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U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: 'I am supremely confident that I speak with moral authority'

August 27th, 2014
04:19 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

In a world dominated by conflict, Human Rights are usually the first casualty.

It is the difficult mandate of United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner to try and protect them.

As the longest serving holder of this post, Navi Pillay is leaving just after scolding attacks on the entirety of the security council. She spoke to them in the past week, telling them that greater responsiveness towards the Syrian crisis could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

Many commentators believe that what the world has allowed to happen in Syria in turn let ISIS flourish. Chrsitiane Amanpour asked Navi Pillay about the monstrosities of the extremist group that Pillay's department has been documenting.

"This group is committing huge atrocities against men, women and children, large number - thousands of people killed and injured." Pillay told the program.

"What I want say is all actors, state and non-state actors, are accountable under international humanitarian law. But what I see here is neither side is taking measures to protect civilians."

A U.N. report released on the day of the interview has said that chemical weapon attacks by the Assad regime have been ongoing in Syria, even after United Nation's efforts to destroy them.

"Our recent report, which is being released today, shows levels of mass atrocities that are over six months period that have really deteriorated, increased to a large measure."

"Mostly chlorine gas," asked Amanpour.

"That is correct," she confirmed.

In the same region, Gaza has been left devastated by the Israel Defense Forces.

Pillay came out strongly against the actions of the IDF on the program, but went on to say that Hamas' actions are also unacceptable:​

"Obviously the acts of the Israeli government and the Israeli Defense Forces have caused far more civilian deaths and injuries"

"On the other hand, the Hamas and other armed groups are placing civilians as shields. They are placing mortars and rockets within civilian densely populated areas. And those amount to violations of international humanitarian law as well, as disregard for civilians."

'I am supremely confident that I speak with moral authority'

Over the six years of her tenure holding one of the highest posts in the United Nations it is no surprise that she has received some criticism.

In Israel she has been attacked for her stance on Gaza, while in Sri Lanka an official named her the 'Tamil Tigress'.

Amanpour asked how she has dealt with such attacks and criticisms over the years.

"I am supremely confident that I speak with moral authority," the High Commissioner said.

"These comments do not disturb me at all. There are still the other 190-odd countries who appreciate the work being done by my office because we assist them. They know the importance of investigating serious incidents. And so we continue with our work."

What about the United States, where her various requests to visit with officials were met with no response.

"They're a very key partner to my office. So they do help. They do champion human rights. But they have to look to their internal affairs as well."

"Issues such as addressing racism, racial discrimination and suppression of freedom of assembly, Guantanamo, the use of armed drones, the assassination contracts that have been issued.

"I feel that the United States is moving so far away from the standards that we require from other states, that the United States requires from other states."

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gaza • Iraq • Latest Episode
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. dani

    U.N. terrorist Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay:

    August 27, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • SHAN

      idiotic comment from a racist inhuman!

      August 28, 2014 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • Samir

      What a crazy person you are, commenting about. First of all I have to Congratulate her contribution to the organization and the job she did it for the past 6 years. As a woman she had lots of hurdles, and overcome and did a wonderful job.There are many places such as in Gaza, Syria, and other parts of the world people are dying in thousands. What Ban-Ki Moon did achieved in his office? He knew what was going on in Srilanka when within the few months in 2009 government of Srilanka killed minority civilians. He did nothing to prevent genocide in Srilanka. Even his office of three member panel found that over 40,000 thousand people died. Ban Ki Moon did nothing until now. He still shaking hand with the murderers.

      August 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  2. Western Propaganda

    So why the sudden dead silence about the downed airliner?

    Found something you did not like?

    August 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  3. Sam jarrah

    All countries on earth somehow , carrying a share of the spelled Syrian blood .
    What a shame to humanity.

    August 27, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  4. ashok

    Tough, often thankless, task, but the lady did it with courage and integrity. The Sri Lankans are not planning to give her a medal, though.

    August 28, 2014 at 5:19 am | Reply
  5. SHAN

    Only sinhala racists are not happy with her! Truth and Justice shd come! Navi Pillai did a great service to humanity!

    August 28, 2014 at 9:50 am | Reply
  6. Erm...

    Why are you not reporting on Ukrainian regime creating a black list of journalists, CNN?

    August 28, 2014 at 11:08 am | Reply
  7. Henri Le Riche

    If Mrs. Pillay looks after human rights abuses then why is she quiet about what's happening in her own South Africa? Is it because Mrs. Pillay is a representative of that party in terms of being party faithful, before human rights abuses?

    Here is another human rights activist questioning why the South African government is quiet on these human rights abuses. Make you then wonder where Mrs. Pillay's loyalty truly lies...?

    August 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  8. Tony Francis

    NVP 's bravery & humaneness is abundantly exemplified by her actions in deeds & words;
    Of course one should not expect this understanding from i----t–s.

    August 29, 2014 at 7:02 am | Reply
  9. Nalliah Thayabharan

    UN – a tool of international war criminals – was founded by the very financial military industrial elites such as Nelson Rockefeller who arranged for construction of UN.headquarters in New York and the Rothschild family who donated a house to the UN in London during WWII.
    The now retiring head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay,is a representative of fascist war criminals who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan murdering hundreds of thousands and allowing the U.S.and its allies to coverup and leave uninvestigated those crimes. She has never criticised Saudi Arabia, Israel the UK or the US. and the EU and NATO and the financial military industrial elite she represents that have murdered and looted and raped their way from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. She is part of the 9/11 coverup that killed 3,000 people on 9/11 and hundreds of thousands if not millions in the Middle East since 9/11.
    Secretary Ban Ki Moon has lied along with ex US's UN Secretary Susan Rice about Libya's Gaddafi supplying his troops with Viagra to 'rape' Libyan citizens,something that he never did. Ban Ki Moon sat silent in NY after 9/11 while knowing that W Bush and Dick Cheney regime was sending remains of WTC to Asia to be melted down to destroy crucial forensic evidence and has taunted doubting Americans without ever acknowledging his shameful role in 9/11 destruction of evidence and collusion with perpetrators

    September 2, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
  10. Jonathan Onche Edeh

    I ask; how much of that statement has she made to America and her allies in their crimes against see why I don't blame anyone who wouldn't take any nonsense from any of the bully nations, not Russian, but America in particular, this very America; the woman I have loved all my life.....The terrorist may not win, but at least they will forever keep bullies and criminals from the West on their toes, giving them many sleepless nights.....and I think that's good enough......yet, the terrorist and the criminals must all be crushed to have a better world- this also is impossible, whether by the UN or NATO

    September 5, 2014 at 5:04 am | Reply
  11. Jeff

    Ms Pillay may think she speaks "with moral authority" but she does so exposing impressive ignorance, hate and even stupidity. Her comment about supplying Iron Dome to Hamas exposes it. US did provide part of the funding BUT Israeli talent came with the idea, execution and intellectual prowess. Pillays hatred made her forget that hamas got BILLIONS of USD which were shared between her comarades Mshal, Haniye and other Islamic humanitarians. The lack the clout, honesty and intellect to develop smart defensive technology. Pillay has proven to be unworthy of judgemental balance and the public trust, she has proven herself as a power and fame seeking underdog.

    September 15, 2014 at 3:10 am | Reply
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