🇺🇳 UN human rights chief: ‘My job is not to defend governments’ | Talk to Al Jazeera

Share it with your friends Like

Thanks! Share it with your friends!

Close

In the four years since Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein became the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, attacks on people’s safety and dignity have been reported all over the world.

From Myanmar’s campaign to drive hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya from the country, to the brutal wars in Yemen and Syria, human rights are under extreme pressure.

Hussein is well-known as an outspoken critic of world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.

He himself has been criticised for pointing out where countries have failed to preserve human rights. Hussein is stepping down at the end of August and will be replaced by former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Before his departure, the outgoing human rights chief sat down with Al Jazeera to discuss areas where human rights are under extreme pressure and what should be done to protect these freedoms.

On criticism by governments of the job he has done:
“The job of high commissioner is to effectively be the ambassador of human rights. It means that you have human rights law and you have obligations upon states to abide by the law, and where they don’t do, so you then have to defend the victims who either are deprived of their rights or discriminated against when it comes to their rights or they live in fear.”

“My job is not to defend governments, they can do that themselves, my job was to defend the rights of everyone else, individuals.”

“In that sense, I knew early on that I was not going to have the backing of the permanent members of the Security Council. Actually, I would be concerned if I was on the outside and I’d see the high commissioner had gotten the support of the P5 because I would suspect he or she would not have done the job properly.”

“It almost goes without saying that the permanent five enjoy a privileged status here in New York because of the use of the right to veto they have in the Security Council.”

“But in Geneva, they don’t. They’re just one of 47 members of the human rights council if they’re serving on the human rights council, so we in the human rights community look at their records the same we look at anyone else’s records, and they don’t like that.”

On the refugee crisis
“The number of people on the move globally is in the range of about four, maybe 4.5 percent. So, 95 percent and above of people on this planet are static, they stay within their countries.”

“All this hysteria that we see, the panic, the trending towards the more extreme demagoguery, is as a result of this small percentage of people that are actually moving across the planet.”

“[The xenophobia] comes from recognition by politicians. Whatever the ills in society, whatever the miscues by previous governments, the inability of previous or present governments to cope with certain circumstances, then you pinpoint the problems on these communities that seem different, that seem alien, that seem to be vying for jobs, and you turn the hatred on them.”

“This is an old device, the sad part of it is that it works and people tend to out of fear adhere to it and politicians know it.”

“The cautionary tale to this is that the logical extension of it is a sour outcome. If you get chauvinistic nationalism, bigotry, some sort of racist undercurrent and it reaches a certain pitch, traditionally when we look at the historic record it’s not easy to dismantle it.”

“What you tend to find is that conflict arises from it, because suddenly you’re telling people that they’re no longer special, that we’re all endowed with the same rights and that we needed to be treated equally, whether on the basis of gender, ethnicity, whatever the circumstances may be.”

On North Korea’s human rights abuses
“Perhaps in the context of the immediate discussions, [the human rights record of North Korea] is not being mentioned, but I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to forget given severity of the human rights violations detailed in the Kirby commission’s report and also by our office.”

“There is a fear that if the negotiations were to mature that somehow these issues would be downgraded, and that’s a fear we have with regards to many conflicts that begin to wind down.”

More from Talk To Al Jazeera on:

YouTube – aje.io/ttajYT
Facebook – facebook.com/talktoaj
Twitter – twitter.com/talktoaljazeera
Website – www.aljazeera.com/talktojazeera/

– Subscribe to our channel: aje.io/AJSubscribe
– Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/AJEnglish
– Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aljazeera
– Check our website: www.aljazeera.com/

Comments

Aamir khan says:

Zeid thanks for everything you did

Umer Zahid says:

Did you make any report on Saudi government??

Dick Cheney says:

Then find a different job.

T WE says:

I don't mind criticism when it's deserved, but I do expect the degree of it to be fair when compared with everyone's actions. The fact that this guy made such a point to criticize Trump more than people like Kim Jong un or Venezuela's Maduro or Assad or China's ethnic cleansing of Uighurs shows he just wanted to be in the spotlight and attack Trump. Good riddance.

Jinu says:

UN HR chief is a hypocrite…

Raj Kumar says:

Yes, it's to defend terrorists like the Kashmiris in India and the Pakistani terror state

Judie G. says:

Defending the invasion of third world migrants as if they have rights to the societies build by more competent people. Send foreign aid and enlist people who want to help to go to these countries and spend their lives helping bring the third world up to the standards all human beings should enjoy in their own countries.

Covert Puppytwo says:

In Zeid Ra'aad al-Hussein reign the UN Human Right organization has failed to attack Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar in their well known and well publicized lack of Human Rights.

Farhad Rouhi says:

Very good program; thx AJ

Aoi Rose says:

Saudi savage murderer state should be sanctioned by the UN.

sutarmi sutarmi says:

BERARTI MASIH KOSONG NOL BILAYKAN 707 TAHUN LALU BAHKAN SAMPAI 707 TAHUN MENDAYANG MASIH KOSONG NOL BILAT JUGA SEKARANG JUGA KOSONGKAN KOTA MEKKAH KOTA MEKKAH DIPINDAHKAN KE BRAZIL AMERIKA SERIKAT DAN RUSAI TEEHADAP SELURUH DUNUA PADA SELURUH BUMI LANGIT DAN LAUT SERTA BUMI LAUT DAN ISI LANGIT DAN BUMI SELURUH DUNIA!!!!!!! MASIH NOL BILAT BERARTI MASIH KOSNG BULAN 0 (NOL) BULAT TIDAJ ADA ISINYA KOSING MELOMPING BUMI DAN LANGIT SERTA ISINYA!!!!!!.

Write a comment

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: