NRF Speakers 2019


Speakers & Panelists

Helge Blakkisrud

Head of Research Group on Russia, Asia and International Trade
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

Helge Blakkisrud is Head of the Research Group on Russia, Asia and International Trade at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). He has a PhD from the University of Oslo. At NUPI, he has over the two last decades built up one of Scandinavia’s leading research environments on Russian politics. His own work focuses primarily on Russian domestic politics, in particular on Moscow’s relations with the regions and the development of Russian federalism. In recent years, he has also been working on Russian national identity and nationality policy, as well as Russian nationalism.

Helge Blakkisrud is the editor of Nordisk Østforum, a Nordic peer-reviewed journal for Russian and East European studies. He has been a guest lecturer at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan since 2008. In 2009–2010, he was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at University of California in Berkeley. He also worked for two periods at the Norwegian University Centre in St. Petersburg (2005-2009 and 2018) and as OSCE Election Observer on various assignments in Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1993 he was a seconded member of the OSCE Mission in Latvia, serving as leader of the Mission´s mobile team. He has published a wide range of journal articles and books on Russian affairs.

Arne Elias Corneliussen

Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Norwegian Risk Consulting International | NRCI, Oslo

Arne Elias Corneliussen is the founder and director of global geopolitical analysis in NRCI. He formed NRCI in 2010. He received his bachelor of arts in political science from Wittenberg University in Ohio in 1998. He studied at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt in 1996. He then returned to the US where he mapped Islamist movements from Morocco to the Philippines at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C in 1998. He lived in Santiago, Chile in 1999 where he examined South America´s political situation, economic development, drug cartels in Colombia and strategic relations between South America, North America and Europe. He completed a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in New York in 2000. He worked as an officer for the Norwegian Armed Forces during NATO’s operation in Kosovo from 2001 until 2002. Since 2002 he held different roles in the corporate sector in Norway including sales, international business development and recruitment services. Arne Elias Corneliussen is a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Arne Elias Corneliussen regularly conducts long fact-finding expeditions where he maps political, security and business risks, infrastructure, local conditions and expands NRCI’s global network with local contacts. He travelled on 10 fact-finding expeditions to 42 countries in Africa and he crossed 27 countries on the African continent by bus. His recent field trips include Central Asia, Central Africa and East Africa. In the fall of 2017 he travelled on an expedition by train, bus and shared taxis from Shanghai across China, Central Asia and the Caucasus to Istanbul to map infrastructure developments, logistical clusters and the geopolitical landscape along the One Belt One Road – the New Silk Road developed by China.

Arne Elias Corneliussen also serves as the conference director for Norwegian Risk Forum – NRCI’s annual international conference in Oslo focusing on geopolitical risks and international business opportunities. His strategic and systematic approach to define topics for each Norwegian Risk Forum involves field insights from his fact-finding expeditions; conversations with NRCI’s global advisory board members and leading analysts worldwide; and observing national policymaking and regional growth trends in emerging markets. He also developed a wide range of partnerships with organizations, think tanks and other institutions. Arne Elias Corneliussen is the host and anchor on Global Horizon – NRCI´s YouTube Channel, which provides three weekly NRCI original video series: Asian Horizon every Monday, Geopolitical Horizon every Wednesday and African Horizon every Friday. In these video series he examines geopolitical developments, economic and financial opportunities and security dynamics.

Karsten Friis

Head of Research Group on Security and Defence
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

Karsten Friis is Head of the Research Group on Security and Defence at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. (NUPI). He has a PhD from the University of Groningen and a MSc in International Relations from London School of Economics. He attended a range of conferences and meetings on cyber risks, international politics and geopolitics.

Friis previously worked for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, as well as for the Norwegian Armed Forces in Oslo and in Kosovo. His main area of expertise is security and defense policies, international military operations, civilian-military relations, cyber security, as well as the political developments in the Western Balkans. He published widely and moderated a range of seminars and conferences on cyber risks, international relations and geopolitics. His latest publications include: NATO and Collective Defence in the 21st Century: An Assessment of the Warsaw Summit (editor) Routledge 2017; and Conflict in Cyber Space: Theoretical, strategic and legal perspectives (co-editor), Routledge 2016.

Erik Hannisdal

Managing Partner
M & O Partners, Rio de Janeiro

Erik Hannisdal worked with international business development over the last 20 years and developed over 200 strategic internationalization projects during this pweriod. Erik Hannisdal co-founded M&O Partners in 2009. Prior to that he headed Innovation Norway’s activities in Latin America from the regional headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. Erik Hannisdal worked as Managing Director of Innovation Norway´s Rio de Janeiro office since 2001. He has deep knowledge of business development and market entry in Brazil.

