Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

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At a protest in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, September 2023. Raneen Sawafta / Reuters

Israelis may be preoccupied with the bitter battle over controversial judicial reforms proposed by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but another radical effort is getting much less attention. Members of Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet seek nothing less than the de facto annexation of the West Bank. If they get their way, it could have a profound effect on the democratic nature of Israel and on the stability of the Middle East.

When Netanyahu brought two extreme, ultranationalist parties—the Religious Zionist Party and the Jewish Home Party—into his ruling coalition, he effectively handed control of his government to two ideologues: Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is minister of national security, and Bezalel Smotrich, who is finance minister but who has also been given a special role in the defense ministry.…  Seguir leyendo »

Transmission towers in Soweto, South Africa, September 2022. Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

The 28th annual UN Climate Change Conference will begin on November 30 in Dubai, coming on the heels of the UN secretary-general’s Climate Ambition Summit in late September. The task facing the two hosts is stark: to jumpstart credible multinational action on climate change where previous summits have failed. Evidence is mounting that a climate apocalypse is coming, and fast. This past summer, large swaths of the United States and southern Europe sweltered in temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and exceptional wildfires and floods hit Canada and South Asia.

In 2020, UN scientists still considered it unlikely that the world’s average temperature would rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above the late nineteenth century’s average—the threshold that, once crossed, would launch a phase in which the scale and speed of warming will outstrip the world’s ability to predict or manage its impacts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kofi Annan’s Lessons in Global Leadership

The world is facing a set of acute crises without recent parallel: a war in Europe that could escalate into a nuclear conflict, skyrocketing food prices that are hitting the poor the hardest, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate emergency. We need principled statesmen and women to forge bold, morally consistent responses to these and other global problems. Sadly, such leaders are in short supply.

Many politicians prefer to advocate polarizing policies, avoid hard choices, and deny the scale of the threats at hand. Others have tried to address these issues honestly. But those who favor cooperation and solidarity in dealing with global threats are on the defensive, as last year’s underwhelming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and grossly unequal global access to COVID-19 vaccines clearly illustrate.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the video Op-Ed above, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, argues that world leaders are weak, shortsighted and mediocre, and no longer willing or able to defend human rights. Abuses used to be called out and stopped, and human rights offenders had something to fear. Today, they are met with silence instead.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018. Previously he spent 18 years as a diplomat helping to establish the International Criminal Court and serving on the Security Council. He is now the Distinguished Global Leader in Residence at the Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania.

Two girls watch a World Cup soccer match on June 18, 2014, in a holding area for immigrant children in Nogales, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Four years as the U.N. high commissioner for human rights have brought me many luminous encounters and desperate struggles, much painful and shocking information, and some profound lessons that may take many years to fully assimilate.

I have constantly circled back to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, where this story truly began. It was a time of slaughter and terrible suffering, with broken economies and nations emerging from the ashes of two global wars, an immense genocide, atomic destruction and the Great Depression. Finding solutions that could ensure global — and national — peace was a matter of the starkest kind of survival.…  Seguir leyendo »

Berta Caceres, who was murdered, at the banks of the Gualcarque River in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) and the people of Rio Blanco maintained a struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project, saying that it poses grave threats to local environment, river and indigenous Lenca people. Tim Russo

One year ago, we awoke to the shocking news of the murder in Honduras of Berta Cáceres, recipient of the 2015 Goldman environmental prize, in response to her campaign to stop the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam being built on indigenous Lenca territory.

Cáceres had received more than 30 death threats during her campaign. Foreign backers of the Agua Zarca dam have suspended lending. But threats to those opposing development projects have never been higher.
Over the past year, at least six more campaigners have been killed in Honduras including, just over two weeks ago, José de los Santos Sevilla, the leader of the indigenous Tolupán people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al inicio de esta primavera, fui en auto hasta un lugar hermoso en la margen sur del Lago de Ginebra. Mi destino era el Hotel Royale en Évian-les-Bains. Fue allí donde, en julio de 1938, 32 países se reunieron para una discusión bochornosa que prácticamente ha quedado borrada de nuestra memoria.

Convocada por el presidente de Estados Unidos Franklin D. Roosevelt en respuesta a la inmensa crisis de refugiados desatada por el antisemitismo virulento de Hitler, la conferencia de Évian fue una catástrofe. Y debe recordarse su resultado desastroso a la luz de la actual crisis de migración de Europa.

Supuestamente, la conferencia de Évian iba a ocuparse de la situación de cientos de miles de judíos alemanes y austríacos que buscaban desesperadamente un refugio.…  Seguir leyendo »