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 and social entrepreneurship. 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 then served as Visiting Academic at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford and as 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.
In his political career, Dr Menezes currently serves as Consultant at the European Parliament and the Commonwealth. At the first, he is Principal Consultant to the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance. At the second, he served until recently as Consultant to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and continues to provide research and analysis, as and when requested, to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the wider Commonwealth family. He is also the Head of the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Yemen in the UK Parliament, and sits on the Management Committee of the UK Polar Network (UKPN) – the UK branch of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) – where his role involves engaging with polar researchers in the social sciences and the humanities, and representing UKPN at political conferences.
Dr Menezes is also the Founder and Director of the Westminster-based international affairs think-tank Human Security Centre (HSC). During his tenure as Director, the 32-member team at HSC has produced more than 300 digital publications, submitted written evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords Select Committee inquiries on 6 occasions, featured prominently in 4 Lords and Commons reports, and provided the secretariat for the APPG on Yemen. Dr Menezes also represents HSC in its engagement with a range of intergovernmental organisations, including the EU, Commonwealth, NATO, IMF and various specialised agencies of the UN. Over his tenure, 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, and joined the New York Times and the Red Cross as co-sponsors of the short documentary My Enemy, My Brother (Fathom Film Group, 2015) that was shortlisted for an Academy Award (Oscar). 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 and other media outlets.
Dr Menezes 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 forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review and National Security Strategy. In 2016, Dr Menezes moderated a panel discussion in the House of Lords – hosted by Lord Alton and the APPG on International Religious Freedom – on the status of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria; surveyed the history of the engagement of Commonwealth Secretaries-General with human rights for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; and served as principal coordinator of PRISM, a Europe-wide consortium of think-tanks and academic institutions working to address radicalisation within the EU.
In the past, Dr Menezes was a member of the interdisciplinary research team at the Cambridge-based Centre of Governance and Human Rights (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. 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.
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.