Bela Kapur is an independent expert on women, peace and security. Her research areas include the role of women in peace and political processes and the linkages between local and national processes, as well as transformational coalition building, agenda setting and influencing. Bela is admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales and as an attorney in New York. She holds a masters degree in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University Law Center and an LL.B from the University of Buckingham.
Bela’s work is informed by her experiences over more than two decades on conflict issues at the multilateral level. Much of this work has been undertaken with the United Nations (the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs). She has also worked with the UK's Department for International Development, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Multinational Force & Observers in the Sinai. These engagements have enabled Bela to gain direct operational experience of the nexus between human rights, politics and conflict in many conflict countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan and Sudan. In Afghanistan, Bela played a key role in the establishment of the Independent Human Rights Institution and the programme to support the advancement of women's rights. In Iraq, Bela convened the protection working group to hold the occupying powers responsible under their international humanitarian law obligations. Most recently, Bela served as the interim Women's Empowerment Adviser in the UN Support Mission in Libya and the Political Affairs Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria in Damascus. Her final major position with the UN was as Head of the Secretariat of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.
In 2013, while on special leave from the UN, Bela was the Robert Drinan S.J. Visiting Professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC, undertaking research and delivering a seminar to JD and LL.M students (Protection of Human Rights in Conflict Situations: Law and Practice).
Since resigning from the United Nations in early 2016, Bela has turned her attention to supporting local and international civil society women activists in their efforts to organise for change – including through strengthening the participation of women in peace and political processes. She has most recently been working with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Kvinna Till Kvinna in Ukraine to develop feminist agendas for peace with women activists and human rights defenders in that country – as well as Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
Bela is the sole or lead author of numerous United Nations publications including reports of the High Commissioner on Human Rights on East Timor, as well as reports of the Secretary-General on the situation of Women in Afghanistan, and, most recently, the 2015 report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.
- The Participation of Syrian Women in Political Processes 2012-2016, Literature Review, The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, May 2017.
- From War to Sustainable Peace: A Solidarity Dialogue between Ukrainian and Bosnian Women Activists, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Kvinna Till Kvinna, October 2016.
- '5 Stations on the Way to Damascus: Protecting Human Rights During and After Conflict', Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute Perspectives on Human Rights, Volume 1, Number 1, November 2014.
- Voices from Ukraine: Civil Society as A Driver of Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, September 2014.