The new United Nations high commissioner for human rights is a Jordanian prince, longtime diplomat, and the first Arab and Muslim to hold the influential position.
Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein assumed the four-year, Geneva-based job a week ago, replacing South African jurist Navi Pillay after winning unanimous support from the U.N. General Assembly in June.
The 50-year-old Zeid, educated in the United States and Britain, has been Jordan's ambassador to the U.N. twice in the last 14 years, with a three-year break when he served as Amman's top envoy in Washington.
He has been a strong advocate for international justice, playing a key role in the creation of the International Criminal Court. (Prince Zeid, Veteran Jordanian Envoy, Begins UN Rights Post, Voice of America 8 Sept. 2014)
The mandate section of the Statement is worth reading for a sense of the issues that will likely receive heightened attention for the coming year. There are few surprises, but also great potential for significant push back. The war between Jews and Muslims, principally among Israel and Palestine, remains of central interest to the powers in Geneva. Tentative,attentive is paid to the Russian entanglement in Ukraine, but also to the delicts of Western states that have recently been popularized in the global press. Sadly, the laundry list approach to human rights wrongs may as well so a dis service to the important task of the Human Rights Council which appears to conflate and homogenize such actions, and which tends to make it difficult to discern a necessary systemicity in thew work of the OHCHR. Perhaps an evolution from the current practice is in order. That is not (and perhaps necessarily not) reflected in the laundry list that suggests the range of tasks before the OHCHR. It will be interesting to see how the referenced agendas are developed and how the relationships between states and the non-state actors, increasingly important to thew work of the Human Rights Council system, are developed.