Born in Pakistan and raised in London, UK, I learned early on in life how to mediate between cultures, and that seeking out and appreciating differences can catalyze new perspectives and innovations.
I started my career in central India during the ‘Pokhran II’ nuclear testing; tensions between India and Pakistan were high. Living in a village in rural MP working with marginalized young adivasis, I found myself challenging stereotypes not only through the work, but also in a very personal way.
I went on to set up the first international program for a European NGO, and later joined the European Commission, working with local civil society organizations in Ghana, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso on citizen engagement, governance and human rights . Looking back, it’s not hard to see how the situations in Mali and Burkina Faso at that time would lead to the recent conflict and popular uprisings.
With considerable sadness, nearly four years later, I left West Africa for Indonesia. I worked for the Delegation of the European Commission to Indonesia & Timor Leste, on a security and law portfolio, including the Aceh Helsinki Peace Accord. I moved later to the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP), managing peacebuilding programs in Aceh and developing a participatory governance framework for a multi-billion dollar ‘green economic development’ strategy for the conflict-affected province.
Next came assignments for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNDP headquarters redefining policy and programming on fragile states and conflict-affected countries. This work exposed me to the full array of challenges faced in programming in such contexts around the world.
Since 2011 I have been DC-based, consulting for the US Institute of Peace, World Bank Group and others, on CVE and on programing and policy in fragile and conflict-affected countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Papua New Guinea and Syria. Having worked for a range of different institutions, by far the handiest skill I’ve developed is ‘AADA’- advanced ability to decode acronyms.
I have an undergraduate degree and PhD from King’s College, University of London, a MSt in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. I’ve completed advanced studies in Non-violent Conflict at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
To see a list of Safi’s published works, click here.
The views presented herein are the authors alone and do not reflect those of the World Bank, U.S. Institute for Peace, NOAA, the Department of Commerce, or any other U.S. federal agency.