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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to Serve Two More Years, by General Assembly Decision

Sixty-sixth General Assembly


110th Meeting (PM)

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to Serve

Two More Years, by General Assembly Decision


Candidates Approved for Two Seats on Committee for Programme and Coordination

Acting on the recommendation of the Secretary-General, the General Assembly this afternoon extended for two years the appointment of Navi Pillay as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Immediately following that decision, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser welcomed the reappointment of Ms. Pillay, whom, he said, worked tirelessly to promote human rights worldwide.  Her new term would begin on 1 September and expire on 31 August 2014.  “In directly addressing the most sensitive and vital issues of our time and in ensuring that the role of the United Nations in them is visible and palpable, she has expanded the range and reach of human rights,” he declared.

He said that Ms. Pillay, a native of South Africa, had long been an advocate in many countries and communities, defending the rights of women, children, detainees, and victims of torture and domestic violence.  She had also been on the front lines in the fight against hate crimes and all forms of discrimination, he said, extending on behalf of the Assembly, congratulations and wishes for success in her renewed mandate.

Taking the floor next, the representative of Syria said that the High Commissioner had taken hostile positions against Syria, accepting unfounded information and rejecting information from Syria that could shed light on the situation.  In addition, she had failed to adequately condemn terrorist activity in her country and had acted as a general prosecutor in recommending the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Despite that, she said, Syria went along with the consensus for the extension of her term in the hope that she would review her anti-Syria position and listen to the violations of human rights committed by terrorist groups against Syria.  It was also hoped that she would take a stand on eliminating sanctions on Syria imposed by various States, as they represented human rights violations.  She hoped the High Commissioner would work within her mandate, the Charter of the United Nations and international instruments on human rights, respecting the sovereignty of States and acting with impartiality.

Prior to her initial appointment in 2008, Ms. Pillay served as a judge on the International Criminal Court, following a position of Judge President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which she joined in 1995, after a prominent judicial career in South Africa, having been the first woman to start a law practice in South Africa’s Natal Province, providing legal defence for opponents of apartheid.  (See Press Release SG/A/1145 of 28 July 2008).

In other business, the Assembly, following up on decisions taken last month by the Economic and Social Council, approved the election of Japan to the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a term of office beginning today and expiring on 13 December 2013.  It also approved the election of Kazakhstan to serve on that body for a term that began today, but which would end on 31 May 2014.  (For more information, please see document A/66/316/Rev.1/Add.1)

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For information media. Not an official record.