Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Trump would be 'dangerous' if elected - UN human rights chief

Published:Thursday | October 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Rep presidential nominee Donald Trump.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
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GENEVA (AP):

United States Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would be "dangerous from an international point of view" if elected, the United Nations human rights chief said yesterday, defiantly doubling down on his recent expression of concerns about "populist demagogues" that prompted a rebuke from Russia's ambassador to the United Nations.

In a broad-ranging news conference touching on issues including violence in Yemen, Syria and Sub-Saharan Africa, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said some remarks by Trump are "deeply unsettling and disturbing to me", particularly on torture and about "vulnerable communities".

"If Donald Trump is elected, on the basis of what he has said already and unless that changes, I think it's without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view," Zeid told reporters in Geneva.

 

OVERSTEPPING HIS MANDATE

 

The comments from Zeid, a Jordanian prince, are likely to fan a debate in UN circles about whether he has been overstepping his mandate as the High Commissioner for Human Rights with comments on the US presidential nominee and on nationalist, xenophobic leaders in parts of Europe.

Only a day earlier, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Vitaly Churkin, said Zeid shouldn't criticise foreign heads of state and government "for their policies. This is not his business. He should be more focused on his specific responsibilities."

Zeid alluded to a report Friday by The Associated Press indicating that Churkin had last month formally complained directly to the UN secretary-general about Zeid's recent comments, saying: "I was not there, of course, and there was no demarche (formal report) made to me."

The rights chief also advanced the debate publicly. While he acknowledged UN rules that instruct the world body to avoid intervening in issues that are the "domestic jurisdiction of states," Zeid alluded to similar complaints about interference once made by apartheid South Africa that the UN General Assembly dismissed "time and again".

He appeared to lament a decline in public reaction to hardliners with dangerous rhetoric.

"When it comes to actions and statements from some of the populist demagogues, it is clear that we are seeing a permissive environment where these statements are made without there being the sort of uproar and reaction that one used to find commonplace," Zeid said.