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These are the speakers confirmed to speak at the Conflict, Security & Development Conference 2019. This list continues to evolve, so check back to see any changes before the day. 

Keynote Speaker

Rory Stewart MP OBE

Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border 

Rory Stewart MP OBE is a politician, historian, and eminent international affairs and development expert. He has served as Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister for International Development, Minister for the Environment, and Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. He previously worked at the UK Diplomatic Service, serving in Indonesia, Montenegro, and as Deputy-Governor of two provinces in Southern Iraq after Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He was founder and CEO of Turquoise Mountain Foundation, a British NGO working on cultural regeneration in Afghanistan. In the early 2000s he walked 6000 miles across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. He has authored four books: The Places in Between; Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq; The Marches, and Can Intervention Work?.  

International Women's Day Speaker

Natasha Walter 

Founder and Director of Women for Refugee Women

Natasha Walter is founder and director of the charity Women for Refugee Women, supporting women seeking asylum and challenging the injustices they experience. She is an established author of both fiction and non-fiction, a journalist and human rights activist. A graduate of Cambridge and Harvard, she has worked as a columnist, reviewer and feature writer for the Guardian, Vogue and The Independent. In 2015 Natasha was Humanitas Visiting Professor of Women's Rights at Cambridge University. Her first book, The New Feminism was published in 1998. In 2010 she published Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, which examines the resurgence of sexism in contemporary culture. She has been a judge on the Booker Prize and the Women's Prize for fiction.She is currently working on a new book about female solidarity, Sister Act, which will be published by Virago.

Panel 1 - The Future of Private Investment in Fragile States


Tue Sando (Chair)

General Counsel and Partner, Gemcorp

Tue Sando is General Counsel and Partner of the emerging markets investment fund and commodities house, Gemcorp Capital. He has over 20 years of banking law experience of which he has spent the past 10 years focusing almost exclusively on emerging markets. This has given him a unique insight into private sector investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia. Prior to joining the hedge fund world in 2008, Tue Sando worked at Merrill Lynch. In addition to his responsibilities at Gemcorp, he currently studies for an MA in Conflict, Security and Development at King’s College London

Dr. Mina Toksoz is Associate Fellow in Global Economy and Finance at Chatham House. An emerging markets and country risk consultant, she has 15 years’ experience in investment banking, most recently as head of Country Risk at Standard Bank International. Prior to this she worked for The Economist Group’s EIU, as editorial director of Europe and the Middle East reports, and as manager of the Country Risk service. She is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Manchester Business School. 

Dr. Mina Toksoz

Associate Fellow, Global Economy and Finance, Chatham House

Amalia Johnsson is currently Head of Programmes at Hand in Hand International, a job and business creation NGO. She was previously Head of Financial Sector Development at Nathan Associates where she worked on expanding access to financial services in fragile contexts, specialising primarily in rural and agricultural finance, MSME finance and capital markets. Before this Amalia worked as Corporate Partnerships and Microfinance Programmes Manager at Plan UK and as Policy Advisor to OECD’s Development Centre. 

Amalia Johnsson

Head of Programmes, Hand in Hand International 

Joe Shamash

Evaluations Manager, Private Infrastructure Development Group

Antonio Celia

Visiting Professor in Practice, London School of Economics. Former CEO, Promigas

Joe Shamash leads on evaluating the impact of PIDG investments in infrastructure projects in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries. PIDG is a multi-donor public-private organisation that seeks to combat poverty through pioneering infrastructure to help economies grow and change people’s lives. Prior to joining PIDG he was Director of development consultancy Span DC previous to which he worked in DFID's Impact Programme - a £100 million initiative designed to develop impact investment markets in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. Joe has over a decade of experience in international development and holds an MSc in International Business and Development from Birkbeck, University of London.

