Inside Geneva: What does it take to lead the UN human rights office?

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will leave office at the end of August. The hunt is on for the world’s new human rights leader.

This content was published on July 12, 2022 - 12:00

Podcast host Imogen Foulkes asks former United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein what it is like to do the job.

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“Most of my time I was writing to governments, talking to them, calling them, but I had no hesitation of going public when I felt we needed to go public,” says Zeid.

Does he have any advice for a new commissioner?

“Navi Pillay (former high commissioner) said the worst mistake you can make is to privilege any country. Don’t privilege any particular group or country,” he recalls.

And how risky is calling countries to account?

“Rather than you worry about how they may react to your statements, they ought to be worrying about what you might be saying about them,” answers Zeid.

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For more audio content from SWI, explore The Swiss Connection, a podcast with Swiss stories for the world.

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