Caterina Ventura

Chief Executive Officer

Caterina Ventura is an international lawyer with extensive experience in a range of political, economic and human rights issues, at The Hague, in the United Nations, Human Rights and Economic Law Division, in the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. She served in Global Affairs Canada in a variety of positions from 1999 to 2021, recently as High Commissioner to Brunei, where she was responsible for country policy and programming coherence on trade, political and public affairs, consular and administration. As Senior Adviser, Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch, she was engaged in the development of the Department’s Innovation for Development policy and led its implementation through connecting social impact entrepreneurs with investors in order to provide needed goods and services to countries in development. While representing the Government of Canada at the United Nations, she formulated political strategies and advanced and promoted Canadian policies, priorities and interests on the Middle-East, Asia, counter-terrorism, and sanctions. She facilitated collaboration among the UN Secretariat, member states and stakeholders to advance common objectives, participated in and chaired negotiations and provided the Government with timely, quality reporting and analysis on high profile, often controversial Security Council and General Assembly issues including Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Israel/Palestine. She was instrumental in facilitating the Canadian Government’s sponsorship of the first UN system-wide training on sanctions monitoring and implementation, implemented by CCSI in 2012-2013

Enrico Carisch

Director, Specialist on Financial Aspects of Strategic Trade Control and Sanctions Compliance and Implementation

Enrico Carisch is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of CCSI. In addition to coordinating the development and delivery of training curricula, and drafting of manuals and handbooks, he is a specialist in financial integrity frameworks. Among many other projects delivered on behalf of GAC, he has conceived and delivered trainings on counter-proliferation financing, on the effective application of client-onboarding, KYC and due diligence.  Prior to co-founding CCSI in 2011, he served the United Nations Security Council as a financial and natural resources sanctions monitor. He leads and conducts research and capacity-building projects for conflict-affected regions and societies, and frequently authors and co-authors articles and manuals on the  wide range of security topics covered in CCSI’s training programs.  He co-managed the first UN system-wide training program on sanctions, funded by Global Affairs Canada (2012-2013), and the consultative process for the High Level Review of UN Sanctions Practices (2014) as well as the development of the Best Practices Guide for Chairs and Members of United Nations Sanctions Committees (2020) that includes guidance and policy on Gender Equality and UN Sanctions, specifically the risks of limiting UN sanctions to Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), gender competence in the UN sanctions system; and improving UN sanctions to prevent gender-related threats and violence more effectively. He has authored articles on the gender implications of sanctions, as follows: Sanctions: Gender, violence and the Security Council. Time for a rethink? (World ECR) https://www.worldecr.com/archive/sanctions-gender-violence-and-the-security-council-time-for-a-rethink/

Loraine Rickard-Martin

Director

Loraine Rickard-Martin is co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of CCSI, and Executive Director of CCSI Women. As Board Chair, she provides strategic support and oversight of CCSI’s training programs on compliance with sanctions, strategic trade control and other public and private sector security issues. As Executive Director of CCSI Women, she works to support women international security professionals, to increase their competence through training, and their impact on international peace and security and related economic growth. As CCSI’s CEO, she co-managed the first United Nations system-wide training on sanctions compliance and implementation (2011-2012) funded by the Government of Canada; co-managed sanctions reform processes such as the High-Level Review (HLR) of United Nations Sanctions (2015), the follow-on Assessment of the HLR (2017); and co-implemented the Best Practices Guide for Chairs and Members of UN Sanctions Committees (2018 and 2020) that includes guidance and policy on Gender Equality and UN Sanctions, specifically the risks of limiting UN sanctions to Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), gender competence in the UN sanctions system; and improving UN sanctions to prevent gender-related threats and violence more effectively. She implemented the “Workshop on Sanctions and Gender” held in Nairobi in 2019, funded by Global Affairs Canada(GAC) and the Government of the Netherlands. She advised the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on sanctions issues with the drafting of an AU sanctions manual (2012). Prior to co-founding CCSI in 2011, she served the United Nations for over three decades, including 15 years as senior political affairs officer and sanctions committee secretary in the Security Council Affairs Division of the Department of Political Affairs, New York, advising sanctions committee chairs and members, supporting teams of sanctions monitors, and participating in reform processes to refine the sanctions tool. She was Secretary of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2003-2004). She lectured on United Nations sanctions at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and taught an intensive ten-week course for diplomats at Columbia University (2010-2013). She is co-author with Enrico Carisch and Shawna Meister of “The Evolution of UN Sanctions: From a Tool of Warfare to a Tool of Peace, Security and Human Rights” (2017), and has co-authored other articles and publications on international sanctions, including, most recently, “United Nations Sanctions – Through a Gender Lens” in “Multilateral Sanctions Dissected: Lessons Learned from Margaret Doxey”, Andrea Charron and Clara Portela, eds., (McGill Queens UP, 2021).

