Alex de Waal is the Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation. Considered one of the foremost experts on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, his scholarly work and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, and conflict and peace-building.
In 1988, he received a D.Phil. in social anthropology at Nuffield College, Oxford for his thesis on the 1984-5 Darfur famine in Sudan. The next year he joined the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, only to resign in December 1992 in protest for HRW's support for the American military involvement in Somalia. He was the first chairman of the Mines Advisory Group at the beginning of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. He set up two independent human rights organizations, African Rights (1993) and Justice Africa (1999), focusing respectively on documenting human rights abuses and developing policies to respond to human rights crises, notably in Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan. From 1997 to 2001, he focused on avenues to peaceful resolution of the second Sudanese Civil War. In 2001, he returned to his work on health in Africa, writing on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, poverty and governance, and initiated the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa.
Following a fellowship with the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-06), he worked with the Social Science Research Council as Director of the program on HIV/AIDS and Social Transformation, and led projects on conflict and humanitarian crises in Africa (2006-09). During 2005-06, de Waal was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur and from 2009-11 served as senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan. He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009.