The Brussels International Center is an independent, non-profit, think-and-do tank based in the capital of Europe that is committed to developing solutions to address the cyclical drivers of insecurity, economic fragility, and conflict the Middle East and North Africa. BIC works to identify and explore underlying historical, economic, social, and political drivers behind today’s multidimensional and global challenges, and uses this research to provide forward-thinking, pragmatic, and concrete analyses to policy-makers, governments, and civil society. We bring added value to the highest levels of political discourse by bringing systemic issues to the forefront of the conversation.
BIC is committed to a multifaceted approach to conflict that incorporates robust analyses of the intersectionality between local factors, geopolitical trends, socioeconomic and gender inequalities, and neocolonial dynamics. We use a combination of interdisciplinary strengths, research specializations and unique cultural experiences to produce valuable insights into fragile and conflict affected situations, conducting both qualitative and quantitative analysis, while providing data-driven recommendations.
Our goal is to use research to promote human rights, peace, and security by informing policy-makers, building partnerships, and promoting community engagement. We create impact by engaging leaders at the national, regional, and international level in constructive dialogues that facilitate deeper learning, move past superficial talking points, and address systemic issues that often go overlooked. By creating collaborative spaces that engage leaders, civil society, and ordinary people in challenging debates, we seek to re-conceptualize the way in which all stakeholders relate to policy by translating multifaceted challenges into pragmatic, understandable, and usable solutions. The BIC-RHR builds connections. Between leaders, researchers, communities, and civil society. We hope that these bridges will help break down cultural boundaries, and promote more peaceful and resilient societies.
Ambassador Marc Otte, born April 26, 1947, is a Belgian diplomat. He has served in Washington DC and Kinshasa (RDC) and was Consul General in Los Angeles as well as ambassador to Israel. He was also director for strategic affairs and disarmament and director for policy planning at the Belgian MFA. From 1999 to 2003, he was advisor for security and defense policy to the High Representative for EU foreign and security policy and from 2003 to 2011, EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process. He was director general of the Royal Institute for International Relations/Egmont for the last four years. He is currently Belgian Special Envoy for Syria and vice-President of the European Institute for Peace. He has written several articles and contributed to books on European defense and security as well as on the Middle East.
Ramadan Abu Jazar, whose interests lie in the politics of the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf, built his expertise in a directive and comprehensive manner, focusing on human rights, security and development in the aforementioned regions. He has been involved in a number of projects related to election observation, in addition to being an advisor to several institutions and policy centers. In addition, he enjoys extensive political and parliamentary relations in many international forums and is an expert on European affairs for many Arab media. In addition to his bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Mostaganem in Algeria and majoring in civil society organizations.
Languages: Arabic, French and English
After spending many years in the world of high-level politics as an advisor in election marketing strategy, Jean-François Fechino led a parallel career in consulting for business development. This experience led him to become a specialist in the field, particularly in Corporate Social Responsibility. For the past three years, he was the head of the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in Geneva, prior to heading the Brussels International Center for Research and Human Rights. Languages: French and English.
Dr. Kader worked for 12 years at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS Paris) where he was in charge of the Maghreb and issues related to political Islam. Held the position of Associate Dean at California University from 2010 to 2013. Dr. Kader is Senior Lecturer at Sciences Po Paris. His area of research focuses on political systems in the Arab world, the geopolitics of Islam and the ongoing recompositions in the Arab space. Author of several books and publications, Dr. Kader is currently working on the issue of political Islam, religious violence and post-conflict transitions in the Arab world.
Fernando Aguiar is a Strategic Adviser on Conflict and EU Politics for the Brussels International Center. He has built his expertise in a multifaceted analytical approach, ranging from political communication and strategy, international security, gender and conflict. His exposure to policy making and diplomatic relations at the EU Institutions has provided a solid basis for his analytical understanding of contemporary issues, particularly in applying a gender analytical lens to a diverse range of topics. He has a master in International Relations, with a specialization in Conflict and Security from the University of Kent. In addition to his native Portuguese, Fernando speaks English, Spanish and French.
Brandon has spent five years working in the fields of diplomacy, human rights, and development, and specializes in research related to conflict, migration, and International Humanitarian law. He currently works full-time as the Policy and Advocacy Officer for Global Security and Development for ONE, where he focuses on state fragility and development. He offers strategic counsel, and expertise concerning security in Africa, to BIC as needed. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Duke University and a M.A. in International Development at the University of Kent. Brandon speaks English and French.
Brahim Laytouss is General Director of EDARA, The European Development and Research Academy, in Ghent. He is a scholar and is a Professor at the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions and Humanism, in Antwerp. He is also specialized in Islamic movements in Europe, and is an Islamic expert for Deradiant that offers guidance in jails and aftercare for prisoners in order to counter violent radicalism.
