Who will be the next UN Human Rights Commissioner?

Could Northern Ireland-educated Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, be the next UN High Commissioner for Human Rights?

She certainly seems to be in the running for the world's top human rights job, according to a discussion website being run by those online campaigners avaaz.org.

There has been a fair bit of speculation about who is likely to succeed Louise Arbour, whose four-year term of office came to an end a few days ago. There are many in the human rights world who regret Arbour's exit after just one term in office but, like one of her predecessors, Irishwoman Mary Robinson, she may have been too outspoken for the tastes of some powerful governments within the Human Rights Council. Certainly, that's the theory of fellow-Canadian, blogger mirabile dictu.

There was speculation last week that the job would be given to Timor-Leste President José Ramos-Horta, but he is now out of the running.

My own sources in Geneva tell me that their money is on an African candidate, with that continent never having previously supplied the post-holder.

That brings a few strong candidates into the picture (see the avaaz discussion site for more details) including the previous Amnesty International Secretary General Pierre Sané from Senegal. Pierre was certainly a popular leader among Northern Ireland AI activists, having been over a few times for events during his tenure at Amnesty's helm and shown himself to be a powerful advocate and speaker, as well as great company.

An announcement is expected before long. Watch this space.

Meanwhile I invite your own suggestions (serious or otherwise) for who you think should be the next UN Human Rights supremo…

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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