For two decades, Knox Thames has promoted the rights of religious minorities abroad and combated persecution.
Knox has deep experience regarding South/Central Asia, the Middle East, and U.S. foreign policy relating to human rights. Serving in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, he has worked on a bipartisan basis at the intersection of global affairs, religion, and human rights to accomplish significant policy goals.
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, 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 Sky News, BBC Radio, NPR, 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.
Knox has written widely, including Foreign Policy, TIME, CNN.com, 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 a first-of-its-kind handbook, "International Religious Freedom Advocacy: A Guide to Organizations, Law and NGOs," published by Baylor University 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 (KY), 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.