This page shows a selection of speakers at the Forum. For a full list of speakers please see the individual sessions in the programme.


Speaker List

Moatasem Althafea

Refugee from Mosul (Iraq), now student at Vienna University of Economics and Business

Moatasem Althafea is a 23-year-old student at Vienna’s University of Economics and Business. He was born and raised in Mosul. After graduating in his home country, he fled to Austria, where he faced the difficulties of being in a new country, surrounded by people with a different mother tongue. After a rather difficult start, learning German enabled him to find his way into Austrian society and find Austrians friends. He now feels welcome and at home in Vienna.

Ali Can

Ali Can

Founder of the association Intercultural Peace, initiator of a ‘hotline for concerned citizens’

Ali Can is an author, peacebuilder and founder of the Intercultural Peace Association. Convinced that the breeding ground for xenophobia and rightist ideology is partly based on a deep-rooted fear and ignorance of the ‘unknown’, he will actively approach those who are vocally opposed to ‘those’ refugees, ‘those’ Muslims and ‘those’ immigrants during his Connect-Reflect-Act talk by finding creative ways to break down prejudices. He has recently founded a hotline for citizens concerned about the refugee crisis.

Ramia Chaoui

Influential YouTuber, spokesperson for its Creators for Change campaign ‘Against Hatred And Radicalism: #SomosMás’

Salam Zyonat (Ramia) is a Spanish Muslim woman who declares the main aim of her influential YouTube channel “to normalise the fact of being a hijabi Muslim woman in Spanish society.” Her YouTube Channel is her window to the world. Through strong visuals and the authenticity of her message, she opens her heart and soul to her followers and cherishes her freedom of religion as a Spanish woman. “The diversity, the different cultures … all that adds, it doesn’t subtract”. She is a spokesperson for the Spanish YouTube Creators for Change campaign ‘We are more’ that aims to celebrate diversity and spread respect and tolerance among the youth. Having been born in Barcelona, as the daughter of Moroccan migrants, she speaks Catalan, Spanish, Arabic, French and English.

Isolde Charim

Author and philosopher

Isolde Charim is a philosopher and publicist. She works as scientific curator at the Kreisky-Forum. She writes weekly editorials in Austria and Germany and has recently published a book entitled: “Ich und die Anderen. Wie die neue Pluralisierung uns alle verändert” [Me and the others. How news pluralization is changing us all.]

George Ciamba, Secretary of State for Bilateral and Strategic Affairs within the Euro-Atlantic Area and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania

George Ciamba

State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romania

George Ciamba is the Secretary of State for Bilateral and Strategic Affairs within the Euro-Atlantic Area and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania. He has been a career diplomat since 1990. Between 2012 and 2016, he served as Secretary of State for European Affairs; he coordinated all the configurations of the EU Council and participated in the General Affairs Council. Prior to his appointment as State Secretary, George Ciamba was Ambassador of Romania to Greece. Between 2003 and 2005, he served as Secretary of State for Multilateral and, subsequently, Global Affairs in the MFA. During this mandate, he coordinated dossiers related to the EU (The Intergovernmental Conference), NATO, the Council of Europe, the UN and other international organisations. Between 1999 and 2003, Mr. Ciamba was Ambassador to Turkey and the Permanent Representative of Romania to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (2001 – 2003).

He holds a post-graduate degree in International Relations from the University of Bucharest and attended Stanford University’s Program on International Relations and Economics – the Hoover Institution (1992). He also participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program on Foreign Policy of the United States Information Agency. Mr. Ciamba has published articles in the field of international relations, with a particular focus on the Strategic Partnership between Romania and the US within the scope of Euro-Atlantic integration. He is fluent in English and French.


