Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Dec17/09)
22 December 2017
Third World Network
Zeid not seeking second term as rights chief
Published in SUNS #8602 dated 22 December 2017
Geneva, 21 Dec (Kanaga Raja) - The United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, whose first four-year
term of office expires September next year, has reportedly decided
not to seek a second term.
Zeid is reported to have emailed a statement to his staff announcing
his decision not to seek a second term.
He is quoted as saying in the email: "After reflection, I have
decided not to seek a second four-year term."
"To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve
bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening
the independence and integrity of my voice - which is your voice."
A New York Times news report quoted him as saying in the email to
his staff: "There are many months ahead of us: months of struggle,
perhaps, and even grief - because although the past year has been
arduous for many of us, it has been appalling for many of the people
The report also quoted Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres, as saying: "The High Commissioner informed
the Secretary-General last week of his intention not to seek another
term. The High Commissioner has always enjoyed the full support of
Apart from being rather critical about several other countries including
Myanmar, particularly with respect to the plight of the Rohingya in
that country, Zeid has also been critical of the administration of
US President Donald Trump.
At a media briefing back in August, the High Commissioner drew attention
amongst others to what he said were President Trump's repeated attacks
on three of the most well-respected news organisations in the world
- The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN - repeatedly referring
to these organisations as liars and crooks; and in Arizona, where,
according to Zeid, Trump went as far as to refer to journalists as
really dishonest people, bad people who don't like the country, in
addition to the constant refrain to "fake news", when these
news organisations have specific codes of ethics and editorial boards.
The High Commissioner had said to call these news organisations "fake"
does tremendous damage. And to refer to individual journalists this
way, he said he has to ask the question: Is this not an incitement
for others to attack journalists? He believed that it could amount
to incitement. (See SUNS #8524 dated 31 August 2017).
As recently as 19 December, Zeid had denounced the recent killing
of a wheelchair-bound amputee by Israeli security forces close to
the fence between Gaza and Israel.
According to a UN news release, the person in question was Ibrahim
Nayef Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, a 29-year-old man who reportedly had both
his legs amputated following an attack by Israel on Gaza in 2008.
He was among the hundreds of Palestinians who were marching across
farm land towards the fence after Friday prayers on 15 December to
protest against the decision by the United States to recognise Jerusalem
as Israel's capital.
He was apparently killed by a bullet to the head when he was approximately
20 metres from the fence.
According to the news release, since President Trump's statement on
6 December vis-a-vis Jerusalem, protests have been held throughout
the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in occupied
The response by the Israeli security forces has resulted in five people
being killed, hundreds injured and large-scale arrests of Palestinians.
The use of live ammunition has resulted in over 220 people being injured
in Gaza, including 95 on Friday alone, in addition to tens of others
who sustained injuries from tear gas or rubber bullets.
The news release quoted the High Commissioner as saying: "This
level of casualties raises serious concerns as to whether the force
used by Israeli forces was properly calibrated to the threat".
"And these events, including the loss of five irreplaceable human
lives, can sadly be traced directly back to the unilateral US announcement
on the status of Jerusalem, which breaks international consensus and
was dangerously provocative," Zeid added.