Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, addresses the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland February 26, 2018.
The former United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has joined the board of Human Rights Watch, where he will be one of 34 directors overseeing the work of the organization, Human Rights Watch said today.
“We’re thrilled that Zeid is joining the board of Human Rights Watch at this crucial time, as we confront autocrats spreading hate and intolerance,” said Hassan Elmasry, co-chair of the Human Rights Watch board. His fellow co-chair, Robert Kissane, added: “From his early days with the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia, through his leadership around the International Criminal Court, and his role as the UN’s top rights official, Zeid has shown a remarkable commitment to improving the lives of the oppressed and marginalized.”
As UN high commissioner for human rights from 2014 to 2018, Zeid was known for speaking out against atrocities and abuse even when committed by influential governments. He refused to pull his punches for the powerful. He came to the position after 20 years as a diplomat, serving as Jordan’s ambassador to the UN and to the United States. He helped to create and advance the International Criminal Court, chairing complex legal negotiations over its statutes and serving as the first president of its guiding body.
As a junior official with the UN Protection Force in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zeid was profoundly affected by the plight of civilians during the 1992 to 1995 war. As Jordan’s permanent representative to the UN he led efforts to counter the threat of trafficking in nuclear materials.
“As someone who has long admired the outstanding work of Human Rights Watch, I’m honored to join the board at a time when oppression seems back in fashion and shame is on the retreat,” Zeid said.
Zeid was educated at Johns Hopkins and Cambridge universities.
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, with a staff of almost 500 working on nearly 100 countries.