Opening Words

Martti Ahtisaari

Martti Ahtisaari


Noble Peace Prize laureate and the tenth president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari has engaged in several international peace mediation and conflict resolution tasks and is noted for his international peace work.


After leaving the presidency in 2000 Martti Ahtisaari has engaged in numerous international mediation tasks. He has participated in peace negotiation and conflict resolution processes in Namibia, Aceh, Indonesia, Kosovo and Iraq to mention a few. He also founded Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), an NGO that continues his legacy in diplomacy, peace-building and post-conflict resolution.


In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts”.


Today President Ahtisaari acts as the Chairman of the Board of CMI and continues to be active in numerous non-governmental organisations. He is currently serving as Chairman of the Independent Commission on Turkey. He is also a member of The Elders group and a member of the Prize Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.





Keynote Speakers


Bernard Kouchner


Bernard Kouchner, a medical doctor by training, is best known as the co-founder an former president of the Noble peace price winning Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World).


He is also an influential person in the French political scene, having held many ministerial positions including serving as France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs until 2010 and before that as the minister in charge of Health and Humanitarian Actions. He has also served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Kosovo.


Kouchner has also served as professor of public health at the Health and Development Department of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers and authored several books. He is recipient of several human rights awards, including the Dag Hammarskjold Price, Louise Weiss Price of the European Parliament and the Prix Europa.

Professor Margaret MacMillan

Margaret MacMillan


Margaret MacMillan is a Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include imperial history, social history, the history of war and society, and international history. She herself describes the common themes in her research and writing to be “first international relations as encounters between peoples as much as between governments and leaders and second the attempt to find the balance between the great forces in history, whether social, economic, or ideological, and the individuals who, at key moments, can play a part in shaping events.”


MacMillan wrote her doctoral thesis on the social and political attitudes of the British in India and published her first book on the British women in India. From British-Indian relations she turned her focus towards Canadian and world affairs. Her best-known publication is her study of the diplomatic aftermath of the First World War which was published in London as Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and later in New York as Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World.


Her subsequent books include a history of the opening of relations between the United States and China at the beginning of the 1970’s, an examination of the uses and abuses of history, and a history of the outbreak of the First World War.






Peter Turkson


Cardinal Peter Turkson is the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He has also served as the Chairman of the Ghana Chapter of the Conference of Religions for Peace and the Ghana National Peace Council. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI sent Cardinal Turkson as a Vatican mediator to contribute to a possible diplomatic, non-military solution to the potentially explosive civil conflict in Ivory Coast.


He studied at the regional Seminary of St. Peter in Pedu and continued his studies in the United States studying theology at St. Anthony’s on Hudson. Later he was assigned to study at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome where he earned his Licentiate and Doctoral degrees in Sacred Scripture. Since 2003 Cardinal Turkson has served as the Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana.


In 1992 he was appointed as the Archbishop of Cape Coast, a position he held for 17 years becoming the President of the Bisohps’ Conference in 1997 and a Cardinal in 2003. Cardinal Turkson has received numerous honors and awards including honorary degrees from the University of Ghana in Legon, the University of Education in Winneba, Holy Cross College at Notre Dame and Duquesne University. He is also the recipient of the Order of the Star, a national honor of the Republic of Ghana


Ibrahim Gambari


Ibrahim Gambari is the Founder and Chairman of the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD), a think-tank focused on conflict prevention and resolution as well as democratisation and development in Africa.


He is also the former Minister of External Affairs of Nigeria and served as the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations. Ibrahim Gambari has also acted as the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations among many other positions at the UN.


Ibrahim Gambari received his PhD in International Relations at Columbia University after which he has taught at universities around the world. Currently he is the Chancellor at the Kwara State University in Nigeria. Ibrahim Gambari is also a recipient of several academic and national honours including the Commander of Federal Republic of Nigeria and Order of the Companion of the Oliver R. Tambo.



