In today’s world, threats to human rights abound, challenging the fabric of so many societies: The war in Syria has shattered the lives of millions, with human rights under attack on multiple fronts; rising authoritarianism is curtailing basic liberties in many countries; and the rights of women and marginalized communities remain under constant pressure around the world. International tools for responding to and preventing human rights violations are proliferating, but political will for action is weak.
On May 17, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for an Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum focusing on the international progress and challenges facing human rights and how the United Nations is meeting them. High Commissioner Zeid offered his assessment of how the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and other U.N. bodies are working to ensure effective global action to safeguard human rights in today’s turbulent context. High Commissioner Zeid spoke on the U.N.’s role in the field, its impact, and its contributions to the prevention of crises and early warning of unfolding human rights violations.