Karma Ekmekji is a Mediation Advisor with UN Women. She is also a Senior Policy Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and the Lead Advisor on their Women, Peace and Security initiative. Prior to this, she was the International Affairs and Relations Advisor to former Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri, where she served as the focal point for all international dossiers for eleven years. Before joining PM Hariri’s office in 2009, Karma was the National Political Officer at the United Nations Special Coordinator’s office in Lebanon where she briefed the Special Coordinator on political
developments and strengthened the office’s network base with Lebanese political parties. She had also served at the UN Secretariat’s Department of Political Affairs in New York.
Karma worked as a policy analyst for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) tasked with conducting extensive research on electoral systems and reforms and with providing technical assistance to various regional Government agencies. She was present at the Doha Agreement in May 2008 to lobby Lebanese political parties to introduce reforms to the electoral law.
Stemming from a strong interest in empowering women in the field of diplomacy, peacemaking, mediation and negotiation, Karma founded the #Diplowomen initiative to share knowledge, develop mentorship opportunities and strengthen networking in this field. She is also the host of “The #Diplowomen Podcast”. She is a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and a member of the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediator Networks, which she participated in launching during the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.
Karma, a lecturer in International Affairs and Women Peace and Security, was selected as a Munich
Young Leader in 2020. She was also selected to take part in the European Union Visitor’s Program in
2019 and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is an advisor and member of the
Executive Board of the Intisar Foundation.
Karma is also a member of the British Government’s International Leaders Program and a “Personalité
d’avenir” – selected by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2012, Karma was named one of the top
99 foreign policy leaders under 33 years of age by the Diplomatic Courier.
Lea Baroudi is a founding Member and Director of MARCH since 2012, a Lebanese non-profit organization focusing on sectarian conflict resolution, promoting diversity and equality and sustainable peace building, including the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
A certified professional mediator and a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network, Ms. Baroudi has experience in resolving sectarian conflicts and foster peace among marginalized communities and has initiated and worked actively on peace-building projects that use art, culture, women inclusion and economic development to resolve conflict and counter radicalization among youth participating in sectarian violence in marginalized areas of Lebanon, particularly in Tripoli and Beirut.
She has also co-lead several in depth research papers and policy recommendations on fundamental security and human rights issues in Lebanon, such as political violence, radicalization and statelessness. In 2016, she was granted the Reagan-Fascell Fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy during which she researched ways to develop unconventional methods in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
In January 2019, she spoke at the UN Security Council Arria Formula meeting titled “What’s next for Women, Peace and Security in Middle East and North Africa: The Potential of National Action Plans”. She was recently awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for services to peacebuilding and civic rights in Lebanon.
María Solanas is a senior expert in international relations, with more than 25 years of experience in political analysis of international scenarios, conflict analysis, research on international affairs, and strategic partnership building. She currently is director of Programmes at the Elcano Royal Institute, the leading Spanish think-tank on international relations and strategic studies and research in gender Issues and global governance. Previously, from 2004 to 2011, she was Executive Senior Policy Adviser on International Affairs at the Spanish Prime Minister Office responsible for Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to migration and human rights. From 2003 to 2004 she was the Coordinator of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party Secretariat for International Relations, being responsible for European Union, Central and Eastern Europe and former URSS countries (1993-2003). In February 2018, she has been nominated Vicepresident of the UNICEF National Committee in Spain. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Sociology & Political Science, as well as one in Journalism from the Madrid’s Complutense University. She is part of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network due to a combination of political experience as a senior adviser at the Spanish government and her research skills on gender issues, particularly on Women, Peace and Security. In the last 25 years she was involved in several negotiations within the governmental framework, she has actively participated in the preparation of the II National Action Plan on WPS and has published several policy papers on Gender issues.