Mahmoud Yazbak


Mahmoud Yazbak is a professor in the department of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa. He has studied at the University of Haifa, the Hebrew University in Western Jerusalem and Oxford.


Yazbak is a historian of Palestinian social history. Many of his studies focus on Palestine’s urban history. He has published in Arabic, Hebrew and English in local, Arab world and international journals. Is the author of Haifa in the Late Ottoman Period, 1864-1914: A Muslim Town in Transition; and with Yifaat Weiss, Haifa before and after 1948, Narratives of a Mixed City. He publishes frequently on social history and issues concerning modern Palestinian society.


For the years 2009-2011 Yazbak was elected as president of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel (MEISAI). In 2009-2012 he headed the NGO Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights In Israel. In addition, Yazbak is a member of various professional international and local associations of Historical Studies. Between 2011-2014 he chaired the Department of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa.


Jonathan Furas


Jonathan Furas graduated D.Pihl from Oxford University and is a post-doctoral fellow at the Tel Aviv University. In his doctoral dissertation he focused on the role of history in creating a national identity and a collective consciousness in Mandate Palestine in the colonial settings. He also examined the manner in which the Palestinian-Zionist conflict wrote itself into history textbooks.


His current research interests include the history of Mandate Palestine, the sociology of Palestinian knowledge and the cultural aspects of the Palestinian-Zionist conflict. He is particularly interested in examining the evolution process of the Palestinian and Zionist national movements as inseparable from one another and as evolving through a constant dialogue, conscious or unconscious, with the national other.


Furas’s research on the political biography of Musa Kazim pasha al-Husseini is soon to be published as a book.

Alexander Iskandaryan

Alexander Iskandaryan


Alexander Iskandaryan is the Director and a co-founder of the Caucasus Institute, a Yerevan-based policy think-thank, and one of the leading experts on Caucasus politics. His research interests include ethnopolitical conflicts, post-communist transition and nation building especially in the Caucasus region.


He has published research on conflicts, migrations, elections, cross-border integration, democratisation, building of national identities, and on transformations and political manipulations of historical narratives. Alexander lectures on political science and Caucasus studies, and is a popular political commentator on current political trends in the Caucasus region.

Baskin Oran

Baskın Oran


Baskın Oran is a professor emeritus of international relations at the University of Ankara where he continues to teach after his retirement. His research interests include nationalism, minority rights, Turkish foreign policy and the relation between religion and state. He has also written extensively on the history of Turkish minorities and the Armenian genocide of 1915.


He is an avid social commentator in his home country of Turkey. Oran is a regular columnist at the Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper Agos and has repeatedly challenged the ideology and practices of Turkish state institutions. From 1999 to 2009 he was Turkey’s liaison officer for the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.


In 2008 Oran was one of the co-launchers of an online campaign called I Apologise which called for a collective apology from the Turkish side for the Armenian Genocide in 1915.





Rinna Kullaa


Rinna Kullaa is the leader of the five-year RUSMED project sponsored by the Academy of Finland (2015-2020), a Visiting Professor at the Centre d’ Histoire at Sciences Po in Paris (2015-2016), and is on leave from a tenure track position in Global History at the University of Tampere. She is a researcher of contemporary history and international relations who currently works on Russian/Soviet influence in the Mediterranean and the political issues related to the current construction of European Union’s foreign policy. Her RUSMED project will shed a new light on how Cold War power politics affected a once conjoined geographical and geopolitical union – the Mediterranean – and how US/Soviet politics shaped the postcolonial make- up of North African, Middle Eastern and Southern European states.


As one of the leading area studies experts for South-Eastern Europe Kullaa has served as an international expert in a number of commissions by the UK Parliament’s House of Lords, The Foreign Ministry of Finland, The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, Washington, D.C. and the EU- Russia Centre in Brussels, among others. She completed her postgraduate studies at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and a doctorate at the University of Maryland. Her monograph Non- Alignment and its Origins in Cold War Europe: Finland, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Challenge (IB Tauris, 2012) won the 2013 honourable mention of the Marshall Shulman Book Prize awarded by the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies.



