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Middle East and North Africa Programme

Saïd Benarbia – Director

Saïd Benarbia leads the ICJ research, advocacy and litigation work in the MENA region. For the past 18 years, he has designed and implemented strategic initiatives on the applicability of international humanitarian and human rights laws during armed conflicts, justice and rule of law reform, accountability for serious crimes under international, women’s access to justice, combating impunity for sexual and gender-based violence, and human rights and counter-terrorism measures. Saïd has investigated, researched and authored numerous reports and articles on the above-mentioned topics, and is an expert in the areas of criminal justice reform, transitional justice, constitutional reform, detention and fair trial rights and counter-terrorism and the rule of law.

Saïd has previously served as a Legal Officer, Legal Adviser and Senior Legal Adviser for the ICJ MENA porgramme. Prior to joining the ICJ, Saïd worked for the International Law and Legal Department of the International Organization for Migration. Saïd holds a degree in International Law from Fez University, Morocco, an LLM in Public Law from the Bourgogne University, France, and an LLM in European Law and Studies from the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Valentina Cadelo – Legal Adviser

Valentina Cadelo joined the ICJ in January 2018. She holds an LL.M. in International Humanitarian Law from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and a MAS in International Relations with a specialization in international law from the University of Florence. Prior to joining the ICJ, she was a Researcher and Academic Coordinator at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. She also worked as a consultant for Impunity Watch and in different capacities for various organizations, including the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Vito Todeschini – Legal Adviser

Vito joined the ICJ in January 2018. Within the MENA Programme, he focuses on Libya and Palestine/Israel. His expertise includes international humanitarian law, human rights law and the law on the use of force. Vito received a PhD from Aarhus University (Denmark), a Law Degree from the University of Ferrara, and an E.MA in Human Rights and Democratization from the Global Campus of Human Rights (Venice). Before joining the ICJ, he has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Trento, a Visiting Researcher at the Swedish Defence University (Stockholm), and a Visiting Fellow at the Amsterdam Centre for International Law.

Mathilde Laronche – Research and Advocacy Officer

Mathilde joined the ICJ in January 2020 as an Associate Legal Adviser in the Legal and Policy Office. In February 2021, she started to work in the Middle East and North Africa Programme as a Research and Advocacy Officer. Mathilde holds an LL.M. in international law from the IIT Chicago Kent College of Law, USA and a Masters in international organizations law from the University of Paris II Panthéon Assas, France. Prior to joining the ICJ, Mathilde worked for several intergovernmental organizations and NGOs in Geneva.

Asser Khattab – Research and Communications Officer

Asser is a Paris-based Syrian journalist who started working at the ICJ in March 2021. Before that, he worked as a journalist covering Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq for various international media outlets, including The Washington Post, the Financial Times, and the Spanish News Agency (EFE). He contributes essays to Newlines Magazine and Raseef22, and has co-hosted the Branch251 podcast. Asser holds a BA in Media from Damascus University.

Mouna Raouani – Finance officer

Mouna holds a Master’s degree in Accounting and Auditing and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Mouna has over eight years of experience within the non-profit and private sector, in positions of increasing responsibility with multiple organisations. She has gained extensive insight within the field of financial management. Mouna has been working with the ICJ MENA programme since August 2017. She is responsible for the financial management of the MENA programme and supports project and partnership development.

Sophie Rickard – Programme Manager

Sophie joined the ICJ in February 2020 as MENA Programme Manager. Based in Tunis, Sophie works with legal advisers and researchers in the design, monitoring and delivery of ICJ’s MENA projects. Prior to joining the ICJ, Sophie worked as an independent consultant on a range of research and evaluation projects for organisations including Cordaid, GIZ and EFI. Before this, Sophie worked in programme management and M&E in the UK, Kenya and Afghanistan. Sophie holds an MSc in the Political Economy of Late Development from LSE and an LLB from the University of Exeter.