Shawna Meister

Director, Advisor on Sanctions Compliance Advisor on Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion

Shawna Meister has over 20 years expertise in managing projects, conducting evidence-based research, designing training, and delivering meaningful impact to people and communities. She has a background in international peace and security with specializations in the United Nations (UN), UN sanctions, and Africa and the Middle East regions. Additionally, she is trained in various sex, gender, equity, diversity, and inclusion areas, and ensures research, projects, and implementation activities reflect these important lenses. Providing expert training and implementation also have been a core component of Shawna’s career. She has been a contributor to CCSI’s work since its establishment, including analyzing the impact and effectiveness of UN sanctions, examining non-proliferation sanctions, contributing to country training teams, and as a co-author of CCSI’s 2017 publication, The Evolution of UN Sanctions. She envisions a more secure world rooted in respect for human rights for all, equity, and sustainable security.

Martin Rioux-Lefebvre

Director

Martin Rioux-Lefebvre has 14 years of experience developing and implementing projects for government clients and international organizations, leading business development efforts, and advising policymakers. Martin previously worked at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the Office of the Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, and in the Division of Nuclear Security, where he managed the Incident and Trafficking Database program (ITDB) and worked on the development of the Nuclear Security Information Management System (NUSIMS). He also worked as a Consultant at the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and for consulting firms in Canada and in the U.S. Martin holds a Master of Arts from the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia (2009). He also is certified Project Management Professional (PMP).  

Lipika Majumdar Roy Choudhury

Specialist in Customs, Finance, and Sanctions Monitoring

Lipika Majumdar Roy Choudhury has more than 37 years of relevant experience in the sectors of Customs and Finance, including investigations on tax evasion, money laundering, illicit trafficking and targeted sanctions. Ms. Majumdar Roy Choudhury has served as an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer with the Indian Ministry of Finance. She was a Member of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and Special Secretary to the Government of India, the national agency responsible for administering indirect taxes in India. She has held several important assignments during her career in the Indian administration. She has: __Experience in managing complex organizations, including strategic management, budgets and resource allocation, financial health, accountability and compliance and, and working in a multi-cultural environment.
__Experience in policy formulation, strategic thinking, analytical skills, creating and managing change and innovation implementation strategies, maintaining and building strong relationships with a particular focus on capacity building, employee wellness, the empowerment of women and encouraging diversity.
__Established management skills and financial expertise, with experience in human resources management, audit and border management.
__Extensive understanding of development, programming, conflict prevention and resolution, emergencies and peacebuilding challenges.
__She served on various United Nations sanctions panels/groups of experts, both as finance expert and as coordinator (Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire, 2007-2008 and 2015-16; Panel of Experts on the Sudan, 2012 and 2014-15, Panel of Experts on Libya from 2017 to 2021 and the Panel of Experts on Mali (January to September 2022). She has an in-depth understanding of the working of the sanctions’ regimes and the related legal and procedural issues, and historical context.
She is also conversant with all aspects of the legal issues and complexities of sanctions as they relate to human rights and international humanitarian law, border management, migration and human trafficking. monitoring of arms embargoes and DDR. She is a resource person for the UN Security Council Affairs Division for the training of new experts and also for training courses for diplomats of member states joining the Security Council for the first time. She is fluent in English, French, Hindi and Bengali and is learning Arabic.

Elizabeth Okoth

Specialist, Gender-based Violence, Youth and Women’s Empowerment

Elizabeth (Liz) Okoth is a Public Health Specialist and a Senior Consultant. Liz has expertise, with over 20 years’ experience, in designing , implementing, managing, training, mentorship, and consulting in areas of sexual and gender-based violence, human rights, HIV programing and rights, sexual reproductive health and rights, youth and women empowerment, social-behavioral research, institutional systems strengthening, and grant management. Liz has presented papers focused on the above thematic areas in international forums to influence policy and practice including in forums held in Paris, Seattle, Nairobi, Amsterdam, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Dar-es-salaam and Lilongwe. Liz is talented in stakeholder engagement and has led national program adaptation initiatives working with the Ministries of Health and Education, UNICEF, US Government agencies, communities and local partners. Liz holds a Master of Public Health Degree from the University of Ghana, and Bachelor of Science Degree from Egerton University-Kenya. She’s a Project Management Trainer, with a Training of Trainers certificate in Project-DPro (a globally recognized project management certification for development professionals). Liz has consulted for the World Health Organization (WHO) in a Technical Assistance mechanism for adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health and rights in Kenya. She has also consulted for American Jewish World Service and Citizen’s Advancement Initiative, as a principal investigator in a study for “Adolescents Girls with Disability (AGWD) Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)” in Kenya. She also consulted for Plan International and the Ministry of Health in the Development of a comprehensive school health program. Liz currently consults for Grassroot Soccer-Adolescent Health Organization spearheading their programs and partnerships in the East Africa Region, and formerly in Malawi. She formerly worked for Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation where she served as a Senior Technical Advisor Pediatric and Adolescent Services in Kenya, and equally supported the programs in Malawi, Lesotho and Uganda. She also served in AMREF Health Africa as a Program Manager for Orphans and Vulnerable Children and Community Care services, and in the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) as Head of Programs, and as the YWCA Global Youth Champion in the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa. Liz loves community service and travelling in her free time.

