Johan Galtung, Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. a professor of peace studies, was born in 1930 in Oslo, Norway. He is a mathematician, sociologist, political scientist and the founder of the discipline of peace studies. He founded the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (1959), the world's first academic research center focused on peace studies, as well as the influential Journal of Peace Research (1964). He has helped found dozens of other peace centers around the world.
He has served as a professor for peace studies at universities all over the world, including Columbia (New York), Oslo, Berlin, Belgrade, Paris, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Sichuan, Ritsumeikan (Japan), Princeton, Hawai'i, Tromsoe, Bern, Alicante (Spain) and dozens of others on all continents. He has taught thousands of individuals and motivated them to dedicate their lives to the promotion of peace and the satisfaction of basic human needs.
He has mediated in over 100 conflicts between states, nations, religions, civilizations, communities, and persons since 1957. His contributions to peace theory and practice include conceptualization of peace-building, conflict mediation, reconciliation, nonviolence, theory of structural violence, theorizing about negative vs. positive peace, peace education and peace journalism. Prof. Galtung's unique imprint on the study of conflict and peace stems from a combination of systematic scientific inquiry and a Gandhian ethics of peaceful means and harmony.
Johan Galtung has conducted a great deal of research in many fields and made original contributions not only to peace studies but also, among others, human rights, basic needs, development strategies, a world economy that sustains life, macro-history, theory of civilizations, federalism, globalization, theory of discourse, social pathologies, deep culture, peace and religions, social science methodology, sociology, ecology, future studies.
He is author or co-author of more than 1600 articles and over 160 books on peace and related issues, including Peace By Peaceful Means (1996), Macrohistory and Macrohistorians (with Sohail Inayatullah, 1997), Conflict Transformation By Peaceful Means (1998), Johan uten land (autobiography, 2000), Transcend & Transform: An Introduction to Conflict Work (2004, in 25 languages), 50 Years - 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives (2008), Democracy - Peace - Development (with Paul Scott, 2008), 50 Years - 25 Intellectual Landscapes Explored (2008), Globalizing God (with Graeme MacQueen, 2008), The Fall of the US Empire - And Then What (2009), Peace Business (with Jack SantaBarbara and Fred Dubee, 2009), A Theory of Conflict (2010), A Theory of Development (2010), Reporting Conflict: New Directions in Peace Journalism (with Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick, 2010), Korea: The Twisting Roads to Unification (with Jae-Bong Lee, 2011), Reconciliation (with Joanna Santa Barbara and Diane Perlman, 2012), Peace Mathematics (with Dietrich Fischer, 2012), Peace Economics (2012), A Theory of Civilization (forthcoming 2013), and A Theory of Peace (2013). In 2008, he founded the TRANSCEND University Press. 36 of his books have been translated into 33 languages, for a total of 134 book translations.
He is the weekly editorialist for TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, which features solutions-oriented peacejournalism.
He is founder (in 2000) and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University, the world’s first online Peace Studies University. He is also the founder and director of TRANSCEND International, a global non-profit network for Peace, Development and the Environment, founded in 1993, with over 500 members in more than 70 countries around the world. As a testimony to his legacy, peace studies are now taught and researched at universities across the globe and contribute to peacemaking efforts in conflicts around the world.
He was jailed in Norway for six months at age 24 as a Conscientious Objector to serving in the military, after having done 12 months of civilian service, the same time as those doing military service. He agreed to serve an extra 6 months if he could work for peace, but that was refused. In jail he wrote his first book, Gandhi's Political Ethics, together with his mentor, Arne Naess.
As a recipient of over a dozen honorary doctorates and professorships and many other distinctions, including a Right Livelihood Award (also known as Alternative Nobel Peace Prize), Johan Galtung remains committed to the study and promotion of peace.
Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah is Director of the Centre for Strategies and Security for the Sahel Sahara.
From 1971 to 1985, Mr. Ould-Abdallah held in his native country, Mauritania, high-level positions as a cabinet member including Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation. He was also ambassador to the United States and to the European Union.
Mr. Ould-Abdallah joined the United Nations as a Senior Political and Economic Adviser and served the Organization from 1985 to 1996 in a number of capacities, including as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Burundi and Special Coordinator for New and Renewable Sources of Energy and Energy Issues.
From 1996 to 2002, Mr. Ould-Abdallah was the Executive Secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa, the Washington-based intergovernmental forum dedicated to addressing African issues.
From 2002 to August 2007, Mr. Ould-Abdallah served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in West Africa and as Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, established for the peaceful implementation of the international Court of Justice decision on the territorial dispute between the two countries.
In September 2007, Mr. Ould-Abdallah was appointed by the UNSG as as his Special Representative for Somalia.
