Richard Melson

March 2006

Doha Debates

March 29th, 2006


Dr Mohamed ElBaradei

Nobel Peace Prize Winner at Doha Debates Special

As the international community questions Iran’s nuclear intentions, the Doha Debates will hear directly from Dr Mohamed ElBaradei – the top UN official monitoring Tehran’s actions. Does he believe Iran is pushing for a nuclear bomb?

DOHA, QATAR – Dr Mohamed ElBaradei - Director General of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – is at the centre of the mounting crisis over Iran and under pressure from all sides to determine Tehran’s nuclear intentions.

But on March 30th, Dr ElBaradei will be taking tough questions from Doha’s students at a Doha Debates Special event. To mark Qatar Foundation’s 10th anniversary year, the Doha Debates Specials are designed to give a student-only audience an opportunity to probe behind the headlines and directly question leading world figures.

Dr ElBaradei says, "With the perception of a growing division between the West and the Muslim world being fueled by misunderstanding and sharp rhetoric from both sides, I welcome the chance to participate in a forum that provides an important channel for open dialogue in the region. I commend this initiative of the Qatar Foundation and look forward to contributing to a better understanding of some of the divisive issues that plague our world."

Dr ElBaradei won the Nobel Peace Prize last year and is committed to diplomacy and dialogue as a way of solving international disputes. But does diplomacy have its limits – and under what circumstances can he justify using force to solve a situation? And how concerned is he that there are still major gaps in his knowledge about Iran’s nuclear programme?


Alexandra Willis, Series Producer of the Doha Debates said, ‘It’s a great honour to have such a distinguished guest on this Doha Debates Special". She added, ‘The Doha Debates form such an important platform for the exchange of ideas, with the Specials enabling experts like Dr ElBaradei and students alike to freely express their views on important international issues such as the Iran nuclear situation."

The Doha Debates Special event will take place at Qatar Foundation headquarters and will be mediated by ex-BBC HARDtalk presenter, Tim Sebastian, who has interviewed Dr ElBaradei several times before.


Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei : Director General

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization that is part of the United Nations system. He was appointed to the office effective 1 December 1997, and reappointed to a third term in September 2005.

From 1984, Dr. ElBaradei was a senior staff member of the IAEA Secretariat, holding a number of high-level policy positions, including Agency´s Legal Adviser and subsequently Assistant Director General for External Relations.

Dr. ElBaradei was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1942, son of the late Mostafa ElBaradei, a lawyer and former President of the Egyptian Bar Association. He gained a Bachelor´s degree in Law in 1962 at the University of Cairo, and a Doctorate in International Law at the New York University School of Law in 1974.

He began his career in the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964, serving on two occasions in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, in charge of political, legal and arms control issues. From 1974 to 1978 he was a special assistant to the Foreign Minister of Egypt. In 1980 he left the Diplomatic Service to join the United Nations and became a senior fellow in charge of the International Law Program at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. From 1981 to 1987 he was also an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the New York University School of Law.

During his career as diplomat, international civil servant and scholar, Dr. ElBaradei has become closely familiar with the work and processes of international organizations, particularly in the fields of international peace and security and international development. He has lectured widely in the fields of international law, international organizations, arms control and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and is the author of various articles and books on these subjects. He belongs to a number of professional associations, including the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law.

In October 2005, Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts "to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way." In addition, he has received multiple other awards for his work. These include the International Four Freedoms award from the Roosevelt Institute, the James Park Morton Interfaith Award, and the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement. Dr. ElBaradei is also the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and decorations, including a Doctorate of Laws from New York University and the Nile Collar - the highest Egyptian decoration.

Dr. ElBaradei is married to Aida Elkachef, an early childhood teacher. They have a daughter, Laila, a lawyer in private practice, and a son, Mostafa, a studio director with a television network, both of whom live and work in London, England.


To mark the 10th anniversary of Qatar Foundation, students in Doha are being given a unique opportunity to question a series of special guests about the challenges that face both world leaders and ordinary citizens in tackling some of the world’s greatest threats and problems.

The Doha Debates, a project of Qatar Foundation, have organized a series of special events with leading political figures, policymakers and those in a position to influence and inspire others that explore themes around ‘the demands of leadership’. Known as Doha Debate Specials, these events are held in front of a student audience who ask questions of the invited guests. The Specials aim to provide the students with first-hand insight into important issues and encourage them to participate with their own views and questions.

The Doha Debates Specials are intended to further Qatar Foundation's vision to provide a forum for free and open speech, where people from various backgrounds, expertise and opinion come together to share their knowledge and exchange views.

Former US President Bill Clinton was the first Doha Debate Special guest in November 2005. The second Doha Debate Special took place on February 28th on the topic of extremism and the relationship between the Muslim and Western worlds. The four panelists were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Shaykh Hamza Yusef, John Eposito and Diana Buttu.

More information can be found on the Doha Debates website:

QATAR FOUNDATION is a private, nonprofit, chartered organization committed to the principle that a nation’s greatest natural resource is its people. The foundation is headquartered in a unique Education City, which hosts numerous progressive learning institutions and centers of research, including branch campuses of five of the world’s leading universities.

For more information, please visit

For any questions or to arrange an interview please contact:

Hill & Knowlton Qatar LLC

International Public Relations and Public Affairs

Telephone: +974 413 1260

Fax: +974 413 1995

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Doha Debates


pre-Specialpressrelease.doc (0.57 MB)

Eng-Bio.doc (0.03 MB)

Baradei_portrait.jpg (0.03 MB)


Wednesday, March 29, 2006