As CEO of Promigas - one of Colombia's largest natural gas firms - from 1992-2018, Antonio has been an influential figure in the financial and industrial sectors of Colombia for 30 years and has been an important voice on issues of regional development, regulation and competitivity, technology innovation and corporate social responsibility, especially through his role as Chair of the National Competitiveness Council. Antonio has also been the President of the Board for Empresarios por la Educación (Entrepreneurs for Education) for six consecutive years and has an extensive record of delivering economic, social and cultural services to deprived groups. Antonio was recently awarded the Order of Boyacá, the highest distinction awarded by the Republic of Colombia to its citizens. Antonio played a key role in galvanising private sector support for Colombia’s historic peace agreement, using his prominence in the private sector – and through positions with prominent think tanks – to advocate for business people and corporations to transcend traditional expectations of their role in society. Antonio’s experience of the peace process from a private perspective is particularly relevant to the Centre’s Europe-Latin America Network on Violence, Security and Peace, working to generate research-based knowledge of the crisis of violence and security in Latin America. In his capacity as Visiting Professor in Practice at LSE, Antonio extends his practice-based knowledge of regional development and institutional change through a research project examining the effectiveness of the state to respond to citizens’ needs and to enact more egalitarian policies, with a focus on showing how state-business relations can improve conditions for people of the Caribe region of Colombia

Panel 2 - The Future of Overseas Aid

Prof. Mats Berdal (Chair)

Professor and Programme Director, Conflict, Security, and Development, KCL. 

Professor Mats Berdal joined the War Studies Department as Professor of Security and Development in 2003. He directs the Conflict, Security and Development Research Group (CSDRG) and is Programme Director for the MA in Conflict, Security and Development. From 2000 to 2003 he was Director of Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. He is member of Academia Europe and has authored and edited several books, including: Building Peace After War; Greed and Grievance: Economic Agenda in Civil Wars; Ending Wars, Consolidating Peace: Economic Perspectives; United Nations Interventionism 1991-2004, and Political Economy of Statebuilding: Power after peace. 


John Deverell CBE is CEO of Deverell associates, a firm advising on risk, business continuity, leadership and governance. His clients include family offices, corporations and governments. He is a deployable Civilian Expert for the UK’s Stabilisation Unit. John served as Director of Defence Diplomacy in the Ministry of Defence. John has supported HMG and other governments on security, stability and prosperity over many years, including for well over a decade across the MENA region. He was the first British government servant to live and work full time in Palestine since the end of the British Mandate. He is currently advising on Yemen, a country close to his heart.

John Deverell CBE 

CEO, Deverell Associates

Joelle Jenny 

Director, Joint Funds Unit, UK Civil Service

Joelle Jenny currently heads the Joint Funds Unit at the FCO, which oversees the delivery of the UK’s Cross-government Prosperity Fund and the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (CSSF) and works towards the UK’s National Security and Aid Strategy objectives. She was previously Director for Security Policy and Conflict Prevention at the European External Action Service as well as Deputy Head of the Conflict Humanitarian and Security Affairs Department at the Department for International Development. She is an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. 

Sinead Magill

Europe, Middle East and Africa Director, Palladium 

Sandrine Tiller

Strategic Adviser, Médecins Sans Frontières

As Palladium’s Regional Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Sinead Magill leads a team of 350 development professionals. With over 13 years' experience leading governance, security and justice programmes, she played a key role in the DFID programming in Iraq and subsequently delivered programmes in Afghanistan, Palestine, Uganda and Syria, during which time she founded one of the UK's leading stabilisation and recovery teams. A strong advocate for working parents and women, Sinead was featured in Management Today's 35 Under 35 and won the Women of the Future Business Award. 

Sandrine Tiller has been working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2011. In her current role as a Strategic Adviser she contributes to MSF’s analysis and research capacity. She also provides support to the MSF Moscow office. Her expertise is in humanitarian issues, particularly in the politicisation of aid and the current state of the aid system. She is the co-author of MSF’s report ‘Where is everyone? Responding to emergencies in the most difficult places.’ Prior to MSF, Sandrine worked for seven years working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the Middle East from Geneva and was posted to Jerusalem and Beirut. Sandrine has also worked with local grassroots organisations in Venezuela, with the UN Volunteers programme in Eritrea and Tanzania, and with the British Red Cross.


