• Abraham Keita


    The young man risking his life for children's rights in Liberia
    Lifestory Abraham M. Keita, Winner of the International Children's Peace Prize 2015

    Abraham M. Keita is a Liberian anti-rape activist, and global campaigner to end violence against children. He is known mainly for fighting against sexual violence and demanding justice for its victims, who are mostly teenage girls. Over the past 10 years, he has led peaceful demonstrations, lobbied the Liberian government, and spoken out for free primary education for children. In spite of his young age, Keita’s

    activism has already had major impacts.  In 2012, Liberia became one of the first African nations to pass comprehensive legislation protecting children’s rights — driven in part by Keita’s persistent lobbying and peace marches at the national legislature. In 2015, his efforts were publicly honored when he was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize – one of the top international prizes for peace activists. In October 2017, he was named One Young World Peace Ambassador.

    As a young person, Keita is slowly changing his country and inspiring activists around the world. Despite a childhood filled with violence and poverty, he grew up to become a leading advocate for peace and children’s rights. In July 2016, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lauded Keita’s activism in a speech to launch the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children at the United Nations headquarters: “In a few minutes, we will show a short video featuring young champions of justice. One of them is named Abraham Keita. He won the Children’s Peace Prize last year. At that time, the United Nations congratulated him through my Youth Envoy, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi. Abraham first started protesting violence against children when he was just nine years old. Now he is organizing Liberians for children’s rights – and inspiring people across the globe. Abraham once said he is fighting for a world where every child gets justice; every child is free from violence; and every child is empowered. I share this vision. And I have high expectations for ending violence against children through this new, action-oriented Global Partnership”.

    Keita is still engaged in his change-making activities in Liberia and around the world, and inspiring millions of people.

  • Ana Babović

    Founder of @Srbijau_pokretu. Director of @LeadingChangeNT.


    Ana began her career working as an Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia believing that to become modern, Serbia requires system reform.

    She learned that to be democratic, governments need strong and active civil society to keep it accountable for making the better life of citizens a priority number one. This belief led her to initiate the founding of the Serbia on the move, a national organizing and change making non-profit. Since then, she led several national campaigns engaging thousands of citizens, resulting in introduction of innovative tools for increasing transparency & accountability, creation of opinion shifts and policy changes in areas of anticorruption, healthcare, labor rights of women, etc.

    In 2016 Ana completed a Master of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School where she also served as Assistant Professor and Head of the Teaching Team with professor Marshall Ganz, for Public Narrative and Community Organizing course.

    Over the course of her career, she has trained thousands of people from all around and has coached more than 80 campaigns in over 20 countries worldwide. 

    Ana currently serves as the Executive Director of the global change making nonprofit “Leading Change Network” with a mission of meeting challenges to democracy by developing the leadership to organize communities which build power and realize the values of equality, solidarity, and dignity.






  • Besa Luci


    Chief Editor of Kosovo 2.0

    @BesaLuci // @kosovo2point0 //

    Besa Luci is the chief editor of Kosovo 2.0, an independent media that engages society in insightful debate through its multimedia website, print magazine, and public events. Besa co-founded Kosovo 2.0 in 2010, and it has created a space for a different and necessary discussion full of political, social and cultural commentary and reportage. As the only media project in the region working in three languages (Albanian, Serbian and English), Kosovo 2.0 brings together politically and socially aware, and active people, and provides different and new perspectives to contemporary narratives regarding politics, governance, justice, human rights, culture, arts, people and society overall.

    Besa is also a Teaching Assistant at the Journalism Department, University of Prishtina. She holds a BA in political science/international relations and journalism/mass communications from the American University in Bulgaria, and an MA in journalism/magazine writing from the Graduate School of Journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia.

    Besa has also worked as senior researcher for various local, non-governmental organizations in Kosovo, on issues pertaining to media freedoms and human rights; as well as a number of print and online publications in Missouri and New York, during her studies.

  • Darko Brkan


    @darko_brkan // @WhyNjet //
    Digital Balkans from divided to connected

    Darko Brkan is the president of CA „Why not“, one of the most prominent Bosnian NGOs that promotes civic activism, government accountability, and the use of technology and digital media. He is also board president of the regional network ActionSEE, member of the Board of TransparenCEE network and a member of the International Advisory Board of ePanstwo Foundation.

