Knox Thames currently serves as the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South / Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. A newly created position, he was appointed as the first Special Advisor in September 2015 to lead State Department efforts to address the situation of religious minorities in these regions.
For over a decade and a half, Mr. Thames has worked in various U.S. government capacities, including at two different U.S. government foreign policy commissions, and is an expert on a range of international affairs issues, including human rights, religious freedom, counter extremism, and international organizations. His country expertise covers the Middle East and South and Central Asia. Most recently, he was the Director of Policy and Research at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Prior to that, he served in the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department and was Counsel for six years at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission). In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor at the U.S. Army War College and serves on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. From 2004-2012, Mr. Thames was a State Department appointee to the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Mr. Thames holds a B.A. from Georgetown College, a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law, and a Masters in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service. He also studied at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. An author of numerous articles, his writing has been featured in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, ForeignPolicy.com, and Small Wars Journal. He has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Agence France Presse, the Christian Science Monitor, CNN, FOX News, and the Washington Post.