Outgoing UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay delivered a final poignant report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, with many member states in the 47-member body hailing her contribution and rights advocacy in her six years in office.
“It has been an honour to serve,” the 72-year-old former South African Judge told the Council, following a broad critique of the human rights situation world over, including in the US, EU, Israel and many other parts of the world.
“Dalit or Brahmin, Peul or Pole, gay or heterosexual, tycoon or pauper, woman, child or man – regardless of our ethnicity, our age, our form of disability, our beliefs, or our economic might, all human beings are equal in dignity,” Navi Pillay told the world human rights body, in an impassioned appeal to the international community to keep fighting to safeguard the rights of all humankind.
Pillay said the reporting and analysis by her Office and calls for investigations have frequently been greeted with stone-walling and denial.
“Is this because we have criticised governments? Surely that is the nature of human rights advocacy – to speak truth to power; to confront privilege and entrenched hierarchy with an unshakeable belief in human dignity, equality and freedom,” she noted.
US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Keith Harper thanked High Commissioner Pillay for her outstanding leadership of the OHCHR.
“The OHCHR achieved numerous breakthroughs on critical human rights issues – from the Commissions of Inquiry on the DPRK (North Korea) and Syria to the human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka,” Harper noted.