Dr. Azza Karam

Dr. Azza Karam is the Secretary General of Religions for Peace, and a Professor of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (in The Netherlands – of which she is a citizen).

She has served as a Senior Advisor on Culture, at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since 2007; and as Coordinator/Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; where she coordinated engagement with members of a Global Interfaith Network for Population and Development with over 600 faith-based organizations from all regions of the world, representing all religions and interreligious affiliations.  She was the Lead Facilitator for the United Nations’ Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy, building on a legacy of serving as a trainer cum facilitator of inter-cultural leadership and management in the Arab region as well as Europe and Central Asia. 

She served as the President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations in 2003, and has supported the founding of numerous interreligious networks including the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI – 2013), the Moral Imperative (2015) and the International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD – 2016). She is also a member of the Trans-Atlantic Partnership for Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD).

Professor Karam has served in different positions in the United Nations since 2004, as well as other intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations since the early 1990s, such as International IDEA, the OSCE, and Religions for Peace. Simultaneously, she lectured in various academic institutions in Europe, in North America (including the United States Military Academy/West Point), Africa and the Middle East. 

Her Ph.D. in 1996, focused on Political Islam, and became her first book in Arabic (her mother tongue) and in English. She has since published widely, and in several languages, on international political dynamics, including democratization, human rights, peace and security, gender, religious engagement, and sustainable development. She was born in Egypt, and now lives in the United States.