Tuesday, July 31, 2018
The Jacob Blaustein Lecture delivered by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in October 2017, is now available on-line, along with an introduction by Felice Gaer, the Blaustein Institute director. More information about the Blaustein Institute's work is available here.
In the lecture, the High Commissioner asks “What is happening to us?” and expresses dismay about the global retreat from human rights. He criticizes a number of world leaders, including presidents of Russia and China. He cites particular alarm at rhetoric from various Western officials and responds to the remarks by the US president before the UN General Assembly. Zeid characterizes the latter speech as “One part chauvinistic nationalisms. One part balance-of-power swordplay and a crumbling adherence to law…” Observing that “we have been here before,” the High Commissioner suggests that limiting international and domestic policy to security and sovereignty, and failing to include human rights considerations, will lead to calamitous results.
The High Commissioner calls for a robust response to the threats facing human rights today: “What would change the trajectory, would be the existence of a world-wide wave of popular support for universal human rights – pushing, prodding, holding their governments to the mark, and shaking-up the slumbering politicians. We must now intensify, greatly, our advocacy and expand our reach in a manner that is without precedent.”
On August 31, 2018, the four-year term in office of Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein will come to an end. He did not seek reappointment to a second term. Applications for the position -- the highest Human Rights officer within the UN -- are now closed, and the world awaits the next steps by the UN Secretary General.