Mr. Ould-Abdallah has been member of the board of a number of non-governmental organizations, academia and other organizations. He has written extensively on democracy, conflicts and human rights issues. His book "La Diplomatie Pyromane" was published by Calmann-Lévy in 1996. His book "Burundi in the Brink" was published by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) in 2000.
Born in 1940, Mr. Ould-Abdallah is married and has a son.
Mr. Salaheddine Jourchi is a Tunisian thinker and scholar. He is one of the leading free media figures in Tunisia. Founding member of El Jahedh Forum, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Rai Al-Am and an expert in islamic movements and civil society issues. Mr. Jourchi is also Coordinator of the Research and Studies Committee of the Arab NGO Network for Development. He has published many articles and studies in several international and local magazines and newspapers.
François Burgat is project investigator of the WAFAW project and a senior researcher (DR1) in political science at the CNRS based at the IREMAM in Aix-en-Provence. He was between May 2008 and April 2013 director of the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO) and earlier (1997-2003) headed the Centre français d’Archéologie et de Sciences Sociales de Sanaa (CEFAS).
Fluent in Arabic, François Burgat has devoted his career as a political scientist to the analysis of political systems and civil societies in the contemporary Arab world. In doing that he has also assumed a wide range of academic and institutional responsibilities in a large number of international instances. His approach to the various trends of Islamism has been widely recognised as innovative since he, early on, highlighted the need for the study of Arab societies to be deeply anchored in field research and the need to establish direct contact and discussions with political actors labelled as Islamists.
Though quite iconoclast at first, this approach gained increasing currency, and is now widely shared by many academics, research institutes and think tanks.
François Burgat has constantly favoured an approach that allowed him to fulfil his own individual academic objectives (through extensive fieldwork in the Middle East and North Africa that materialised in five books amongst which three were translated into five languages and reprinted many times, and in the editing of four volumes) while leading collective research activities in France and abroad. Between 2007 and 2010, he led a team of fifteen researchers in the framework of the programme “From the Arabo-Persian Gulf to Europe: between violence and (counter-)violence” funded by the French National Research Agency. Based on various case-studies this multidisciplinary project successfully contextualised the development of a violence continuum linking visible violence (terrorist attacks mainly) to hidden forms of structural violence (inequalities in access to resources, state repression, stigmatisation).
In addition to the 25 years he has spent in the Middle East and North Africa throughout his career, he has carried out and conducted many fieldwork expeditions over the last ten years whether in Yemen (2007 and 2008), Saudi Arabia (2003, 2006) or Iran (2008). He has been invited as guest lecturer or conference participant on topics related to the WAFAW project’s problematics by 73 universities in over 30 countries. He has also been invited by more than 130 governmental and international organisations, public or private think tanks, and companies in over 35 countries. He is since 2013 a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
His most prominent personal publications include L’islamisme à l’heure d’Al-Qaida : réislamisation, modernisation, radicalisations, Paris: La Découverte, 2005 (second updated edition in 2010) (Spanish: Bellaterra 2006, Arabic: Cadmus 2007, English: Texas University Press 2008) ; L’Islamisme en face, Paris: La Découverte, 2002 (third updated edition in 2007) (Portuguese: Instituto Piaget, 1995, Spanish: Bellaterra 1996, English: IB Tauris 2002) and L’Islamisme au Maghreb : la voix du Sud, Paris, Karthala, 1988 (third updated edition by Payot Petite Bibliothèque in 2008). (English: University of Texas Press, 1993-1997 Italian: SEI, 1995, Arabic: Dar-al-thaqafa al-jedida, 2001).
In the framework of his role as WAFAW project investigator, François Burgat leads the team of 9 core-researchers he has assembled as well as the numerous partnerships to be implemented starting in September 2013. His personal research, carried out in co-ordination with the WAFAW team, local partners, PhD students and post-doc fellows, focuses on the structural changes in the political scenes, the shifts in Euro-Mediterranean relations and, the centrality of the Islamist forces in the new equilibriums. He will first put particular emphasis on the Syrian case-study before developing more global analysis, built on the various field work expeditions to be carried out.
Martin Aeschbacher is a former Swiss ambassador to Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Morocco and an experienced diplomat with a deep fascination for the Middle East and North Africa regions. His wealth of knowledge was built and broadened during postings in Moscow under the Soviet government, as well as to Cairo, Prague and Paris.
He studied at the Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Bern before living and studying Arabic language in Damascus and Aleppo. Following this, he began his professional career within the International Committee of the Red Cross before joining the Swiss Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1985.
Mr. Aeschbacher's career gave him first-hand experience of important social and political conditions in the region, including in Libya, under the authoritarian leadership of Moammar Gaddafi; in Iraq, shortly after the collapse of the Baathist government of Saddam Hussein; and in Syria, during the tumultuous period of the 2011 Arab Uprisings.