Friday, July 25, 2008

Nomination of Navanethem Pillay as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ambassador William H. Luers, president of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), issued the following statement concerning the nomination by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of Navanethem Pillay to serve as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Hat tip to Chris Tangney


The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) welcomes the nomination of Navanethem Pillay of South Africa to succeed Louise Arbour as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Judge Pillay brings a distinguished professional career in law and human rights to her new post; she also has been a prominent voice over many years in support of women’s rights, particularly leading the international community to take strong positions on crimes perpetrated against women during conflict.

Judge Pillay currently serves as a judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and had previously been president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In this latter position, she was responsible for the administration and management of the tribunal and worked hard to overcome allegations of shortcomings in the operation of the ICTR. Judge Pillay led the tribunal to take advanced positions on crimes against women, especially establishing mass rape as a crime rather than assimilating it into more general criminal categories such as assault. The institutional impact of her work is undeniable: the Rome Statute creating the ICC recognizes such crimes, and the ICC has charged some of its present suspects and defendants with crimes against women.

Judge Pillay becomes High Commissioner for Human Rights at a pivotal moment in the history of this important United Nations post. Sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations is more than ever called upon to address human rights violations whenever and wherever they may occur. Judge Pillay has a strong reputation both as a leader and as an advocate for human rights and international justice that should enable her to work effectively with UN member-states and with such UN institutions as the Human Rights Council.

UNA-USA calls upon all UN member-states, particularly the United States, to support the nomination of Judge Pillay. We believe that Judge Pillay is singularly qualified to serve as High Commissioner in an era when human rights issues increasingly take center stage in relations among nations.

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