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New High Commissioner for Human Rights
The post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was set up 20 years ago. The initial impetus came from NGOs – at the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights they pointed to the need for the UN to empower a high level official with a worldwide mandate to promote and protect human rights. A new High Commissioner, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan, has just been appointed and he will take up his post in August. He is the sixth High Commissioner; not one of his predecessors has served the full 8 years (two terms) allotted.
Prince Zeid faces many challenges: human rights crises rage in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and grow daily more alarming in Iraq and Syria, countries neighbouring his own; UN member states, not least in the Security Council, are more often divided than united on human rights questions, and the High Commissioner’s office is subject to almost unprecedented scrutiny and attack by some member states; reports point to rising discrimination and intolerance in many countries around the world, even as there is less freedom for local activists who defend human rights; and inequality within and between countries gets worse, and those with economic power resist efforts to be subject to human rights rules. The High Commissioner must confront these and many other challenges, and do so with just 3% of the UN’s regular budget.
How should he proceed? In a world of competing priorities, how to choose? What issues risk being ignored? What should distinguish this High Commissioner’s term in office?
A new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has just been appointed - Prince Zeid, Jordan’s UN Ambassador in New York. He will need to move quickly to improve the visibility and viability of the Office’s mandate in a changing global environment. Español, العربيةLatest responses: Camille François
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