Scientific Committee

photo Silvia ALMENARA


PhD in Gender Studies

Silvia Almenara Niebla is a postdoc researcher in the ERC project “Reel Borders” at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. She holds a Ph.D. in Gender Studies from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Canary Islands).

Her thesis focuses on the influence of digital technologies on everyday social relations in the Sahrawi diaspora (refugee camps in Tindouf, Mauritania, and Spain). Her main areas of research are feminist media studies, digital diaspora studies, and the emotional approach of belonging and diasporic consciousness in contexts of protracted forced displacements.

Her main publications are: “Connected Sahrawi refugee diaspora in Spain: Gender, social media and digital transnational gossip” (2020) and “Making digital ‘home-camps’: Mediating emotions among the Sahrawi refugee diaspora” (2020) for which she won the prize for the best emerging research paper in the Diaspora, Media and Migration section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association).

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Professor in International Relations

Isaías Barreñada Bajo is currently Professor of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid.

His research focuses on conflicts in the Maghreb and the Near/Middle East region, particularly in Palestine and Western Sahara, and in the foreign policy of the European Union and Spain. He coordinated with Raquel Ojeda the book Sahara Occidental 40 años después (La Catarata 2016) and he is the author of several works on the recent history of Western Sahara, social movements and the question of identity. He is also active in the associative field of international solidarity and the defense of human rights in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Photo Marjorie Beulay(1)

Marjorie BEULAY

Lecturer in Public Law

Marjorie Beulay holds a PhD in International Public Law from the University of Paris Nanterre and is currently Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Picardie Jules Verne.

Her work initially focused on the applicability of human rights to international organizations and more generally on various themes of international and European law, but also on fundamental freedoms. As an assistant judge appointed by the UNHCR to the National Court of Asylum in France since 2016, her research also extends to different legal aspects of the migration issue such as encampment or the relationship to borders.

In 2019, she was the scientific director of the multidisciplinary colloquium Western Sahara – new developments of on an ancient question, bringing together lawyers, anthropologists, historians, politicians and field workers in Amiens.




Lecturer in Anthropology

Mark Drury is a political and legal anthropologist, historian of decolonization, and scholar of northwest Africa, whose research addresses sovereignty and self-determination, human rights and political conflict, and borders and mobility.

He received his PhD from the Anthropology Program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and is currently a Lecturer in Anthropology at Princeton University. Through fieldwork conducted in Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and the disputed territory of Western Sahara, his work examines the regional legacies of unresolved decolonization, focusing on three, distinct periods: the 1950s, 70s, and the contemporary moment.

Having witnessed firsthand repression faced by Sahrawis in Laâyoune, Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, he has also provided expert testimony for asylum cases pertaining to the Western Sahara conflict in US immigration court.

Irène Ferandez Molina


Senior Lecturer in International Relations

Irene Fernández-Molina is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on the international relations of the countries of the global South, the foreign policies of dependent and/or authoritarian states, conflicts and the constructivist theory of international relations (international socialization, practices, recognition), with a regional specialization on the Maghreb, as well as EU foreign policy and Euro-Mediterranean relations.

Her work has been published in journals such as Review of International Studies, International Political Sociology, Mediterranean Politics and Nationalities Papers. She has studied Western Sahara as a frozen conflict, a ‘contested state’, as a case of international and transnational recognition policies, as well as Morocco’s foreign and internal policies on the issue, the EU’s approach and internal Sahrawi activism.

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PhD in Human Rights

She holds a degree in Law from the University of Deusto and a PhD in Human Rights earned at the same University. She has a solid background in research, both in scientific production and in research management, as well as teaching experience in the Faculty of Law of the UPV-EHU.

The focus of her research is on the conflict in Western Sahara, which she has addressed from different perspectives including that of Local Human Development and gender equality, but mainly from the perspective of human rights, specifically from the rights of victims of forced disappearance, and transitional justice.

Her thesis on Truth, justice and reparation processes for victims of forced disappearance in Western Sahara received the Brunet Award in 2017. She also focuses on the emerging possibilities and potential application of new technologies to the promotion and advocacy of Human Rights. She has coordinated the Cluster on Human Rights and New Technologies in the EMA MA in the Global Campus (Lido) and has worked for several years on international projects at the Faculty of Engineering Faculty in the University of Deusto.

She applies an interdisciplinary approach to improve protection systems and to develop innovative human rights protection tools. She is currently the project manager of the Gearing Roles Project (H2020).

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Professor in Translation and Interpreting

Bachir Mahyub Rayaa holds a master’s degree with a research profile in Arabic-Spanish-English Translation and Interpreting and Arabic-Spanish-English Interpreting from the University of Granada (UGR). He obtained his PhD with a research Project on the teaching and professional practice of Arabic-Spanish simultaneous interpreting in Spain and the Arab world. Bachir Mahyub Rayaa is a member of the ECIS (ECIS (Evaluación de la Calidad en Interpretación Simultánea) research group.

