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.
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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, she has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.
Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and near Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working in New York at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.