The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has told the UN General Assembly that he intends to appoint Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan as the next UN high commissioner for human rights, replacing Navi Pillay, whose term, her second in the post, ends Aug. 31. The General Assembly must approve the nomination with a vote, which is likely to happen.
Prince Zeid is the first Arab to head the UN’s top human-rights job.
Pillay’s second term had been extended for only two years rather than the full four years. The United States has not welcomed her positions on Israel and Palestine.
Prince Zeid is Jordan’s ambassador to the UN, a position he also held from 2000 to 2007. Jordan is currently an elected member of the UN Security Council, and Prince Zeid left that spot recently without any convincing explanation, furthering rumors that he was preparing to be nominated as the high commissioner for human rights.
From 2007 to 2010, he was Jordan’s ambassador to the United States and a nonresident ambassador to Mexico. He also served as Jordan’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, with the rank of ambassador, from 1996 to 2000. Jordan is also the largest recipient of Syrian refugees swarming in from the three-year civil war.
Pillay, a South African jurist, has elevated the standing of the human-rights agency globally, surely one of the most controversial entities in the UN, speaking out continuously on the protection of human rights regardless of a country’s sway in global politics and possible repercussions. Her office, based in Geneva, said that she was returning to South Africa, where, among other activities, she would take up golf.