GENEVA -- U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet announced that she would not be seeking a fourth-year term. She cited a desire to go back to Chile, after a tenure that was recently overshadowed in part by criticisms of her response to China’s treatment of Uyghurs.
Bachelet made Monday's opening address to the Human Rights Council summer session to announce her resignation from the U.N.'s highest human rights body. She explained that she had informed Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, two months prior of her decision. Her current term expires on August 31.
Bachelet, 70 years old, stated that she is no longer a young woman and that after a long and successful career, she wants to return to her country and to her family.
Guterres, the U.N. rights chief chosen by Guterres, affirmed his support of Bachelet following criticisms from the United States and others about her alleged inability to raise concerns or investigate rights abuses at Xinjiang.
She stated that such criticism was "no relation" to her decision.
Bachelet stated, "Having been twice president of Chile, I have faced a lot criticism in my life." "That is not what drives me to make certain decisions," said Bachelet.
Guterres made a statement praising Bachelet's "relentless service" to the U.N. during the job.
Michelle Bachelet is a human rights advocate in all that she has done. He said that she had made a significant difference in a very difficult political environment.
Bachelet accepted the job in September 2018. She immediately expressed her desire to visit China and see the rights situation in Xinjiang.
Critics claim she hasn’t been outspoken enough about Uyghurs, and didn’t press Chinese authorities enough during her visit. She claimed that her visit was not an investigation and stressed that she had established a communication channel with Chinese officials.
Monday's speech to a rights council was Bachelet's attempt to give new details on her conversations with Chinese authorities. She stated that she was concerned about arbitrary detentions, "patterns abuse" against Uyghurs in Xinjiang and other mainly Muslim minorities.
She stated that her long-awaited report about the rights situation in Xinjiang -- where critics claim Uyghurs were subject to genocide - is being "updated" by Beijing authorities, and will be shared "for factual remarks" with Beijing before publication.
China denies any allegations about Uyghurs being treated unfairly and defends its "vocational training and education centers" for them, which critics call detention centers.
Reporters were told by Bachelet that she would publish the report before she leaves office.
Human Rights Watch last week relayed a statement by over 230 groups representing peoples from Xinjiang and Tibet calling for Bachelet's resignation. The groups accuse her of "whitewashing the Chinese government's atrocities against human rights" during her visit.
Monday's address by Bachelet outlined a range of human rights concerns, including rising food insecurity, inflation, concerns about the environment, and country-specific concerns.
She expressed concerns about a possible severe outbreak of COVID-19 infection in North Korea if no vaccination campaign is implemented there. She also decried the arbitrarily arrested Russian protesters against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Bachelet's office published a damning report three years ago on Venezuela. It documented almost 5,300 deaths by security forces in connection to "resistance" cases. She condemned a "shockingly large" number of extrajudicial executions, as well the arbitrary detentions of political opponents and cases of torture. She made the remarks weeks after visiting Venezuela to discuss human rights issues.