Jordan’s Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al Hussein, who is expected to take over from Navi Pillay as the UN High Commissioner for Human rights soon, is a seasoned human rights campaigner, who could be tough on Lanka if it does not take concrete steps towards addressing issues of war-time accountability and post-war ethnic reconciliation in the coming months.
Later this month, the outgoing High Commissioner is to announce a team of investigators to visit Lanka and report on the progress made by the Lankan government in addressing issues flagged by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution in March this year.
Colombo has unofficially said that it will not allow an investigating team, having rejected the US-sponsored resolution at the UNHRC. If a formal decision to this effect is taken, Zeid could take a stern view given his past record on the issue of international intervention to correct human rights wrongs. He could, like Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, ask the team to collect information from outside and submit a report as the Mazruki Darusman panel did in 2011.
Last year, as Jordan’s Permanent Representative in the UN, Zeid supported the US call for a boycott of a UN General Assembly session on “international justice” allegedly called only to complain about the treatment of Serbs by the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia. Zeid spoke up for the victims of the genocide and dubbed the calling of the General Assembly session an “impeachable offense.” Zeid had been a Political Officer with the UN Protection Force in former Yugoslavia.
His country Jordan, has assumed added importance in the UN system since it was elected as the Asian-Arab representative in the UN Security Council (UNSC). That Zeid’s name has been proposed by Secretary General Ban shows that he will be on the same page as Ban on Lanka.