Knox Thames

Knox Thames is an international lawyer who has served in a variety of U.S. government roles over a 20-year career, most recently as the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities at the U.S. Department of State. Starting in July 2020, he became a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement.

For two decades, Knox Thames has promoted the rights of religious minorities abroad and combated persecution internationally. Most recently, Knox served the Obama and Trump administrations as the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South / Central Asia at the State Department. The first to serve in this special envoy role, he received a civil service appointment in 2015 to lead State Department efforts to support religious minorities in these regions.

In July 2020, Knox left government to embark on a book writing project and joined the Institute for Global Engagement as a Senior Fellow. In addition, he is a Senior Visiting Expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. During his 20-year government career, Knox served at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), AmeriCorps VISTA, and the U.S. Army War College as an Adjunct Research Professor. In addition, from 2004-2012, he was a State Department appointee to the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Knox has written widely, including for USA Today, Foreign Policy, TIME, CNN, Newsweek, the Times of London, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, the Small Wars Journal, and others. And he literally wrote the book on religious freedom advocacy, being the initiator and lead author of “International Religious Freedom Advocacy: A Guide to Organizations, Law and NGOs,” published by Baylor University Press.