Senior UN official nominated as next UN human rights commissioner

Senior UN official nominated as next UN human rights commissioner

Sergio Vieira de Mello
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has nominated the United Nations administrator who helped oversee East Timor's transition to independence to be the UN's next top human rights official, a spokesman for the world body said today in New York.

Following consultations with the chairmen of the five regional groups of Member States, the Secretary-General informed the UN General Assembly this morning of his intention to appoint Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil as the next UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Assembly is expected to approve the appointment tomorrow.

Until May, Mr. Vieira de Mello had been the head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). Prior to that, he was briefly Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Kosovo after a stint at UN Headquarters in New York as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

Since 1969, the bulk of his career has been with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where he also had considerable field experience.

Mr. Vieira de Mello, who succeeds High Commissioner Mary Robinson, will begin his four-year term on 12 September. Mrs. Robinson had agreed to stay on for one more year after completing her tenure in September 2001.

The post was created by the General Assembly in the wake of the 1993 UN Conference on Human Rights, with José Ayala-Lasso - a key negotiator in that process - becoming the first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 5 April 1994.

The High Commissioner is the UN official with principal responsibility for the Organization's human rights activities, under the direction and authority of the Secretary-General and within the framework of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Human Rights.