|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at Event to Honour Navi Pillay, Applauds High Commissioner’s
Political Skill in Piloting Human Rights Office through ‘Perilous Waters’
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, delivered by Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, to an event honouring Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, today:
It is a great pleasure to convey greetings to all who have gathered for this event honouring a close colleague, friend and global champion of justice and equality for all.
Navi Pillay has been an extraordinary High Commissioner for Human Rights. She has served as a dependable, even-handed and effective advocate for the world’s most vulnerable people. Her clear voice, wisdom and sound sense of balance have guided her Office, placed human rights at the centre of the United Nations family and extended the reach of human rights around the world.
As someone who came of age under the apartheid regime in South Africa, Navi Pillay saw discrimination up close. Her skin colour denied her many opportunities. But her tremendous determination and sharp mind helped her to become a lawyer and then a judge. She never forgot how many others like her never made it up that fragile ladder. That sense of injustice planted the seeds of her strong commitment to human rights, and is a big part of what drives her to help others.
Navi Pillay has been an inspiration to everyone who has had the pleasure of working with her. She has significantly strengthened the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) field presence, and responded quickly and nimbly to crises. She always insisted on painstaking attention to facts and shared her deep knowledge widely and generously. Her deft political skill piloted her team through many perilous waters. And she has been an indispensable partner in advancing the Rights Up Front initiative, which seeks to strengthen our response to threats of serious human rights violations.
Navi Pillay’s term as High Commissioner for Human Rights will end in eight weeks, but what she has built will last for many years. Navi Pillay, thank you for your service as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. You have made an unforgettable contribution.
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