Exchange 20 Leveraging New Media to Enable Everyone

Broadcast on July 10, 2012
With Shamil Idriss

Shamil Idriss

CEO, Search for Common Ground

Shamil Idriss is CEO of Search for Common Ground (Search), a global organization that equips people to collaborate across lines of conflict and supports communities to prevent and recover from violence. With more than 650 staff and thousands more partners and volunteers working through offices in more than 30 countries, Search is the largest dedicated peacebuilding organization in the world. It was recently nominated by the Quakers for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2016, describing Search for Common Ground’s impact, then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “your work in Burundi helped to prevent genocide . . . and during the Iran [nuclear] talks, the fresh ideas you provided helped us to achieve a breakthrough.”

For over 20 years, Shamil has worked in multiple conflict settings fostering respect and understanding at the popular level while facilitating effective dialogue among top political and opposition leaders. He helped pioneer the use of interactive communications technology to reduce tensions between communities. As CEO of Soliya from 2008 to 2013 he led a public-private sector coalition to establish the field of virtual exchanges. This led to President Obama’s announcement in 2015 of the creation of the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative, and to the European Union’s creation and funding in 2017 of the Erasmus+Virtual Exchange Project.

In 2004 Shamil helped establish and served on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders. He was appointed in 2005 by UN Secretary-General Annan as Deputy Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

Shamil is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders and a recipient of a 2015 New Executive Award from the Open Society Foundations. He was named by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Jordan in their 2011 publication "500 Most Influential Muslims." He regularly briefs senior political and private sector leaders and serves as a keynote speaker or commentator on peace, security, and managing conflict in an increasingly interconnected world.