Erik Hannisdal began his career as a consultant for Accenture in Norway and he worked on international business implementation projects in several European markets. Erik is specialized in international business development with in-depth knowledge in the oil, maritime and offshore sectors. Erik holds a Master of Science in Business degree from Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH) in Bergen, Norway in 1997. He is fluent in Portuguese.

Bernard Haykel

Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia
Princeton University

Bernard Haykel is professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. He is also the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East. His research is concerned with the political and social tensions that arise from questions about religious identity and authority. He was educated at the University of Oxford where he received his doctorate in 1998 in Oriental Studies with an emphasis on Islam and history. Much of his teaching and research lies at the juncture of the intellectual, political, and social history of the Middle East with particular emphasis on the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. He also has a side interest in the effects of energy resources and rents on politics and society. An essential part of his work concerns the reception of reformist ideas at present and analysis of the Salafi heritage in contemporary debates among Sunnis as well as the Zaydi heritage among Shi`is. Another concern pertains to the history and politics of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, and Saudi Arabia in particular.

He considers himself to be a historian who is not restricted by disciplinary boundaries or historical time frame. Although his focus is on the modern period, he is at home with pre-modern Islamic literary sources and concepts and sees these as a crucial foundation for the study of the modern Arab and Muslim worlds. The region he has studied, Arabia, is important for understanding the history and politics of the modern Middle East and yet it remains the least studied and understood.

In his work he draws inspiration from anthropology, politics, history, and philology. He brings this background to the undergraduate classroom when teaching courses on the history of the Middle East and on Islamist politics. At the graduate level, he enjoys teaching courses that revolve around his particular research interests (Arabian history and Islamism at the moment), but he is also accommodates the needs of Near Eastern Studies students, especially if these involve reading primary texts in areas he knows little about. Thus far, he has supervised or co-supervised nine completed Ph.D. dissertations. In addition to his teaching, he directs the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. In the latter capacity, he organizes lectures and conferences around topics related to the politics and culture of the contemporary Middle East.

Helge Kvamme

Founder and Managing Director
Kvamme Associates

Helge Kvamme worked in law enforcement with intelligence and investigations working with The National Crime Investigations Service (KRIPOS / NCIS) and The National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environemntal Crime (ØKOKRIM) leading their international operations. He also served as Anti-Money Launderig Officer for DNB, Norway´s largest bank. He worked as a leader for national and international investigations and compliance projects among them the World Bank engaged him with Anti-Corruption Monitoring and as a Norwegian Representative to the ICC Commission on Corporate Responsibility and Anti-Corruption. Helge Kvamme is the co-founder of the Oslo Anti-Corruption Conference.

Previously, Helge Kvamme was a partner with the Norwegian law firm, Selmer with responsibility for Corporate Investigations and Compliance Services. Formerly, he built and led PWC´s Forensics and Anti-Corruption Services in Norway for 14 years and he also headed PWC´s Global Oil & Gas Anti-Corruption services.

Siri Neset

Associate Researcher
Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI)

Siri Neset holds an MA in psychology from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, 2010). Neset is a political psychologist and focuses on rhetoric, perceptions, foreign policy decision-making, identity, and the links between political ideology, power and violence. She has directed policy-oriented projects on Turkey, Iran and U.S. relations with the Middle East and North Africa, as well as having established and led several dialogue projects. Neset has broad applied research experience on and fieldwork experience in Turkey. Since 2010, she has developed a wide-ranging network in Turkey, which includes elites from different segments. She focuses on domestic issues, foreign policy and geopolitical roles.

Previously she has been a research fellow at The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (2011-2014) and concluded there in 2014 a three-year project on Turkish domestic and foreign policy. Presently at the Chr. Michelsen Institute where she in July 2019 concluded the project titled Policy Choices in Turkey’s “Second Republic Phase” together with Turkish and Norwegian scholars.

Neset`s publications include Norway and Turkey: Possibilities of Cooperation through the Eyes of Turkish Opinion-makers (All Azimuth: Journal of Foreign Policy and Peace, 2013, with Daniel Heradstveit and Matt Bonham), Operational code analysis: Profiling political elites (Internasjonal Politikk, 2015). Democratic Revolutions? Insights on Social Stability and Social Change From Psychology and Politics (with Lucas B. Mazur. In Brady Wagoner, Ignacio Brescó and Vlad Glaveanu, The Road to Actualized Democracy: A Psychological Exploration, 2018). The cognitive psychology of corruption: Micro-level explanations for unethical behavior (with Kendra Dupuy. U4 issue, 2018:2). Turkish Foreign Policy: Structures and decision-making processes (, 2019 CMI report) and Turkey`s international relations (et al., 2019 CMI report). Neset is currently writing a popular science book on Turkey`s regional role, domestic political processes and defining matters the past five years in Turkish history (Funded by Fritt Ord and Det Faglitterære Fond). Neset is a frequently used as a commentator/writer on Turkish issues in the Norwegian press.

