Bound to happen but still…High Commissioner Zeid announces he will not seek second term

December 22, 2017

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, left, is not seeking a second term. CreditSalvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone, via Associated Press

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has made the unusual decision to not seek a second four-year term. The decision was conveyed in a short statement that was emailed to his staff early this Wednesday and shared with some media. “Next year will be the last of my mandate”..  “After reflection, I have decided not to seek a second four-year term. To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice — which is your voice.” “There are many months ahead of us: months of struggle, perhaps, and even grief — because although the past year has been arduous for us, it has been appalling for many of the people we serve” .

This is very much in line with his courageous statements and actions over the years often referred to in this blog [e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/14/un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-states-may-shut-my-office-out-but-they-will-not-shut-us-up/]. Still, a blow to the international human rights movement.

While most high level United Nations officials serve as long as their mandate allows, no single Human Rights Commissioner has served a full four-year second term. Zeid’s four-year term expires next September. It has been clear for months that some of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council would use their influence to block it. Mr. Zeid al-Hussein – to his credit – has been critical of all of them.

He has been outspoken about the Russian-backed government of Syria. He has warned of the prospects of genocide by the Chinese-backed government of Myanmar. And he has called out the Trump administration several times, most pointedly on the travel ban against citizens of Muslim-majority countries and after the demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville. Mr. al-Hussein’s willingness to take on the powerful by name, along with what he has described as the “eye-watering stupidity” of abusive governments, made him few friends. Mr. al-Hussein proved confounding to many by defying classification: the first human rights chief from the Middle East but a sharp critic of violations by Arab governments; a Muslim who condemned Islamic militants; and a Jordanian prince who discarded his title to take the job and become an advocate for victims.

[see also e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/15/martin-ennals-award-2016-relive-the-ceremony-in-13-minutes-or-in-full/]

——–

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/21/2017-the-year-even-the-u-n-human-rights-commissioner-gave-up-on-human-rights/?utm_term=.00b8792d71f7

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/world/un-human-rights-al-hussein.html

 

6 Responses to “Bound to happen but still…High Commissioner Zeid announces he will not seek second term”


  1. […] After the announcement in December 2017 by Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein of Jordan that he would not seek a second term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, I wrote that “while most high level United Nations officials serve as long as their mandate allows, no single Human Rights Commissioner has served a full four-year second term” [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/bound-to-happen-but-still-high-commissioner-zeid-announ…]. […]


  2. […] The High Commissioner will present his annual report in the last interactive dialogue of his term. Read here ISHR and other regional and international human rights organisations’ open letter to the Secretary General on the selection process of the next High Commissioner. [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/bound-to-happen-but-still-high-commissioner-zeid-anno…] […]


  3. […] outgoing U.N. human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on 26 February 2018. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/bound-to-happen-but-still-high-commissioner-zeid-announ…] And he was: Zeid delivered one of the strongest and clearest denunciations from a top U.N. […]


  4. […] The funding of the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva has also been cut. The current high commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, has announced that he will be stepping down this year and not seeking another term in the post, explaining to his staff that the lack of global support for protecting human rights made his job untenable. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/bound-to-happen-but-still-high-commissioner-zeid-announ…] […]


  5. […] Raad al-Hussein, who serves as the U.N. high commissioner for human rights but is leaving soon [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/bound-to-happen-but-still-high-commissioner-zeid-announ… was named “2018 Career Diplomat of the […]


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