Representatives to the UN
Bani Dugal, Principal Representative (New York)
Bani Dugal is the Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. As part of the community of international NGOs at the United Nations, she currently serves as the President of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, as co-facilitator of the NGO Working Group on UN Access, as co-facilitator of the GEAR campaign (Gender Equality Architecture Reform), and is a past Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women.
Bani Dugal has also served as Chair of the Global Forum of the NGO Committee on UNICEF, member of the Steering Committee of the NGO Committee on UNICEF’s Working Group on Girls, Convener of the NGO Committee on UNIFEM, and Convener of the Advocates for African Food Security.
Prior to being appointed Principal Representative, Ms. Dugal served as Director, Office for the Advancement of Women at the Baha'i International Community.
Ms. Dugal has worked at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and holds a Masters degree (LL.M) in Environmental Law from Pace University School of Law, New York and a law degree (LL.B) from the University of Delhi, India.
Prior to relocating to the U.S. in 1988, she practiced law before the Supreme Court of India.
Notable amongst the many high level events in which she has participated, as speaker or in another capacity, include: the 11th International Conference of Chief Justices of the World in Lucknow, India in 2010, the 2008 International Inter-religious Conference Faith in Human Rights in The Hague, the October 2006 Conference commemorating the 1981 UN Declaration on Religious Tolerance and Non-Discrimination: Implementing Its Principles after Twenty-five Years; the July 2005 Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, which was hosted by the Tripartite Forum, a convening group comprised of representatives from 17 member states, the World Bank, UNESCO, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations; at the Thirty-Year UN Observance Promoting Gender Equality on International Women’s Day, Ms. Dugal was invited to speak at a panel with senior UN officials and women Nobel Peace Prize Laureates; at the International Conference on Gender Mainstreaming and Millennium Development Goals in Pakistan in March 2005, she made a presentation on the women's role in conflict prevention, resolution and peace-building. That same year, Ms. Dugal represented the Baha'i International Community at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where she was invited to participate as a religious leader and women’s leader and spoke at three events. In December 2003, she addressed the South Asian Regional Conference on Education: the Right of Every Girl and Boy, in New Delhi as the inaugural event keynote speaker. She was involved in the Beijing Conference, as well as the Beijing +5 and Beijing +10 reviews.
Ms. Dugal has authored published articles, statements and papers.
Diane Ala’i, Representative (Geneva)
Diane Ala’i has held the position of Representative to the United Nations for the Baha'i International Community at the United Nations Office in Geneva since 1992. In this position, she has participated in numerous sessions of United Nations organs such as the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and its Working Groups, the UN treaty monitoring bodies and other UN mechanisms, as well as the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She headed the delegation of the Baha'i International Community at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 and was a member of the delegation at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.
Ms. Ala'i is currently Chair of the NGO Sub-Committee on Freedom of Religion and Belief (Geneva), Vice-Chair of the Committee on Racism and Racial Discrimination and participates actively in the Special Committee of International NGOs on Human Rights. She has also collaborated with the UN as a consultant for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Technical Cooperation in Armenia in November 1997, training national NGOs in human rights machinery.
Ms. Ala'i holds post-graduate degrees in International Relations from the Institut d’Études des Relations Internationales in Paris and from the Institut Européen des Hautes Études Internationales in Nice. She also holds degrees from the International Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Geneva Peace Research Institute.
Ming Hwee Chong, Representative (New York)
Ming Hwee Chong is a Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.
Prior to this, he led business development for various organizations including an IT firm, a startup specializing in mobile technologies, and a global consultancy. He also served on the national governing council of the Baha'is of Singapore, and was the community’s Director of Diplomatic Affairs.
Born in Singapore, Mr. Chong holds a Bachelors degree in Computing from the National University of Singapore. While at NUS, he also completed an 18-month entrepreneurial stint in Silicon Valley that included programs at the Stanford Center for Professional Development.
Mr. Chong has also served as a facilitator for inter-faith/inter-ethnic dialogues in Singapore and led service projects in Cambodia and Timor Leste. He believes that everyone has the capacity to take charge of their own spiritual, social and intellectual development, and is actively involved in community building efforts to help raise this capacity.
Daniel Perell, Alternate Representative (New York)
Daniel Perell joined the Baha'i International Community’s New York Office as an Alternate Representative in 2011. He focuses primarily, though not exclusively, on human rights. Daniel received a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in 2010 and is admitted to the New York State Bar Association. Prior to joining the Baha'i International Community, Daniel worked with the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, monitoring and reporting on human rights treaty bodies and the Human Rights Council. He also worked with the United Nations on ex-combatant reintegration and medium-term governmental planning in Aceh, Indonesia. In 2010, Daniel conducted field research in Cairo on the situation of the Baha'is in Egypt.
Simin Fahandej, Alternate Representative (Geneva)
Simin Fahandej joined the Baha’i International Community’s Office in Geneva in January 2011. Her work focuses primarily on human rights. Ms. Fahandejsadi has served as a Baha'i International Community delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She also supported the Principal Representative in her work with the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) campaign.
In 2010, Ms. Fahandej became involved with the Major Group for Children and Youth, an international network of youth delegates facilitating the input of young people into the Commission on Sustainable Development. In addition, she held the position of editor-in-chief on the International Youth Council’s planning committee for the 7th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations. From 2008-2010, she worked as a journalist at various news outlets, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Ms. Fahandej holds a combined honors degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of King’s College in Canada.
- Sarah Vader, 2007-2013
- May Akale, 2011-2012
- Tahirih Naylor, 2006-2010
- Fulya Vekiloglu, 2006-2009
- Bahiyyih Chaffers, 2003 - 2005
- Nikoo Mahboubian, 1997 – 2002
- Techeste Ahderom, 1991 – 2001
- Lawrence Arturo, 1989 – 2001
- Gianni Ballerio, 1989 – 2002
- Daniel Wegener, 1988 - 1993
- Wytze Bos, 1987 - 1993
- Paul Ojermark, 1984 – 1988
- Machid Fatio, 1981 – 1999
- Gerald Knight, 1979 – 1988
- Mary Sawicki Power, 1975 – 1997
- Mr. Will C. van den Hoonaard 1975 - 1980
- Victor de Araujo, 1967 – 1991
- Mildred Mottahedeh, 1945 - 1967