Chile's first female president Michelle Bachelet will rise to human rights mission

The former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, was chosen by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to replace Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who will step down from the post at the end of the month after a four-year term.

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner is the principle official who speaks out for human rights across the whole UN system. Key duties are described as "strengthening human rights mechanisms, enhancing equality, fighting discrimination in all its forms, strengthening accountability and the rule of law, widening the democratic space and protecting the most vulnerable from all forms of human rights abuses".

Bachelet’s predecessor, al-Hussein, was noted for being outspoken. He regularly criticised President Trump’s policies and government, most recently over the decision to separate young children from their parents in a crackdown on immigration.

It is likely Bachelet will not shy away from confronting the hard issues either. During her Chilean presidency, she was noted for pushing for a more radical tax-and-spend agenda, as well as broader abortion rights and gay marriage. But she is first and foremost a women’s rights champion and this will be central to her manifesto in her new UN position.

“Women’s rights will certainly be at the forefront, but she [Bachelet] will also consider the broader picture,” Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale Law School, told FRANCE 24. “She has two important qualities that will be crucial to how she manages her new position. Firstly, she is a former president. She is only the second head of state to be high commissioner for human rights after Ireland’s former president, Mary Robinson. And this means she already has personal experience of meeting heads of state, she is used to sitting at the top table. So she cannot be shunted off on lowly junior representatives, as some of her predecessors have been. She can demand a meeting with a president and her reputation means she will get it. Read more via France24