High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet Credits: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

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NGOs call on UN Secretary-General and States to hold transparent, merit-based, consultative process to pick next UN High-Commissioner

In two open letters to the UN Secretary-General and UN member States, NGOs insist that the post of High Commissioner should be filled by someone of high moral standing and personal integrity, and who is independent and impartial and possesses competency and expertise in the field of human rights.

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Open letters to UN Secretary-General and to member States on the appointment process of the new High-Commissioner for Human Rights

In the two joint letters, NGOs emphasize that the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights is critical to the promotion and protection of human rights globally, particularly at a time when human rights standards and mechanisms face enormous pressure from powerful governments.

The post of High Commissioner should be filled by someone of high moral standing and personal integrity, and who is independent and impartial and possesses competency and expertise in the field of human rights. It requires a human rights champion who is courageous and principled. Your nominee should have a proven record of effective public advocacy, as well as demonstrated experience working with defenders and victims of violations. The post requires a strong commitment to addressing discrimination, inequality, oppression and injustice in all its forms, as well as combating impunity and pursuing redress and accountability for all human rights violations and abuses, including those committed by the most powerful governments. The High Commissioner’s role is to be the world’s leading human rights advocate, as distinct from the role of a diplomat or political envoy. Demonstrating solidarity with victims and publicly calling out abuses should take precedence over friendly dialogue with governments.

The process of nominating the next High Commissioner is critical to identifying the most qualified candidate and ensuring the credibility of their appointment. This process should be open, transparent and merit-based. It should involve wide and meaningful consultation with independent human rights organisations and human rights defenders. Given that High Commissioner Bachelet’s mandate will end on 31 August 2022, it is imperative that this process move quickly.

Human rights are primary values, legal obligations, and indispensable for peace, security and sustainable development. It is vital that the next High Commissioner be a compelling leader for human rights within the UN system and throughout the world. In addition to identifying an outstanding candidate through a consultative process, NGOs urge the UNSG and member States to vigorously defend the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner, including through adequate resourcing. For their part, the signatories pledge to support the High Commissioner and the Office of the High Commissioner in their principled and good faith efforts to promote and protect human rights worldwide.

Joint NGO letter to the UN Secretary General

Joint NGO letter to UN member States

On the appointment of the next High Commissioner: “A word of advice to the next High Commissioner for Human Rights: engage with UN human rights experts

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