Shaharzad Akbar is a human rights activist from Afghanistan, currently in exile, and an Academy Fellow with Chatham House and a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford. Shaharzad has a diverse professional background in human rights, media and culture and youth mobilisation.  Shaharzad is a board member for the International Service for Human Rights and a member of the International Advisory Council for Institute for Integrated Transitions.

Shaharzad’s experience spans establishing and running a consultancy firm in Kabul, supporting Afghan civil society and media in her role as Country Director of Open Society Afghanistan, and working with the government of the Republic of Afghanistan on development issues. Prior to the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021,  Shaharzad was the Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Shaharzad has advocated for the human rights of Afghans, a dignified and just peace and accountability for gross violations at the international level, including through engaging with the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council.  Shaharzad’s writing has appeared in Afghan and international media, including Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, Newsweek, the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Just Security, and academic journals. Shaharzad completed an M.Phil at Oxford University, UK, and previously obtained her B.A from Smith College, USA.