Conflict Dynamics International develops and implements innovative
strategies for conflict prevention and resolution, and for
humanitarian policy relevant to conflict and other crises.
Conflict Dynamics recognizes an increasing need for targeting
the intersection between humanitarian policy and conflict
Conflict Dynamics explores new approaches to humanitarian
policy and provides direct substantive and process-related
support to conflict resolution activities in the international
arena. Moreover, Conflict Dynamics takes a proactive, outcomes-oriented
approach of identifying specific points at which substantive
and process-related inputs can have the highest impact. In
this way, Conflict Dynamics seeks to efficiently produce results
that are high quality, timely and effective.
Conflict Dynamics International has designed three intersecting
program areas to fulfil its mission. These three program areas
are: Peacebuilding in Transition States, New Frontiers in
Humanitarian Policy and Pressure Points for Conflict Prevention
With these goals in mind, Conflict Dynamics has established
relationships with key players in the field of conflict resolution,
peacebuilding, and humanitarian action, and continues to collaborate
with such organizations as the UN Office for the Coordination
for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Harvard University, Save
the Children UK, and Mercy Corps' Conflict Management Group.
Who We Are
Gerard Mc Hugh, President
Gerard Mc Hugh is the founder and President of Conflict Dynamics International. Gerard is a humanitarian entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in international conflict resolution, humanitarian affairs and healthcare. With a passionate belief in people’s ability to bring about change in the world around them, Gerard focuses on using bold and innovative approaches drawn from different disciplines to make a difference in the lives of people affected by war and crisis.
Motivated by his experiences working in Iraq in the late 1980s and seeing the direct effect of conflict on people and societies, Gerard founded Conflict Dynamics in 2004 to function as an independent and innovative organization to prevent conflict and to alleviate humanitarian suffering resulting from conflict and crises.
Gerard has led the work of Conflict Dynamics in conducting direct mediation activities and in supporting several peace processes, mediation- and negotiation initiatives, including those on the Sudan and Somalia. He leads the organization’s development and application of approaches to political accommodation in situations of transition.
Gerard has authored/co-authored numerous articles, reports and resources for peace- and humanitarian practitioners – on a range of topics – including humanitarian negotiations, peacebuilding, mediation, and humanitarian access. Gerard is also the lead author of several publications in Conflict Dynamics’ Governance and Peacebuilding series.
Prior to establishing Conflict Dynamics Gerard worked as an Independent Consultant on humanitarian affairs and conflict resolution, and previously held an appointment as a Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Gerard is a graduate and Foundation Scholar of Trinity College Dublin and a graduate of MIT. He holds degrees in political science, mechanical engineering, naval architecture, and mathematics from these institutions and also holds a professional qualification in nursing.
Julia Freedson, Senior Policy Consultant, Humanitarian Policy
Julia is an independent international affairs consultant focusing on human rights and humanitarian affairs. Currently she is the Senior Policy Consultant for Humanitarian Policy at Conflict Dynamics International where she directs the Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative. Julia is the author of Conflict Dynamics’ report, Bridging the Accountability Gap: New Approaches to Addressing Violations Against Children in Armed Conflict.
Julia has worked in the area of protection of children in situations of armed conflict for the past fourteen years, including emphasis on the role of the UN Security Council. Julia was the founding director of the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, a network of NGOs, and served in this role for several years. She has conducted research and published various reports and articles on the impact of armed conflict on children and adolescents in Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other contexts. She has advocated extensively for policy and program change to protect of children from violations such as killing, maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, child soldiering, and others. She has presented her work before varied audiences including the UN Security Council, General Assembly, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Chatham House and other venues and universities. Her work has been covered by The New York Times, National Public Radio, BBC News and other media outlets.
Previously Julia has worked with the Global Coalition for Protecting Education from Attack, a private philanthropic organization, the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Anti-Defamation League and other international organizations. She holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and an undergraduate degree in International Affairs from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA.
Kirsti Samuels, Senior Advisor, Peacebuilding
Dr Kirsti Samuels is an attorney practitioner with over 14 years experience in constitution building, governance, mediation support conflict contexts. She began working with Conflict Dynamics in 2010 and is currently the Senior Advisor for the Governance and Peacebuilding Program. Kirsti has specialized in countries in conflict, including working in Somalia, East Timor, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.
Previously, Kirsti was the Transition Processes Advisor for AECOM/USAID in Khartoum, Sudan (2010). In 2009 she worked in Baghdad, Iraq with the Iraqi Parliament, the Office of the Speaker, and Advisors to the Prime Minister. In 2007-2008, Dr Samuels set up and implemented the Constitution Building Program for International IDEA as Senior Program Manager. She was the lead legal expert involved in the shaping of the UNDP democracy and peace building project for Somalia in 2006. During 2003-2005, she headed up the State-building program at the International Peace Academy in New York, focusing on the challenges faced and the lessons learned from previous state-building experiences.