Panel 3 - Building Local Resilience 

Prof. Abiodun Alao 

Programme Director, African Leadership Centre

Mike Penrose 

Executive Director, UNICEF UK

Dr. Margherita Calderone

Risk & Resilience Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

Prof. Abiodun Alao is Programme Director of the African Leadership Centre He holds a BA in History and MA in International Relations from the Universities of Ibadan and Ife, respectively. He holds a Doctorate in War Studies from King’s College London, where he was a Ford Foundation Doctoral Scholar and also held the SSRC-MacArthur Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Apart from extensive publications on African security issues, he has undertaken numerous assignments for international organisations, including the United Nations, African Union, European Union, World Bank, ECOWAS and for individual countries. Abiodun was also a member of the King’s College London team that worked on the “Development of Donor Countries Effectiveness in Fragile States”.

Mike Penrose took over as Executive Director of Unicef UK in May 2016. Prior to this he was CEO of Action Contre La Faim in Paris, and Humanitarian Director at Save the Children International. He has 24 years’ experience working in aid and development as well as risk, crisis and disaster management in more than 60 countries. Mike has extensive experience of crisis and emergency response, including deployments as Head of Operations for the UN WHO in Banda Aceh for the Tsunami response; Crisis Management Advisor for the Torino Winter Olympics; DFID Humanitarian Advisor in numerous emergencies, including Iraq 2003 and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005; and as the Evacuation Team Leader for the inter-governmental civilian evacuations of Lebanon 2006, Guinea 2007 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007. Mike has also advised many large commercial organisations on how to operate effectively and ethically in fragile environments.

Dr. Margherita Calderone is an expert on development economics and resilience in a multi-hazard context. She specialises in research exploring how uncertainty presents both risks and opportunities for the realisation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. She has 10 years of work experience and holds a PhD in development economics. She has advised on the themes of economic development and resilience to a range of governments, multilateral organisations (i.e. the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the World Bank), and UN agencies (i.e. UNESCO and UNU-WIDER). Her most recent paper discussed 'Building livelihood and community resilience: lessons from Somalia and Zimbabwe', before which she contributed to the report: "Unlocking climate-resilient economic development in drylands: pathways to a resilient world

Ben Le Roith

Group Head, Extreme Poverty and Southern Africa, Department for International Development

Ben Le Roith is a Senior international development professional with 18 years of experience delivering policy and programmes with maximum impact across Africa and the Middle East. He is currently the Group Head of Extreme Poverty and Southern Africa at the Department for International Development (DFID), responsible for delivering policy and communications portfolio encompassing Southern Africa and strategic priorities on family planning and global health security. Ben also has extensive previous experience on economic and private sector development, governance and leadership in fragile and conflict-affected states including Iraq, Sudan and Northern Nigeria. He is passionate about technology, innovation and political approaches to international development.

Dr. Tahrat Shahid

Challenge Leader, Food Systems Portfolio at Global Challenges Research Fund

Dr. Tahrat Shahid is the Challenge Leader for Food Systems at the Global Challenges Research Fund. She has a DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford, a Master in Public Administration and International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She has over a decade of international development and policy research experience in a variety of contexts. Her work ranged from macroeconomic analysis at the Central Bank of Turkey in Ankara to poverty and social impact analysis at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Tahrat also focused on impact evaluation at Oxford Policy Management, with particular projects on agricultural cooperatives in Rwanda and mobile banking in Kenya. Most recently, she concluded her role leading research for advocacy on agricultural policy, food security, and nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa for the ONE Campaign’s Global Policy Team in London. She is also a Tutor for the South Asia Academy Programme at King’s College London, where she teaches an overview course on Bangladesh for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, emphasising contemporary political and economic developments.


