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Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted that the General Assembly has confirmed the appointment of Ms. Michelle Bachelet as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Ms. Bachelet has been as formidable a figure in her native Chile as she has at the United Nations.
At home, she has known the heights and the depths – as the first woman to serve as the country’s President, but also as a survivor of brutality by the authorities targeting her and her family many decades ago.
She was also a pioneer here at the United Nations – the first leader of UN Women, giving that new entity a dynamic and inspiring start.
Now, she takes on a role for which she is perfectly suited. In this year in which we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, I could not think of a better choice.
She has lived under the darkness of dictatorship.
As a physician, she knows the trials of people thirsting for health and yearning to enjoy other vital economic and social rights.
And she knows the responsibilities of both national and global leadership.
She takes office at a time of grave consequence for human rights.
Hatred and inequality are on the rise.
Respect for international humanitarian and human rights law is on the decline.
Space for civil society is shrinking.
Press freedoms are under pressure.
To navigate these currents, we need a strong advocate for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
We need a person who can ensure the integrity of the indispensable human rights mechanisms of the United Nations.
I want to express my deep gratitude to my good colleague and friend Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for his leadership, passion, courage and skill in serving as High Commissioner for the past four years. I wish him well as he takes time with his beloved family, and in all his future endeavours.
Michelle Bachelet brings unique experience to the United Nations and to all of us, and is strongly committed to keeping human rights at the forefront of the work of the United Nations. She has my full confidence and support, and I ask all Member States and our partners to extend to her their support.
I look forward to working together to promote and encourage respect for human rights for “we the peoples”, everyone and everywhere.
Thank you very much.