Prince Zeid al Hussein, longtime Jordan diplomat, ambassador and former U.N. peacekeeper, has been nominated to replace Navi Pillay as the new high commissioner for human rights for the U.N. Currently serving as the U.N. Ambassador for Jordan, Zeid has built a strong career rallying behind such issues as international justice and sexual violence. If appointed, many hope his position will help bring a voice to the Middle East, specifically at a time where many individual rights in the area are under strain.
Zeid will be replacing Navi Pillay, a South-African born woman who was the first female to have started a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Pillay has additionally served on the South African High Court and for the U.N. General Assembly for a total of eight years.
Pillay, whose four-year term was extended for two years, has worked to fight against domestic violence, and to improve economic, social and cultural rights.
Many hope Zeid’s new position will work to give answers to some of the injustice happening in the Middle East, and Zeid seems to be obliging. Showing interest in addressing horrific abuses in the three-year conflict in Syria, Zeid’s future position may bring as many burdens as it does advantages.
“Obviously a challenge is that he has to be willing to speak frankly about the record of silencing civil society, crushing peaceful protests, which is endemic in that region at this stage,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.
Jordan, with help from Luxembourg and Australia, has been working on a draft which would provide humanitarian aid into Syria through four border crossings without government approval. Hopeful that the new position will explore new possibilities for the U.N., fellow diplomats have continued to offer praise for Zeid’s nomination. “Great choice,” said France’s Gerard Araud, via Twitter. “A committed defender of human rights and international law.”
Zeid has appointed Dina Kawar as Jordan’s new representative to the U.N.
— Nicholas Magnanti