United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 6 December 2019 the appointment of Ilze Brands Kehris of Latvia as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York. She will succeed Andrew Gilmour of the United Kingdom to whom the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are deeply grateful for his long-standing contribution to the work of the Organization.
Ms. Brands Kehris has since 2017 served as independent Expert Member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the treaty body monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. She is also, since 2016, a senior research fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, at Lund University, in Sweden. Ms. Brands Kehris combines extensive expertise in political science, conflict prevention and human rights, with a specialization in minority rights, and long-standing experience in intergovernmental fora and with civil society organizations.
She has previously held several leadership positions in national and regional level human rights organizations, including as Member and Chairperson of the Management Board of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (2007-2012), Director of the Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) High Commissioner on National Minorities (2011-2014), first Vice-President and Member of the Advisory Committee on the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (2006-2012), and Member of the Management Board and Vice-Chairperson of the Executive Board of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (2004-2007). She served as Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights (2002 to 2011).
Ms. Brands Kehris speaks English, Russian, French, Latvian and Swedish. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Mills College in California, USA (1982), a Master of Arts in Political Science (International Relations) from Columbia University in New York, USA (1983) and pursued Ph.D. studies at Columbia University.