Dr Dwayne Ryan Menezes is the Founder and Director of Polar Research and Policy Initiative, where he is responsible for overall management, business development, government relations and strategic partnerships. He also serves as the Unit Lead for its Geopolitics and Security Unit and its Small States Engagement Forum.
Dr Menezes has long pursued a career at the intersection of academia, policy, social entrepreneurship and the arts. In his academic career, he is a historian of the British Empire and the Commonwealth, with a focus on the role of indigenous actors in travel and exploration, imperial administration and Christian missions. He read History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Cambridge, graduating from the latter with a PhD in History. He also served as Research Associate at the Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR) at the University of Cambridge; Visiting Academic at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford; and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London. At present, he serves as Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and Honorary Fellow at the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London.
In his policy career, Dr Menezes has served as Consultant to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Principal Consultant to the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Head of the Secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yemen in the UK Parliament, and Research Associate to a UN Special Rapporteur. At the Commonwealth, he served as the principal historian for the official 50-year histories and reviews of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Office of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and continues to provide research and analysis, as and when requested, to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the wider Commonwealth family. At the European Parliament, he was the lead researcher for the Intergroup’s annual reports on the state of religious freedom around the world. Within the UN system, Dr Menezes was a member of the interdisciplinary research team at the Cambridge-based CGHR that prepared the study Unlawful Killings in Africa (Cambridge, 2014) for the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Dr Menezes served as the Principal Investigator looking into the use of excessive force in the context of mass demonstrations. Information presented in the study formed the basis of the UN Special Rapporteur’s report to the UN Secretary-General and UN General Assembly (A/69/265), and the study served as the founding document for a newly-established unit at the University of Pretoria.
Dr Menezes is also the Founder and Director of the Westminster-based international affairs think-tank Human Security Centre (HSC). Over his tenure as Director, he has served as the Principal Coordinator of PRISM, a Europe-wide consortium of think-tanks and universities working to address radicalisation within the EU. He has also liaised with various governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental actors in advancing human security and protecting and preserving cultural heritage under threat in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2014, he initiated the widely-publicised letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling for urgent action to protect religious and ethnic minorities under threat in Iraq and Syria, that was co-signed by the Prince of the Yazidis and several British Lords, MPs and prominent media figures. In 2015, he was one of the 25 UK delegates at the UK-Egypt High-Level Experts Meeting on ‘Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage’ in Cairo organised by the AHRC (UK) and STDF (Egypt) to explore ways of combating the looting and illegal trafficking of stolen antiquities. He also contributed to the HSC report aimed at informing the UK Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review and National Security Strategy; chaired a panel discussion in the House of Lords – hosted by Lord Alton and the APPG on International Religious Freedom – about recognising the atrocities in Iraq and Syria as constituting genocide; surveyed the history of the engagement of Commonwealth Secretaries-General with human rights for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; and chaired a session at the UN Human Rights Council on global supply chains in the electronics industry and human rights.
Under his leadership, HSC also contributed to the negotiation process and side events at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris that led to the Paris Agreement, whereafter he was invited by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General to attend the Paris Climate Change Agreement Ratification Ceremony at UNGA71 in New York as a Civil Society Observer. Until recently, he also sat on the Management Committee of the UK Polar Network (UKPN) – the UK branch of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). In addition, he and his colleagues have been frequently consulted for analysis and commentary by the BBC, Channel 4, Sky News, Al Jazeera, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Evening Standard, International Business Times, Spectator, DW, Arctic Journal, Arctic Deeply and other media outlets. Formerly, Dr Menezes also served as Researcher at the Westminster-based social policy think-tank ResPublica, as Governor of a Church of England School in London, and as Director of a development NGO in India.
Within the arts, Dr Menezes is the Founder and Director of Think-Film Impact Production (TFIP), a film production company which supports established and emerging filmmakers by producing and promoting films that address social and political issues and advance positive social outcomes. He is the Associate Producer of the Oscar-shortlisted, Emmy-nominated film My Enemy, My Brother (2015, 2017) that deals with refugees from Iraq and Iran; the documentary COMPLICIT (2017) that looks at occupational health issues in China; and the forthcoming film 28 (2017) that focuses on the numbered gangs of South Africa. At present, he is working on films set in Finland, Canada and Venezuela. Apart from academia and politics, Dr Menezes is passionate about travel, exploration, art, museums, heritage conservation, opera, ballet and equestrian sports. He has travelled extensively in over 60 countries in 5 continents, including Greenland and 7 of the 8 Arctic states.