Structure, governance and management

Organisational structure

International Alert is a UK-based NGO, registered with Companies House and the Charity Commission. The charity is a company limited by guarantee and has no share capital. We are governed by a Board of Trustees (Board). The Board has a sub-committee, the Risk and Audit Committee (RAC), which advises on and monitors matters of financial and risk management and is chaired by the Treasurer. Strategic and operational leadership of the organisation is managed by our Executive Team.

We have around 250 staff based in our 15 offices around the world, including a team of thematic peacebuilding experts. The programmes’ work is supported by administrative, financial, fundraising, human resources, IT, and advocacy and communications teams.

International Alert UK is affiliated with International Alert Europe, which is registered as a Stichting (foundation) in The Hague, the Netherlands.


The Board meets four times a year and is responsible for governance, establishing the organisation’s strategic framework, annual objectives and budget. The trustees are directors of the organisation for the purposes of company law and, in line with that responsibility, oversee financial reporting and ensure that proper financial statements are made for each financial year to give a true and fair view of the organisation’s financial activities and its financial position at the year-end. The RAC meets quarterly and is the key committee of the Board. The RAC has been entrusted with the more detailed oversight of key areas of the charity, including finance and budgetary issues, and risk. The Executive Director is accountable to the Board for all the organisation’s work, and the other members of the Executive Team report directly or indirectly to the Executive Director. The Executive Team reports to each Board and RAC meeting on the organisation’s work, activities and finances, presenting progress in relation to the budget, annual objectives and strategic framework.

Board of Trustees

The Board may consist of three to 15 members. It is international, to reflect the diversity of the organisation’s work. New trustees are elected by the Board following a competitive recruitment process and serve for a period of three years. Trustees may be re-elected for one further term of three years. On appointment, new trustees receive a full induction on their responsibilities under company law and charity law, and on the organisation. The process includes both a pack of relevant documentation and a series of meetings with senior and middle management.

Our trustees

David Nussbaum (Chair)

Following an executive career in international organisations in the private and NGO sectors, David now has a portfolio of chair, non-executive director and trustee board roles.

David is Chair of Anthesis Group, of the Joffe Charitable Trust, and of the Transparency International UK Advisory Council; Senior Independent Director of Drax Group plc; a Board (‘Council’) member of Chatham House, and of the International Budget Partnership; and a member of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group of the Church of England.

David was formerly CEO of The Elders, working directly with global leaders on peace and human rights; CEO of WWF-UK and Chair of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative; and CEO of the global anti-corruption organisation Transparency International based in Berlin.

Prior to that David was CFO of Oxfam, and headed up Oxfam’s operations in India for a period; and CFO of European packaging business Field Group plc, through its management buyout and subsequent successful flotation. Having originally qualified as a chartered accountant with PWC, he moved into venture capital with 3i, and then into manufacturing.

David has previously served as Chair of Traidcraft plc; Vice-Chair of Shared Interest; Chair of Transparency International UK; Deputy Chair of the International Integrated Reporting Council; and on the Marks & Spencer plc Executive Advisory Board on Sustainability.

David has two degrees in theology, one in finance, and an honorary doctorate.

Emma Hillyard (Treasurer)

Emma Hillyard was previously Head of Programme Finance at Oxfam GB, before becoming Finance Director at Blackwell’s and then CFO of Waterstones. She has been Treasurer of the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) and Caplor Horizons, which provides leadership and strategic development consultancy to the international development sector. She has been fortunate to live in Uganda, France and Malawi and is currently based in the UK.  

Mouna Ben Garga 

Mouna Ben Garga, a pioneer in civil society innovation, boasts over a decade of experience designing and implementing impactful programmes across the Middle East, Africa and globally. Her focus lies in pioneering innovative approaches to organising, collaboration and funding, with a specific emphasis on empowering social movements and fostering civic engagement among youth, women and marginalised thinking and human-centered design methodologies, ensuring their effectiveness and relevance. As a recognised civil society expert and thought leader, Mouna has made significant contributions to broadening civic space, promoting social inclusion, establishing alternative financial sustainability models and facilitating the growth of decentralised networks. Before joining the Civil Society and Leadership team at the Lucile and David Packard Foundation, she served as the Innovation and Quality Management Lead at CIVICUS. In this role, she spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives, including the incubation of the Innovation for Change network and the initiation of the Digital Democracy project.  

Rosemary Carr  

Having had a professional career in marketing and communications, Rosemary Carr now has a focused portfolio of chair, non-executive director and trustee roles. She currently serves on two multi-academy trust boards – as Chair of Extend Learning Academies Network and Director of Oak Partnership Trust. She is an Independent Non-Executive Director of Andrews and Partners, a property services group that is owned by a charitable trust. Rosemary spent many years as Brand and Marketing Director of Clarks, a major global footwear brand, and has subsequently provided strategic brand and marketing consultancy support to a wide range of organisations. She has previously served as Deputy Chair of WaterAid UK and WaterAid International; and Chair of Sidcot, an international Quaker school.   

Rosemary also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of Alert’s Board.

Nina Fallentin Caspersen

Nina Fallentin Caspersen is Professor of Politics and Head of Department at the University of York in the UK. Her research focuses on the dynamics of intra-state conflicts, peace processes and peace agreements, governance and state recognition. Her research is comparative in nature, but much of it has been focused on the Caucasus and the Balkans. Nina’s most recent books are Peace Agreements: Finding Solutions to Intra-state Conflicts (Polity, 2017) and Unrecognized States: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Modern International System (Polity, 2012). She holds a PhD in Government from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is originally from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jane Cotton  

Jane Cotton has an HR and Organisational Development background, including 15 years as HR Director at Oxfam GB and taking various leadership roles in the development of Oxfam International. She is an experienced board member, including serving on the boards of WWF UK, Canal and River Trust, OneYMCA, Thames Valley Air Ambulance and the largest of the UK Wildlife Trusts. 

