Kerim Yildiz

    Chief Executive Officer

    Kerim is an expert in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, international human rights law and minority rights, having worked on numerous projects in these areas over his career. He was formerly co-founder and Chief Executive of the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

    Kerim has received a number of awards, including from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights for his services to protect human rights and promote the rule of law in 1996, and the Sigrid Rausing Trust’s Human Rights award for Leadership in Indigenous and Minority Rights in 2005. Kerim is also a recipient of the 2011 Gruber Prize for Justice. He has extensive experience in human rights and actively works to raise awareness on human rights violations worldwide assisting with many cases to the European Court of Human Rights, conducting training seminars in Europe and the Middle East, and regularly contributing to seminars and conferences. Kerim has also written extensively on human rights issues, including numerous essays, articles and chapters on freedom of expression, national security and minority rights, as well as books relating to the European Convention, the United Nations and OSCE mechanisms.

    He has written books on the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Caucuses, Turkey and the diaspora and he has most recently co-authored ‘The Kurdish Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and Post Conflict Mechanisms’ (Routledge, 2010). His work has been translated into numerous languages, including Turkish, Finnish, German, Spanish, Russian, Kurdish, Arabic and Persian. Kerim also serves as a Board Member and Advisor to other human rights and environmental organisations and is an advisor to the Delfina Foundation. Kerim is a member of English PEN and is a founding member of Ara Pacis Initiative.


        Sally Holt

        Deputy Director

        Sally has worked for over 15 years at the intersection of human rights and conflict for intergovernmental organisations, NGOs and academic institutions. She specialises in minority rights, diversity management, and the role of women in building peace and security. Before joining DPI in July 2017, she was a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London. Previously, she has worked as an Adviser to the Initiative on Quiet Diplomacy developing resource materials and supporting engagement with conflict parties to address contentious issues. She has also managed a research programme for the Aga Khan Foundation (UK) on the social inclusion of Muslim populations in Europe, been a Research Fellow in Peace Studies at Bradford University focused on peacebuilding and long-term security and reintegration challenges, and served as a Legal Officer for the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Sally holds an MA (distinction) in Understanding and Securing Human Rights from the University of London’s School of Advanced Studies.

            Ulpjana Ruka

            Programme Assistant

            Ulpjana Ruka joined DPI in March 2018 as Programme Assistant and provides support to the CEO  in terms of administration, logistics and research. She previously worked as an events coordinator for a public affairs and communications consultancy in London. She has experience working in national and international institutions. She was a trainee at the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna and also interned at the Ministry of European Integration in Tirana, where she provided support to the Head of Department for Justice, Freedom and Security.

            Ulpjana holds an MA degree in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London and her work mainly focused on the legitimacy of the humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011.

              Programmes Team

                Esra Elmas

                Head of Turkey Programme

                In addition to her role as Head of Turkey Programme at DPI, Esra is co-founder of İstanbul Bilgi University Centre for Conflict Resolution Studies and Research. She is also PhD student in the joint doctorate programme of Political Science at École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris and Ghent University, Belgium. She has an MA degree in Cultural Studies, and her publications cover areas such as Turkish modernisation, internal migration, civil-military relations, and the history of Turkish media. Esra’s 2007 book, ‘My Dear Atatürk’, examines the way in which primary school students in Turkey perceive Atatürk, Turkey’s founder.

                    Sophie Verbis

                    Senior Programme Officer

                    Sophie joined DPI in August 2017  as Senior Programme Officer. She supports the CEO as well as the Deputy Director on day to day activities, programme related activity and communication. Before joining DPI, Sophie worked as Programme Manager of two development projects in Zanzibar, Tanzania and as Programme Assistant for a local NGO in Zambia. She also worked for Germany’s leading international development agency GIZ and focused on activities and tasks around Education in fragile and conflict affected States as well as Refugee Education. Sophie holds a MA (Distinction) in International Development and Education from Newcastle University and focused on language and identity issues in Namibia for her dissertation. She also researched minority rights in education, with a special focus on mother tongue education and is fluent in German and Greek. 

                        David Murphy

                        Project Officer

                        David joined DPI in November 2017 to take up the Project Officer role. He oversees the organisation and running of DPI events as well as coordinating its many research publications and post-event transcripts. David holds an MSc in International Relations from the University of Edinburgh where he specialised in the peace-building processes in post-conflict Kosovo. David also possesses a thorough knowledge of Wales’ system of devolution having worked as a researcher for a public policy-based conference company. During his time as an intern at UN House Scotland, David contributed to numerous activities and events designed to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals before taking up the role of Database of Expertise Coordinator where he sought to widen the contact base for leading thinkers and academics in the field of human rights and international relations in Scotland.


