Guterres to nominate Austrian as new UN human rights chief

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will propose Austrian Volker Turk to be the next High Commissioner for Human Rights, a UN document showed.

Turk, who now works in Guterres’ office as undersecretary-general for policy, will succeed Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, whose term ended on August 31. The appointment still needs to be approved by the UN General Assembly in New York.

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If Turk is confirmed, his most immediate challenge will be dealing with the follow-up to a report on China’s Xinjiang region published by his predecessor minutes before his departure.

The report found that China’s “arbitrary and discriminatory detention” of Uighurs and other Muslims in its Xinjiang region could constitute crimes against humanity.

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China vehemently denies any abuses in Xinjiang.

The high commissioner plays a critical role in speaking out against the rollback of freedoms at a time when autocracies are gaining influence at the expense of democracy.

Other candidates for the position included career diplomat Federico Villegas of Argentina and Adama Dieng of Senegal, who previously advised Guterres on preventing genocide.

Phil Lynch, executive director of the International Human Rights Service, said Turk’s selection lacked transparency and consultation with independent civil society.

“The secretary-general missed a key opportunity to build the legitimacy and authority of the next high commissioner,” Lynch said.

Typically, Guterres consults with the permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – before selecting the High Commissioner. It was not immediately clear whether this was done with Turk.

Source: CNN Brasil

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