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Before that, he was a Senior Adviser in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he conceptualized and coordinated Secretary Hillary Clinton’s and later John Kerry’s New Silk Road initiative. Earlier he served as a Senior Strategy and Policy Officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, where he initiated a global network of multi/bilateral peacebuilding and stabilization organizations. From 1999-2009, he served in a variety of policy and strategic planning positions for the UN in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, and New York.
PANELLIST: Shri Pillay
Business development manager for Anuera ltd in London. A former diplomat for the South African Government and now a Risk Management expert in the private sector, Shri has a skill set that focuses on business, political and geopolitical analysis. His areas of specialisation include Indo-China relations as well as conflict resolution work in Northern and Southern Africa in a multitude of different industries and sectors.