UN rights chief Bachelet will not seek a second term

Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet's trip to China drew criticism

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet says she will not seek a second term, ending months of speculation about her intentions. AFP
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UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday said she would not seek a second term in her high-profile job, after a visit to China in which she faced criticism for not speaking up for a minority group.

Ending months of speculation, Ms Bachelet said she wanted to spend more time with her family in Chile and would soon end her four-year term as the UN’s Switzerland-based High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"As my term as High Commissioner draws to a close, this council's milestone 50th session will be the last which I brief," she told the diplomats in Geneva.

The former president of Chile later said she decided to leave months ago “for personal reasons”.

"After a long and rich career, I want to go back to my country, to my family," Ms Bachelet said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres thanked her for fighting “on the front-lines of the human rights struggle” and for having “moved the needle in an extremely challenging political context”.

Ms Bachelet has faced criticism from the US, other western governments and campaigners for not speaking up loudly enough about claims of mistreatment of mostly Muslim Uighur people in Xinjiang; claims that Beijing strenuously denies.

Conditions imposed by Chinese officials during her six-day official visit last month did not enable a full and fair assessment of the rights environment, critics said.

In her address on Monday, Ms Bachelet said her office was working on an updated assessment of the human rights situation in China.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the campaign group Human Rights Watch, urged her to release the report quickly.

Updated: June 13, 2022, 9:52 PM