UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, who has openly criticized powerful governments, including the Trump administration, has made the unusual decision to not seek a second four-year term, saying it “might involve bending a knee in supplication.”
The decision by the official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and former diplomat, was conveyed in a short statement that was emailed to his staff early Wednesday and shared with The New York Times. His four-year term expires next September.
“After reflection, I have decided not to seek a second four-year term,” he wrote. “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.”
Most United Nations officials serve as long as their mandate allows. Of the previous human rights chiefs, not one has served a full four-year second term.
It has been unclear for months whether Mr. al-Hussein’s boss, Secretary General António Guterres, would support him in seeking a second term or whether the five veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council would use their influence to block it. Mr. al-Hussein has been critical of all of them.
He has been outspoken about the Russian-backed government of Syria. He has warned of the prospects of genocide by the Chinese-backed government of Myanmar. And he has called out the Trump administration several times, most pointedly on the travel ban against citizens of Muslim-majority countries and after the demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. Read more via New York Times