Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict Announces Bukeni Waruzi as New Executive Director

February 22, 2017 – Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (Watchlist) is delighted to welcome Bukeni Waruzi as its new executive director, beginning March 5th. Waruzi brings twenty years of experience working on children and armed conflict, including as the founding director of an NGO working to prevent child recruitment in war-torn Eastern Congo, and as the senior program manager for Africa and the Middle East at WITNESS.

“The Watchlist is fortunate to have someone with Bukeni’s passion and commitment to lead the organization during a time when children in armed conflict face unprecedented threats,” said Jo Becker, chair of the Watchlist Advisory Board. “His proven leadership skills and innovative program work will be a huge asset to the Watchlist.”

Waruzi will succeed Eva Smets, who stepped down as Watchlist executive director in January, after leading the organization for eight years.

Waruzi is a native of Uvira, in the Eastern DRC, where he founded AJEDI-Ka, an organization working to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers and support their demobilization and reintegration. He led the organization for 9 years, spearheading innovative programs to use cell-phones to document child rights violations, and producing video evidence that was instrumental in the International Criminal Court’s indictment and conviction of Thomas Lubanga for the recruitment and use of child soldiers in the DRC.

“The children and armed conflict agenda has been at the heart of my engagement in human rights. I have lived and worked on this issue from the beginning of my career. I am honored and humbled by this appointment, and I am grateful for the support of the Watchlist Advisory Board,” said Waruzi.  “At this critical time, the children and armed conflict agenda needs real commitment from decision-makers and stakeholders to address the issues affecting children in armed conflict.”

AJEDI-Ka was one of Watchlist’s first local partners. In 2006 Waruzi represented Watchlist when addressing a United Nations Security Council ministerial debate on children and armed conflict.

From 2007 to 2017, Waruzi led work on Africa and the Middle East for WITNESS, where he also led the organization’s Global Campaign on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. During the campaign he supported women’s rights activists to create effective strategies to fight for gender justice through video and other technologies. He also trained hundreds of activists in documentation of human rights violations and evidence-based advocacy, including through the use of video. During his career, he has developed extensive experience in strategic leadership and program design, fundraising, advocacy and communications, and team leadership.