Mar 02, 2020 by Coalition

Coalition Welcomes its New Director!

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Following an extensive international search, the Coalition for Human Rights in Development is excited to welcome longtime community rights advocate, Siddharth Akali, as its new Director.

“Siddharth has the passion and expertise to strengthen the Coalition’s members’ abilities to reinforce community struggles around the world,” says Ryan Schlief, Executive Director of IAP and a Coalition Steering Committee Member. “He understands policy and campaign actions must be led by the communities themselves.”

Siddharth is from Mumbai, India, and has over a decade of leadership experience in various settings including civil society organisations, community support, grassroots organising and business consulting. Most recently, he has worked as a lawyer for Indigenous Peoples and local communities (in India, Nepal and Canada) who are fighting to defend their environmental and human rights vis-à-vis banks, energy companies, and governments. Siddharth is an accredited mediator, an experienced facilitator and a published author, and has previously worked with the Coalition on matters related to community engagement and the Defenders in Development Campaign.

“The Coalition plays a crucial role in centering human rights in development in a coordinated manner, from the ground up to the national and international level,” says Akali.  “I’m thrilled to work with our 80-plus member organizations and numerous partners to advance our mission, and I join them in thanking Gretchen Gordon, outgoing Coordinator, for her leadership in building up the Coalition’s network, and advising me through the transition.”

The Coalition for Human Rights in Development brings together social movements, civil society organizations, and grassroots groups in collective action to ensure that development is community-led and that it respects, protects, and fulfills human rights. Key initiatives include our Community Engagement Partnerships, advocacy with development financiers and shareholder governments, and support for human rights defenders through our Defenders in Development Campaign.

“As the Coalition deepens our work to bring people together, change development, and defend human rights, we have a critical role to play in addressing the urgent challenges faced by communities and civil society groups around the world,” says Manana Kochladze, project coordinator in CEE Bankwatch Network and Coalition Steering Committee member. “We are honored and excited to benefit from Siddharth’s dedication working in intersectional community-led justice, and eager to work together with him as we build this critical work.”

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More about Siddharth

Siddharth Mohansingh Akali has over a decade of leadership experience in various settings including civil society organisations, community support, grassroots organising and business consulting.

Most recently, Siddharth has worked as a lawyer for Indigenous Peoples and local communities (in India, Nepal and Canada) who are fighting to defend their environmental and human rights vis-à-vis banks, infrastructure companies and  governments.  Through  his  various work experiences, Siddharth has supported communities to engage in litigation against and negotiations with project proponents. He has also supported communities to organise themselves, do research and identify financiers of projects that are causing harm, engage in advocacy with governments and development finance institutions (DFIs), file complaints with accountability mechanisms at DFIs, and engage in media advocacy. Siddharth has been part of several international networks and campaigns of civil society organisations working on issues related to human rights and development finance, including the Coalition for Human Rights in Development and its campaigns.

Siddharth is Secretary of the board of directors of BankTrack, an international NGO that advocates for commercial banks to be more sustainable and respect rights. He has also been active in grassroots community groups related to migrant justice, queer justice, and Indigenous solidarity.

Prior to law school, Siddharth worked as a strategic consultant on energy and environmental issues. He is an accredited mediator, an experienced facilitator and a published author.

Siddharth is from Mumbai, India. He is fluent in English and Hindi. Outside work, he finds joy in cooking, feeding the neighbourhood cats, and spending time with his family.