    He holds degrees from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Sarajevo and Faculty of Economics, University of Sarajevo and University of Zagreb. His professional interests are technology and social impacts of technology, digital and social media, elections and political processes, civic activism and participation and international relations.

    He was a Draper-Hills Summer fellow at Stanford University in 2013 and a Reagan-Fascell fellow in 2012 at the Forum for International Democratic Studies in Washington. He is the Marshal Memorial Fellow of the German Marshal Fund for 2018/19 and was the Facebook International Fellow at the Personal Democracy Forum in 2018.

    Darko is the member of the Advisory Board for the Open Government Partnership for BiH. He is a regular contributor to many local and international media and a speaker at a number of prominent events and conferences.

  • Farayi Murambwa



    My name is Farayi Murambwa. I am 21 years old and currently studying Accountancy at Harare Polytechnic College. I am a TaLl (Tag A Life International) trained young woman leader. I grew up in a small, high density area and was raised by a single mother because my father passed away. These facts didn't pull me down but they actually helped me to have a huge eagerness for great achievements in life. Furthermore they carried me into my love for helping and assisting children and women for l know and lived and to some level still live the struggle. l love to inspire others. l call myself a motivational speaker for l believe I am one and l focus on being a well-known and influential one. Above all who I am is a CHILD of God.







  • Harpinder (Pin) Collacott


    @Pincollacott // @devinitorg
    Making the Invisible Visible: ending poverty with data

    Harpinder (Pin) Collacott is the Executive Director of Development Initiatives (DI), an
    international consultancy and not-for-profit providing data-driven analysis to support poverty eradication. DI provides services to governments, philanthropic organisations, UN and other multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, as well as working with large international NGOs such as Save the Children, World Vision and others. DI seeks to improve the allocation of  financing to reach the poorest people and ensure poverty is eradicated in our lifetime. It has
    offices in UK, Kenya, Uganda and the US.

    Harpinder speaks at global meetings on the importance of better data and evidence to inform decisions about investing finance. She calls for improvements in transparency and accessibility of information and represents DI on many global initiatives, such as IATI. Harpinder recently spoke on the opening panel of the World Data Forum, at the UN’s Financing for Development Conference, as well as global meetings on humanitarian assistance.  

    A graduate of Cambridge and LSE, Harpinder has held many roles and worked in the public, private and charitable sectors across the world. For instance, Harpinder worked for the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone as the Chief Prosecutor’s Political Advisor, securing the arrest of Liberian President Charles Taylor in March 2006. She has worked for think tanks in the US, such as the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, as well as for Nick Clegg as an MEP in the European Parliament and Edward Davey as MP in the House of Commons.’

  • Ilina Neshikj



    Ilina Neshikj has over 10 years of professional experience that includes the coordination of the Balkan Civil Society Development Network, BCSDN a regional network of 14 CSOs in the Western Balkans and Turkey.  Her area of expertise is civil society development, democratization, EU integration and development. She has worked on international and global projects devoted to improving civil society enabling environment, CSOs capacities and accountability, combating shrinking civic space and fostering bigger involvement of civil society in policy making. Previous to BCSDN she has worked in associations in France and Germany, and had professional traineeship at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Macedonia to the Council of Europe. Ilina holds MA in European Studies with the focus on Strategic communication and public relations in Europe form the Centre Universitaire Européen, Nancy, France. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,



  • International Civil Society Week closes with #FreedomRunner launch

    Belgrade, Serbia –More than 200 civil society leaders and human rights activists from some 100 countries were seen running through the streets of Serbia today – literally.

    The #FreedomRunner event, held at the close of International Civil Society Week (ICSW) 2019, a week-long global civil society gathering, kicked off a global campaign calling on people around the world to run in the name of human rights defenders who are currently jailed, being persecuted, or at risk for their work.

    Throughout the ICSW 2019forum, it was evident that individuals and organisations are increasingly under attack in many countries. Activists, journalists and people who speak out against growing restrictions are often persecuted, and a historic, unprecedented rise of populist leaders continues to erode fundamental freedoms and sow division in many countries.

