[Ip-health] Reuters: U.N. taps Chile's Bachelet to be human rights chief: diplomats

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Aug 8 11:26:42 PDT 2018



U.N. taps Chile's Bachelet to be human rights chief: diplomats

Michelle Nichols


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has
chosen former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to be the world body’s
new human rights chief, five diplomats said on Wednesday.

Bachelet now needs to be approved by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly.
She would replace Jordan’s outspoken Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who is stepping
down at the end of the month after one four-year term in the Geneva-based

A group of ambassadors was told of the decision on Tuesday by U.N. Deputy
Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, said the diplomats, speaking on condition
of anonymity.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said he expected Guterres to notify General
Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak of his decision “very soon,” adding: “At
this point I don’t have a name to confirm or announce.”

Bachelet, a victim of torture under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet,
was conservative Chile’s first female leader.

The pediatrician-turned-politician first served as president of Chile from
2006 to 2010. Her amiable style, welfare policies and steady economic
growth in one of the region’s most developed countries made her popular.

Bachelet then led U.N. Women, a body for gender equality and the
empowerment of women, between 2010 and 2013, before returning to Chile
where she again served as president from 2014 to 2018, pushing for a more
radical tax-and-spend agenda, as well as broader abortion rights and gay

Zeid told reporters in New York earlier this month that he did not seek a
second term because he did not believe he would have the support of key
world powers, including the United States, China and Russia.

Zeid has been strongly critical of some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s
policies and his attacks on the media.

“Someone said to me ‘just come out swinging’ and that’s what I did,” Zeid
said of advice he was given when he started the job in 2014. “We do not
bring shame on governments, they shame themselves.”

Zeid said the pressure of the human rights job was intense. After a tough
week last year, his wife recommended he watch feel-good reality television
show “The Great British Bake Off” to take his mind off human rights abuses.

“This man pulls out a soufflé just before the competition ends and the
thing collapses,” he said. “I burst into tears and I couldn’t stop.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bill Trott and Rosalba O'Brien

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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