"Angry and exhausted" rights chief urges action

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN File Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Escalating human rights violations around the world have left the UN's Human Rights Commissioner "angry and exhausted", one year since he took up the position, he said Monday.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein made his comments at the start of the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva, which brings together 47 member states to discuss abuses of international conventions.

Highlighting abuses in more than 30 countries, the High Commissioner said that accelerating misery had left the system "barely able to cope", before urging member states to – as he put it – "connect what you say here to material action".

Daniel Johnson has more.

One year into the job as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told the Human Rights Council that the level of misery around the world has got worse, not better.

Nothing illustrated that more graphically than pictures of little Aylan Kurdi, the refugee toddler washed up on a Turkish beach, Zeid said.

"It was the way he lay: asleep, terminal, so profoundly sad – as if by lying in supplication before the waves that killed him he was asking for a replay, with a different outcome this time…But his cheek on the soft sand whispered otherwise, it made us choke."

Despite this, Zeid said that horrific human rights abuses continue unabated, with poverty of "annihilating proportions" caused by conflict, along with hatred, bigotry and racism.

Highlighting Syria, along with dozens more countries where rights abuses are rife, the UN High Commissioner deplored the international community's failure to act as "utterly shameful".

And Zeid said that the human rights community risked becoming "inconsequential" unless there was a dramatic change in the way international actors react.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1'08"


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