Irene Khan is an international thought leader and a champion for human rights, gender equality and social justice.
She was the first woman to be elected as Director-General of the International Development Law Organization, the only inter-governmental organization exclusively devoted to advancing the rule of law and sustainable development. During her tenure from 20012 – 2019 IDLO expanded significantly its geographic presence, programs and advocacy on access to justice for women and marginalized groups.
From 2001 – 2009 Irene was Secretary-General of Amnesty International. She is the only woman to have held this position in the world’s largest human rights organization. Under her leadership Amnesty International enlarged its mandate to cover economic, social and cultural rights and launched a global campaign to stop violence against women.
Prior to that, Irene worked for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 21 years at its Headquarters in Geneva and in the field, including as the UNHCR Representative in India.
She has been a Board member of several development and human rights organizations, including Save the Children International, Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice and BRAC.
Irene was awarded the City of Sydney Peace Prize in 2006 for her work to end violence against women.