UN General Assembly Appoints New UN Human Rights Chief

AKP Phnom Penh, August 14, 2018 —

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday last week warmly welcomed the UN General Assembly’s appointment of Ms. Michelle Bachelet to succeed him when his mandate comes to an end on Aug. 31 2018, according to a news release from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“I am truly delighted by the appointment of Michelle Bachelet as the next UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Mr. Zeid said. “She has all the attributes – courage, perseverance, passion, and a deep commitment to human rights – to make her a successful High Commissioner. The UN Human Rights Office looks forward to welcoming her and working under her leadership for the promotion and protection of all human rights, for everyone, everywhere.”

Ms. Bachelet most recently served as President of Chile (from 2014 to 2018, and 2006 to 2010). She was the first Executive Director of UN-Women between 2010 and 2013. She has also served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Health in Chile. The UN General Assembly on Aug. 10 approved the UN Secretary-General’s appointment of Bachelet for a four-year term as High Commissioner.

Ms. Michelle Bachelet will be the seventh High Commissioner since the Office was created in 1993.

Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein has been in office since Sept. 1, 2014. His predecessors are: José Ayala-Lasso (1994-97); Mary Robinson (1997-2002); Sergio Vieira de Mello (2002-03); Louise Arbour (2004-08); and Navi Pillay (2008-14).

The UN Human Rights Office has approximately 1,300 staff and collaborates with some 700 human rights officers embedded in UN peace missions or political offices. In total, this institution has a presence in 67 countries around the world including Cambodia, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

For Cambodia, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been operating since October 1993.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords had given the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) a mandate to monitor the human rights situation during the transitional period (1991-1993). Once the work of UNTAC was concluded, the Accords mandated the United Nations to continue its human rights work in the country. The Office’s programme developed from this mandate. The Office evolved from a large presence immediately after the conflict (with 7 sub-national offices) to a development-focused office today with only one regional office.

The presence and mandate of the Office is governed by an annual resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as a bilateral agreement with the Royal Government. The Office is mandated to work closely with the Government, civil society organisations and interested Member States to support the Government’s duty to meet its obligations under international human rights law.

Its operation in Cambodia was made under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is an agreement signed by both the Office and the Government.


Ms. Michelle Bachelet

By Khan Sophirom