About us

 

Our Vision

All human beings “have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization,” according to the sacred scriptures of the Baha'i Faith.

The notion that every nation, community, and person has a part to play in building a peaceful and prosperous global society is central to the work of the Baha'i International Community’s offices.
 
Our efforts seek to reflect this vision and are informed by a number of related convictions:
  • That humanity is in the midst of an ongoing process of spiritual, moral, social, and scientific development.
  • That it stands today at the threshold of a new stage of global connection and interdependence.
  • That the hallmark of this stage will be growing awareness of the oneness of humankind—a principle that will come to infuse all facets of organized life.

 

Who We Are

The Baha'i International Community represents the worldwide Baha'i community, whose members come from every national, ethnic, religious, cultural, and socio-economic background, representing a cross-section of humanity.

Active in various global fora, the Baha’i International Community maintains United Nations offices in New York and Geneva, as well as regional offices in Addis Ababa, Brussels, and Jakarta. The Baha’i International Community registered with the UN as an NGO in 1948 and currently has  consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as accreditation with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). The Baha’i International Community collaborates with the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as member states, inter- and non-governmental organizations, academia, and practitioners.
Viewing global advancement primarily through the lens of capacity building, we seek the empowerment of increasingly larger segments of humanity to work effectively toward the spiritual and material betterment of all. Toward this end, we offer insights from the Baha’i teachings and the experience of the worldwide Baha’i community in trying to put those insights into practice in support of efforts to address global challenges.

 

Our Approach

The work of our offices can be broadly described in terms of contributing to policy discourses at the international level. This involves collaborating with individuals, groups, and organizations in a variety of social spaces where thought, public opinion, and policy take form and evolve. Our aim is to contribute to the collective shaping of attitudes needed to advance global prosperity and justice.

Collaboration and collective inquiry are therefore vital to our efforts. Co-organizing events, drafting text together, and participating in committees are forms such partnership can take. Yet equally important to us is exploring questions and challenges with others.
How, for example, can broad segments of humanity more meaningfully contribute to the construction of flourishing societies? How will relationships between individuals, communities, and institutions need to be reimagined to more effectively contribute to social progress? How can global efforts be infused with a compelling vision of human prosperity that gives rise to a sense of common purpose?

By fostering such conversations, our offices hope to help generate knowledge and new perspectives on global challenges. But we also seek to contribute at the level of culture and process. Practicing collaborative decision-making; shaping efforts around a process of action, consultation, and reflection; functioning in a mode of learning; building unity while valuing diversity—these are some of the operating principles of our work.

 

Representatives to the United Nations
and Regional Organizations

Bani Dugal

Principal Representative
United Nations, New York
Bio info.

Bani Dugal

Principal Representative
United Nations, New York

Bani Dugal is the Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the UN. As part of the community of international NGOs at the UN since 1994, she is currently serving on the Steering Committee of the NGO Working Group on the Security Council. She has served as President of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, as co-facilitator of the NGO Working Group on UN Access, co-facilitator of the GEAR campaign (Gender Equality Architecture Reform), Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, and Chair of the Global Forum of the NGO Committee on UNICEF and member of the Steering Committee of the NGO Committee on UNICEF’s Working Group on Girls, Convenor of the NGO Committee on UNIFEM and Convenor of the Advocates for African Food Security.

Ms. Dugal 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. She has authored published articles, statements, and papers. Prior to relocating to the U.S. in 1988, she practiced law before the Supreme Court of India.

Among the many high-level events in which she was speaker or participated in another capacity, are: World Bank Faith Initiative (2015), UN Women Intergenerational Dialogue Day at the 59th CSW/Beijing+20 (2015), the World Economic Forum (2015, 2005), Ministerial Level panel on The Civil Society and the Education on Human Rights as a tool for promoting religious tolerance (2012), the International Inter-religious Conference on Faith in Human Rights in The Hague (2008), and the Conference commemorating the UN Declaration on Religious Tolerance and Non-Discrimination (2006), the Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace – hosted by the Tripartite Forum comprised of 17 Member States, the World Bank, UNESCO, the UN DESA and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations (2005).

Techeste Ahderom

Representative
Addis Ababa Office
Bio info.

Techeste Ahderom

Representative
Addis Ababa Office

Techeste Ahderom is the Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s Regional Office in Addis Ababa. Prior to this position, Prof. Ahderom was the UNDP Technical Advisor in Eritrea and Uganda. From 1990-2001, he was Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s Office in New York. During this time, he served as Co-Chair of the UN Millennium Forum and Chair of the International NGO Committee on Human Rights, among others. From 1984-2001, Prof. Ahderom was Chief Urban Planner and General Manager of the National Urban Planning Institute in Addis Ababa. He has also served as President and Professor of Urban Planning at Asmara University in Eritrea. Prof. Ahderom holds Master degrees in Architecture and City Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Building Engineering.

Diane Ala’i

Representative
United Nations, Geneva
Bio info.

Diane Ala’i

Representative
United Nations, Geneva

Ms. Diane Ala’i has been a Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s United Nations Office in Geneva since 1992. Ms. Ala’i has participated in numerous sessions of the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Council (and its predecessor, the former Commission on Human Rights and its Sub-Commission) and UN treaty monitoring bodies, as well as the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993) and the Third World Conference Against Racism in Durban (2001) where she served as head of the delegation. She has participated as invited expert in many consultations held by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the European Union, the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, as well as at the UN Forum on Minorities in 2013 and 2014. She has contributed an article on “Religious minorities and the death penalty – the case of the Bahá'í religious minority” in a publication entitled On Death Penalty in Iran (2015). Ms. Ala'i is Chair of the NGO Sub-Committee on Freedom of Religion and Belief (Geneva). Ms. Ala'i holds postgraduate degrees in International Relations from the Institut d’Études des Relations Internationales (Paris) the Institut Européen des Hautes Études Internationales (Nice). She also holds degrees from the International Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Geneva Peace Research Institute.