Thomas Coombes

Head of Brand and Deputy Director, Amnesty International

Thomas Coombes is Head of Brand and Deputy Director in Amnesty International’s Communications Programme. After more than a decade spent doing public relations for international organisations, he is a proponent of a new approach to promoting progressive causes: hope-based communication. Drawing on findings from neuroscience and cognitive linguistics, this involves framing messages around solutions and values, carefully tested with data-driven audience research in order to mobilise public opinion to make change irresistible. He has carried out communications training all over the world, most recently as part of work to find the most effective way to talk to the public about human rights. Before Amnesty International, Thomas was a press officer and speechwriter at anti-corruption NGO Transparency International and, prior to that, at the European Commission. After a stint in local journalism in the west of Ireland, Thomas started his career at public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. 

Emmanuel Crabit

Director of Fundamental rights and the rule of law, European Commission

Emmanuel Crabit is the European Commission’s Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law director. Previously, he headed the Commission’s Fundamental Rights and Rights of the Child unit, as well as its Justice Policy and Rule of Law unit. Before working for Justice and Consumers Directorate-General, he worked in the Internal Market and Services Directorate-General and dealt with various Commission initiatives such as data protection, media pluralism, e-commerce and services. He was a senior lecturer in public law before joining the Commission.


Jürgen Czernohorszky

Vienna's Executive City Councillor for Education, Youth, Integration and Personnel

Jürgen Czernohorszky grew up in Vienna and Styria. In 2001, he became one of the youngest members of the Vienna City Council and Provincial Parliament. From 2011 to 2015, he served as Federal Chairman of Österreichische Kinderfreunde before becoming President of the Vienna School Board. In January 2017, he became Vienna’s Executive City Councillor for Education, Youth, Integration and Personnel.


Rabih El Chammay

Head of Mental Health Programme, Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon

Dr Rabih El Chammay is a psychiatrist and currently head of the National Mental Health Programme at the Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon. After founding the programme, he led the development of the first National Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy 2015-2020. The strategy aimed at reforming the Mental Health System in Lebanon towards community-based mental health services in line with human rights and the latest evidence.  The strategy is currently being implemented. He is a member of the Department of Psychiatry at the faculty of Medicine at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. He has been working in public and refugee mental health and on strengthening the health system for over 10 years. He has been working on these topics in the MENA region as well as internationally with various agencies such as WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, IMC and many other NGOs.

Christos Giakoumopoulos

Human Rights and Rule of Law Director General, Council of Europe

Christos Giakoumopoulos was appointed as the Council of Europe’s Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law on 1 August 2017. He was previously Director of Human Rights from 2011 – 2017 and also Director of Monitoring between 2006 - 2011. Before that, he was General Counsel and General Director for Legal and Administrative Affairs of the Council of Europe Development Bank (Paris). Since joining the Council of Europe in 1987, he has held posts in the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, the Venice Commission and as Director in the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, A. Gil Robles.


Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir

Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir (Iceland), became Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on 19 July 2017. She has 35 years of leadership experience working on human rights, democratic governance and the rule of law at the international, national and local levels.

Before this, from 2014 she was Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia at UN Women, and Country Representative to Turkey. From 2011 to 2014 she was Country Representative of UN Women to Afghanistan. From 2007 to 2009, she was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland. She was was also the mayor of Reykjavik (1994 – 2003). Throughout her career, she has been involved in policy and development work in conflict and non-conflict countries, aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and human rights. She was one of the founders of the Women’s Party, laying the ground for Iceland’s remarkable progress in gender equality.


United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres

António Guterres

United Nations Secretary General (video message)

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017. Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.


