Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein assumed his functions as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 1 September 2014, following the General Assembly’s approval on 16 June 2014 of his appointment by the United Nations Secretary-General. He will be the seventh individual to lead the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the first Asian, Muslim and Arab to do so.
A veteran multilateral diplomat, Zeid was previously Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, a post he held from September 2010 until July 2014, and which he also held from 2000 to 2007. From 2007 to 2010 he was Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States of America. He served as Jordan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, with the rank of Ambassador, from 1996 to 2000. In January 2014, he was President of the UN Security Council and chaired the Security Council’s 1533 and 1521 committees with regard to two sanctions regimes regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia.
Zeid’s professional experience demonstrates his long familiarity with international criminal justice, international law, UN peacekeeping, post-conflict peace-building, international development, and counter- nuclear terrorism. He played a central role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, chairing the complex negotiations regarding the elements of individual offences amounting to genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes. Courts around the world now cite as authoritative the definition for ‘crimes against humanity’ refined by the ‘elements’.
In September 2002, Zeid was elected the first President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. At that time, the Court was only a plan on paper, and over the next three years he oversaw the election of the first 18 judges, mediated selection of the Court’s first president, and led efforts to name the Court’s first prosecutor – laying out a functioning institution, despite considerable budgetary pressures and criticism of the Court from several leading nations.
Subsequently, in 2009, he was asked to chair the closing stages of the intricate negotiations over the crime of aggression -- identified by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg as that "supreme international crime" – specifically with respect to its legal definition and the conditions for the court’s exercise of jurisdiction over it. Those negotiations ended successfully and with consensus in Kampala, Uganda, in June 2010.
In 2004, Zeid was appointed by his government as Jordan’s representative, and head of delegation, before the International Court of Justice in the matter relating to the wall being built by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He also represented Jordan before the International Court of Justice in December 2009 in the advisory proceedings relating to Kosovo's declaration of independence.
Zeid also represented Jordan on Nuclear Security following the Washington Summit on Nuclear Security, convened in April 2010, which kicked off a concerted international effort to blunt the threat of nuclear terrorism. In this context, he spearheaded work on one of the main pillars of the summit: the establishment of counter nuclear-smuggling teams.
Zeid’s knowledge of peacekeeping is extensive. He served as a political affairs officer in UNPROFOR, in the former Yugoslavia, from February 1994 to February 1996. In 2004, following allegations of widespread abuse being committed by UN peacekeepers, he was named Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. His report, produced in 2005, provided, for the first time, a comprehensive strategy for the elimination of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Operations, and has been called “revolutionary” by experts. In 2012, Zeid was chosen by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as one of five experts to serve on his “Senior Advisory Group” regarding reimbursements to countries contributing peacekeeping troops.
He also chaired the Consultative Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and led an effort to establish greater strategic direction for the Fund (2004-2007). He recently pledged to be a Geneva Gender Champion, committing to advance gender equality in OHCHR and in international fora.
Zeid holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Johns Hopkins University and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Cambridge University (Christ’s College). On 14 June 2008, he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by the Southern California Institute of Law for his work on international justice. In 1989, he also received his commission as an officer in the Jordanian desert police (the successor to the Arab Legion) and saw service with them until 1994.
Zeid has been a member of the advisory committee to “The Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation” based in The Hague. He further served on the international advisory councils of “The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation”; the “International Peace Institute” and “The Security Council Report”. He has been an honorary member of the advisory board of “The Center for Global Affairs” at New York University; a member of the international advisory board of “The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life” at Brandeis University; and a member of the Advisory Board for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. He also served as a member of the World Bank's Advisory Council for the World Development Report 2011.
He is married to Princess Sarah Zeid, and they have two daughters and a son.
Download print-quality photo.
Dr. Uchenna Emelonye has been appointed the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda. He brings to this position over two decades of practicing and programming experience as human rights attorney. As Head of Office, he is charged with formulating strategies, vision and direction of OHCHR-Uganda country office. Prior to this position, Uchenna was the Senior Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations Country Team (UNCT-Kenya). His responsibility on this position was to advice the UNCT on human rights and rule of law issues; as well as support the capacity of state institutions and CSO’s on human rights mainstreaming.
Previously, Uchenna was the Head, Governance, Institutional and Justice Reform Division of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO-Rome). His remit on this position was amongst other things to oversee IDLO's global work on legal, judicial and institutional reforms in post conflict and transition countries. In this position, he supported the drafting of the bill of rights and rule of law chapters of the constitutions of Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia. He also facilitated the development of national justice strategies of the Republic of Yemen and Afghanistan and the articulation of the human rights action plan of the government of Ethiopia.
Amongst his varied positions, Uchenna was Judicial Affairs Officer/Team Leader of the United Nations-African Union Mission Darfur; Human Rights Officer, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Kosovo; Chief-of-Party, RCN Justice and Démocratie Brussels Belgium; Rule of Law Coordinator, International Rescue Committee New York; Human Rights Officer, United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan; and Country Director, Constitutional Rights Project Nigeria.
Uchenna holds a doctorate degree in Laws (LL.D) from University of Helsinki Finland; master’s degree in Human Rights Law (LL.M) from Central European University Budapest Hungary; master’s degree in Law (LL.M) and bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B) from Abia State University Nigeria. He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1994. Amongst numerous peer reviewed articles, Uchenna has authored and contributed chapters to 8 books in the area of human rights, protection and rule of law. Uchenna is married to Abigail Emelonye and they are blessed with three children.
Download print-quality photo.