Human Rights – Governance
Secretary-General Appoints Michelle Bachelet of Chile United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
10 August 2018
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, following approval by the General Assembly, has appointed Michelle Bachelet of Chile the next United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She will succeed Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the United Nations.
Ms. Bachelet ended her second four-year term as President of Chile in March 2018, having already held the position between 2006 and 2010. The first woman elected to Chile’s highest office, after her first term, she joined the United Nations as the first Executive Director of the newly established United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).
A long-time human rights champion and ground-breaking leader, Ms. Bachelet is a paediatrician who began her Government career as an adviser in the Ministry of Health, rising quickly to become the first woman to lead Chile’s Health Ministry in 2000 and its Defence Ministry in 2002.
Ms. Bachelet became involved in Chilean human rights activism in the early 1970s. She and her parents were political prisoners, and her father, a general in the air force, died in prison. After their release, Ms. Bachelet and her mother spent several years in exile. She returned to Chile in 1979, finished school and became a paediatrician and public health advocate.
The holder of a medical degree, Ms. Bachelet also studied military strategy at Chile’s National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in the United States.
Zeid warmly welcomes appointment of new UN Human Rights Chief
GENEVA (10 August 2018) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday warmly welcomed the UN General Assembly’s appointment of Michelle Bachelet to succeed him when his mandate comes to an end on 31 August 2018.
“I am truly delighted by the appointment of Michelle Bachelet as the next UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Zeid said. “She has all the attributes – courage, perseverance, passion, and a deep commitment to human rights – to make her a successful High Commissioner. The UN Human Rights Office looks forward to welcoming her and working under her leadership for the promotion and protection of all human rights, for everyone, everywhere.”
Bachelet most recently served as President of Chile (from 2014 to 2018, and 2006 to 2010). She was the first Executive Director of UN-Women between 2010 and 2013. She has also served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Health in Chile. The UN General Assembly today approved the UN Secretary-General’s appointment of Bachelet for a four-year term as High Commissioner.
Michelle Bachelet will be the seventh High Commissioner since the Office was created in 1993. Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein has been in office since 1 September 2014. His predecessors are: José Ayala-Lasso (1994-97); Mary Robinson (1997-2002); Sergio Vieira de Mello (2002-03); Louise Arbour (2004-08); and Navi Pillay (2008-14).