Gráinne Healy

leader in the social justice sector, campaigns expert, researcher and author

Dr Gráinne Healy was Chairwoman of Marriage Equality (2004-2018) which sought equal access to civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples in Ireland. She was also Co-Director of the Yes Equality campaign which led and won the marriage equality referendum campaign in Ireland in May 2015. She is the co-author of ‘Ireland Says Yes – How the referendum was won’ and editor of ‘Crossing the Threshold – The Story of the Marriage Equality Movement in Ireland’. She has won many awards at home and abroad including the prestigious ‘People of the Year Award’ for Yes Equality as community organisation of the year in the People of the Year Awards (2015), Dublin City University’s President’s Award for Engagement, the Irish Gay and Lesbian Awards’ Volunteer of the Year (2014) and Tatler’s Woman of the Year (2015). Grainne was Chairwoman of the European Women’s Lobby’s Observatory on Violence against women from 1997-2009, Vice President of EWL itself and former Chairwoman of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (1999-2003). A former secondary school teacher and journalist, Grainne was editor of the women's publishing house Attic Press in the early 1990's and taught Women's Studies in the community with Women’s Education Resource and Research Centre at University College Dublin. She has been involved in the significant campaigns for equality and women’s rights in Ireland for over 25 years. She is co-founder of Social Intelligence Associates which provides training and leadership development for leaders in the NGO sector and is committed to building the capacity of social change NGOs to do their work effectively and in a way that promotes staff well-being and development.

Peggy Hicks

Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, UN's Human Rights Office (OHCHR)

Peggy Hicks has been director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division at the UN's Human Rights Office (OHCHR) since January 2016. From 2005 to 2015, she was global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, where she coordinated Human Rights Watch's advocacy team. She was previously director of the Office of Returns and Communities in the UN mission in Kosovo and Deputy High Representative for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has also worked as the Director of Programs for the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights), clinical professor of human rights and refugee law at the University of Minnesota’s Law School, and as an expert consultant for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 


Věra Jourová

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, European Commission

Věra Jourová is currently European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. In 2014, before coming to the European Commission, she was Minister for Regional Development in the Czech Republic. Previous to this, from 2006 to 2013, she worked in her own company as an international consultant on EU funding, and was also involved in consultancy activities in the Western Balkans relating to EU accession. In 2003, she was appointed Deputy Minister for Regional Development, a position which she held for three years. Previously, she has worked as Head of the Department of Regional Development in the Vysočina Region, from 2001, and before that as Secretary and Spokesperson of the Třebič Municipal Office, from 1995 to 2001.

Marc Koehler

Founder, Marc Koehler Architects

Marc Koehler is the founder of Marc Koehler Architects (MKA), an international multidisciplinary design agency based in Amsterdam, and initiator of Superlofts. MKA believes that architecture is an interactive framework that empowers people to realise their potential and to live their dreams, and is a vehicle for decision makers to research and resolve the ecological, social and economic challenges of future cities. MKA’s work has won international and national awards. Since 2017 Marc has been advisor to the municipality of Amsterdam as a member of the Spatial Quality Committee. The committee reviews planning permits in light of the city’s urban design ambitions across themes such as densification, urban renewal, sustainability and (collective) private commissioning.

Ivan Krastev

Ivan Krastev

Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna

Ivan Krastev is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Board of Trustees of The International Crisis Group and is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. For 2018 to 2019, he has been appointed as the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress. His latest books in English are ‘After Europe’ (2017), ‘Democracy Disrupted. The Global Politics on Protest’ (2014), ‘In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders?’ (2013). He is a co-author with Stephen Holmes of a forthcoming book ‘The Light that Failed’ on the perils of the politics of imitation. As a chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, he will give an inspiring Connect-Reflect-Act Talk.

Mairead McGuinness

Mairead McGuinness

First Vice-President of the European Parliament

Mairead McGuinness is First Vice-President of the European Parliament in charge of dialogue with religious and non-confessional organisations. She welcomes FRA’s efforts to create a space for dialogue on religion and human rights and is delighted to contribute to this dialogue during the Fundamental Rights Forum. She is also responsible for relations with national parliaments, and serves on the European Parliament’s Agriculture, Environment and Constitutional Affairs Committees. She previously worked as a journalist, broadcaster and commentator.



Dunja Mijatović

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Dunja Mijatović was elected Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights on 25 January 2018 by the Parliamentary Assembly and took up her position on 1 April 2018. She has been working to promote and protect human rights for the past two decades, acquiring extensive knowledge in the field of international monitoring, in particular as regards freedom of expression. Previously, she served as OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (2010-2017), Director of Broadcast of the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001-2010), Chair of the European Platform of Regulatory Agencies (2007–2010) and of the Council of Europe's Group of Specialists on Freedom of Expression and Information in Times of Crisis (2005-2007). She regularly lectures in national and international fora and has been awarded several human rights prizes. She has also being active in supporting NGO activities in the field of human rights education and asylum.


