Will the UN General Assembly have a say?

This from Inner City Press:

UN Human Rights Post Will Be Awarded Before Any Briefing of GA, Kerim Claims Input and Fight for his Office’s Funding

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 — With the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights post vacant for more than a week, the President of the UN General Assembly Srgjan Kerim claimed Wednesday that the GA will have input into the selection of the next Commissioner, by being briefed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “in the next ten days” about “the persons who are proposed.”

But minutes later Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas, when asked by Inner City Press if this meant Ban will brief the Assembly before announcing a winner, said no, the input has already been taken, the GA briefing will be after the decision has been made.

Srgjan Kerim said that he is scheduled to meet with Ban upon his return from the G-8 meetings in Japan, either Thursday or Friday, and that the input briefing of the Assembly will follow that. “The General Assembly will be involved,” he said, “that’s what we have agreed, it lifts the level of transparency.”

There seem to be differing understandings here between what was agreed, formal input by the General Assembly at a briefing about the “persons” (plural) being considered, or a briefing only after the winner has been selected.


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No decision yet – Asha Rose Migiro

The deadline came and went, but still no Human Rights Commissioner decision. Asha Rose Migiro, deputy Secretary General, told reporters the job search was still underway.

One only hopes the SG will allow some time after the announcement for a discussion of his candidate’s merits. Or are UN member countries content to rubber stamp whatever he advises?

Q: Can you describe for us here the activities to
find the next Human Rights High Commissioner – I know you are leading
the panel?

DSG: The process is still ongoing. We are still holding conversations
– we don’t call it interviews, because we are dealing with highly
qualified people, you know all those that we have heard the names of.
And the process is continuing – we have not yet come to that position.

Q: When do you expect a decision?

DSG: As soon as the Secretary-General is through with the process,
because we are at one stage and then the recommendations will be taken
to the Secretary-General, who will then make a decision as he deems

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Israel against Alfonso de Alba?

from Haaretz

Israel lobbies UN as Ban mulls appointment of new human rights chief

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press

Officials in Jerusalem are anxiously anticipating the United Nations’ upcoming appointment of a new human rights commissioner to replace Louise Arbour, the Canadian jurist and former Supreme Court judge who stepped down earlier this week.

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon interviews prospective candidates, Israeli officials are attempting to exert their influence in the hopes the world body taps a figure whom Jerusalem perceives as non-hostile.

Two candidates in particular are worrisome from Israel’s standpoint – Luis Alfonso de Alba, a Mexican diplomat who has expressed anti-Israel views in years past; and the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, who aroused Jerusalem’s ire after paying an official visit to Iran earlier this year.

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Hina Jilani – Human Rights lawyer award

Announcement should be coming soon; Pillay still seems to be a strong contender, but in the meantime this from International Law Prof Blog:

International Human Rights Lawyer Awards Announced

The American Bar Association’s Section of International Law announced today the recipients of its 2008 International Human Rights Lawyer Award: Asma Jahangir from Pakistan, Hina Jilani from Pakistan, Abdulrahman al-Lahem from Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Dadkhah from Iran.

HINA JILANI (Pakistan) co-founded, with her sister Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s first all-female legal practice in 1980. She is also one of the founders of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She is the United Nations special representative of the secretary-general on human rights defenders. In 2006, she was appointed to the U.N. International Fact-Finding Commission on Darfur.

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Mugabe calls for western sanctions to bolster Southern African democracy

This was too striking to ignore.

From Foreign Affairs, Winter 1987/88

Robert G. Mugabe is Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and currently chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement.

“As a nation with long-term interests in southern Africa and a fundamental commitment to the promotion of justice and democratic values, the United States cannot stand aside as a human tragedy of potentially immense proportions threatens to unfold in South Africa. The stakes are too high. At risk are the lives of thousands, possibly millions, of South Africans, black and white, the future political and economic viability of the entire southern third of the African continent, and history’s judgment of the United States.”

“It goes without saying that in South Africa such negotiations cannot take place from prison cells, and therefore political prisoners and detainees must be released and bans on individuals, organizations and political parties lifted, so the representatives of the people can take their places at the bargaining table. The alternatives, in the words of Mr. Botha’s predecessor, the late Mr. John Vorster, more than a decade ago, “are too ghastly to contemplate.” Civil war is already upon us. The Commonwealth’s Eminent Persons Group presented the reality clearly to the international community in their report, published more than a year ago.”

“Time has run out. Serious choices must be made now. Just as the leaders of the United States over a century ago chose to try to overcome their house divided and use the strength of freedom, equality and human dignity to build a powerful nation, we must make the choices necessary to assist South Africa in shortening this difficult period in its history and getting on the road to prosperity and peace. We must do this, not only in the interest of regional peace and security, but in the interest of global peace and stability, giving due and careful consideration to the future of our small planet.”

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Did Ramos Horta botch his bid?

A fun read from The Age

Not diplomatic: Did Ramos Horta botch his bid for UN job?

IT WAS Jose Ramos Horta’s Hamlet moment, and he played it for more than it was worth. He agonised for a month over what he called his great dilemma: to be, or to not be, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights?

He didn’t keep his internal torment to himself…

There were two assumptions in his indecision: he had the credentials for the job, and it was his for the taking. And there’s the rub. The first assumption was contentious. The second was false. And in publicly revealing his dilemma, he may have fumbled the diplomatic game he’d once played like a virtuoso.

read more


Also of note, from the Australian

“Mr Ramos Horta said an “idiot journalist” in New York had backed Mr Ban into a corner, and made him look like he was claiming the job was his.”

Aderito Hugo da Costa, a member of the AMP ruling coalition, said: “There is so much confusion behind what he has done. People need his focus, his attention on the country. He is always confusing people.

“Ban Ki-moon didn’t offer him a job. It is only coming from Ramos Horta. What is behind these moves? We just don’t know. It’s a big question for all East Timorese.”


Actually, feelers had been put out… this had been reported from NYC some time back. What really seems confusing here is the process of choosing a Human Rights Commissioner, and Mr Ramos Horta – at least in part – appears to have been a victim of that. How much better it would be to have this in the open.

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UN Watch: Micheline Calmy Rey

Not a name widely discussed, but this campaign from UN Watch raises the possible candidacy of the Swiss Foreign Minister. I have heard no independent confirmation of it yet… seems questionable whether the post would go to a European.


Tell the UN: Ask Tough Questions of Top Human Rights Contenders

Who will replace outgoing UN human rights chief Louise Arbour? According to the New York Times, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico is a top contender. But as inaugural chair of the UN Human Rights Council, he oversaw its descent from reform to regression. His reform package, pushed through in middle of the night, eliminated scrutiny of violations by Cuba and Belarus, while instituting the permanent indictment of Israel. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey is also vigorously campaigning…

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