Friday, 20 June 2008

Shortlist for next High Commissioner for Human Rights reported

This blog post was submitted by PhD candidate and Government of Ireland Scholar Pádraig McAuliffe, who is reading for a PhD entitled The Serious Crimes Process of East Timor in the Field of Human Rights Law under the supervision of CCJHR Co-Director, Dr. Siobhán Mullally

Human Rights Tribune reported yesterday that the UN panel created to shortlist candidates to replace Louise Arbour as High Commissioner for Human Rights has finally submitted the list to UNSG Ban Ki-Moon. On the list are Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, currently a judge at the ICC (International Criminal Court) and a former defence attorney for political prisoners during apartheid; Louis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, the former President of the Human Rights Council and Mexico’s Ambassador in Geneva; Francis Deng of Sudan, currently a UN special advisor for the prevention of genocide and José Ramos Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1996 and current President of East Timor.

Judge Pillay will be familiar to CCJHR students from her address earlier in the year, and is thought to be joint-favourite with de Alba. The other two candidacies are a little more puzzling. Ramos-Horta has only recently recovered from an assassination attempt in July and is currently presiding over a state that has recently pardoned a number of serious human rights violators. Only today he made possibly prejudicial remarks about one Angelita Pires, girlfriend of his would-be assassin Alfredo Reinado, who is under investigation for conspiracy. Francis Deng was Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan (1976-1980) and Sudanese ambassador to the United States, to Scandinavia, and to Canada. His candidacy is an interesting development given Sudan’s near-pariah status in the international community. However, he served during from 1972 to 1983, the only period since Sudan’s independence in 1956 when it has not been at war with people within its territory. He is also a former Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons (1994-2004).

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