UN Rights Chief Will Not Seek New Term 'In Current Geopolitical Context'

Henrietta Strickland
December 21, 2017

Zeid, a seasoned UN and Jordanian diplomat, assumed his functions as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sept. 1, 2014, succeeding South African former judge Navi Pillay whose term had begun in September 2008. His term comes to an end next summer.

His four-year term expires next September. "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".

The United Nations' top human rights official, a sharp critic of US President Donald Trump, declared Wednesday that he will not toe the line to seek re-election in his post.

Even as Hussein's email became public, Trump was threatening to cut off United States funding to countries that vote against his Israel policy at a UN General Assembly emergency session on Thursday.

While UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has spoken in support of al-Hussein, there are doubts about support from the five permanent members of the Security Council.

But, even under a skeptical Trump, the United States remains the single biggest donor to UN coffers and Guterres has been keen to develop ties with the USA ambassador to the body, Nikki Haley.

Zeid's office on September 25 also accused Russian Federation and its agents in Crimea of "grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extrajudicial execution". He has reportedly blamed his departure on the USA and other countries' alleged retreat from their commitment to human rights.

"The fact that he felt that he could not be re-appointed without compromising his voice reflects poorly on the state of world affairs and human rights at the United Nations", said Philippe Bolopion, the director of advocacy at Human Rights Watch.

During Trump's election campaign, Zeid had blasted the political newcomer's populist promise to ban Muslims from visiting or migrating to the United States "grossly irresponsible". He has continued to criticize Trump throughout his presidency.

Despite his intention to leave his post, Prince Zeid promised he will use his final months to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which marks its 70th anniversary next year.

"It has been an arduous year for many of us", Mr Al Hussein reflected in his email. He said he would advocate pushing back the "many trends across the world that seem to negate and deny the value of human rights".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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