Sonja Licht graduated with a degree in sociology from the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade, where she also received an MA in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. She worked as a research fellow in both the Institute for International Politics and Economics and the Institute for European Studies for many years. She authored numerous articles in local and international magazines, journals and books.
She was part of the Yugoslav dissident movement from the late sixties, and in the mid-eighties she founded numerous local and international non-governmental organisations, including a number of women’s organizations. Between 1991 and 1995 Sonja Licht was the co-chair of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, a broad coalition of various civic organisations and movements from all European and North American countries. From 1991 to 2003 she was first Executive Director and then President of the Fund for an Open Society (Soros Foundation) in Yugoslavia (later Serbia), a major donor of a vigorous civil society. During that period she was a board member of many reputable international institutions. Currently, she is the Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Centre for Democratic Transition, board member of the Council of the European Cultural Foundation, and a member of the Advisory Boards of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. In Serbia, she was the Chair of the BOD of “Politika” Newspapers, and a member of the Executive Boards of the Women’s Fund “Reconstruction,” and the Jefferson Institute both Washington D.C. and Belgrade. In 2007 she became a member of the newly-established Foreign Affairs Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also of the Council for EU Integration of the Government of the Republic of Serbia.
She is a laureate of numerous awards including: the Award for Peace of the Swedish Social Forum, Award for Peace of the European Chancellors’ Club, Hiroshima Award of Edit and Ira Morris Foundation from Sweden, International Human Rights Award of the International League for Human Rights, Human Rights Award of the Albert Schweitzer Institute for Humanities, Award for Tolerance of Serbia and Montenegro Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Pro Merit Medal of the Council of Europe, East –West Institute Alumni Association Honour, the MDG3 Torch, the Star of Italian Solidarity and the French Legion of Honour.