Knox Thames is an international human rights lawyer, advocate, and author who has dedicated his career to promoting the rights of religious minorities and combatting persecution.
Over his 20 years of service in the U.S. government, Knox held several key positions advocating for freedom of religion or belief, including at the State Department and two different U.S. government foreign policy commissions. Knox has deep experience regarding South/Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and U.S. foreign policy relating to human rights. Serving in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, he has worked at the intersection of global affairs, religion, and human rights.
Known for his nonpartisan approach to advocacy, both the Obama and Trump administrations appointed Knox 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 to lead State Department efforts to support religious minorities in these regions.
In April 2023, Knox joined Pepperdine University as a Senior Fellow with the Caruso School of Law and School of Public Policy. From Pepperdine's DC campus, he directs the new program on Global Faith and Inclusive Societies. In addition, he is a Senior Visiting Expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace with the Middle East and Religion & Inclusive Societies teams. Both positions are possible thanks to the Templeton Religion Trust.
A recognized expert, Knox has spoken to NPR, Sky News, BBC Radio, SiriusXM, and before the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Organization of American States, the OSCE, the Atlantic Council, Wilton Park, and U.S. military war colleges and the Foreign Service Institute.
Knox has been a vocal advocate for human rights and the persecuted throughout his career. He has written widely 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. In addition, his new book, Ending Persecution, will be released in 2024 by University of Notre Dame Press.
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.
He received a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown College, a Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from American University's Washington College of Law, and a Master's in International Affairs from the School of International Service at American University. In addition, he studied at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.