Skip to main content

Zeid Raad Al Hussein

Member of The Elders

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; champion of international justice and multilateralism; outspoken advocate for peace and human rights; veteran Jordanian diplomat and peacekeeping expert.
Meet The Elders Download Bio

In an age when poor leadership, injustice and suffering is rife, the Elders’ vision of a world where people live in peace and are conscious of their common humanity is essential.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein

Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

“When the fundamental principles of human rights are not protected, the center of our institution no longer holds. It is they that promote development that is sustainable; peace that is secure; and lives of dignity.”

ZEID RAAD AL HUSSEIN

Champion of international justice

“Ultimately, it is the law that will safeguard our societies – human rights law, binding law which is the distillation of human experience, of generations of human suffering, the screams of the victims of past crimes and hate. We must guard this law passionately, and be guided by it.”

ZEID RAAD AL HUSSEIN

Photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
Photo: UN Photo/Staton Winter

Veteran diplomat and peacekeeping expert

"The UN’s raison d’être is the protection of peace, rights, justice and social progress. Its operating principle is therefore equally clear: only by pursuing the opposite to nationalism – only when States all work for each other, for everyone, for all people, for the human rights of all people – can peace be attainable."

ZEID RAAD AL HUSSEIN

BIOGRAPHY

Zeid Raad Al Hussein

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; champion of international justice and multilateralism; outspoken advocate for peace and human rights; veteran Jordanian diplomat and peacekeeping expert.
2000-2007 & 2010-2014
Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York
2002
First President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Chaired the complex negotiations surrounding the elements of individual offences amounting to genocide.
2004
Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
2007-2010
Ambassador of Jordan to the United States
2014-2018
6th UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
2019
Joined The Elders
2021
Appointed President and CEO of the International Peace Institute (IPI)

Wars do not start because people are poor; neither do they start because people are illiterate. They start because of structural discrimination—a deliberate attempt to marginalise people.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein

View

Work with The Elders

Zeid Raad Al Hussein joined The Elders in January 2019 after stepping down from his role as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights the previous year.

Since joining The Elders, Zeid Raad Al Hussein has continued to be an outspoken advocate for human rights in all its shapes and forms. In April 2019, he travelled with The Elders to Ethiopia, participating in meetings with senior officials, including the Prime Minister and President of Ethiopia, and visited a refugee camp in Gambela.

Furthermore, Mr Al Hussein is a globally recognised voice of justice, international law and peace-making and frequently speaks about these issues on high-level events, particularly on the need for a multilateral response to shared challenges, including the treatment of refugees, climate justice and in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

View

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Zeid Raad Al Hussein became United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014. He stepped down after completing one full four-year term, citing his unwillingness to “bend the knee in supplication” as reason for not seeking a second term.

During his term he was outspoken on several prominent human rights abuses and criticised the regimes who perpetrated them, including the war in Syria, the treatment of Rohingya refugees and the travel ban in the United States. He showed strength in his willingness to call out the powerful by name. 

Zeid Raad Al Hussein frequently speaks out against populism, xenophobia and extremism – wherever it occurred. He has criticised the treatment of refugees in Europe and abuse of use of force by police in the US – and emphasised that the human rights agenda applies to all countries.

View

Establishing the International Criminal Court

Zeid Raad Al Hussein played a central role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), chairing the complex negotiations surrounding the elements of individual offences amounting to genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes.

In September 2002, Mr Al Hussein was elected the first President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. Over the next three years he oversaw the election of the first 18 judges, mediated selection of the Court’s first president, and led efforts to name the Court’s first prosecutor.

Subsequently, in 2009, he successfully led the closing stages of the negotiations over the crime of aggression specifically with respect to its legal definition and the conditions for the court’s exercise of jurisdiction over it.

View

Veteran diplomat and peacekeeping expert

Zeid Raad Al Hussein has previously held several diplomatic posts including as Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and Ambassador to the United States of America. In 2014, he was President of the UN Security Council and chaired the Security Council’s committees on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia. He also served as a UN political affairs officer in the former Yugoslavia, from 1994 to 1996.

In 2004, following allegations of widespread abuse being committed by UN peacekeepers, Mr Al Hussein was named Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. His report provided a comprehensive strategy for the elimination of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping operations, and has been called “revolutionary” by experts. In 2012, he was chosen by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as one of five experts to serve on his “Senior Advisory Group” regarding reimbursements to countries contributing peacekeeping troops.

Keep up to date with The Elders’ COVID-19 digest:

Sign up to receive regular updates about The Elders’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never share your email address with third parties.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.

Close

I would like to find:

Search
Close