Irene Khan

Irene KHAN

Distinguished Fellow and Research Associate
Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
Spoken languages
English, Bengali
Areas of expertise
  • International human rights
  • Refugees and humanitarian action
  • Gender studies
  • Development and rule of law
  • International organisations, UN
  • Non-governmental organizations


Irene Khan is UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression since 1 August 2020 and distinguished Fellow and Research Associate, Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy.

An internationally recognized advocate for human rights, gender equality and social justice, Ms. Khan was Secretary General of Amnesty International from 2001 - 2009 and Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) from 2012 - 2019. She was Visiting Professor at the State University of New York Law School in 2011 and Chancellor of Salford University (UK) from 2009 - 2015. She began her professional career with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, working for 21 years at headquarters and in country operations.

Ms. Khan collaborates with University of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression program, and serves on the Boards of Overseas Development Institute (UK), BRAC (Bangladesh) and Barefoot Law (Uganda). She was a member of the World Bank Gender Advisory Council, UNAIDS High Level Panel on HIV Prevention and Human Rights, and UN Global Compact Advisory Council. 

She was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2006 for her work to stop violence against women.  


Selected Publications

The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights (Norton, 2009).