Religions for Peace Announces New Secretary General: Prof. Azza Karam

Religions for Peace 10th World Assembly logo22 August 2019 | Lindau, Germany Prof. Azza Karam was joyously affirmed by acclamation as the new Secretary General of Religions for Peace on 21 August 2019 at a business meeting during the 10th World Assembly. She will proceed Dr. William F. Vendley, who has served RfP as Secretary General for 27 years.

Azza Karam is a Professor of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands – of which she is a citizen. She served as a Senior Advisor on Culture, at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); 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 affiliation.

She is 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 RfP from 2000 to 2004 as Director of a Global Women of Faith Network and Advisor on Middle East Interreligious dynamics.

Prof. Karam has also served in different positions in the United Nations since 2004, as well as other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations since the early 1990s, such as International IDEA, and Religions for Peace. Simultaneously, she lectured in various academic institutions in Europe, 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.

According to the Standing Rules of RfP, the Secretary General is elected by the World Assembly on nomination by a duly constituted Search Committee. The term of the Secretary General is normally from the end of one Assembly until the end of the next, though he or she may serve more than one term. When the vacancy of the office was anticipated, the Executive Committee appointed a Search Committee. This Search Committee accepts applications and considers nominees and other possible candidates and then proposes a single nominee or a prioritized list of nominees to the Assembly. Voting delegates at the World Assembly then have the opportunity to affirm the proposed candidate.

Voting delegates in attendance are representatives of their respective RfP affiliated bodies in over 90 countries. All voting delegates were nominated to represent the interests of RfP constituents globally during regional and national consultations that occurred throughout 2019 for the preparation of the RfP 10th World Assembly. Delegates in the business meeting affirmed the Search Committee’s proposal of Prof. Karam as the next Secretary General and are eager to witness her vision and leadership in the coming years.


New Secretary General: Prof. Azza Karam
New Secretary General: Prof. Azza Karam