                            John Bell

                            Senior Policy Advisor

                            John Bell has worked for over two decades on Middle East politics, policy development and mediation in Cairo, Beirut, Gaza and Jerusalem. In addition to his role as Senior Policy Advisor for DPI, John also works with the Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax) in Madrid and the Crisis Management Initiative in Helsinki. He was formerly Middle East Director in Jerusalem for Search for Common Ground.

                            John is a former United Nations and Canadian diplomat who served as a political officer at Canada’s embassy in Cairo, a member of Canada’s delegation to the Refugee Working Group in the peace process, Political Advisor to the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for southern Lebanon, advisor to the Canadian Government during the Iraq crisis in 2002-03, and consultant to International Crisis Group on developments in Jerusalem in 2004. He has lectured on Middle East issues at the University of Toronto in Canada, IE Business School in Spain, and at the Canadian Foreign Service Institute. Mr. Bell is fluent in English, Arabic and French.

                              Finance and Fundraising Team

                                Irene Muswaka

                                Finance Manager

                                Irene joined DPI in November 2017 from London Air Ambulance, where she worked as a Financial Accountant.  Prior to this she worked as an Accounts Assistant at The Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management.  Irene holds an Accounting and Finance degree and she is an ACCA finalist. She works closely with the DPI Directors and the Development & Grant Officer to recommend and implement improvements to financial policies and procedures, IT systems and facilities.

                                    Dieu Nguyen

                                    Finance Manager (currently on maternity leave)

                                    Dieu obtained her Master of Commerce in Banking and Finance from University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) in 2007. Throughout her career Dieu has worked for several charities, including Urban Roots and Computer Aid. In her current role as Finance Manager, Dieu works closely with the Board of Director and the Head of Development & Funding to recommend and implement improvements to financial policies and procedures, IT systems and facilities. Dieu also has extensive experience of managing multiple complex international grants.

                                        Claire Booth

                                        Head of Development and Funding

                                        Claire joined DPI in August 2017 and as Head of Development and Funding is responsible for identifying and pursuing funding streams for the organisation. Her role encompasses liaising with funders and stakeholders, writing applications, and monitoring and reporting on implementations of projects. Claire holds an MA in Intercultural Communication with International Business and speaks French and Spanish. She has an in depth knowledge of EU funding following a period working in EU affairs in Brussels which began when she was selected for the Blue Book Traineeship at the European Commission. While at the Commission she also gained experience as an advisor for grant applications. During her time at the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations, she was part of the EU Team and supported advocacy and the pursuit of EU funding opportunities as well as working on various EU funded projects.



                                          International Law Team

                                            Saniye Karakas

                                            Head of Legal Programme

                                            Saniye has been working with DPI since 2011. She is a graduate of Dicle University Law Faculty in Turkey. Between 2000 and 2006 she practiced as a lawyer in the areas of criminal and human rights law in Diyarbakir, Turkey. During this time she also participated in numerous voluntary activities of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, the Contemporary Lawyers Association and the Human Rights Association’s Diyarbakir branch.

                                            After completing an LL.M. in Human Rights at Birkbeck College, University of London, in 2007 Saniye worked at the Kurdish Human Rights Project as a Legal Associate until 2011. She is a researcher at the International State Crime Initiative where she was involved in a project titled ‘Civil Society Resistance to State Violence and Corruption-Comparative Study’. She has also contributed to, a website dedicated to monitoring cases opened against perpetrators of crimes committed by state security officers in Turkey.

                                              Operations Team

                                                Lenka McNamara

                                                Operations Support Officer

                                                Lenka McNamara joined DPI in March 2018 as Operation Support Officer and provides support to the Senior Programme Officer as well as the Deputy Director on day to day activities, administrations and logistics. Lenka is a MA student of International Peace Studiest  at Trinity College Dublin and already holds a masters degree in Public and Political Administration from Danubius University in Slovakia. Before joining DPI, Lenka worked as a Research Assistant for MCER based in West of Ireland focusing on international education activities of universities, assistance with oversees activities, maintaining a database of higher education indicators and assistance with developing research proposals. Before that she worked as an events and marketing coordinator for a private company based in Slovakia, planning and marketing of conferences and entertainment events for clients in Slovakia.