World Uyghur Congress has asked for a credible, impartial and courageous champion of human rights around the world for the position of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
comes as High Commissioner UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s mandate will end on August 31, 2022
The appeal by the rights group also comes in the wake of Bachelet facing severe criticism for being too soft on China during a May visit in what could have been a golden chance to investigate the human rights situation in areas like Xinjiang and Tibet and to hold Beijing accountable for its abuses against Uyghurs and Tibetans, but it seems that the first visit of the rights body chief turned out to be a “wasted historic opportunity”.
The rights groups noted 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, and human rights communities in countries throughout the world face imminent threats to their survival.
In this context, the groups wrote to the UN member states and urged to actively engage with the office of the UN Secretary-General in order to voice their support for the appointment of a High Commissioner who will be a credible, impartial and courageous champion of human rights around the world.
They also asked the UN member states to advocate for an open, transparent and merit-based process for their selection, which would allow for the meaningful involvement of civil society.
“The post of High Commissioner should be filled by someone of high moral standing and personal integrity, and who is independent and impartial with competency and expertise in the field of human rights,” a joint statement by the rights groups said.
“It requires a human rights champion who is courageous and principled. The nominee should have a proven record of effective public advocacy, as well as demonstrated experience working with human rights defenders and victims of violations.”
The groups highlighted that 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, publicly calling out abuses and mobilizing protection efforts for human rights defenders and communities under threat should take precedence over a “friendly dialogue” or “political negotiations” with governments.”
The creation of the position of High Commissioner was, in part, an initiative first led by global civil society in response to the need within the international system for a strong, principled, outspoken and visible advocate for human rights, and unwavering defender of victims of human rights violations and abuses.
They said that 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 from around the world. Given that High Commissioner Bachelet’s mandate will end on 31 August 2022, it is imperative that this process move quickly.”
The statement added that 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 advocating for an outstanding candidate through a consultative process, we urge you to vigorously defend the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner, including through adequate resourcing. For our part, we 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.”