Independent, Consultant, Advisor, Writer, Intermediary and Researcher
Senior Adviser to the Somali Dialogue Platform. The Platform is an initiative that provides opportunities for political and problem-solving dialogues on contentious political settlement issues within and between the federal government and federal member and neighbouring states . Now supported and administered by the Rift Valley Institute, it enables a group Somali intermediaries to engage in and facilitate diverse dialogues that are informed by in-depth research and public debates on critical and contested issues.
Adviser and Trainer with the Catalan political party, Esquerra Republicana, in support of their bi-lateral dialogue and negotiations process with the Spanish government.
Consultant Researcher with Adapt Peacebuilding supporting Christian Aid Ireland as they experiment with adaptive programming to strengthen their work with local partner organisations in six developing countries and contexts.
Senior Adviser to the Political Settlement Research Programme at the University of Edinburgh.
- Support to peace, dialogue and mediation processes; participation of civil society; political parties and non-state (armed/liberation) groups in transition.
- Organisational leadership, development, change management and innovation.
- Working with NGOs and INGOs and governments on policy and on developing strategies and programming
Country Experience Includes: Ethiopia, Fiji, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Uganda
Independent Consultancies (March 2016-2020)
· Collaborating with the Berghof Foundation and the Olaso Dorrea Foundation on a project on ‘Personal Security Guarantees for Peace Negotiators and Advisers’.
· Senior Adviser to the Political Settlement Research Programme at the University of Edinburgh. Recently authored ‘Understanding Peacetech’ (forthcoming).
· Editor/contributor Accord 28: Inclusive Political Settlements, Conciliation Resources https://www.c-r.org/accord/inclusion-peace-processes;
· Author, paper on ‘Constitution Making in Contexts of Conflict: Paying Attention to Process’ for UNDPPA with the Berghof Foundation, Berlin.
· Senior Adviser, at the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI), Graduate Institute, Geneva – acting as a political adviser for IPTI’s engagement and advisory roles in peace processes, and supporting the leadership teams’ organisational development. I also served on the Steering Committee for the SIDA funded ‘Impact Local Peace’ project which focussed on promoting better international knowledge transfer on peacebuilding.
· Evaluation and of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Study’s (Cambodia) Myanmar programme with a focus on the work in the Rakhine State and Southern Thailand (2017/18)
· Leading the development of the Pax Spiral initiative exploring new and more effective ways of doing peacebuilding within and across conflict systems.
· Established the Peace Talks online aggregated news and information service.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Conciliation Resources (1994- Feb 2016)
- Established, managed and led Conciliation Resources to become one of the world’s leading non-profit organisations in the emerging field of peacebuilding. The organisation is known for its effective and innovative work in support of peace processes – specifically for its work with local civil society partners, providing mediation support and facilitating important dialogue initiatives. The organisation, with the support of the British, Swiss, Swedish and Norwegian governments has also made significant contributions to the understanding of and advancing the effective practice of non-governmental peace work.
- Conflict contexts include: working in the Mano River Region of West Africa on community security in the borderlands, managing Ebola-related conflicts, Nigeria (Plateau State), Central African Republic, community security in eastern DRC and South Sudan, Ethiopia (the Somali Region), Southern Caucasus – with the Georgian – Abkhaz – Russian conflict and the Armenian – Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorny Karabakh, India & Pakistan in the conflict over Kashmir, The Philippines in the conflict in Mindanao and with the NDF-CPP, Fiji, Papua New Guinea (Bougainville) and Colombia.
- Led the development of the organisation’s programme work – playing a lead role in mediation support and peacebuilding in the South Pacific (Fiji and Bougainville/PNG), and in Northern Uganda, South Sudan, India, Pakistan and Ethiopia and the Basque country. I also led early interventions in Somaliland and Sri Lanka. Day-to-day work involved both coaching/advising/mentoring colleagues and acting as an advisor/resource person in peacebuilding interventions.
- Managed the organisation with team of 54 staff and an annual budget of £6m. This involved leading an executive management committee with overall responsibility for staffing, financial management, fundraising, policy and communications and programme development and implementation. I also led regular periods of strategic review and planning.
