The UN’s human rights chief has had enough and now he’s speaking out
July 23, 2018 11:54 AM   Subscribe

When Zeid became the UN high commissioner for human rights in 2014, no-one expected him to become a warrior, campaigner, target, hero. Activists were aghast that a Jordanian prince had been appointed to take on the world’s elites. Jordan has historically been more known for torture than democracy, and despite reforms, a recent Human Rights Watch report found “restrictions on free expression, free assembly, and women’s rights.”
posted by infini (11 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
"Human rights violations are the sharp zig-zag lines of a seismograph flashing out warnings of a coming earthquake. They are shuddering faster and higher. This resurgent malice, irresponsibility and eye-watering stupidity are like steam at high pressure being fed into the closed chamber of world events.”
posted by fritillary at 12:29 PM on July 23, 2018 [17 favorites]

... one has to wonder, is this how the idealism of 1948 ends? The retirement of a diplomat in a world of fake news and 3am tweets. Where the truth is traduced, the vulnerable are scapegoated and the rules to contain our worst instincts are ripped apart.

It's distressing to see my own personal pessimism about humanity's current state and future being mirrored more often in mainstream journalism.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:00 PM on July 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

Definitely a timely profile. I remember the furor about his appointment back then, and it's nice to see that everybody was wrong about him.

Here's my Obligatory Depressing Pull Quote: "Do we still have an international community?"
posted by tobascodagama at 1:08 PM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the article. It was nice to read about someone taking a moral stance instead of a "strategic" one.
posted by clawsoon at 1:25 PM on July 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Here's my Obligatory Depressing Pull Quote: "Do we still have an international community?"

Here it is with more context:
But as he stood up to speak in 2016, he knew that it was the end of the chapter that started in 1989, or maybe even 1789. An age of austerity, migration and massive technological change was bringing the mix of immigration, insecurity and inequality that fuels extremism. Meanwhile in Syria, Russia bombed civilians to save them from terror and “a medical doctor presides over gas attacks and torture.”

In response, Zeid fears that the UN—imperfect but the best idea yet for global governance—is paralysed. The gamekeepers of the global order have turned into the poachers. “Do we still have an international community? The UN was exhaled by a world devastated by two savage wars.

Yet for some in power, there are alternatives to working together. They believe that only dreamers and fools think in terms of ‘we the people,’ or in we ‘nations united together,’ or equal rights. They see the UN as outdated, laughable nonsense—bureaucrats and gilded elites.”
My fear isn't that there is a lack of international community, but that it is too comfortable with the post-war norms to face the current enemies, in part because one of those enemies currently occupies the position that was formerly touted as "the leader of the free world."

Anyway, different parts of the international community are routing around this problem, as seen with this recent international multi-front collaborative effort: EU and China agree sweeping joint statement on climate action -- Leaders put climate at centre of relationship, push for agreement on the Paris deal rulebook and reject Trump’s efforts to undermine global cooperation ( Soila Apparicio and Karl Mathiesen for Climate Change News, 16 July 2018)
Climate change will become a “main pillar” of the relationship between the European Union and China, said leaders on Monday.

The joint statement, adopted at a summit in Beijing, committed the world’s largest and third largest carbon polluters to driving progress in UN climate talks.

They said they would push for agreement on the rulebook of the Paris climate deal, negotiations over which stalled this year, with continuing disagreements between Chinese and European diplomats.

The statement, signed by European Council president Donald Tusk, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese premier Li Keqiang, also included:
  • An agreement to release long-term strategies for their low carbon development by 2020
  • Agreement to step up their efforts before 2020
  • “Triangular” cooperation with developing countries to increase their capacity to combat climate change and build clean energy
  • A commitment to exchange knowledge on clean energy and explore the development of interconnecting networks
The statement also called on “all parties” to uphold the Paris deal. That includes Donald Trump’s US, which remains a signatory until 2020.
And that's the other thing - while leaders can be replaced quickly, there are some agreements that are bigger than them (though making Trump do anything to support this is another matter).

And one final thought - I wish the article's author, Tom Fletcher, named names.
“Maybe it is cathartic,” mutters one senior New York figure, “but it is not strategic. The secretary general wishes he would pick his battles.”
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BATTLE, but clearly not one this senior figure is willing to back.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:52 PM on July 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Well, what I got out of the "Do we still have an international community?" is exactly that. The people who are supposed to be in charge of that seem to be more interested in maintaining their personal status -- which necessarily involves tiptoeing around the two Security Council members who are actively working to dismantle what little sense of community still exists on the international level.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:13 PM on July 23, 2018

When you're too offensive for a Jordanian prince...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:57 PM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is the author of this article the same dude who used to be the UK Ambassador to Lebanon?
posted by lauranesson at 7:17 PM on July 23, 2018

Yep, this fellow.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 8:03 PM on July 23, 2018

One wonders about the author's sources though. No one thinks Bachelet is courageous anymore.
posted by ipsative at 11:17 PM on July 23, 2018

Who is 'no one'?
posted by infini at 12:39 AM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

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