Leyla Dakhli


Leyla Dakhli is the Director of Research of the French Center for National Research (CNRS). She is presently settled at the Marc Bloch Center in Berlin where she leads the working group on Migration, territories and society. Her work focuses on the historical study of Arab intellectuals and the cultural history of the South Mediterranean region. Dakhli’s work considers languages as a way to understand the entangled history of the Mediterranean area. She current focuses on the analysis of the social history of intellectuals – and specifically on Women Intellectuals, as well as the interrelated question of languages in the Middle East and North Africa.


Dakhli is member of the scientific committee of the prominent journals in social history, the International Review of Social History (Amsterdam) and Le Mouvement social (Paris). She contributes regularly to of the Lebanese journal Al-Safir al-Arabi, the web-journal La Vie des idées, and Jadaliyya. She is part of the Open Jerusalem team (European Research Council Grant) and Rusmed project (Academy of Finland). She founded the European Society of Authors, dedicated to promote translation and ideas’ exchanges all around the world (www.seua.org). Her latest influential publications include the monograph Histoire du Proche-Orient contemporain, Paris, La Découverte, 2015 and the article Between Loyalty and Reconciliation: What is the Role of Politics in a Post-Revolutionary Tunisia, Paris, Pouvoirs – revue française d’études constitutionnelles et politiques, n°156, 2016


Anthony Asiwaju


Anthony Asiwaju is Professor Emeritus at the University of Lagos and a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (FNAL). Asiwaju is a historian with scholarly publications on localized impacts of European imperialist partitions and comparative colonialism, especially of the French and British in West Africa. He is also noted for his over-lapping research interests in African borderlands and regional integration studies and policy advocacy.


Asiwaju has been engaged as expert and consultant to a range of national, regional, continental and international policy initiatives, including specific roles and functions with the United Nations and the African Union. He has also had responsibilities related to border dispute settlements in different parts of Africa, including with the International Court of Justice.


Meyda Yeğenoğlu


Meyda Yeğenoğlu is a Professor of Cultural Studies and Sociology at the Istanbul Bilgi University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Social Research at the University of Tampere.


She has published on postcolonialism, orientalism, Islam, secularism and religion, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, Europe/European identity, globalization and migrancy. Her work crosses disciplinary boundaries and brings different strands of thought such as deconstruction, psychoanalysis and postcolonial into productive rendezvous with each other. She is the author of Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Islam, Migrancy and Hospitality in Europe (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012).


She received her Ph.D from University of California, Santa Cruz and has held visiting appointments at Columbia University, Oberlin College, Rutgers University, New York University, University of Vienna and Oxford University.


GE Jianxiong


Professor is a professor of Historical Geography and History, Fudan University, Shanghai. Professor Ge Jianxiong joined the faculty of Fudan University in 1981. From 1996 to 2007 he was Director of the Institute of Chinese Historical Geography, Fudan University. In 2007-2014 he was Director of the Library of Fudan University and Professor of Historical Geography. He gained a PhD from Fudan in 1983.


Professor Ge is also a member of the Social Sciences Committee of the Ministry of Education, and a member of China’s National Committee for the Future Plan of the Earth, among other activities. He is author of the books History of Population in China, History of Migration in China, and A Perspective of Chinese History: Unification and separation.




Koichi NAKANO is Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sophia University in Tokyo. He specializes in the comparative politics of advanced industrial democracies, particularly Japan and Europe, and in political theory. He has a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University.


His research has focused on a variety of issues of contemporary Japanese politics from comparative, historical, and philosophical perspectives, including neoliberal globalization and nationalism; the Yasukuni problem; language, media and politics; amakudari and administrative reform in Japan; decentralization; the crossnational transfer of policy ideas; and a review of the DPJ government. In addition to having been widely published he has also frequently commented on Japanese politics for the international and Japanese media.