- Established the Accord publication series promoting comparative learning which includes published reports and online journal documenting first-hand experiences and analysis of peace processes and agreements occasionally acted as Issue Editor.
- Represents the organisation in various national and international policy forums and platforms on conflict transformation practice and acts as a resource person to programmes and to develop new areas of work for the organisation.
- Frequently invited as a public speaker championing the importance of early mediation, dialogue public participation in responding to conflict.
Senior Programme Director, International Alert (1989-1994)
- Helped establish this international NGO, working with its founding Secretary General, Martin Ennals, as the first member of staff. This included managing the organisation (1992 – 93) when Martin moved on. Led on a number of project areas as well as developed the organisation’s applied conflict resolution work.
- These included, in southern Africa, work on the psycho-social consequences of organised with a focus attention on the direct consequences of apartheid, imprisonment, torture, and other related traumas in southern Africa.
- In the transition in South Africa (1990-1992), working with the National Peace Secretariat, I organized an advisory team from Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Colombia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines to work with the Secretariat and it local and regional peace committees on an extended mission to help strengthen its role.
- Led work with the National Council of Churches Kenya to support their efforts to prevent election-related violence in the Rift Valley.
- Responsible for leading and developing a project exploring responses to racist violence in Europe – drawing on new experiences gained dealing with ethnic conflict elsewhere in the world.
- Lead on a project of a series of conferences and dialogues on the issue of self-determination for Tibet in China, also on a project called “Waging Peace” in the Philippines in support of a citizens’ peace initiatives at the Ateneo University, and the establishment of local ‘peace zones’ on the peoples’ rights to participate in the Philippines’ peace process.
- Set up International Alert’s earliest work in former Soviet Union with a fact-finding mission to Tatarstan.
- In final years with International Alert (1993-95), led on new projects on constitutional reform in Fiji, and exploring new interventions in Colombia with the Catholic Church, Northern Iraq and an unofficial mediation intervention in Liberia
National Coordinator, Central America Committee for Human Rights (1986 – 1989)
- Led national human rights campaign with a focus on Guatemala cooperating with local activists including the Nobel prize-winning Rigoberta Menchu.
Volunteer, Paradise House (1984)
- Working with this Camphill Community, ran a small residential care household and farm and working with young people with learning difficulties.
Trinity College, University of Dublin, MPhil (Anglo-Irish Lit) 1985
University of California, Berkeley, BA Hons (English Lit) 1983
Renaissance Arts School, Oakland
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND MEMBERSHIPS
Trustee and Board Member, the Rift Valley Institute (2018 – ongoing)
Trustee and Board Member, Impunity Watch (2018 – ongoing)
Member of Council of Experts, Democratic Progress Institute, London (2015 – ongoing)
Adviser to the University of Edinburgh’s Political Settlement’s Research Programme (2015 – ongoing)
Honorary Fellow of Practice, School of Law, University of Edinburgh (2015 – 2020)
Senior Research Associate, Politics and Governance, Overseas Development
Institute, London, UK (2016-2020)
Visiting Practice Fellow, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University (2014-2020)
Senior Advisor, Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative, Graduate Institute, Geneva (2016-2019)
Practitioner Board Member, the Legal Tools for Peace-making Project, Lauterpacht Centre, University of Cambridge (2013-2016)
Awarded the Eric Lane Fellowship, Clare College, University of Cambridge, 2015
Advisory Panel Member (1999-2003), Reflecting on Peace Practice Project, Collaborative Learning Projects (CDA)
Advisory Panel Member, Conflict Analysis and Research Centre, University of Kent (2012- 2018)
Member of the INCORE International Advisory Group (IIAG), University of Ulster (2013 – 2016)
Member of an external review team, working with the Prime Minister’s Office (the PMDU) on a review of the government’s Public Service Agreement on conflict. (2008)
Board member, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Washington DC (2006-2012)
Advisor, Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Project, Eastern Mennonite University (2012)
Trustee and Company Director, Conciliation Resources, 1996-2016
PUBLICATIONS (A selection)
“The Liberian Peace Process 1990-1996.” Accord. Issue 1(London:1996) with Jeremy Armon.