Pilar Reina

Expert on International Weapons and Ammunition Research

Pilar Reina is Chief Executive of CCSI UK. She has 12 years of research, policy and field experience across several regions including West Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, the Caucasus and different parts of Asia, including China.  Pilar has worked with governments, practitioners and numerous United Nations agencies and international organisations to address security risks posed by weapons and ammunition stockpiles. Pilar recently led implementation of the African-China-Europe Project on Arms in Africa, successfully advocating for the return of conventional small arms and ammunition control to the agenda of FOCAC (Forum of China and Africa Cooperation) and its inclusion in the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 agenda. Pilar previously served at the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) as Technical Advisor on small arms and light weapons for West Africa and the Sahel, and worked together with national governments and sub-regional organisations to garner political commitment and coordinated efforts to work on implementing Physical Security and Stockpiles Management best practices on the ground. Prior to that, Pilar worked for the Small Arms Survey where she developed and helped guide a research project on Unplanned Explosions and Munitions Sites. She co-authored the “UEMS: Stockpiles as Liabilities Rather Than Assets” handbook and the UEMS database created through the project continues to serve as an important resource for governments and international organisations. The UEMS indicator helped galvanise international efforts to implement the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) as well as efforts by the United Nations Office for Disarmament (UNOD) in creating a group of experts to create a comprehensive framework to prevent accidents at munition sites and munition diversions to unauthorized recipients. Pilar has also worked as an independent consultant with governments and international organisations promoting conventional weapons and ammunition control management. As such, she has provided expert advice in the framework of relevant multilateral, bilateral and regional programs of the United Nations, as an Expert Member of the UN SaferGuard Strategic Coordination Group meeting which reviews the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines annually; and for the European Union, as a contributing member of the Arms Trade Treaty outreach project phase I and II. A native of Colombia, Pilar’s upbringing was marked by witnessing the intensity of Colombia’s armed conflict of the 1990’s. In 1998, aged 17, she was successful in joining the Colombian Air Force as one of the first batch of women cadet officers and future pilot trainees. She went on to study Government and International Relations at the University of Externado, that she completed at Sciences Po, Bordeaux, France. Pilar has a Masters in Public Management (2010) and in Political Science (2013) from the University of Geneva, both with a focus on international security issues.  Pilar is a native Spanish speaker and is fluent in French and English. She also has knowledge of German and Italian.

Durra Sahtout

Expert on Digital Strategy and Compliance 

Durra Sahtout is a digital strategy consultant and IT engineer with critical thinking, and multi-domain expertise. Durra is passionate about digital transformation, business processes digitization, emerging technologies, and the digital value chain. In her work with CCSI, she has participated as a cybersecurity and digital transformation expert in multiple capacity-building projects on compliance and security in different sectors, especially financial and maritime, addressing both private and public actors.  She provided training and training materials in over 50 countries around the world, on optimizing the transformation process, complying with digital-related international regulations and industrial standards, as well as analyzing risks and opportunities in cyber space.  Durra has participated with CCSI/CRDF in the following GAC sponsored efforts: Workshop for Southeast Asia Central Bank and Resilience against DPRK Office 39 in March 2022, Kuala Lumpur; Mongolia/Central Asia Workshop on DPRK sanctions delivered in late July 2022 in Ulanbator; Latin-America/Caribbean Financial professionals Study Week in Washington, DC in August 2023 She is a native Arabic speaker and is fluent in French and English. She holds a BS in Information Technology Engineering from Damascus University (Damascus, Syria) and Master’s Degrees in Consulting in Organisation, Strategy and Information Systems and in Innovation, Enterprise & Society from the Institut Polytechnique de Paris (Paris, France).