Dr Samuels has taught Leadership at Harvard University and Law at Oxford University, and has consulted to the World Bank, DFID, the US Department of State, the Clinton Foundation and the United Nations, among other influential institutions. She holds a Doctorate in Law from Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. Kirsti lives in Manhattan, and despite her many travels, she always looks forward to coming home to New York City.
Liz Gaere, Country Director, Peacebuilding, South Sudan Program
Liz is Team-Leader for Conflict Dynamics' work on political accommodation in the
Republic of South Sudan within the Governance and Peacebuilding Portfolio,
based in the South Sudanese capital Juba. She also works on CDI's project
promoting political accommodation between the Republic of South Sudan and
the Republic of Sudan, following the independence of South Sudan in July 2011.
Liz joined CDI in September 2011. Since graduating from Oxford with a degree in
Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) in the mid-1980s, she has worked in
the non-governmental sector as well as serving for twenty years in the UK public
service including the Department for International Development (DFID), and has
also recently worked with UNDP. She has broad expertise in leading
international development programs with a specific focus on governance reform
in fragile and conflict-affected states. Africa has been a key passion and focus of
her career, including West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria), and South Sudan, where
she has been based since 2006 working on a variety of developmental, peacebuilding and statebuilding initiatives. Liz's links with South Sudan date back to
1985, when she first visited Sudan as an undergraduate, returning just a year
later to work in the Darfur Region, where she also met her South Sudanese
husband Korby, with whom she has two daughters. Liz speaks Juba Arabic as
well as French; she was awarded an OBE the Queen's 2009 Honors list in
recognition of her contribution to peace and development work.
Paul Simkin, Country Director, Peacebuilding, Somali Program
Paul began in August 2011 working on CDI's Governance and Peacebuilding in
Somalia portfolio. His principal focus is on political accommodation in
Somalia in partnership with Somali authorities, the UN and donor
community. The project will give special attention to building links with
Somaliland authorities, armed opposition groups and the ongoing
Paul comes to CDI with extensive knowledge from East Africa and the
Horn. Paul has worked with donors, the UN and NGOs principally in conflict
and post-conflict scenarios. Paul will be working out of Nairobi and travelling
in and out of Somalia with occasional trips to the Cambridge headquarters.
Roger Middleton, Senior Program Manager, Peacebuilding, Somali Program
Roger joined CDI in May 2013 as Senior Program Manager for the Somalia Program. Before joing CDI Roger worked with Oxfam in Somalia as Policy and Advocacy lead, working on issues related to peacebuilding, humanitarian delivery, and sustainable livleihoods. Before that he coordinated work on the Horn of Africa for Chatham House with a focus on Somalia and the Sudan's. Roger has published widely on issues of politics in the Horn of Africa, Piracy from Somalia, African Peace and Security Architecture and Africa's relations with the EU. He is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute and has degrees from Trinity College Dublin and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
Joe Belliveau, Senior Program Manager, Humanitarian Policy
Joe Belliveau joined the CDI team in June 2013 as Senior Program Manager working on the Humanitarian Access project. Joe has extensive operational experience with Medecins Sans Frontieres managing programs over the past 13 years in a wide range of countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Iraq and Pakistan. In confronting the access challenges of these and other contexts, Joe has developed particular expertise in negotiations, context analysis, security management and Remote Management. He has also worked as a political risk analyst focusing mainly on conflict zones in Africa, and more recently has conducted research on humanitarian access challenges. Joe has also published on the problematic mixing of humanitarian aid with political agendas, and is currently pursuing a PhD in that area.
Yvonne Kemper, Senior Program Manager, Humanitarian Policy
Yvonne Kemper joined the CDI team as a Senior Program Officer in July 2013 working on the Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Initiative. Yvonne brings more than seven years of experience working on children and armed conflict both in an operational setting as well as in a policy setting. As a Program Officer with Watchlist, Yvonne prepared up-to-date country reports on children in war zones and offered strategies to the Security Council and others in addressing outstanding protection concerns. Yvonne also served as a Child Protection Advisor in the UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo, where she was in charge of monitoring, reporting and denouncing grave human rights violations against children in North Katanga. She has broad experience in devising guidelines, trainings and research studies on children and youth in situations of armed conflict, including developing the child protection core training used for all U.N. peacekeepers. Yvonne holds a Master's in Conflict Management, Humanitarian concerns and Human Rights from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and a Master's in International Peace and Conflict Studies from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg.