Rachel Bayani

Representative
Brussels Office
Bio info.

Rachel Bayani

Representative
Brussels Office

Rachel Bayani is Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s Regional Office in Brussels, having joined the office in 2013. Since 2004, Ms. Bayani has worked as a justice and home affairs counselor for the Permanent Representation of Luxembourg to the European Union, dealing mainly with asylum and migration issues. Prior to that, she served in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and with the peacekeeping mission there. Ms. Bayani has also served with the EU’s police mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina and with the UN good offices mission in Cyprus, dealing with legal affairs. A citizen of Luxembourg, Ms. Bayani holds a law degree from the University of Sorbonne in Paris and a Master’s in international law from Cambridge University.

Chong Ming Hwee

Representative
Jakarta Office
Bio info.

Chong Ming Hwee

Representative
Jakarta Office

Chong Ming Hwee represents the Baha'i International Community in Southeast Asia. Based in Jakarta, he actively supports the realization of the ASEAN Community and its ever increasing levels of integration by offering insights and experience of the Baha'i Community, especially from the region, to help meet the challenges and to realize the great promise offered by this growing interdependence. As BIC’s representative to the United Nations from 2011 to 2014, Mr. Chong worked on issues including sustainable development and UN’s post-2015 development agenda. He has held leadership positions on numerous civil society networks and been invited to address issues such as empowerment, inequalities, education, and policy coherence. Born in Singapore, Mr. Chong holds an Honors degree in Computing from the National University of Singapore.

Simin Fahandej

Representative
United Nations, Geneva
Bio info.

Simin Fahandej

Representative
United Nations, Geneva

Simin Fahandej is a Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s United Nations Office in Geneva, having joined the Office in 2011. Her work focuses primarily on human rights. Ms. Fahandej 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 has also been involved with the Major Group for Children and Youth, including as editor-in-chief on the Planning Committee for the 7th Annual Youth Assembly at the UN. Prior to joining the Baha'i International Community, Ms. Fahandej 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.

Daniel Perell

Representative
United Nations, New York
Bio info.

Daniel Perell

Representative
United Nations, New York

Daniel Perell joined the Baha'i International Community’s United Nations Office as a Representative in 2011. His areas of work include social and sustainable development, global citizenship, human rights, the role of religion in society, and defense of the Baha'i Community. He is currently a Global Organizing Partner of the NGO Major Group and the Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development. In 2010, Mr. Perell received a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law and an MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and was admitted to the New York State Bar Association. Mr. Perell has worked with the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, the UN in Aceh, Indonesia and other organizations in the Marshall Islands and Chile.


Serik Tokbolat

Representative
United Nations, New York
Bio info.

Serik Tokbolat

Representative
United Nations, New York

Serik Tokbolat is pursuing his PhD in Energy and Process Engineering in Norway. As a complement to his academic endeavors, he is bringing his research interest in sustainability to bear on contributions towards development discourses at the international level. As a representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, he closely follows the Post 2015 development agenda, the Commission for Social Development and other sustainable development processes. Born in Kazakhstan, Mr. Tokbolat holds a Masters degree in Civil Engineering and Management from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Dorothy Sabet

Alternate Representative
United Nations, Geneva
Bio info.

Dorothy Sabet

Alternate Representative
United Nations, Geneva

Dorothy Sabet joined the Baha’i International Community’s Office in Geneva in March 2015. Her Master degree in International Relations and Human Rights has brought her to focus on human rights and peace and security, among other topics, from the local to the international scale. Dorothy holds bi-national bachelor and master degrees from the University of Torino and Sciences Po Bordeaux, focusing on International Politics. Born in Italy, she graduated with honors in 2015 after discussing the Master thesis concerning: “The Responsibility to Protect Human Rights, shifts in Peacekeeping practices and norms”.

Saphira Rameshfar

Representative
United Nations, New York
Bio info.

Saphira Rameshfar

Representative
United Nations, New York

Saphira Rameshfar is a Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s UN Office in New York. Prior to this, Saphira was at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs headquarters in New York working on capacity development policy. As an Australian, she worked for the Australian Federal Government Department of Agriculture on international trade negotiations and market strategy for Australian agricultural exports. Ms. Rameshfar dedicated three years to projects aimed at the empowerment of youth in Australia as well as in communities throughout the Asia Pacific region and North and South America. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Economics, Research Degree in Ecology, Postgraduate qualifications in Public Administration, and Governance as well as a Masters of International Law (Australian National University).

   

 

History

From the earliest days of the Baha’i Faith in the mid-1800s, Baha’is have contributed to processes of global governance. With the founding of the League of Nations, Baha'is began to establish more formal relations with international organizations.Over the past 70 years, Baha’is have supported and contributed to UN efforts in the areas of social and sustainable development, gender equality, human rights, and UN reform, among others. The Baha’i International Community is also coming to play a more active part in discussions at the regional level and, to this end, has established offices in Addis Ababa, Brussels, and Jakarta.

“The human race, as a distinct, organic unit, has passed through evolutionary stages analogous to the stages of infancy and childhood in the lives of its individual members, and is now in the culminating period of its turbulent adolescence approaching its long-awaited coming of age.”

—The Promise of World Peace