Common Action Forum

The Common Action Forum (CAF) is a transnational, non-profit organization established in Madrid, Spain in 2015 [BOE]. It acts as a global progressive network, bringing together prominent and emerging experts from diverse backgrounds, including academia, politics, media, civil society, the arts and journalism.

CAF’s mission is to establish and encourage independent platforms of cooperation, research, innovation and advisory in order to shape alternative solutions and empower global citizens to address today’s challenges, such as the rise of neo-fascist politics, the increase of economic inequalities, the social impacts of technology and the environmental limits of the planet. The Foundation advocates for the collective design of global strategies and new frameworks that champion progressive values.

Wadah Khanfar, former Director General of Al Jazeera Network, and ranked in the first category of Foreign Policy‘s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2011, serves as CAF’s President. CAF enjoys the support of an accomplished Advisory Board, with members including: Javier Solana, former Secretary General of the NATO; Celso Amorim, nominated as world’s best Foreign Minister by Foreign Policy in 2009; John Ralston Saul, award-winning intellectual and former President of PEN International; and other similarly renowned leaders hailing from various regions and fields. CAF’s executive leadership is guided by its Co-Founder, Rafael Heiber.

The Forum supports long term projects as a strategy to develop a solid platform for digital citizenship and research, which also provides the opportunity to build collaborative relationships with several organisations worldwide. CAF leads projects including the Refugees Map and liQen, as well as works as a partner in other initiatives including SYMUN, OCTAL and the 19MillionProject. These projects thrive thanks to the participation and/or support of the United Nations, the European Commission, Google Labs, BBC News Labs, the Technical University of Madrid, Berkeley University and others.

Finally, each year an annual event is celebrated in Madrid to debate a range of societal issues, providing a network to deliver feasible solutions. Around forty experts and relevant actors take part in this two-day event, composed of round-table sessions available via live-stream.

Organization Chart

Board of Trustees

Wadah Khanfar

President & Co-founder

Rafael Heiber

Executive Director & Co-founder

Fernando Ron Martín

Secretary of the Board

Thembisa Fakude

Deputy Chairman

Bilaal Hoosein

Member of the Board

Advisory Board

Arlene Clemesha

Arlene Clemesha is a Professor of Arab History and Director of the Arab Center for Studies at São Paulo University. She is also a commentator at the Brazilian television channel ‘TV Cultura’. She holds a Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Economic History from the São Paulo University and is also coordinating committee member of the United Nations International Coordinating Network on Palestine (ICNP -UN). Clemesha has written multiple books regarding the Middle East and the Arab culture, especially focusing in the Palestinian situation and the Israeli question. She has designed a course in her university called “History of Modern Palestine” and is focusing part of her class impartment in the analysis of the Brazil-Middle East relationships, especially economically.

Ayo Obe

Ayo Obe is a legal practitioner and partner in the Lagos-based law firm, OgunsolaShonibare. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Laws from the University College Cardiff and a master’s degree in Laws from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. Ms. Obe chairs the Board of Trustees of the Gorée Institute (Senegal) and is Co-Vice Chair of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. She also served as Chair of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy from 2004 to April 2008. She has additionally participated as a member of the International Advisory Group of the Managing Global Insecurity Project of the Brookings Institution, New York and Stanford Universities.

Celso Amorim

Celso Amorim studied international relations at the Rio Branco Institute and received his postgraduate degree from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in 1967. After completing his education and returning to Rio de Janeiro, he was sent to the United Kingdom to serve as the Brazilian Ambassador. A career diplomat, Mr. Amorim has held many positions in Brazilian government and public institutions, such as Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brazil Ambassador, and Brazilian representative at the United Nations as part of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations. Moreover, he served on panels of the UN Security Council once during his residence as ambassador to the UN. He was named the “world’s best foreign minister” by Foreign Policy magazine blogger David Rothkopf in 1999.

Eduardo Barcesat

Eduardo Barcesat is an Argentinian lawyer specializing in human rights law, who serves as a Human Rights Advisor of the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). He received his BA in law from the University of Buenos Aires in 1962 and in 1967 earned his Doctorate in Law and Social Sciences. Prior to earning his doctorate, he served as professor at the University of Buenos Aires in 1965, but was forced to stop teaching from 1966 until 1984, due to a series of military dictatorships. With the return of democracy in 1984, he reengaged in his teaching career and has since taught at many institutions promoting law in education. Author of multiple essays, articles and books on human rights, he is also founding member of the American Association of Jurists.

Emad El-Din Shahin

Emad El-Din Shahin is the Dean of the College of Islamic Studies (CIS), Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation. Before joining CIS, he was  Hasib Sabbagh Distinguished Visiting Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies and a visiting professor of Political Science at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Shahin holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, M.A. and BA from the American University in Cairo. He has taught in leading universities including Harvard, Notre Dame, George Washington, and Boston University. His research and teaching interests focus on Islam and Politics Comparative Politics, Democracy and Political Reform in Muslim societies, and Political Economy of the Middle East.

Javier Solana

Javier Solana is a Spanish physicist and former Secretary General of NATO. Solana currently serves as Chairman of the Aspen Institute in Spain, Distinguished Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and Advisor to the Institute of Modern International Relations of Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is also a member of the Board of the International Crisis Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations, Criteria Caixa, La Caixa Banking Foundation, and the International Advisory Board of BP. Finally, he is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, and received an honorary degree from the institution in December of 2010.

John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul is an award-winning essayist and novelist. A long-time champion of freedom of expression, he served as President of PEN International from October 2009 to October 2015. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the McGill University in Political Science and History and received his Ph.D. from King’s College, University of London. Saul has concentrated his writings on the critique of modern society and the influence and misinterpretation of reason and technocracy as a substitute for humanity. He also focuses on how modern political leaders have wrongly combined political science, leadership and military strategy into modern social political life. Saul has written an extensive amount of articles, essays and books but his most renowned masterpiece is considered to be “The Unconscious Civilization.”

Executive members

* Listed in a chronological order

Rafael Heiber

Co-founder & Executive Director

Mercedes Bellavista

Logistics Manager

Maribel Mateos

Regional Communications Manager

Andrés Lomeña

Program Associate

Romualdo Días

Professorial Research Associate

Vanessa Arelle

Strategic and Creative Associate

Patricio Cabello

Research Associate 

Konstantina Kostami

Research Associate

Fabio Pradera

Program Assistant and SYMUN

Colleen Boland

Development Manager

Beatriz Tomé

Program Associate

Sara Liaño

Program Assistant

Cristian Hernández

Data Scientist Associate

Sofia Gohlke

Program Assistant and SYMUN

Carlos Saito

Developer Trainee

Rafael Moya

Global Alliance Manager


Address: Calle Claudio Coello, 5, 28001 Madrid (Spain) Phone: +34 910 175 850