Aya Mohammed Abdullah

Aya Mohammed Abdullah

Youth Delegate, UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council

Aya is a Member of the UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council. She also participated in the UNHCR-led Global Refugee Youth Consultation in Turkey and worked on peer-to-peer support projects with refugee youth in Gazientep, Hatay and Kilis. As a Connect-Reflect-Act speaker, she wants to inspire participants to incorporate the voices of refugees at every stage when building projects and programmes, as well as help realise the dreams and aspirations of refugee youth. 


Claude Moraes MEP

Claude Moraes

Chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice, Home Affairs Committee (LIBE), European Parliament

Claude Moraes is Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). 


Josef Moser

Austrian Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice

Dr Josef Moser has been Austria’s Federal Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice since 8 January 2018. Prior to this he was Austria’s Minister of Justice. A well-known expert on administrative law with a reputation for numerous reform proposals, he was president of the Austrian Court of Audit and Secretary General of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) from 2004 to 2016. He has held various positions within the public administration including management functions within Carinthia’s financial administration and the Austrian parliament. 


Michael O'Flaherty

Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency and Chair of the Fundamental Rights Forum

Michael O’Flaherty is FRA’s current Director. Previously, he was Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has also been the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. In addition, he has held a number of senior UN posts in the field, supported UN headquarters in various human rights programmes, been a Vice-Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Committee and has sat on the advisory boards of numerous human rights groups and journals internationally. His recent publications include volumes on the law and practice of human rights field operations, the professionalization of human rights field work and human rights diplomacy.

Emily O'Reilly

European Ombudsman

Emily O’Reilly was first elected as the European Ombudsman in July 2013. Following the European Parliament elections, she was re-elected for a five year mandate in December 2014. As European Ombudsman she investigates maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. She was awarded the Schwarzkopf Europe Award in 2017 for her work.

Femi Oluwole

co-founder of Our Future, Our Choice

Femi Oluwole is a law graduate from the UK who specialised in EU law in order to pursue a career in international human rights. He was a trainee at the FRA until December 2017, when he returned to the UK to fight for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal with the youth organisation ‘Our Future, Our Choice’ (OFOC), which he co-founded. OFOC believes that there is no good Brexit deal for young people.

Lefteris Papagiannakis

Vice-Mayor of Athens

Lefteris Papagiannakis is the City of Athens’ vice mayor in charge of migrant and refugee affairs. He also chairs Eurocities’ working group on Migration and Integration, and is the European Coalition of Cities against Racism’s Vice-President for refugee issues. He has worked on the education of the Muslim minority in Greece (in Thrace), as a legal counsellor for the Ecologists Green political party and the Special Secretariat on environmental inspection. He has also worked in the European Parliament as a parliamentary assistant.

Nomination pending

Chair of the FRA Management Board

Sirpa Rautio, Chair and Finnish member of the FRA Management Board, has over 25 years of experience in human rights (e.g. the World Bank Nordic Trust Fund, the Council of Europe, the OSCE/ODIHR, the UN and the EU). She has been the director of the Finnish Human Rights Centre since 2012. The Centre, together with the Finnish Parliamentary Ombudsman Office is Finland’s A-rated National Human Rights Institution. She has extensive experience working in post-conflict settings and countries in transition, including former Yugoslavia. She is a lawyer by profession.

Friso Roscam Abbing

Adviser on Communication

Friso Roscam Abbing is FRA's Adviser on Communication.  He was previously a European Commission spokesman and Cabinet member, and headed the Sector in the Commission dealing with asylum policy. Before that he led the EU Office of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, a European network of 96 NGOs in 40 European countries protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people. 

