Challanges Forum International Secretariat (CFIS)

The International Secretariat is the executive body of the Challenges Forum. Since 2003, the Secretariat is hosted at the Folke Bernadotte Academy and located in Stockholm, Sweden. The responsibility of the Secretariat is to develop the agenda and proposals for the Partners Meeting; to plan, lead and coordinate the work of the Partnership on a daily basis; and to ensure that the work undertaken by the Partnership achieve the desired end-state as decided by the Partners’ Meeting. The Director of the Challenges Forum leads the work and reports to the Partners’ Meeting.


Director: Dr. Björn Holmberg

Dr. Holmberg holds Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University, Sweden. He was Secretary General and Coordinator of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-2017), working on dialogue, mediation, conflict management, peace operations, and security sector reform in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America with national and multilateral partners. He served as Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy in Guatemala (2006–2008) and Coordinator and then Head of the Division for Peace and Security (2001-2006) at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). He was also Vice Chair of the Network on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation of the OECD-DAC, Paris (2005–2006) leading policy and doctrine development. Dr. Holmberg headed the UN Secretariat´s Regional Small Arms Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean stationed in Lima, Peru (1999–2001). He was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989 and is a trained UN peacekeeper and UN military observer. 


Strategic Adviser: Ben Rhee

Ben Rhee has a Masters degree in International Studies from Uppsala University, Sweden. He served as an Australian diplomat in peace and security issues in Fiji, Israel and Palestine (2012-2016), and with International Security, Pacific and Middle East divisions at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra (2011-2012). He also worked as Head of Partnerships at Global Challenges Foundation (2016-2018), where he led the strategic development of multi-sector, global networks on issues such as violent conflict, climate change and emerging technologies, and as Consultant for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Nepal in 2009 on security sector reform during the constitution draft process. During his time in Nepal, Mr. Rhee completed his Masters thesis studying the impact on local communities of Nepal’s peace agreement. He is also an alumni of a local dialogue and conflict mediation group on the Middle East Peace Process consisting of Israelis, Palestinians and diplomats led by the Negotiations Studies Institute and the Harvard Negotiation Project.


Outreach Coordinator: Johanna Wiklund

Johanna Wiklund holds a LL.M. from The Geneva Academy of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Uppsala. She has extensive experience within the field of human rights and of civil society networking, having worked as Human Rights Desk Officer at the United Nations Association of Sweden (2001-2005), (2010-2018) and as External Collaborator at the Department of Normes at the International Organization of Labour (2008-2010). As Human Rights Desk Officer at the UN Association of Sweden she worked with human rights training in close cooperation with various UN agencies and programmes in Geneva such as OHCHR, UNICEF, UNDP and UNMAS. She also coordinated a network of 50 Swedish civil society organizations submitting joint reports to the Swedish government, to the UN Human Rights Council and to the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies on the Swedish compliance with international human rights standards and on the ongoing reform process of the UN human rights mechanisms. 

Specialist on Peace Operations: Dr.  Andreas Andersson

Dr. Andersson holds Ph.D. in Political Science from Karlstad University, Sweden. He has combined academic research with extensive field experience from various UN, EU and NATO missions, in which he has served at various levels in both military and civilian capacities.  He has published academic research in e.g. International Peacekeepingand Conflict and Cooperation. His field experience entails service in UNPROFOR, IFOR, MONUC, EUSEC and UNMIN (1995-2010). His latest deployment was as a Military Gender Advisor to the Force Commander, MINUSMA (2017). He has also worked as an independent consultant for the Swedish Armed Forces International Training Centre (Swedint) and the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM), as well as for UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) at various Peacekeeping Training Centres (e.g. Egypt, Nigeria, Mali, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe). He was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1993 and is a trained UN peacekeeper and UN military observer.


Sharon Wiharta (leave of absence)




Visiting and Postal Address:
Challenges Forum International Secretariat
c/o Folke Bernadotte Academy
Drottning Kristinas väg 37
11428 Stockholm


For specific inquiries, please contact the International Secretariat Staff