Senator Mobina Jaffer represents the province of British Columbia in the Senate of Canada, where she chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. Appointed to the Senate on June 13, 2001 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, she is the first Muslim senator, the first African-born senator, and the first senator of South Asian descent. Senator Jaffer also sits as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Most recently Senator Jaffer chaired a Senate study on the sexual exploitation of children in Canada and the need for national action. A champion of Canada’s linguistic bilingualism, she advocates measures to advance the use of English and French in communities across Canada. As public safety has assumed a significant place in national debate and policy, Senator Jaffer raised awareness on the abuse of profiling in counterterrorism measures and the fundamental imperative to respect privacy, human rights, and the rule of law. Communities are at the heart of any successful policy initiative and progress; Senator Jaffer works to engage communities in protecting human rights, celebrating Canada’s diversity, and promoting progress.
Senator Jaffer served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan from 2002 to 2006. From 2002 to 2005, she chaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace, and Security. Senator Jaffer is often invited to speak at international conferences on security issues and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which “urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts” and “calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.” As a grandmother, women’s rights and children’s rights are central to Senator Jaffer’s advocacy.
An accomplished lawyer, Senator Jaffer has practiced law at the firm Dohm, Jaffer and Jeraj since 1978. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1998, Senator Jaffer was the first South Asian woman to practice law in Canada and she has a distinguished record of service to the legal profession. The Women’s Executive Network named Senator Jaffer among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Open Learning University.
Senator Jaffer earned a Bachelor of Laws from London University in London, England in 1972. She has also completed the Executive Development program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Born in Uganda, Senator Jaffer speaks six languages and is married with two adult children and two grandchildren.
Mercedeh Momeni is a Washington-based attorney who was born in Iran and immigrated with her family to the United States in 1977. Since 1988, she has been working to advance the rule of law with a focus on human rights, women’s issues and refugee rights. She began her career at Amnesty International USA, in their Boston and New York offices, and went on to serve the Vice President of the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as an Associate Legal Officer. Thereafter she worked as an independent legal affairs consultant, advising the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the World Bank, the Rwandan Prosecutor General, the former International Human Rights Law Group, and Women Law and Development International. Since 2000, Mercedeh has conducted workshops for women lawyers and activists in the Near East, East and West Africa, and provided advice to various women’s rights groups at home and abroad. She has investigated allegations of atrocities committed in Darfur, Sudan, and represented the U.S. Department of State at the International Criminal Court Review conference in 2010. Mercedeh is the author of several related articles and a book chapter titled, Some Thoughts for Nigerian Women in their Struggle for Political Equality: Lessons Learned from Affirmative Action Programs in the United States, in Affirmative Action for Increased Women’s Political Participation, (Sam Egwu and Oby Nwankwo eds., 2004). Currently, she is a litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice and a board member of several women’s rights/civil rights organizations in the U.S. and West Africa. She lives with her husband and daughter in Vienna, VA, USA.
Hamida Karama is a partner with Bert Smith & Co., a mid-size public accounting firm based in Washington D.C. She has over 22 years of experience providing audit and management advisory services to federal, state and local governments, healthcare, nonprofit organizations and commercial entities.
Hamida has conducted a wide variety of financial and compliance audits in accordance with government auditing standards; Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars A-22, A-87, A-102, A-122, A-133; Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA); internal control reviews in accordance with OMB A-123; and reviews of compliance with federal corporate integrity agreements.
Hamida has extensive expertise with healthcare systems including complex Medicare and Medicaid regulatory compliance over hospitals, long term care facilities, federally qualified health centers, healthcare maintenance organizations and school-based claiming.
Hamida holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Hamida’s professional affiliations include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants; Greater Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants; Chartered Global Management Accountant; and Government Financial Officers Association.
Rajeev Pillay has 30-plus years of experience in the management of economic transformation, institutional change and capacity development in fragile states and countries emerging from conflict. He is specialised in strategic planning and management for governments and multilateral institutions that are in the process of change and has undertaken extensive conceptual, strategic, policy, management and evaluative work on preventive development, peacebuilding, and early warning, leading missions to formulate sensitive governance programmes in support of peace agreements. Prior to founding Abacus International Management, a consulting firm focused on governance reforms in countries going through economic and political transition and the reform of international organisations in 1997, he served for 15 years with the United Nations in Sudan, China, Cambodia and New York, the latter including in the Office of the Administrator of UNDP and the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the UN. In both these instances he was responsible for helping to define, negotiate and manage organizational reforms in the development and economic and social spheres.
In his current position Rajeev has led interagency missions on local governance for peace processes for the international community in Iraq, the Philippines (in Mindanao), Sudan and Kosovo. He has evaluated development and humanitarian strategies supporting peacekeeping in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Burundi, Haiti, Guatemala, Kosovo, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan and Tajikistan. He led a multi-donor mission to review the Economic Commission for West African States’ (ECOWAS’s) capacity for peacebuilding and peacekeeping, raising significant funding to boost its role. He evaluated the UN’s headquarters-based mechanism for the coordinating conflict prevention and drafted the coordination chapter in the UN manual on multidisciplinary peacekeeping and the guidance note on coordination of security sector reform. He has drafted strategies focused on peacebuilding for UN agencies in Cambodia, Indonesia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan and Macedonia and evaluated the UN’s activities in Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan Macedonia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Guatemala, Haiti, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Liberia, Sudan, and its regional programmes in Central America, Asia, the Arab States and Africa. In all, he has led over 55 complex, results-based evaluations and has written white papers on root causes of conflict and strategies for peace and development. He prepared the technical paper on donor coordination in rule of law assistance for the meeting “Enhancing Global Rule of Law Assistance” for DFID and the Executive Office of the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.
He has led inter-agency formulation missions of national programmes for job creation and strategic evaluations of similar programmes in 8 fragile states. Working with banks and international organisations, he has devised new mechanisms for development financing. He advised the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Director General and Governing body of the International Labour Organisation on reforms and in the latter case, specifically the restructuring of field operations, and led a review of the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretariat for its Director General and the European Union. He prepared an options paper for the UN’s High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence (consisting on several Heads of State and Foreign Ministers) on further deepening the Secretary-General’s 1997 reforms and the creation of “One UN” at the country level. He has provided advice to the Directors-General of ILO and UNESCO on the reform of their field office structures and the future directions of their reforms. He has also led the evaluation of ILO’s technical cooperation worldwide.
Rajeev Pillay has a Master of International Affairs in International Economics from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a Master of Science from the University of Charleston, and a graduate Diploma from Columbia University’s Southern Asian Institute in South Asian development studies. He served briefly in 1998 as an Adjunct Lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where he taught a higher-level graduate seminar on institutional change in post-conflict countries.
Dr. Youssef Mahmoud is Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute (IPI) supporting the Africa, Middle East, and peace operations programs and serving as focal point on mediation and conflict prevention policies and practices. Before retiring from the United Nations in January 2011, he was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad. From 2007 to 2009 he served as Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Burundi.
Prior to these assignments, he held several other senior positions, notably as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Director in the UN Department of Political Affairs, and Head of the Office of the Undersecretary-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
He recently served as member of the UN Secretary-General High Level Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and simultaneously a member of the High Level Advisory Group for the Global Study on Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
He periodically writes on political transitions in Africa, with particular focus on Tunisia, and is currently a Visiting Professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College, London.
He serves on the Boards of several non-profit organizations in the US and Tunisia, including Al-Bawsala, a Tunisian NGO that aims to put citizens at the core of political action.
Dr. Mahmoud has a PhD in Linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.