    But brave women and men across the globe are refusing to be silenced.

    “In every country, and often in the face of serious risks, people are standing up for their rights. Those of us with the freedom to do so need to stand - or even run - alongside them,” said Lysa John, CIVICUS Secretary General.

    The Freedom Runner campaign will be launched together with the Belgrade Marathon, a major annual event on the city’s calendar, on Sunday, April, 14.

    “We are dedicating the first run within this global movement to the Marija Lukic, a Serbian survivor of sexual violence, who is still fighting her struggle for her rights on behalf of all of us,” said Maja Stojanovic, Executive Director of ICSW co-host Civic Initiatives, an association of Serbian civil society organisations.

    “The connections that will be made among freedom runners all around the world is a powerful tool for creating more just, inclusive societies,” said Stojanovic.

    Over the coming year, runners will sign up to an online platform to track their collective runs, until they have run around the world – with some 40,075 km of running logged in the name of freedom - to arrive “back” in Belgrade.

    “Running today is our way of showing how powerful we can be when we work together,” said John.

    “We hope that people around the world will join us by running in their own cities and countries, so that we keep the spotlight shining on those whose basic freedoms are at risk.”

    Co-hosted by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and Serbian civil society association, Civic Initiatives, with support of the Balkans Civil Society Development Network, ICSW brought together more than 900 delegates. This was the first time in almost a quarter century of international convening, that CIVICUS hosted its flagship event in the Balkans – a region of 11 countries and 55 million people.

    This year’s theme, “The Power of Togetherness”, set out to explore how people and organisations around the world can, and are, working together to enable and defend spaces for civic action in a world where global transformations are reshaping how civil society functions.

    Sign up here to become a #FreedomRunner.



    Based on data from the CIVICUS Monitor - a global research collaboration - just 4% of the world’s population live in countries where governments are properly respecting the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

    Find an album of photographs of the #FreedomRunner event here. They are free to publish. However please credit CIVICUS.


    For more information, or to arrange interviews, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact:

    Grant Clark, Senior Media Advisor, CIVICUS

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Mobile/Whatsapp: +27 63 567 9719


    Teodora Zahirovic, PR Manager, Civic Initiatives

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Mobile/Whatsapp: +381 60 3624 001

  • Jesper Elias Lauridsen



    Jesper Elias Lauridsen is Head of Governance & Peace in HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation. Holding two MAs in Political Science and African Development Studies from University of Copenhagen in Denmark, he has throughout his professional 15-year career held several senior management and senior advisor positions in HELVETAS and ActionAid International. Jesper has international working experience from more than 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe focusing on developing capacities of civil society organizations and government institutions. His main focus has been on empowering citizens and connecting civil society to voice out and hold governments to account while supporting government institutions to establish dialogue mechanisms and enhancing the enabling environment for civil society to influence decision- and policymaking processes at local and national level.

  • Maria Karapetyan


    Maria Karapetyan is a Member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. She was the Development Director of the Imagine Center for Conflict Transformation and one of the managing editors of the Caucasus Edition: Journal of Conflict Transformation between 2011 and 2018. She is a Board Member of the Association Rondine Citadel of Peace in Arezzo, Italy. She holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Rome Three. She has been involved in designing and implementing Azerbaijani-Armenian, Turkish-Armenian, Abkhazian-Georgian-South Ossetian, Russian-Ukrainian, and Caucasus-wide dialogues, workshops, and trainings.







  • Mario Mažić


    @MarioMazic //

    Mario Mažić has been an advocate for rights and democracy for over 12 years. He founded and led the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Croatia, an NGO focused on reconciliation and transitional justice between 2008-18. His work is driven by his personal experience in this (post-)war context. He is the Secretary General of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement. Mario is the initiator of the regional Political Youth Network which gathers young political leaders from post-Yugoslav nations and is a Board Member at the Humanitarian Law Center in Kosovo. He is currently attending graduate (MA) studies in International Development and Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and is part of the inaugural cohort of the Obama Foundation Scholars. Mario holds a BA in International Relations from Libertas International University in Zagreb, and has taken undergraduate courses also at the University of Zagreb, University of Oslo, Northwestern University and University of Belgrade. In 2012 he was a Fellow in Historical Dialogue and Accountability at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. For two years (2015-17) he led the efforts of Reach for Change Foundation in Croatia.