Anna Rurka, President of the Council of Europe’s Platform of INGOs

Anna Rurka

President of the Council of Europe’s Platform of International Non-Governmental Organisations

Since 2015, Anna Rurka holds the position of elected President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe. She is a Senior Lecturer at the University Paris Nanterre, Vice President of the European Committee for Home-based Priority Action for the Child and the Family (EUROCEF, INGO with participatory status with the Council of Europe). Her professional and social engagement activities focus on participation of vulnerable people, access to rights and services, as well as systemic and institutional analysis of the power relations in public policies.


Helmut Tichy

Ambassador, Legal Adviser, Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Helmut Tichy started his diplomatic career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs (now Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs) in 1983. When in Austria, Helmut mostly worked with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ International Law Department (apart from serving as Deputy Head of the Vienna Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR from 1988 to 1990) and in 2010 was appointed Legal Adviser of the Ministry and government agent before the European Court of Human Rights. Abroad he served in Belgrade, Geneva and Brussels. Besides being a diplomat, Helmut works with many different scientific institutions in the area of international law and international human rights law. Since 2014, he teaches as professor at the Karl-Franzens University in Graz. He is also a member of the Human Rights Advisory Council of the Austrian Ombudsman Board.


Zara Todd, Fundamental Rights Platform Advisory Panel Member

Zara Todd

Member of FRA’s Advisory Panel

Zara leads stakeholder engagement for ProjectScotland, a NGO supporting and promoting youth volunteering in Scotland. Previously she was Director of the European Network on Independent Living, where she co-founded their thriving youth network.  Zara is a passionate advocate for equity, inclusion and human rights education and has worked locally, nationally and internationally to support people to engage with policy.


Adriana van Dooijeweert

President, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights

Adriana van Dooijeweert has been president of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights since 1 September 2015. She is a member of the Board of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and chair of its Asylum and Migration Working Group. Previously, she was chair of the Dutch Advisory Committee on Migration Affairs. Furthermore, she has been as a judge and coordinating vice-president in various law court sectors for 30 years.

Els van Driel

independent journalist and documentary director

Els van Driel is an independent journalist and documentary director. She is the founder of the Monocle productions foundation, which promotes and produces films about human and children rights. She initiated the award-winning children’s documentary series Mensjesrechten/Just Kids and The Asylummachine, a cross-media project about asylum policies.

Julie Ward

Member of European Parliament

Julie Ward is a Labour MEP for the North West of England. She is also a writer, theatre-maker and cultural activist who began her working life on the factory floor before becoming a community arts worker. She is a member of the European Parliament’s committees on Culture and Education, Women's Rights and Gender Equality, and Regional Development. Julie is also a child rights champion; she co-founded the cross-party Intergroup on Children's Rights and sat on the Labour Party’s Children and Education Policy Commission. She is a board member of the European Internet Forum, and a founding member of the European Caucus of Women in Parliaments.

Moderator List

Shada Islam, FRF 2018 Conference Moderator

Shada Islam

Director of Europe and Geopolitics, Friends of Europe

Shada Islam is responsible for policy oversight of Friends of Europe’s initiatives, activities and publications. She has special responsibility for issues related to the Future of Europe, migration, the Asia Programme and the Development Policy Forum. She is Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin) where she teaches Asia-Europe relations and has is a fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She has been named as one of twenty most influential women in Brussels by Politico.

Shada is the former Europe correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and has previously worked on Asian and migration issues at the European Policy Centre. She is one of the authors of Friends of Europe’s much-read ‘Frankly Speaking’ commentary and is sought after as a speaker, commentator, columnist and moderator at high-level European and global events. She also continues to write on EU foreign and security policy, EU-Asia relations and trade and development issues for leading Asian, European and international publications and academic journals.

Friso Roscam Abbing

Adviser on Communication

Friso Roscam Abbing is FRA's Adviser on Communication.  He was previously a European Commission spokesman and Cabinet member, and headed the Sector in the Commission dealing with asylum policy. Before that he led the EU Office of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, a European network of 96 NGOs in 40 European countries protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people. 

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