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Guterres taps Chile's 1st woman prez to be UN rights chief

Press Trust of India  |  United Nations 

UN Antonio today nominated Chile's twice-serving and prominent women's to be the global body's next

Bachelet, 66, will succeed Jordanian Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who had been one of the most outspoken critics of abuses by the governments in many countries.

Following consultations with the Chairs of the regional groups of Member States, informed the of his intention to appoint as the next for Human Rights.

Her name now goes forward for consideration and approval by the 193-member UN

Bachelet, a women's rights champion, ended her second four-year term as earlier this year, having already held the post between 2006 and 2010.

She was the first woman to be elected to Chile's highest office. After her first term, she came to as the first-ever of the UN gender equality office, UN-Women. She also held ministerial portfolios in the Chilean as (2002-2004) and (2000-2002).

The UN Human Rights is the who speaks out for human rights across the whole UN system, strengthening human rights mechanisms; enhancing equality; fighting discrimination in all its forms; strengthening accountability and the rule of law; widening the democratic space and protecting the most vulnerable from all forms of human rights abuses.

Al-Hussein will step down from his role at the end of this month. He served a single term, beginning in 2014.

During his tenure, al-hussein had been outspoken in his criticism of abuses in dozens of countries from and to the US.

At a farewell conference at this month, he had said he does not regret speaking out against human rights abuses as "silence does not earn you any respect none."

In June, he released a first-ever report on in which he called for a commission of inquiry by the to conduct an independent, international investigation into the human rights situation.

had rejected that report, terming it as "fallacious, tendentious and motivated" and a selective compilation of largely unverified information.

In a strong reaction, the (MEA) had said the report is "overtly prejudiced", seeks to build a "false narrative" and violates the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Headquartered in Geneva, the Office of the for Human Rights (OHCHR) is mandated to promote and protect the universal exercise and full realisation of human rights across the world as established in the UN Charter.

Bachelet's nomination received cautious reactions from diplomats and human rights organisations.

US to the UN Nikki Haley said the US had withdrawn from the UN in part because of the Council's consistent failure to address extreme human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere, in and in particular.

"The failures of the make the Secretary-General's selection of a new High Commissioner for Human Rights all the more important," she said.

Haley said that the Human Rights Commissioner can have a strong voice on these critical issues, even when the Human Rights Council fails to live up to its name. It is incumbent on the Secretary-General's choice, Bachelet, to avoid the failures of the past.

"The UN has failed to adequately address major human rights crises in Iran, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the and elsewhere, or stop its chronic, with It is up to Ms to speak out against these failures rather than accept the status quo. We hope that she does. The will," she said.

of Kenneth Roth said that if selected, Bachelet will be taking on one of the world's most difficult jobs at a moment when human rights are under widespread attack.

"As a victim herself, she brings a unique perspective to the role on the importance of a vigorous defence of human rights. People worldwide will depend on her to be a public and forceful champion, especially where offenders are powerful," he said.

The withdrew from the Human Rights Council in June. Haley had called the Council a "cesspool of political bias" that disproportionately takes aim at and protects many rights abusers.

Al-Hussein's office had also criticised the over the separation of young children from parents at the country's borders amid a crackdown on illegal immigration.

He had cited remarks by of the that locking the children up separately from their parents constituted "government-sanctioned child abuse.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 11:40 IST
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