Human rights advocates welcomed the choice

Michelle Bachelet will be the next UN high commissioner for human rights.

Ms. Bachelet, 66, who was imprisoned and tortured during Chile’s right-wing dictatorship and years later became a pediatrician and politician, will be stepping into a particularly difficult and contentious role at the 193-member organization.

The Times tried to talk to her but she hasn’t gotten back to them yet.

The change comes as the Trump administration has taken an increasingly dim view of human rights diplomacy at the United Nations. The administration withdrew from the Human Rights Council in June, partly over the frequent criticism of Israel and other actions that the administration described as two-faced.

After Mr. al-Hussein’s office criticized the White House over the practice of separating children from parents to deter undocumented immigrants, Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador, angrily accused it of ignorance and hypocrisy.

As if separating children from parents to bully people out of claiming asylum were anything other than a violation of human rights.

Ms. Haley had a measured reaction to the choice of Ms. Bachelet.

“The failures of the Human Rights Council make the Secretary-General’s selection of a new High Commissioner for Human Rights all the more important,” she said in a statement. “It is incumbent on the Secretary-General’s choice, Ms. Bachelet, to avoid the failures of the past.”

That’s not a measured reaction, it’s a cold grudging lecture from someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about human rights and who has no business in that job in the first place.

Human rights advocates welcomed the choice of Ms. Bachelet.

“As a victim herself, she brings a unique perspective to the role on the importance of a vigorous defense of human rights,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “People worldwide will depend on her to be a public and forceful champion, especially where offenders are powerful.”

Ms. Bachelet became involved in Chilean human rights activism practically at the onset of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in September 1973. She was studying medicine at the University of Chile and active in the Socialist party when a military coup toppled the government of Salvador Allende.

Her father, a general in the air force, was arrested and tortured by subordinates and died in prison of heart failure in March 1974. Ms. Bachelet and her mother, Ángela Jeria, were detained by Chile’s secret security agency in January 1975 and tortured for weeks.

After their release, Ms. Bachelet and her mother spent years in exile. She returned to Chile in 1979, finished school and became a pediatrician and public health advocate, specializing in children traumatized by political violence. She later held positions in the government, including health minister and defense minister, and was president from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2014 until this year.

Between her presidential terms, Ms. Bachelet was an under secretary general of the United Nations and the first executive director of U.N. Women, an organization that promotes gender equality.

So an outstanding choice then.

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