Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Executive Director of UN Women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. She was sworn into office on 19 August 2013 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this position, having devoted her career to issues of human rights, equality and social justice. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka has worked in government and civil society, and with the private sector, and was actively involved in the struggle to end apartheid in her home country of South Africa.

From 2005 to 2008, she served as Deputy President of South Africa, overseeing programmes to combat poverty and bring the advantages of a growing economy to the poor, with a particular focus on women. Prior to this, she served as Minister of Minerals and Energy from 1999 to 2005 and Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry from 1996 to 1999. She was a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 1996 as part of South Africa’s first democratic government.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka began her career as a teacher and gained international experience as a coordinator at the World YWCA in Geneva, where she established a global programme for young women. She is the founder of the Umlambo Foundation, which supports leadership and education. A longtime champion of women’s rights, she is affiliated with several organizations devoted to education, women’s empowerment and gender equality.

She has completed her PhD on education and technology at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Rt Hon Helen Clark

Former Prime Minister of New Zealand

Rt Hon Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, the first woman to be elected to the position and the second to hold it. This was the apex of a long-term political career. She was first elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1981, held a wide range of ministerial portfolios, and was also Leader of the Opposition in the course of 27 years.

Prior to her political career, Helen Clark was a lecturer in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland, from which she had earlier graduated with her B.A. and M.A (Hons) degrees.

In April 2009, Helen Clark resigned from Parliament to take up office in New York as a United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, and Chair of the United Nations Development Group. She served in those capacities for two four-year terms, before retiring in April 2017.

Helen Clark has a lifelong interest in public policy across the spectrum. She is keenly interested in international affairs; sustainable development, including climate action; gender equality; and public health with a particular interest in addressing the drivers of non-communicable diseases and of HIV.

Shaikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa

Principal and founding partner of Haya Rashed Al Khalifa Law Firm

Shaikha Haya was the vice chairwoman of the Arbitration Committee / International Bar Association and the former counsel at the Bahrain Ministry of State for Legal Affairs. She has been admitted to the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court of Bahrain and is a member and was a former vice president of the Bahrain Bar Association.

Shaikha Haya obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Kuwait, a Diploma in Civil Rights Private Law from the University of Alexandria, Egypt, and a diploma in Comparative Law from the University of Ain Shams, Egypt. Also, she made courses in International Public Law in Paris/Sorbonne 1977.

Shaikha Haya was the first Bahraini woman Ambassador, as an Ambassador to France and its nonresident Ambassador to Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. She is also Bahrain's permanent delegate to UNESCO.

She has been elected as President of the 61st Session of the U.N in 2006/2007. General Assembly, becoming the third woman to hold the position. She received several notable awards, including the U.N. Millennium Development Goals Special Award, the Path to Peace Award and the Social Creativity Award from the Arab Thought Foundation.

Shaikha Haya was a member of various international organizations including, the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration Committee, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration (Bahrain representative 2000 / 2010). Currently Shaikha Haya is the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution since 2010 and Chairperson of ICC National Committee in Bahrain Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, Shaikha Haya Al-Khalifa was independently endorsed by IFLR1000 as a leading lawyer in Bahrain in the practice areas of Banking and Finance, Capital Markets and Mergers and Acquisitions.

Her working languages are Arabic, English & French.

Antonio de Aguiar Patriota

Antonio de Aguiar Patriota is the current Ambassador of Brazil to Italy and former Minister of External Relations

Antonio de Aguiar Patriota was appointed Ambassador to Italy, Malta and San Marino in August 2016. He was the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations from 2013 to 2016. He served as Foreign Minister (2011-2013), Deputy Foreign Minister (2009-2010) and Ambassador to the United States (2007-2009).

During his period as Ambassador to the UN, he was Chair of the 60th and 61st Sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women and chair of the Peacebuilding Commission of the UN (2013-2014). During his diplomatic career, he was also posted in Geneva (1983-1987 and 1999-2003), New York (1994-1999), Beijing (1987-1988) and Caracas (1988-1990).

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1954, he graduated from Brazil's Diplomatic Academy in 1979, having studied Philosophy at the University of Geneva. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service by Chatham University in 2008. Among his publications are “The UN Security Council after the Gulf War” (1998) and two volumes of “Speeches, articles and interviews” during his period as Foreign Minister. His article “Is the World Ready for Cooperative Multipolarity?” was recently published by CEBRI (Brazilian Center for International Relations).

Ambassador Patriota is a member of Team of External Advisors of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. He has been appointed a member of the “Leaders for Peace” initiative under the chairmanship of former French Prime Minister Raffarin.

Ambassador Patriota is married to Tania Cooper Patriota, who until recently was the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Colombia. They have two sons, Miguel and Thomas. 

