Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney is a keynote speaker who is a British human rights lawyer practicing at Doughty Street Chambers in London, where she specializes in international law and human rights. She is also a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School, where she teaches Human Rights.

Her clients have ranged from political prisoners and ousted Heads of State to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Republic of Armenia. She has appeared before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights and various courts in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Oxford-educated lawyer is a frequent adviser to governments on international law. She has held a number of posts within the United Nations, including senior adviser to Kofi Annan when he served as the UN Envoy on Syria. She was also legal counsel to the UN commission investigating the murder of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and counsel to the UN inquiry on the use of drones in war.

Over the last decade she has worked on milestone cases in international justice. While in The Hague she worked on the genocide trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Since then she has challenged the detention of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymonshenko at the European Court of Human Rights. She has advised the Greek government on the return of the Parthenon Marbles, the Chagossians on their right to return to their islands, and the Armenians on the recognition of their genocide.

She recentlly represented three political prisoners: Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who was convicted in the “Al Jazeera trial” in Egypt; former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, who was imprisoned on false terrorism charges; and award-winning Azerbaijani journalist “Khadija”, who was arrested in Baku after reporting on corruption by the Azerbaijani President. All have now been released from detention.
She is currently legal counsel to genocide survivor Nadia Murad and other Yazidi women who have been sexually enslaved by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and is working to secure accountability for the crimes committed by ISIS in national and international courts.

She is the co-founder, with her husband George Clooney, of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which seeks to advance justice in courtrooms, classrooms and communities around the world.

François Hollande

A consummate statesman who led France through many of the greatest threats and challenges of the 21stcentury, François Hollande brings insights gained from a lifetime spent at the highest levels of public service to the most pressing issues of our time. From terrorism to climate change, to the global economy and beyond, he has faced them all with a measured calm cultivated by years of experience.

The presidency of François Hollande was marked by the action he took against the twin scourges of international terrorism and climate change. By deploying French troops to Mali in early 2013, Hollande stemmed the tide of violence caused by terrorist groups. It was also under his presidency and leadership that the Paris Agreement of 2015 was signed by an overwhelming majority of the global community.

A true patriot, President Hollande took historic steps to promote equality in France, lowering the unemployment rate, creating a "millionaire's tax," and legalizing same-sex marriage. He has made it his life's work to stand up for those who could not do so for themselves. President Hollande once famously said that "Each country has a soul, and France's soul is equality."  In his five years at the helm of the French Republic, President Hollande led by example.

Waris Dirie

Waris Dirie was born as a daughter of Nomadic family in the region of Gallacaio, in the Somali desert on the border with Ethiopia. At the age of five, she suffered the inhumane procedure of female genital mutilation. This terrible crime against women is practiced worldwide by Muslims and Christians. According to WHO estimates, 8,000 girls become victims of this incredible brutality every day.

At the age of 13, Waris fled from a forced marriage with a man who could have been her grandfather. After an adventurous escape, she arrived in London and worked as a housemaid and at McDonalds.

At the age of 18, she was discovered as a model by the famous British Celebrity- Photographer, Terence Donovan, and photographed for the Pirelli Calender.

She moved from London to New York and became one of the first African Supermodels receiving an exclusive agreement with the cosmetic group Revlon. She also graced the front pages of all the major magazines. She appeared as a James Bond Girl, alongside Timothy Dalton in “The Living Daylights”.

The BBC commissioned the programme “A Nomad in New York”, based on Waris Dirie for their series “The day that changed my life”.
The US based famous journalist, Barbara Walters, interviewed her on behalf of NBC. Waris was also interviewed by Laura Ziv for the magazine Marie Claire, in which she decided to tell about the cruel ritual of female genital mutilation and also her own destiny resulting in a wave of sympathy and protest worldwide against FGM.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints Waris as goodwill ambassador in the fight against female genital mutilation. She travels on behalf of the United Nations around the world, participates in conferences, meets presidents, Nobel Prize winners and movie stars and gives hundreds of interviews to draw attention to her mission.

Waris Dirie has received many prestigious prizes and awards for her work and books, such as the “Women’s World Award” by President Mikhail Gorbachev (2004), the “Bischof Oscar Romero Preis” by the Catholic Church (2005), the “Woman of the Year Award” by the magazine “Glamour”(2000), the “Afrika Preis” by the German Federal Government and the “Corinne Award” by the holding organization of the German Book Trade for the best factual book.
In 2007 the French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented her with the “Chévalier de la Légion d’Honneur”. The World Demographic Association nominated her as the first woman for the “Prix de la Gènèration” and the Martin Buber Foundation nominated her as the first woman for the “Martin Buber Gold Medal”.

