Workshop 4: Countering the Enabling Environment featuring panelists Oussama Safa, Kanishk Tharoor and Sarah Leah Whitson speaking at the Overcoming Extremism: Protecting Civilians from Terrorist Violence conference. Ambassador Teresita Schaffer moderates.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is hosting a two-day conference featuring high-profile leaders, experts, and opinion-makers to develop a shared international agenda for protecting civilians from terrorist violence. In addition to examining government responses and legal structures, the conference will consider how local communities and international partners can transform the enabling environment that can intimidate local actors into silence or acquiescence. Topics will include the impact of new media tools, changes in international humanitarian law, the evolution of terrorist tactics, the proliferation of suicide bombings, and innovative approaches to protecting civilians- CSIS
Oussama Safa is the General Director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, a public policy think tank based in Beirut specializing in the development and implementation of democracy, good governance, and anti-corruption programs. Mr. Safa works on security sector reform and conflict resolution and was Adviser to the secretariat of the World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders, where he co-lead a project on Christian-Muslim dialogue.
Until 2004 he lived in Rabat, Morocco where he launched and managed community peace building programs, labor mediation initiatives, and alternative dispute resolution programs with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice. He was a senior trainer and founding member of the executive committee of the Lebanon Conflict Resolution Network (LCRN). Mr. Safa has observed multiple legislative elections in Lebanon and Yemen and was part of earlier efforts to found the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections.
In 1998 he was founding president of Lebanon's Anti-Corruption Association, La Fassad. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and international relations from the American University of Beirut and the American University in Washington, DC.
Teresita C. Schaffer
Teresita Schaffer is the director of the South Asia Program at CSIS. She came to CSIS in August 1998 after a 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service. She devoted most of her career to international economic issues and to South Asia, on which she was one of the State Department's principal experts. From 1989 to 1992, she served as deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia, at that time the senior South Asia position in the department; from 1992 to 1995, she was the U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka; and from 1995 to 1997, she served as director of the Foreign Service Institute.
Her earlier posts included Tel Aviv, Islamabad, New Delhi, and Dhaka, as well as a tour as director of the Office of International Trade in the State Department. She spent a year as a consultant on business issues relating to South Asia after retiring from the Foreign Service. Schaffer has taught at Georgetown University and American University. She speaks French, Swedish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Hindi, and Urdu, and has studied Bangla and Sinhala.
Shashi Tharoor is an elected member of the Indian Parliament and former minister of state for external affairs. In 2007, he concluded a nearly 29-year career at the United Nations, including his role as undersecretary-general for communications and public information. In 2006, he was India's candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General and emerged a strong second out of seven contenders.
Tharoor is the prize-winning author of twelve books, both fiction and nonfiction, including the classic The Great Indian Novel; India: From Midnight to the Millennium; Nehru: The Invention of India; and The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone: Reflections on India in the 21st Century. A widely published critic, commentator, and columnist in publications including The Hindu, The Times of India, and Newsweek. He has won India's highest honor for overseas Indians, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, and numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He is a trustee of the Aspen Institute.
Sarah Leah Whitson
Sarah Leah Whitson is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. Previously, she has worked as an attorney in New York for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. She has conducted numerous human rights missions in the Middle East over the past 15 years, including the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Harvard Study Team, and International Study Team missions examining the impact of war and sanctions on the Iraqi civilian population, the International Human Rights Law Group's election-monitoring mission in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, and a fact-finding mission in Southern Lebanon for Madre.
Sarah Leah Whitson has served on the boards of the Armenian Bar Association and the New York chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.