Ángel Ricardo Martínez

Geopolitical Analyst

Ángel Ricardo Martínez is a geopolitical analyst and business entrepreneur. For more than a decade, he reported on wars, conflicts, summits, elections and other events from more than 40 countries across 6 continents for media in Panama and abroad.

As a correspondent, Ángel Ricardo Martínez produced on-site coverage and print-analysis and broadcast of key events worldwide, such as the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary elections, the COP21 & COP 15 Climate Change Summits in Paris and Copenhagen, the 2015 Greek bailout referendum, the 2013 nationwide protests in Brazil, the 2013 Presidential elections in Ecuador and Venezuela, the death of Hugo Chavez and its aftermath, the Civil War in Libya and Muamar Gadafi’s downfall, and the Post-Arab Spring unrest in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. Additionally, he did fieldwork on conflicts across the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia. His passion for geopolitics, history and international affairs has taken him to 65+ countries around the world. He travelled extensively in South America.

In 2014, Ángel Ricardo Martínez wrote a short biography of General Manuel A. Noriega. Based on extensive encounters at the El Renacer prison in Panama City, it became the first biography of Noriega written by a Panamanian with Manuel Noriega’s approval and collaboration. Ángel Ricardo Martínez holds a joint MA in Journalism within Globalization from the Universities of Swansea (UK) and Aarhus (Denmark) and a B.Sc. in Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering from the Technological University of Panama. He is currently based in Bocas del Toro, Panama, where he founded and oversees one of Central America’s most successful event organizing and tour operating companies.

Paul Rose

Expedition Leader
National Geographic Pristine Seas

A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet. He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events.

Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions. He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal.

Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics. He worked for four years as a Mountain Safety consultant to the oil industry in the Middle East. On his 2012 Greenland expedition, Paul led the first expedition to successfully traverse a new 275km icecap route of Knud Rasmussen Land and repeated his first ascent of the north face of Gunnsbjørnfjeld, the highest mountain in the Arctic.

His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

Paul’s radio broadcasting work includes BBC National and Local Radio, BBC World Service, Dermot O’Leary, Steve Wright, Midweek, You and Yours, Simon Mayo, Rock FM, World Radio Switzerland and US National Radio. Paul co-authored the BBC book, Oceans and wrote the Humboldt and Magellan chapters for the book Great Explorers published by Thames and Hudson in 2010. His commissioned magazine articles include the Sunday Times Eureka magazine and a monthly column for Sport Diver magazine. He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Cumbria and was a member of the 2010 Rolex Awards jury. The Royal Geographical Society has awarded Paul the Founder’s Medal and the Ness Award. A mountain has been named after him in Antarctica.

Kristin Sverdrup

Project Director – Digitalization
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Kristin Sverdrup is project director for digitalization in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She received a Cand. Polit. degree in economics from the University of Oslo and entered the Foreign Service in 2002. Kristin Sverdrup´s career includes a range of positions within academia, research, development and the Foreign Service. She worked as a seconded expert to the Research Directorate in the European Commission in Brussels. Subsequently she worked as a senior advisor in the Research Council of Norway. Then she continued as research advisor and deputy director in the Section for Research and Higher Education in the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

Then she returned to the Foreign Service and became Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Lilongwe in Malawi in southern Africa. Thereafter she was appointed Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in eastern Africa followed by the position as Head of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Grants in Brussels where she had the leading role in establishing the EEA/Norway grants involving 15 countries.

Later she entered the role as senior regional advisor in the Section for sub-Saharan Africa in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs focusing on the African Union and Regional Economic Communities in Africa and regional cooperation in general. Subsequently she became project director in the Section for Economic and Commercial Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before she was appointed Ambassador to Sudan. After serving as Ambassador to Sudan she returned to academia as Research Director at Oslo Metropolitan University.

Stein Tønnesson

Research Professor
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

Stein Tønnesson is research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)and adjunct professor at the department of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University in Sweden where he leads a six-year research programme on the East Asian Peace.

He is also associate editor for Asia in the Journal of Peace Research, board member of Norfund, a Norwegian development finance institution (DFI), and member of the editorial board of Global Asia.

He has done research on decolonisation, revolution, war and nation building in Southeast Asia, and the disputes in the South China Sea

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