SESSIONS | Keynote Speakers

Ela Gandhi

Ela Gandhi was born as the youngest daughter of Manilal and Sushila Gandhi and granddaughter to the iconic activist Mahatma Gandhi. The Gandhi children were raised in the spirit of Gandhi’s philosophy of a “life of a life worth living”-a philosophy that Ela carried with her in all her activities.

She is a peace activist and was a Member of Parliament in South Africa from 1994-2004, where she aligned with the African National Congress (ANC) party representing the Phoenix area of Inanda in the KwaZulu Natal province. Her parliamentary committee assignments included the Welfare, and Public Enterprises committees as well as the ad-hoc committee on Surrogate Motherhood. She was an alternate member of the Justice Committee and served on Theme Committee 5 on Judiciary and Legal Systems.

Dr. Heinrich Kreft

Dr. Heinrich Kreft is an ambassador and director for public diplomacy and dialogue among civilizations in the German Foreign Ministry. Prior to his tenure as ambassador, he served as senior foreign policy advisor to the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag and was a member of the German Council of Foreign Relations. Kreft was stationed for diplomatic terms in both Tokyo and Washington, D.C. and served for many years as part of the Foreign Policy Planning Staff. He has held visiting fellowships at the Henry L. Stimson Center, the Heritage Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Center. He has published numerous pieces on major political power and economic relations, international security and European, American and Asian political and economic affairs.

Mr. Andres Smith Serrano

External and Inter-Agency/ Political Affairs Officer - Office of the Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva

Since 2012 Mr. Andres Smith Serrano is holding the post of an External and Inter-Agency/ Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva. He completed his PhD in politics in the London School of Economics in 1986. During his long diplomatic career he has been holding various positions in different agencies of the United Nations and has completed different diplomatic tasks on behalf of the UN in Islamabad, Kabul, Tehran, Baghdad, Monrovia, Abidjan, etc. This is his fourth time being selected to the position of Political/External Affairs in the Office of the Director General in Geneva.

Mustafa Yeşil

President, Journalists and Writers Foundation

Mustafa Yeşil has been the president of the Journalistsand Writers Foundation since 2008. Mr. Yeşil was among the founding members of the London Center for Social Studies, a think tank that aims to connect research, policy and practice. During his career in the UK, he encouraged and successfully mobilized Turkish society to establish various non-profit education institutions such as Wisdom Primary and Secondary School, Coral Girls’ College, Koza Women Society, Axis Education Trust, Fellowship Dialogue Society, and Dialogue Society for Scotland.

Mr. Yeşil’s career initially started as the general coordinator of Zaman, the highest circulated newspaper, in various cities of Turkey, in 2003. Mr. Yeşil holds a Master of Arts degree in Social Studies from Dokuz Eylul University. He was born in Canakkale, Turkey. He is married and has three children. 

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