Francisca Simiyu

CBRN Specialist

Francisca Simiyu is based in the Port of Mombasa and leads a team of Kenyan maritime border security detection specialists charged with deterring the illegal transportation of CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) materials. She recently joined a team of East African Community partner states as an instructor for Chemical Warfare Agents and Toxic Industrial Agents. She works with the Kenya Nuclear and Regulatory Authority in performing radiological investigation, identification, and guidance concerning isotopes on flagged consignments and is a seasoned trainer and mentor on CBRN border security checks and compliance based on practical maritime border detection and deterrence. She also collaborates with other local agencies responsible for border checks for chemical and biological shipments. In doing so, she provides the port community with biological materials sensitization  related to health and safety, communicates with health agencies about events and situations of potentially harmful conditions, observes safety rules and procedures during sample collection of shipments, and in cases of accidents, keeps the scene of the accident under control to minimize potential threats As part of her role in strengthening the Kenya Megaports Initiative, Ms. Simiyu enjoys close working relationships with the US Department of Energy, its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and its Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD). The initiative aims to strengthen foreign countries’ capabilities to deter, detect, and interdict the illicit smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials across international borders. She is a graduate of the Technical University of Mombasa (Kenya) and has taken Radiological Detection and Monitoring Training of Trainers (TOT) at the Nuclear Joint Research Center Karlsruhe (Germany) and has undergone training on bio-safety/ biosecurity by the Public Health Agency (Canada).

Maiko Takeuchi

Expert/Adviser on Strategic Trade Control and Non-proliferation

Maiko Takeuchi is Chief Executive and Chair of the Board of Directors of CCSi-APAC. She has 20 years of experience in national security where she specialized in WMD non-proliferation and security export control. She served the United Nations Security Council as a member of the Panel of Experts for North Korea (UNSCR 1874) for five years (2016-2021). While on the Panel, she investigated North Korea’s nuclear and other WMD programs and related procurement, and violations of embargos, overseas workers, and activities of UN- designated entities. Before joining the United Nations, she served the Ministry of Defense for 15 years as a defense policy official. She worked on cyber security strategy and communication systems in the Ministry of Defense, and from 2008 to 2010, she worked on strategic trade control as the chief of the research and planning office at the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry. During her career in government, she was also appointed to the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Korea as First Secretary and Civilian Defense Attaché for four years. She was appointed to the Cabinet Secretariat for National Security and Crisis Management, where she worked for inter-agency policy coordination. As a diplomat and strategic trade control officer as well as WMD expert, she has on the ground experience and legal expertise in non-proliferation and strategic trade control. She has had the opportunity to present on outreach and capacity building activities for both government practitioners, industries, and financial institutions. She is a visiting scholar at the Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Research, Waseda University. She holds a Master’s degree in Regional Studies East Asia from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Tokyo. While contributing to the media to raise awareness on economic sanctions, she has written a number of articles on the effective implementation of sanctions.

Neil Watts

Expert on Sanctions, Maritime Security and Weapons Systems

Neil Watts advises and consults on the multiple dimensions of Maritime Security – including sanctions compliance and implementation, WMD interdiction, counter-proliferation, vessel-tracking systems and databases, port security, vessel seizure, and counter-piracy. He has conducted extensive training for the maritime industry, state departments and related agencies, and flag state registries, on sanctions and strategic trade control best practices and related effective due diligence. Neil recently began covering aspects of “supply chain resilience” and “sanctions risk mitigation” in particular – which are current concerns in the shipping environment given the prevalent global tensions and resultant sanctions – and inevitable counter sanctions responses by targeted countries and jurisdictions. Formerly a Captain with 33 years’ service in the South African Navy, Neil specialized in surface warfare and weapons systems, serving nearly 20 years at sea onboard a frigate and fast attack missile boats. Neil served as the Maritime Expert on the United Nations Security Council Panel of Experts (POE) for North Korea for five years until July 2018. He investigated sanctions evasion, illicit shipments and networks, tracking suspect vessels worldwide and boarded several North Korean vessels, starting with the Chong Chon Gang in 2013. Neil was also responsible for monitoring North Korea’s navy, which included the Sea Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) program. He co-authored seven reports for the UN Security Council and authored the Maritime Sanctions Handbook for the DPRK. Neil has also contributed to many maritime sanctions articles and news broadcasts concerning North Korea’s illicit activities and sanctions evasion typologies. Prior to joining the Panel, he served on the South African National Maritime Security Advisory Committee, the Priority Committee for Maritime Security, and as a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Counter-piracy Assessment Group. Until 2013, he was responsible for developing and executing the national counter piracy strategy in the Indian Ocean and maritime operations. Neil holds a master’s degree in International Security and Global Justice from Brooklyn College, and is a graduate of Stellenbosch University (Nautical Science and Political Science), the South African Executive National Security Program (first place and best academic paper) and the Joint Senior Command and Staff Course. He is Senior Research Associate for Kings College London, United Kingdom – Project Alpha, and a member of the Institute for International Security Studies, and the Korea Society. See the Maritime Security section (https://ccsi.global/maritime-security/) for further information and relevant articles.