His latest publications include the follwing articles: “Impacto emocional de la interpretación de enlace en contextos de asilo: La percepcioón de los intérpretes de árabe-español” published in the Revista Internacional de Humanidades 4 (2023), “Linguistic-Cultural Mediation in Asylum and Refugee Settings and Its Emotional Impact on Arabic-Spanish Interpreters” published in the European Journal of Investigation in Health Psychology and Education AA (2021) and “La incidencia de la asimetría en la práctica profesional de la interpretación simultánea árabe-español” (2023).

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Professor in Translation and Interpreting

Rocío Medina Martín graduated in law from the University of Seville. She holds a Masters in social anthropology and a doctorate in “Human rights and development” with a doctoral thesis entitled “Experiences and organization of Sahrawi women from decolonial feminisms ”(Pablo de Olavide University, 2016).

After twelve years as a university professor in fields such as philosophy of law, human rights and gender, she is currently a postdoctoral professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Law of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and member of the “Antígona: Derecho y Sociedad” research group at the same university.

Her lines of research and publications cover topics related to critical theories of human rights, academic activism, feminisms and decolonial epistemologies. Much of her work has been done with immigrant rights groups in Spain, with internally displaced people in Colombia, with Sahrawi refugees, and with sex workers in Spain.

Jeffrey Smith - Photo

Jeffrey SMITH

Professor in Law and Human Security Policy

Dr. Jeffrey Smith teaches law and human security policy at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Ottawa.  He was counsel to the United Nations in East Timor (Timor-Leste) during that country’s transition to independence, and remains a practicing lawyer.  Dr. Smith has been involved with the ‘question’ of Western Sahara for almost two decades.  His research activities include human rights protection of the Saharawi people under occupation, the territorial and colonial status of Western Sahara, statehood of the Saharawi Republic (the SADR), historic and current international crimes in the territory, and the role of the United Nations.  He has presented on Western Sahara at conferences in Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.  Dr. Smith otherwise writes about global ocean issues including the effectiveness of environmental protection  in the polar regions.

Ruan Soroeta


Professor of International Law

Professor of International Public Law at the University of the Basque Country, Juan Soroeta Liceras is also President of AIODH (Asociación Internacional para la Observación de los Derechos Humanos), on whose behalf he attends trials against Saharawi human rights activists as an international observer. Juan Soroeta Liceras is also President of the Francisco de Vitoria Institute of International Studies in the Basque Country, Director of the Human Rights Courses at Donostia-San Sebastian and Co-Direction of the International Law and International Relations Courses at Vitoria Gasteiz.

His research focuses on the Western Sahara conflict, migration, autonomy, and conflict resolution. His latest publications include the following articles: “Is autonomy the solution to the Western Sahara conflict?” published in the Spanish Yearbook of International Law 26 (2022) and “Por qué la integración en Marruecos (la autonomía no es la forma de resolver el conflicto (la descolonización) del Sáhara Occidental” published in the Revista Española de Derecho Internacional 74 (2023).



Lecturer in Anthropology

Judit Tavakoli is a cultural anthropologist based at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany and is a member of the German solidarity association “Freiheit für die Westsahara”.

Her doctoral dissertation investigates the importance of cultural politics within the Western Sahara conflict and the impact of material resources on collective identity formation through the case of the Sahrawi refugee society in Algeria.

Her doctoral thesis is based on ethnographic fieldwork in Algeria, Morocco and Western Sahara conducted between 2007 and 2011. It is published in German (Zwischen Zelten und Häusern. Die Bedeutung materieller Ressourcen für den Wandel von Identitätskonzepten saharauischer Flücthlinge in Algerien. regioSPECTRA 2015).

Her current research explores political self-conceptions and forms of activism among Sahrawi youth in Germany.

Zoubir Yahia


Professor in International Studies

Yahia H. Zoubir is Senior Professor of International Studies and Director of Research in Geopolitics at KEDGE Business School, France.

Prior to joining KEDGE in 2005, he taught at multiple universities in the United States, and was a visiting faculty member at various universities in China, Europe, the United States, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and the Middle East and North Africa.

He serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals.  His numerous publications include many books, such as Algerian Politics: Domestic Issues & International Relations (Routledge 2020), North African Politics: Change and Continuity (2016); Building a New Silk Road: China & the Middle East in the 21st Century (2014); Global Security Watch—The Maghreb: Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia (2013); North Africa: Politics, Region, and the Limits of Transformation (Routledge, 2008), etc. His scholarly articles, have been published in academic journals, such as Journal of Contemporary China, Foreign Affairs, Third World Quarterly, Mediterranean Politics, International Affairs, Africa Spectrum, Journal of North African Studies, Democratization, Middle East Journal, Arab Studies Quarterly, Africa Today, Middle East Policy, etc.

He has also contributed many book chapters and various entries in encyclopedias. In 2020, was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.

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