In 2002 she founded her own foundation, called "Waris Dirie Foundation" to support her work as a campaigner against FGM.
In 2010, the Foundation was re-named “Desert Flower Foundation” to reflect the broader approach to addressing Female Genital Mutilation though economic projects in Africa.
Currently, the organization has international headquarters in Vienna, Austria and has regional offices in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Monaco, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Djibouti , Sierra Leone and Poland. The official languages are English, German, Polish, Dutch, French and Spanish.
The foundation’s team is made up of men and women committed to gender equality, human rights and all of them share Waris Dirie’s ideal: Ending Female Genital Mutilation.
The Desert Flower Foundation and all its campaigns, projects and activities are financed by private donations.

Shirin Ebadi

The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was born in 1947. She received a law degree from the University of Tehran. In the years 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran, one the first female judges in Iran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. She now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.

Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction's attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.

Ebadi represents Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.

Ebadi is an activist for refugee rights, as well as those of women and children. She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights. Among her books translated into English are The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994), published with support from UNICEF, and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000).

As a lawyer, she has been involved in a number of controversial political cases. She was the attorney of the families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of the serial murders in 1999-2000. She has worked actively - and successfully - to reveal the principals behind the attack on the students at Tehran University in 1999 where several students died. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.

On 10 October 2003, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for democracy and human rights, especially for the rights of women and children.

With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems, and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam. Ebadi has shown her willingness and ability to cooperate with representatives of secular as well as religious views.

Garry Kasparov

Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the Soviet Union in 1963, Garry Kasparov became the under-18 chess champion of the USSR at the age of 12 and the world under-20 champion at 17. He came to international fame at the age of 22 as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985. He defended his title five times, including a legendary series of matches against arch-rival Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov broke Bobby Fischer’s rating record in 1990 and his own peak rating record remained unbroken until 2013. His famous matches against the IBM super-computer Deep Blue in 1996-97 were key to bringing artificial intelligence, and chess, into the mainstream.

Kasparov’s outspoken nature did not endear him to the Soviet authorities, giving him an early taste of opposition politics. He became one of the first prominent Soviets to call for democratic and market reforms and was an early supporter of Boris Yeltsin’s push to break up the Soviet Union. In 1990, he and his family escaped ethnic violence in his native Baku as the USSR collapsed. His refusal that year to play the World Championship under the Soviet flag caused an international sensation. In 2005, Kasparov, in his 20th year as the world’s top-ranked player, abruptly retired from competitive chess to join the vanguard of the Russian pro-democracy movement. He founded the United Civil Front and organized the Marches of Dissent to protest the repressive policies of Vladimir Putin. In 2012, Kasparov was named chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, succeeding Vaclav Havel. Facing imminent arrest during Putin’s crackdown, Kasparov moved from Moscow to New York City in 2013.

The US-based Kasparov Chess Foundation non-profit promotes the teaching of chess in education systems around the world. Its program already in use in schools across the United States, KCF also has centers in Brussels, Johannesburg, Singapore, and Mexico City. Garry and his wife Daria travel frequently to promote the proven benefits of chess in education and have toured Africa extensively.

Kasparov has been a contributing editor to the Wall Street Journal since 1991 and is a regular commentator on politics and human rights. He speaks frequently to business and political audiences around the world on innovation, strategy, individual freedom, and achieving peak mental performance. He is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Oxford-Martin School with a focus on human-machine collaboration. Kasparov’s book How Life Imitates Chess on decision-making is available in over 20 languages. He is the author of two acclaimed series of chess books, My Great Predecessors and Modern Chess.

Kasparov’s new book, Winter Is Coming: Why Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, was released by PublicAffairs in October 2015. He describes the book as a mix of “one part history of the rise and fall of Russian democracy and the West’s role in both, from Gorbachev’s retreat from Eastern Europe to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014; one part current events with an analysis of the current security crisis and how and why the countries of the free world must unite to fight back against thugs and dictators; and one part personal memoir of my life as a citizen, witness, and activist in the USSR, democratic Russia, and Putin’s Russia.”