Former Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet to be next UN human rights chief

Aug 10, 2018 14:01 IST
Michelle Bachelet

The United Nations on August 8, 2018 announced that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has chosen former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to be the UN’s new human rights chief. Bachelet would be succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who had been one of the most outspoken critics of abuses by the governments in many countries.

UN Chief Guterres informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Bachelet as the next United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right after consultations with the Chairs of the regional groups of Member States. Bachelet’s name will now go forward for consideration and approval by the 193-member UN General Assembly.

About Michelle Bachelet

The 66-year-old has served as the President of Chile twice, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018. Her second four-year term as President ended earlier this year.

She was the first woman in her country to occupy the top position and is known to be a strong advocate for women’s rights.

After her first term, she was chosen to be the first-ever Executive Director of the UN gender equality and women empowerment office, UN-Women, between 2010 and 2013.

In December 2013, Bachelet was re-elected as the president of Chile with over 62 per cent of the votes being in her favour. With this, she became the nation's first president to be re-elected since 1932.

Prior to her Presidential position, Bachelet held several ministerial portfolios in the Chilean Government including Minister of Defence (2002-2004) and Minister of Health (2000-2002).

About UN Human Rights High Commissioner

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner is the principle official 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.

Headquartered in Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner 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.

The current Human Rights Chief Al-Hussein will step down from his role at the end of August.

He served a single term, beginning in 2014. During his tenure, he had been outspoken in his criticism of abuses in dozens of countries from Myanmar and Hungary to the US.

Controversial Moves

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

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

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

The United States had withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018, accusing the body of "chronic bias" against Israel.


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