Name: Karen AbuZayd

Occupation: Commissioner of the UN Inquiry on Syria, American Diplomat and Expert in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs

Fields of Expertise: Humanitarian and human rights works in numerous countries: refugee and repatriate issues, cross-border operations, funding, public information and the legal issues of asylum-seekers, education, health, social services and microenterprise programs. 

Beginning as a nurse in public health, and earning a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal, AbuZayd, throughout her professional career and dedication to humanitarian goals has demonstrated a remarkable leadership capacity and outreach in the field of humanitarian protection and human rights in numerous countries.

AbuZayd has worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for 19 years. In August 2000, AbuZayd was appointed to the rank of Assistant Secretary General as Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). From 2005 until 2010, as Under Secretary-General of UNRWA, AbuZayd dealt with matters of education, health, social services and microenterprise programs for Palestinian refugees. In the following years, she was assigned as Commissioner on the Independent Inquiry Commission on Syria. 

In 2016, AbuZayd was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as a Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. 

Before joining the humanitarian missions of UNCHR and UNRWA, AbuZayd has lectured in Middle East Politics, Political Science and Islamic Studies at Makerere University in Uganda and at Juba University in Southern Sudan.

Throughout her outstanding international career AbuZayd has worked intensively to raise awareness and support for the increasing number of refugees and migrants. She has been encouraging to overcome existing prejudices and think about refugees and migrants as a very positive element in society.