Irene Khan: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irene Khan
Born 24 December 1956 (1956-12-24) (age 53)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Education Victoria University of Manchester, Harvard Law School
Employer Amnesty International
Title Secretary General
Predecessor Pierre Sané
Successor Claudio Cordone (acting)

Irene Zubaida Khan, born December 24, 1956 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a Human Rights activist and was until December 11, 2009 the Secretary General of Amnesty International. She was the seventh Secretary General.[1]


Early years

Khan grew up in a relatively wealthy family in Bangladesh. During her upbringing, East Pakistan was fighting for independence from Pakistan. Human rights abuses that occurred during the Bangladesh Liberation War in which Bangladesh achieved independence, helped shape teenage Khan's activist viewpoint. She left Bangladesh as a teenager for school in Northern Ireland.[2] Irene then went to England and studied law at the Victoria University of Manchester and then, in the United States, at Harvard Law School. She specialised in public international law and human rights, graduating in 1978. [3]

Human Rights Career

Khan helped to create the organisation Concern Universal in 1977, an international development and emergency relief organisation working in partnership with Children in Crossfire. She began her career as a human rights activist with the International Commission of Jurists in 1979.

Khan went to work at the United Nations in 1980. She spent 20 years at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 1995 she was appointed UNHCR Chief of Mission in India, becoming the youngest UNHCR country representative at that time.

During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, Khan led the UNHCR team in the Republic of Macedonia. This led to her being appointed as Deputy Director of International Protection later that year. [3]

Amnesty International career

Khan at the World Economic Forum 2007.

Khan joined Amnesty International in 2001 as its Secretary General. She is the first woman, the first Asian, the first Bangladeshi and the first Muslim to hold the position of Amnesty International Secretary General.[1] In her first year of office, she reformed Amnesty's response to crisis situations and initiated a global campaign against violence towards women.


The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (October 15, 2009)

Other humanitarian initiatives

In 2009 joined the project "Soldiers of Peace", a movie against all wars and for a global peace. [4][5]


Khan received a Ford Foundation Fellowship and the Pilkington "Woman of the Year" Award 2002[1] as well as the Sydney Peace Prize 2006. In 2007 she received an institutional honorary doctorate at the Ghent University.[6] She was one of the two persons whose name have been put forward for the election of the new Chancellor of The University of Manchester[7]. In July 2009 she was appointed as Chancellor of the University of Salford[8].


External links

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Pierre Sané
Secretary-General of Amnesty International
Succeeded by
Claudio Cordone (acting)


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address