Jul 24, 2023

UNPO Strengthens Expertise with Formation of New Advisory Board

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) is excited to announce the establishment of its new advisory board. 


Composed of independent experts and academics renowned for their knowledge, experience, and commitment to strengthening the human rights of unrepresented peoples worldwide, the advisory board will play a vital role in guiding the UNPO’s strategic direction and enhancing its impact on global human rights issues. 

The Advisory Board will maintain regular and proactive engagement with UNPO members and the secretariat, serving as a vital resource and support system for the organization.

The confirmed members of UNPO's Advisory Board include:

  • Dr. Michael van Walt van Praag 

Dr. Michael van Walt van Praag is a distinguished international lawyer and professor renowned for his expertise in the field of intra-state conflict resolution. Notably, Dr. van Walt holds the distinction of being the founder and inaugural General Secretary of the UNPO. Through his visionary leadership, Dr. van Walt played a pivotal role in the organization's growth and success, implementing impactful strategies to promote human rights and the right to self-determination of marginalized and unrepresented populations, and significantly elevating the UNPO's standing and reputation.

In addition to his involvement with the UNPO, Dr. van Walt possesses extensive experience in facilitating peace processes and mediation, having facilitated peace talks throughout the world and lent his expertise as an advisor and consultant to governmental and non-governmental organizations engaged in such processes. He currently serves as executive president of Kreddha, a conflict resolution organization, and is a Senior Fellow at the Sompong Sucharitkul Center for Advanced International Legal Studies.

In 2020 Michael was awarded a knighthood by H. M. the King and the Government of the Netherlands—the rare distinction of Commander in the Order of the House of Oranje Nassau—for his “exceptional service to society with a global impact”, in particular his international contribution to the resolution of conflicts and to the promotion of rights of oppressed peoples.

  • Dr. Fiona McConnell

Fiona McConnell is a Professor of Political Geography at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow in Geography at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. She joined Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment in 2013. Prior to this she was a lecturer in human geography at Newcastle University and has also held a Junior Research fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge. Her doctoral and post-doctoral research focused on the political institutions and practices of the exiled Tibetan government based in India. 

Dr. McConnell has been working with the UNPO since 2012. She played a key role in creating the Unrepresented Diplomats Training Program, which seeks to empower marginalized communities through practical training in diplomacy. Dr. McConnell also helped establish the highly successful Model UNPO, engaging young people in addressing the challenges faced by unrepresented peoples worldwide and co-authored two of the UNPO’s ‘Compromised Space’ reports. She has ongoing work with the UNPO around re-imagining self-determination.

As a political geographer, Fiona's research aims to develop new areas of thinking regarding governance beyond the state, how political legitimacy is articulated by marginalized communities, and changing practices of diplomacy and mediation. Fiona was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for Geography in 2019, and the Back Award from the Royal Geographical Society in 2022.

The collective expertise of the advisory group will provide valuable insights and guidance to UNPO, ensuring the organization remains at the forefront of promoting the rights and aspirations of unrepresented peoples.

As the first Advisory Board commences, we remain open to the possibility of expanding the board with additional experts in the future. This flexibility allows us to adapt to the evolving needs of the organization and align with the changing geopolitical landscape.