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Palace welcomes election of ex-Chilean president as UN human rights chief

With the appointment of a new high commissioner of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Malacañang said the Philippine government was looking forward to “better relations” with the international rights body.

In a press briefing on Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque congratulated former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, 66, who was picked by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to succeed longtime diplomat and Jordaninan Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.


Mouthful from Duterte

Hussein, whose term as high commissioner expires next month, previously got a mouthful from President Duterte after recommending that the latter undergo a psychiatric check.


One of the most forthright critics of rights abuses by governments, Hussein said in December that he would not seek an extension of his term because “to do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication.”

Despite its rocky relations with the United Nations, Malacañang earlier said it would not follow the United States’ decision to withdraw from the UNHRC.


First woman president

Bachelet became Chile’s first female president, and served twice—from 2006 to 2010, and from 2014 to 2018.

She was previously tapped by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be the first chief of UN Women, a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women that became operational in January 2011.

A pediatrician and an advocate for women’s rights, Bachelet is a moderate socialist politician and a single mother of three.


Though he had “moved around” the human rights circle, Roque said he did not know Bachelet and believed that her appointment might be the result of a compromise.

‘Result of compromise’

“I would say that the entire community of states perhaps elected her for a reason, noting that no less than the United States has opted to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. So I think the election of this new high commissioner for human rights must be a result of compromise,” he said.

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TAGS: former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, UN human rights chief, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
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