“Weaving Consensus: The Papua New Guinea- Bougainville Peace Process.” Accord. Issue 12. (London: 2002) with Sr. Lorraine Garasu.
“Navigating Inclusion in Peace Processes” Accord, Issue 28, Conciliation Resources, March 2019
“Supporting Local Capacities for Handling Violent Conflict.” Anthropology in Action. Vol. 3 No. 3. (Kent:1996).
“Perspectives on Conflict and Post Conflict.” State Society and Governance in Melanesia. Discussion Paper by The Australian National University. (Sydney: 2003.) with Alan Tidwell.
“The (Not So) New Challenge of Responding to Armed Social Violence with Peacebuilding.” Berghof Handbook Dialogue Series No. 12 – (Berlin 2016)
“Understanding Peacetech” A paper commissioned by Edinburgh PeaceTech as part of the Political Settlement Research Programme with funding support from the UK Department for International Development, 2019
“Constitution Making in Contexts of Conflict: Paying attention to practice”, Berghof Foundation, Berlin 2020
PRESENTATIONS (a selection)
“The Role of NGOs, National and International in Post-War Peacebuilding.” Presented at a Seminar hosted by the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support in London, November 1st, 2001.
“Bridging the Practice-to-Policy Gap in Transforming Conflict in Asia, the Pacific and Beyond: an International NGO Perspective.” Presented at The Research School Of Pacific & Asian Studies, Australian National University in Sydney, September 22-23, 2002.
“Owning the Process: Public Participation in Peacemaking, Principles to Guide Policy and Practice.” Presented at the International Peace Academy Policy Forum in New York, February 12th, 2003.
“Protecting rights in conflict situations and fragile states.” Panel discussion on human rights and poverty reduction realities, controversies and strategies hosted by the Overseas Development Institute in London, February 28, 2005.
“Peacebuilding Works: A British Foreign Policy Priority.” Presented at 10-year anniversary event for CR, co-hosted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, November 2, 2006.
“The Experience of International Governmental and Non-Governmental Agencies in Negotiations with Non-State Actors.” Presented at the Humanitarian Policy Centre at Harvard, Winter 2007.
“What lessons can be learned from British NGOs working to transform conflict?” Presented at Portcullis House/All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues in London, Winter 2007.
“Economic Dimensions of Mediating Peace Agreements” hosted by the Programme for Strategic and International Security Studies (PSIS) of the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, April 20, 2007.
“Conflict Resolution” Panel discussion at Wilton Park Conference on Developing China’s Role in West Sussex, May 15 2008.
“Supporting Local Peacebuilders” Presented at the European Foundation Conference on Philanthropy and Peacebuilding in Istanbul, May 2008.
“Designing a Comprehensive Peace Process in Afghanistan.” London School of Economics, February 2 2012
“The Role of Member States in Mediation.” United Nations General Assembly High-Level Mediation Meeting in New York, May 22 – 25 2012
“Relying on Civil Society’s Expertise in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding.” Presented at the European External Action Service Instrument for Stability Meeting, June 27 2012
“Starting in Neutral: What does ‘neutrality’ mean or matter in 21st century conflict response?” Imperial War Museum’s Peace Day 2012 event, London, September 22 2012
“Confronting the Past.” Moderated at the Social Forum to promote the Basque Peace Process, Pamplona and Bilbao, March 14 – 15 2013
“What’s next in Peacebuilding?” Presented at the Quaker United Nations Office, New York, March 4 – 5 2014
“Statebuilding in divided societies: political settlements and peace agreements.” Presented at the International Workshop organised by the Nepal Transition to Peace Institute, Kathmandu, June 26 – 28 2014
“Conflict Prevention, Peacemaking, Good Offices and Mediation: The Primacy of the Political.” Presented at the United Nations High-Level Panel on Peace Operations, Geneva, December 16 2014
“Over this Mountain Another Mountain?” Presented at the York University conference on Impossible Peace? York, March 11, 2016
“Lessons from the Basque Peace Process” All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict, London April 25 2016
Born: November 28, 1959
Birthplace: California, USA
Citizenship: U.S. & British
Family: Married to Lucy Marks, a clinical psychologist. Two children: Sam and Molly