Panel 4 - Belt and Road: Transforming Global Development 

Dr Nicola Leveringhaus (Chair)

Lecturer in East Asian Security & Int'l Relations, KCL

Dr Leveringhaus joined the Department of War Studies in September 2016. Her current research interests include the International Relations of Asia, Chinese foreign and security policy (past and present), Asian security, and Global ordering and rising/resurgent powers. She is affiliated to the Asian Security & Warfare Research Group and the Centre for Science and Security Studies and the Centre for Grand Strategy in the Department of War Studies. She holds degrees from the University of Aberystwyth , the London School of Economics, and St Anthony's College, University of Oxford (MPhil Modern Chinese Studies and DPhil International Relations). Prior to joining King's, she previously held positions at the University of Sheffield, University of Oxford, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Prof. Stephen Chan OBE

Professor and Programme Convenor, MSc African Politics, SOAS

Prof. Stephen Chan is programme convener of the African Politics Msc at SOAS. His research focuses on the international politics of Africa and he has written extensively on Sino-African relations. He has twice been Dean at SOAS, has published 29 books, and won the 2010 International Studies Association prize ‘Eminent Scholar in Global Development’. His books include ‘The End of Certainty: Towards a New Internationalism’ and ‘The Morality of China in Africa’. Stephen was an international civil servant involved with several key diplomatic initiatives in Africa, helping to pioneer modern electoral observation. Stephen was awarded the OBE in 2010, “for services to Africa and higher education”. 

Dr. Alex Vines OBE

Head of the Africa Programme, Chatham House

Dr. Alex Vines has been head of the Africa Programme at Chatham House since 2002 and became research director for risk, ethics and resilience in 2018. Previously, he has held roles at Chatham House as director for Regional Studies and International Security, and director for Area Studies and International Law. Alex was awarded an OBE in 2008 in recognition of his work including founding and developing Chatham House’s Africa programme. He is an expert on UK and EU policy toward Africa and has written extensively on China’s growing influence across the continent. He chaired the UN Panel of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire from 2005 to 2007, was a member of the UN Panel of Experts on Liberia from 2001 to 2003. He was also a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group to Ghana in 2016.  

Dr. Yu Jie

China Research Fellow, Chatham House and LSE IDEAS Associate Fellow

Dr. Yu Jie (Cherry) is China research fellow at the Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House, focusing on the decision-making process of Chinese foreign policy as well as China’s economic diplomacy. She was previously head of China Foresight at LSE IDEAS, and currently an associate fellow. Prior to LSE, she was a management consultant specialising in Chinese state-owned enterprises investments in Europe and Chinese market entry strategies for European conglomerates at the London Office of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Dr Yu has been recognized as a 'Leading Woman' of the London School of Economics, and remains an associate of LSE IDEAS.

Prof. Kerry Brown

Professor and Director of the Lau China Institute, KCL

Prof. Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King's College, London. From 2012 to 2015 he was Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to this, he worked at Chatham House from 2006 to 2012, as Senior Fellow and then Head of the Asia Programme. From 1998 to 2005 he worked at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, and then as Head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section. Kerry directed the Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN) giving policy advice to the European External Action Service between 2011 and 2014. He is the author of over ten books on modern Chinese politics, history and language. His ‘China's CEO: Xi Jinping' was published in 2016.  'China's World: What Does China Want' was published in August 2017. 

Closing Remarks

Prof. Funmi Olonisakin

International Vice-Principal & Founding Director of the Africa Leadership Centre, King's College London

Prof. Olonisakin was founding Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC), which aims to build the next generation of African scholars and analysts generating cutting edge knowledge for conflict, security and development in Africa. Professor Olonisakin's work bridges academia and the world of policy and practice. Her academic research and writing has contributed to strategic thinking in post-conflict contexts, especially regarding the work of regional organizations such as ECOWAS and the African Union. She is a founding member of the African Security Sector Network (ASSN) and served as its West African Regional Coordinator from 2008 until 2012. From 2008-2010, she served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States.

In January 2015, Professor Olonisakin was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, as one of seven members of the Advisory Group of Experts (AGE) on the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. In her current role as Vice-Principal, she has lead responsibility for all international matters at the College.

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