UNITED NATIONS— The 193-member U.N. General Assembly approved Jordan's U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, as its human rights chief based in Geneva on Monday, making him the first Muslim and Arab to hold the job.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nominated Prince Zeid earlier this month to replace Navi Pillay, a South African jurist who in 2012 was given an abbreviated second term of only two years due to pressure the United States, which disliked her criticism of Israel, U.N. diplomats said at the time.
Prince Zeid is generally popular and has a solid reputation as a human rights advocate, diplomats said. His 4-year appointment, starting in September, was approved by consensus and met with applause in the General Assembly.
"I am going to be the first High Commissioner from the Asian continent and from the Muslim and Arab worlds," Prince Zeid told the General Assembly.
"Needless to say this reflects the commitment of the international community towards this important dossier and its commitment to push it forward in this continent as well as in other regions of the world," he said.
Prince Zeid, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Cambridge University, has previously served as Jordan's ambassador to the United States and Mexico. He was also a political affairs officer in UNPROFOR, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia during the Balkan conflict.
The Jordanian diplomat who will replace Prince Zeid as Amman's U.N. ambassador is Dina Kawar, who will become the sixth female to head a delegation on the U.N. Security Council. Jordan will be on the 15-nation council through the end of 2015.