This blog post was contributed by Dr Siobhan Mullally, Joint Director of the CCJHR
The CCJHR is delighted to welcome the appointment of Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, of South Africa, to succeed Louise Arbour as High Commissioner for Human Rights — the leading UN human rights official. At a special meeting in New York on 28 July 2008, the UN Secretary-General’s nominee was confirmed by consensus. Ms. Pillay’s four-year term as High Commissioner will start on 1 September 2008.
Judge Pillay is a member of the CCJHR Advisory Board. In February 2008, Judge Pillay delivered the Second Annual Lecture of the CCJHR on the subject of The Role of the International Criminal Court in Promoting Human Rights. The lecture was chaired by Hon Justice Maureen Harding Clark of the High Cour (former judge of the ICC). The lecture can be viewed here.
Biography of Navanethem Pillay
As a member of a non-white minority in apartheid South Africa, and as a front-line, grassroots lawyer who acted as a defense attorney for many anti-apartheid campaigners and trades unionists, Ms. Pillay has direct personal experience of many of the issues that a High Commissioner for Human Rights covers under her mandate. She has also been very active in supporting women’s rights, and was one of the co-founders of the international NGO Equality Now, which campaigns for women’s rights. She has also been involved with a number of other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture, and of domestic violence as well as a range of other economic, social and cultural rights. More recently, Ms. Pillay has served as a judge on two of the most important international criminal courts in the modern era, spending eight years with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, including four years as its President, and then the past five years on the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Both of these courts deal with the extreme end of the human rights spectrum — war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and are at the cutting edge of the development of international law in these areas.