UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says he will step down from his position next summer, saying he does not want to serve “in the current geopolitical context,” news outlets are reporting.
"I have decided not to seek a second four-year term,” he said in an e-mail sent to staff that was seen by Foreign Policy magazine and the AFP news agency on December 20.
“To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice -- which is your voice," he added.
Hussein, the first Muslim and Arab to hold the top UN rights position, has been a vocal critic of U.S. President Donald Trump.
In August, he lashed out at Trump’s "dangerous" attacks on the news media, saying they were undermining freedom of the press and could incite violence against journalists. He also criticized Trump’s remarks about women, Mexicans, Muslims, and other groups.
Zeid's office on September 25 also accused Russia and its agents in Crimea of “grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extrajudicial execution.”
Moscow seized the Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and has annexed the region, an action not recognized internationally.
The Amman-born Zeid was the former Jordanian ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations and helped create the International Criminal Court in The Hague.