Professor Wadouda Badran

Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, Economics and Political Science, the British University in Egypt

Professor Wadouda Badran is the Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, Economics and Political Science, the British University in Egypt. She has occupied this position since November 2013. Professor Badran is on secondment from Cairo University, where she is a Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Economics and Political Science. At Cairo University she was the Vice Dean of the Faculty,1995-2001. Her research-related activities and publications include enhancing women's participation in politics, American studies, the EU and Egypt, middle east politics, and research methods.

Professor Badran was the Egyptian Cultural Counselor in the United Kingdom during the period (2001-2003). In this capacity, she administrated the Egyptian educational missions programme and organised an annual Egyptian cultural program in the UK, which included various events on ancient and modern Egypt.

During the period (2003-2013) Professor Badran was the first Director General of the Arab Women Organisation (an intergovernmental organisation under the umbrella of the League of Arab States). In her capacity as Director-General she organised and supervised the organisation's annual programme which aimed at empowering Arab women and building their capacities to promote progress of Arab societies, raising awareness of the necessity of engaging women as equal partners in social development and coordinating Arab efforts in order to foster women empowerment and to elevate awareness of their vital role in society.

In 2006 Professor Badran was decorated by H.E. Zen el- Abideen Bin Ali, the former President of Tunisia, and by Her Royal Highness Princess, Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa , Bahrain First Lady,to honor her efforts to enhance the status of Arab Women.

In 2013, Professor Wadouda Badran became a Consultant to the Supreme Council of the Arab Women Organization.

In 2014 Prof. Badran was appointed as a Member of the Board of the Oriental Weavers Group ,an Egyptian Multinational Group.

Marike Paulsson

Director of the University of Miami School of Law’s International Arbitration Institute and Lecturer in Law

Marike Paulsson is the Director of the University of Miami School of Law’s International Arbitration Institute and senior consultant to Albright Stonebridge Group, a commercial diplomacy firm founded by Secretary Madeleine Albright. She is the vice president for North America of the Global Legal Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution Centre has been appointed Vice-President for North America of the Mauritius Arbitration & Mediation Centre. Professor Paulsson has over fifteen years of experience in practice and academia in public international law, international arbitration and cross-border litigation. She is a leading expert on the 1958 U.N. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (The New York Convention). She has co-authored and edited the ICCA Guide on the New York Convention (International Council for Commercial Arbitration) and founded the ICCA New York Convention Roadshow for the purposes of which she familiarizes judges around the world with the application of the Convention in the national space. She is the author of seminal treatise “The 1958 New York Convention in Action”, with a Foreword of Judge Stephen Schwebel. She teaches in the US, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe and publishes extensively in the field of international arbitration and public international law. She has advocated for equality and inclusion for over a decade by launching initiatives such as Young ICCA, She for She, Opening the Doors of International Law to African Americans and is a member of various diversity task forces.

Marike, a Dutch national, speaks five languages and has degrees from Leiden University, University of Miami and Sciences-po Paris, France, is a member (and past member) of the Dutch, Bahraini and Belgian Bar and is a Foreign Legal Consultant in the US.

Mohammad Naciri

Regional Director of UN Women Asia and Pacific

Mohammad Naciri is the Regional Direction of UN Women for Asia and Pacific, and Representative in Thailand. From 2015 to 2018, he was the Regional Director of UN Women in the Arab States. From 2012 to 2015, Mohammad Naciri was the Deputy Regional Director for UN Women in the Arab States.

Mohammad has extensive experience in the region and in gender and development issues. Prior to joining UN Women, Mohammad was the Deputy Country Director of UNDP in Yemen, where he supported the country in the formulation of its Gender Strategy and the Gender Responsive Budgeting process. He has worked in Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Cambodia, dealing with issues from human trafficking to ethnic cleansing.

A national of Morocco, Mohammad holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and International Development from the Harvard University, as well as a master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford. He also has a Master's degree in Business Administration from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria-Egypt.

Susanne Mikhail

Regional Director of UN Women Arab States

Ms Susanne Mikhail (Egypt/Sweden) is the Regional Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) for the Arab States. In this capacity, she leads UN Women’s normative, programme and coordination work in the Middle East and North Africa.

Susanne brings with her over 20 years of experience in development and humanitarian work in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Before, she was the Head of Humanitarian Aid at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), covering over 25 countries, including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen.

She has several years of experience in the UN system, including as the first Head of Office and Resident Programme Coordinator of UNICEF in South Sudan as well as the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia, where she managed a number of regional protection programmes for children and women in countries such Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka, as well as humanitarian initiatives including on disarmament and reintegration of child soldiers in Afghanistan and Nepal.

Prior to UNICEF, she worked as Regional Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa for ECPAT International. She has also supported World Bank’s programmes on community-based economic development in fragile settings. In 1999, Susanne started her international career at OCHA in Africa, covering countries such as Burundi, Kenya Rwanda, and Somalia. A national of Sweden and Egypt, Susanne holds a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from the Uppsala University of Sweden.