Head of AVERA department at the BIC-RHR ( Analysis of Violent Extremism and Radicalization )
Holder of a degree in journalism and media in Brussels. He has more than five years’ experience in program coordination, communication, media and public relations. He has extensive experience in the management of materials for media Coverage and social networking pages. He worked as a TV program coordinator for more than two years, and was involved in the diplomatic field as a public relations officer at the UAE embassy in Brussels. Yousif speaks Arabic, English and French
Ben Lowings is a Master’s graduate in International Relations with International Conflict and Security from the University of Kent. Ben gained his Bachelor’s in Philosophy from the University of Durham, where he became interested in issues of international ethics. He built experience working with international development organizations on vocational training and education programs in Tanzania and Chile, before acquiring further experience in civil society advocacy towards the European Union in Brussels. Ben maintains a high interest in civil liberties and social cohesion, and is applying this passion to his current research on human rights issues in North Africa. Ben speaks English and Spanish.
Mohammed Sami is a Palestinian national residing in Brussels. Holder of a bachelor degree in International Affairs from Vesalius College . As a Middle East Analyst, his field of focus is the Arab Spring with emphasis on the Syrian Crisis. Mohammed speaks fluent Arabic, English and Dutch.
May Barth holds a Master degree in International Relations, with a specialization in European Union Studies from the University of Leiden. She also has an academic background in European political and social sciences. May built her experience interning in International and European organizations, including the Council of Europe, where she researched and prepared detailed analysis on issues related to the rule of law, democracy and human rights. She was also involved in the diplomatic field as a political intern at the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand. May maintains a high interest in international relations, and is focusing her current research on the transboundary relations in North Africa. She speaks French and English.
Yasmine Akrimi is currently undertaking an M.A. in International Conflict & Security with a specialization in International Migration at the Brussels School of International Studies. She also holds a Law degree from her native Tunisia. In the wake of the Arab spring, she gained interest in democratization processes and transitional justice. As a former political journalist in Tunisia, she reported on real-time developments pertaining mainly to human rights reforms, elections and youth radicalization. Along her field experience, she interned with several international organizations including the United Nations. Her current focus is on security and regional integration in North Africa. Yasmine speaks fluent Arabic, French and English.
Elisa Cherry is currently pursuing her Masters degree in International Conflict and Security from the University of Kent. Elisa earned her Bachelorʼs in International Relations from Montana State University, where she became interested in researching the Middle East and Central Asia. Elisaʼs specific interests within the Middle East lie within humanitarian assistance, security strategy and counter-terrorism. Before moving to Brussels, Elisa worked with US Embassy on projects in Afghanistan. Elisa speaks English and Spanish.
Abdullah Al Jabassini is reading for his PhD in International Relations at the Brussels School of International Studies. His general research interests include wartime institutions and social orders, organizational structure of rebel groups and paramilitaries, rebel governance, tribalism and civilian-combatant interactions in Syria. For the past seven years, Abdullah has worked as a researcher and advisor for several think tanks that are located in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and Turkey. He has extensive experience in reporting and providing analysis on the military and political developments in Syria.
Helena Nyikos is currently pursuing her LL.M. in International Law from the University of Kent in Brussels. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and Finance from the College of Charleston in the United States. She is interested in researching the legal issues pertaining to child recruitment and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians located in conflict zones in the Middle East. She is currently planning and managing primary data collection activities. Helena speaks fluent German and English.
Arthur holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Oriental languages and literature in Université Catholique de Louvain. Such studies permitted him to become familiar with Arabic and Persian languages as well as to develop a profound interest in the fields of philology, islamology and the history of Middle East. He also took part on the research project Speculum Arabicum in Institut des Civilisations Arts et Lettres (INCAL), participated in the process of digitalizing the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic and worked on the numismatic database Pondera.
Juliette Delacroix holds Masters in European Affairs from Sciences Po Paris and in Literature and Linguistics from the UCLouvain. She is also currently finishing an LL.M in Human Rights Law in her native Brussels. While volunteering in Lesbos during the peak of the refugee crisis, she gained interest in Middle East conflicts and in migration. She developed her understanding of the Middle East region by interning at the Embassy of Belgium in Lebanon, where she focused on the Palestine refugee issue and on the Syrian conflict. She then became a Blue Book trainee at the European Commission in the Syria team of DG ECHO, where she supervised humanitarian projects in Syria by liaising directly with partners and experts on the field. Juliette also developed strong advocacy skills in Paris at JRS France. Together with the legal coordinator, she actively lobbied French MPs with the view to influencing the French “Asylum and Immigration” bill. She is currently focusing on the human rights situation in Turkey and her main areas of interest lie in European Politics, the Syrian conflict, Humanitarian Aid, Counter Terrorism and the Rights to asylum and of refugees. Juliette speaks fluent French, English and Spanish, has a good level of Dutch and is learning Arabic.
Pia Podieh holds a MSc in Politics of Conflicts, Rights and Justice from SOAS University London, and has experience working on human rights and peace building in the Middle East and North Africa. She developed her interest and understanding for MENA as an intern working for Oxfam Solidarité on developing advocacy strategies for ‚forgotten‘ conflicts in the region. She continued her work and studies focusing on human rights abuses campaigning for individuals at risk in MENA with Amnesty International, and researching the effectiveness of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Maghreb with IPSS and GIZ. Her research interests lie in human rights and peace building strategies in the Middle East.