Sophia Dawkins, Senior Program Officer, Peacebuilding
Sophia coordinates Conflict Dynamics’ methodological and research work on peacebuilding, as well as the organization’s approaches to program design, monitoring and evaluation. Sophia joined Conflict Dynamics’ South Sudan program in 2011, and still provides support to this portfolio. A graduate of the University of Oxford and the Fletcher School—Tufts University, Sophia has also worked in parliamentary capacity building and on grassroots governance programming in conflict-affected contexts, including the Abyei Area of Sudan. In 2013, she was named to the Diplomatic Courier list of 99 most influential foreign policy leaders under 33 years of age.
Simar Singh, Program Officer, Humanitarian Policy / Coordinator, Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative
Simar is a member of CDI’s Humanitarian Policy team. She is the coordinator of Conflict Dynamics’ Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative and also works on the organization’s Children and Armed Conflict Initiative. Simar’s professional expertise is in the area of human rights and humanitarian policy. Her work has primarily focused on policy development related the protection of children in situations of armed conflict. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2012, Simar spent four years working at the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, where she conducted research and advocacy on the situation of children affected by armed conflict in several contexts including: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Afghanistan, Nepal and Colombia. Her work also focused on the development of the UN Security Council’s Children and Armed Conflict agenda. Simar holds a graduate degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College.
Nanako Tamaru, Program Officer, Peacebuilding, Syria Program
Nanako is a Program Officer for the Syria program in the Governance and Peacebuilding portfolio. She also previously served as a Program Associate with the Somalia program team. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics, Nanako worked on several international human rights and humanitarian access initiatives. She has also served as a research consultant on law reform projects in Nepal and China. Nanako is pursuing a Master's Degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Juris Doctor from the Boston University School of Law. She received a Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science and Women's Studies.
Albert Trithart, Program Officer, Peacebuilding, Sudan Program
Albert joined CDI in June 2012 and is currently the Program Officer for Sudan. Albert holds a Master’s degree in conflict resolution and democracy and governance from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Bachelor’s degree in world politics and classical languages from Hamilton College. Prior to CDI, Albert worked for three years at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) supporting election support projects across Africa, including in Liberia and Kenya.
Rukiya Abdulrahman, Program Officer, Somali Program
Rukiya Abdulrahman is the program officer for Somalia. She holds a Bachelors degree in Gender and Development Studies (Nairobi University) and a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Management (Kenyatta University). Prior to joining CDI, she worked with the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), a collaborative effort of the IGAD Member States, whose main focus was targeted at mitigating and preventing violent conflicts in the sub-region. Her focus has been on conflict analysis on cross-border pastoralist and related conflicts. She has worked closely with several government and non government stakeholders who have been instrumental in implementing some of the recommendations given in her analysis.
Terry Muchiku, Program Administrator, Somali Program
Terry is the Program Administrator for the Somali Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Project Management among other security courses. Prior to joining CDI in January 2014, she worked with the NGO Safety Program as a Security Trainer in Somalia for 2 years. She also worked with COSPE in Mogadishu as a Logistics Officer. Terry has great knowledge on Security, Emergency Logistics and Operations that has given her the opportunity to work in East and Horn of Africa.
Elizabeth Wright, Research Officer, Peacebuilding
Elizabeth is the Research Officer for the Governance and Peacebuilding portfolio, where she is responsible for developing Conflict Dynamics’ research methodologies, conducting applied research, and advancing systems for program analysis, design, monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ADMEL). She previously served as a Program Associate with the South Sudan team. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics in 2012, Elizabeth worked in program management at the Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College.
Jacob Uzman, Research Assistant, Peacebuilding
Jacob Uzman is a Research Assistant for the Syria Program in the Governance and Peacebuilding portfolio. Prior to joining CDI, he extensively studied the conflict in Syria as a research assistant for the Harvard University-NUPI-Trinity University Syria Research Project. He has also worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the Proliferation Prevention Program where he researched a variety of WMD threats, including Syria's chemical weapons program. Jacob holds a BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Trinity University.
Yang Fu, Research Assistant, Humanitarian Policy
Yang Fu is a Research Assistant for the Children and Armed Conflict Initiative and the Humanitarian Negotiation Initiative. Prior to joining Conflict Dynamics, Yang was a graduate assistant at The Carter Center, supporting initiatives on US-China relations and China-Africa relations. She has also worked for the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai and the Munk School of Global Affairs. Yang holds a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a B.A. in international relations from the University of Toronto.
Board of Directors
Gerard Mc Hugh (Chair)
Conflict Dynamics often takes on graduate and undergraduate interns at our Cambridge, MA office to support ongoing programs. If you are interested in applying for an internship with our office please email email@example.com.