Njeri Kabeberi

Njeri Kabeberi is the President and CEO of the Wangari Maathai Foundation (WMF) based in Nairobi and a former Executive Director of Greenpeace Africa. She is an International Award-winning human rights defender, an environmental activist and a diversity, equity and inclusivity political rights activist. She has worked for Amnesty International, the Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy and Chapter Four Programs and Projects Limited. Njeri is a student of Corporate Governance and has served effectively on a number of international, regional and local boards, among them: International IDEA (Stockholm), In-Transformation-Initiative (Pretoria), Democracy Works (Pretoria) and Democracy Trust Fund (Nairobi), and she also serves on the jury of Human Rights Defenders Awards in Kenya.

Azza Karam  

Dr Azza Karam is a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Multilateralism, a Professor of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Secretary General Emerita of Religions for Peace International.

She served for nearly two decades in the United Nations (in the UNDP and UNFPA), where she coordinated the Arab Human Development Reports, co-founded and chairedthe United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religionwith over 20 UN system bodies –and founded and convened its Multi-Faith Advisory Council, as part of the 750 global NGO database she coordinated. During her tenure at the United Nations, Azza was a Lead Facilitator for the peer-to-peer ‘Strategic Learning Exchanges’ on religion, development and diplomacy. Apart from the work in the United States, she has worked with other intergovernmental and international organisations such as the OSCE, the EU, and International IDEA in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Europe and east and central Asia, where she created and managed global programmes on women and politics, democracy and/in the Middle East, and applied research on democracy.  

Azza has lectured and taught in various universities, including West Point Military Academy (from 2002 to 2018). She has published widely, translated into several languages (on political Islam, gender and women’s rights, human rights, democracy, conflict, peacemaking and education).   

She has received multiple awards, including for her work on/in the United Nations, as well as in/on interfaith work and culture. She was awarded an honorary degree by John Cabot University in 2022. Born in Egypt, Azza is also a citizen of the Netherlands.

William Van Niekerk  

William van Niekerk is an experienced executive and supervisory board member who has worked internationally in water management, construction, environmental consultancy and the energy sector. He now leads the Netherlands Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation in the Design, Building and Technology Industry. He is chair of real estate developer VORM and chair of infrastructure and recycling company Van Werven.

He has been vice-chair of SNV World in the Hague, supervisory board member of CAT Alliance (London) and Alliander AG (Germany). As managing director he has worked with international construction companies Ballast Nedam and Royal BAM Group, during which he built a track record in corporate social responsibility and has won accolades from the Carbon Disclosure Project for Climate Leadership. William has been honoured for responsible supply chain management and transparency in corporate reporting, covering global operations including those in Europe, Africa and Asia. His international career also included several merger and restructuring tenures, as well as government and private equity advisory. 

He has chaired sector organisations in engineering, construction, water management as well as hydrogen and fuel cell technology. William holds a MSc from Delft University of Technology and has completed an Advanced Management Programme at TSM Business School in Enschede (the Netherlands). He is a Dutch citizen.

William also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of Alert’s Board.

Rafael Velasquez  

Rafael Velasquez is a Senior Director with extensive experience developing and leading large-scale, complex programme portfolios across the peacebuilding, humanitarian and development spectrum. He has advised and managed peacebuilding portfolios in the Central African Republic, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen. His passion for high-impact leadership led him to serve as Head of Mission in Colombia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Nigeria and Venezuela for various international NGOs. He is currently the International Rescue Committee’s Country Director in Mexico.

Rafael’s educational background includes a BA in Political Science and an MA in International Peace Studies from the United Nations University for Peace, where he was a visiting lecturer from 2014 to 2019.   

Rafael also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of Alert’s Board.

Our late patron Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu passed away on 26 December 2021. He was one of the greatest living moral icons of our time.

He was a key player in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and in 1984 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

From his work against apartheid in South Africa to his championing of democracy, freedom and human rights – including for those still living under the scourge of racism, xenophobia and homophobia – Archbishop Tutu served as the vocal conscience of a generation.

When Archbishop Tutu retired in 1996, Nelson Mandela told those at a dinner to honour him:

His joy in our diversity and his spirit of forgiveness are as much part of his immeasurable contribution to our nation as his passion for justice and his solidarity with the poor.

In 2007 Archbishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel convened The Elders, a group of world leaders who contribute their integrity and leadership in dealing with some of the world’s most pressing problems. Having served as chairman for six years, Archbishop Tutu became an honorary Elder, continuing to work energetically in a number of areas of human rights for many years afterwards.

Archbishop Tutu was involved in the work which led to International Alert’s founding in 1986 and was the first Vice-Chairman of our Board of Trustees. On his role as our patron, he previously said:

The need for us all to continue the fight for peace has never been greater. I am very proud to be International Alert’s patron as they continue to build peace around the world.

Their track record of working with courage and compassion to inspire hope in troubled communities is invaluable. From holding hands with Rwandans in the aftermath of genocide, to supporting young Syrians today. Always building, always challenging, always inspiring.

They are part of a global network for good, extending from the villages of DRC to the corridors of the United Nations.

Archbishop Tutu will be remembered fondly by all at International Alert. Commenting on his passing, Executive Director Nic Hailey said: “We grieve and give thanks for his life and work. What a peacemaker. His message to us was to ‘keep talking peace’.”