Thursday, April 18, 2019
From refugee crises and global poverty to rigged elections, growing populism—and the intolerance and oppression it breeds, we are at a pivotal moment in history as the contempt for human rights spreads. Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein of Jordan, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, is known for his outspoken criticism of the fascism, religious radicalism, and threats to civil liberties growing in countries around the world. Following his approval by the U.N. General Assembly in 2014, he became the sixth High Commissioner for Human Rights and was the first Arab and Muslim to hold the post.
Throughout his years of service as a career diplomat and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has been a champion for the protection of our fundamental and basic human rights. His work has involved the security of equality, justice, and respect—and has directly influenced international justice, U.N. peacekeeping, and women’s development. al-Hussein draws from his career in diplomacy and as the Human Rights Chief to address the geopolitical climate, relations in the Middle East, and current challenges to human rights. At the U.N., he called upon powerful and small states alike to secure human rights in their own countries and internationally, drawing notable attention to atrocities committed in Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua, by ISIS, to the treatment of migrants and refugees in Libya, and the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar.
An expert in the field of international justice, al-Hussein was a central figure in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), chairing the complex negotiations to establish the exact terms of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. He was subsequently elected the first president of the governing body of the ICC in 2002, and grew it into the internationally recognized court that it is today. He has been active on many legal issues, including international law, post-conflict peace-building, international development, counter-nuclear terrorism, and women’s development. Following allegations of widespread abuse being committed by U.N. peacekeepers, al-Hussein was appointed by Kofi Annan as Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. His report on this subject was the first comprehensive strategy for the elimination of sexual exploitation and abuse in U.N. peacekeeping operations.
al-Hussein holds a B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University, a PhD. in history from Cambridge University, and was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by the Southern California Institute of Law for his work on international justice. He is currently the Distinguished Global Leader-in-Residence at Perry World House (PWH) and a visiting scholar at University of Pennsylvania.
Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein's Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the President's Leadership Fund and the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.
Food for Thought: Podcast with Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein