Ex-Chilean President nominated for UN Human Rights chief


United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has nominated former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to succeed the controversial Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Her nomination was sent by Guterres on Wednesday to the UN General Assembly which must approve the appointment.

Zeid’s four-year term ends this month and General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak had convened a session on August 3 to consider her nomination.

Zeid decided not seek a second term for which he was eligible.

Bachelet, who completed a second term as Chile’s President in March, personally experienced human rights violations during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

A doctor, she also has done advanced studies in defence in the US and served as health and defence minister — unique qualifications for a human rights chief who must confront military organisations involved in human rights violations that inflict physical and mental harm.

Bachelet now faces a task of reestablishing the credibility of her office and of the UN Human Rights Council, which have come under attack during Zeid’s stormy tenure.

Bachelet joined the UN in 2010 as the executive director of UN Women, the office for empowering women and for gender equality.

India had accused Zeid of being biased after he had issued a report on human rights violations in Kashmir and called for a Security Council investigation.

India slammed the report and Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said it reflected the clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information.

The US pulled out of the Human Rights Council in June with Permanent Representative Nikki Haley calling it a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights.

(With inputs from IANS)

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