  • Michel Forst









  • Renata Avila


    Executive Director, Smart Citizenship Foundation

    @avilarenata // @ciudadania_i

    Renata Avila, (Guatemalan), is an international Human Rights lawyer, specialising in the next wave of technological challenges to preserve and advance our rights, and understand better the politics of data and their implications on trade, democracy and society. She is currently writing a book on digital colonialism and designing international policies and prototyping technology for a democratic future.   She is a member of the Coordinating Collective of @Diem_25, Board member for @creativecommons and co-convener of the Progressive International. She is a member of the WEF’s Global Future Council on Human Rights and Technology and a Steering Committee Member of the Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) for the OECD.

  • Srdja Popovic


    Founder and Executive director of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS)

    @SrdjaPopovic // @CANVASNVS //

    Srdja Popovic is the Founder and Executive director of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), a non-profit organization based in Belgrade, Serbia that aims to teach the use of nonviolence to make a change.

    He was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia (then part of Yugoslavia), in 1973. Popovic played the guitar in a rock band and graduated from the Faculty of Biology in Belgrade, holding a Master’s degree (MA) in animal ecology. Since his early 20ies, he has focused on activism, democracy and human rights issues.

    In 1998, Popovic founded the student movement “Otpor!” (“Resistance!”) which played a crucial role in ousting president Slobodan Milosevic, former Serbian dictator accused of war crimes. After Milosevic was defeated in 2000, Popovic was elected to the Serbian Parliament where he served from 2000 until 2004.

    Following his career in the Serbian Parliament, Popovic went on to found CANVAS, acting as its executive director ever since. CANVAS was created with the intent of teaching people all over the world about how to be successful in nonviolent conflict. So far, the organization has worked with activists from 46 different countries, spreading the knowledge of the nonviolent strategies and tactics used by Otpor! worldwide.

    He is currently the 53rd Rector of the University of St Andrews. He commenced the role of the University Rector for a period of 3 years from 1 November 2017.

    Apart from being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, Popovic was listed as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" of 2011 by the Foreign Policy Magazine. And in 2014 he was listed as a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum in Davos. Popovic is also the author of the recent book Blueprint for Revolution.

    For more information visit:

  • World’s civil society to gather in Balkans to strengthen the “Power of Togetherness”

    Belgrade, Serbia – Across the globe, human rights organisations are increasingly being attacked by governments. Activists, journalists and people who speak out against growing restrictions are persecuted. A historic rise of populist leaders continues to erode fundamental freedoms, heightening political polarisation and sowing division.

  • Yetnebersh Nigussie

    Director for advocacy and human rights, Light for the World

    @yetnebersh_lftw // @lftwworldwide

    Yetnebersh Nigussie is a human rights activist dedicating her life for the improvement of living conditions of persons regardless of their age, gender, disability etc. Born and raised in rural Ethiopia, Ms. Nigussie describes blindness as her opportunity for entering the path of education by escaping early marriage widely exercised in her village and in the country.

    She has co-founded the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD), through which she has forged a number of structural and systemic changes in the lives of persons with disabilities in Ethiopia. Through ECDD, she has also fought for increased space for civil societies in Ethiopia firmly standing against the repressive CSO law passed in 2009. She has co-founded and served as the co-chair of the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Forum and lobbied for a new democratic CSO legislation which her country Ethiopia endorsed in January 2019.

    Yetnebersh has received a number of awards for her outstanding achievements in the areas of disability inclusion including the Rights Livelihood Award, interchangeably known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, the Spirit of Hellen Keller award 2018 and many more.

    She is the recent elect deputy commissioner for the National Reconciliation Commission. Currently serving as the director for advocacy and human rights in Light for the World, an international NGO working on disability and Development, Ms. Nigussie believes “leaving no one behind” requires increased civil society participation and solidarity to demand better future for all.