The Commonwealth Foundation, which supports civil society organisations throughout the Commonwealth, has appointed Anne Gallagher as its next director general.
Gallagher, president of the International Catholic Migration Commission, will relocate from Australia to take up the London-based role for an initial four-year term from June.
She will succeed Vijay Krishnarayan, who is stepping down after completing the maximum of two terms.
Before joining the ICMG, Gallagher, a lawyer by training, worked at the United Nations in roles including special adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
She has also held positions including co-chair of the International Bar Association’s Presidential Task Force Against Human Trafficking and been a member of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration.
The Commonwealth Foundation said Gallagher’s work on human rights, justice and equality had earned her honours including the Australian Freedom Award, and she was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 2012.
Gallagher said in a statement that she was honoured to take up the role at an "exciting, challenging time".
She said: "As the civil society voice of the Commonwealth, the foundation has played a vital role in advancing core Commonwealth values of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
"That role will continue to be critical as we move into a future where truly inclusive multilateral cooperation is becoming ever more urgent."
Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, chair of the board of governors at the foundation, said Gallagher had the "intellectual competence and diplomatic skills" to be successful in the role.
"I have no doubt that her wide experience and deep involvement with civil society will help to steer the foundation to the next stage of its development," he said.