Outgoing UN rights chief delivers final remarks to council

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] delivered her final address [text] to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] as High Commissioner for Human Rights Tuesday. Pillay, a South African national, took up the post of High Commissioner in 2008, two years after the formation of the UN Humans Right Council. In her remarks the commissioner discussed the grave human rights violations she witnessed in her tenure but also praised the UN Security Council's "heightened recognition that human rights are fundamental to peace, security and development." Pillay warned of future challenges and that the international community despite warning signs had failed to prevent "conflicts and massive human rights violations" throughout the globe. She urged the UN and its member nations to "strengthen the rule of law at national and international levels" and to work to boost the ability of the international community to "respond decisively to warning signs." The commissioner concluded her remarks by stating:

All human rights violations are illegitimate, whether directed against dissenters and critics; migrants; minorities; indigenous peoples; or people of specific gender, religion, class, caste or race. Dalit or Brahmin, Peul or Pole, gay or heterosexual, tycoon or pauper, woman, child or man - regardless of our ethnicity; our age; our form of disability; our beliefs; or our economic might, all human beings are equal in dignity. And all, without discrimination, are entitled to the same rights. I urge this Council to continue to maintain the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, including the right to development.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] last Friday nominated [NYT report] Jordanian ambassador to the UN and relative of Jordan's royal family, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein to replace Pillay as High Commissioner.

Pillay has been a continuous and strong advocate for human rights throughout the globe. Her addresses and reports had become a regular part of the JURIST news cycle. Earlier this month she called on [JURIST report] Chinese authorities to release activists that have been detained for "creating a disturbance" by discussing the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. In May Pillay called on [JURIST report] the government of Morocco to enforce the human rights provisions in its 2011 constitution [text, PDF]. Also in May the commissioner condemned [JURIST report] the killing of a 25-year-old pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death in a so-called "honor killing."

 

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