New UN rights chief: Syria, Iraq is first priority

AP News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2014 6:22 AM
New UN rights chief: Syria, Iraq is first priority

GENEVA (AP) — The Jordanian prince taking the helm of the U.N.'s human rights office urged the world Monday to set as its first priority bringing a halt to the gruesome and conjoined conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Newly appointed U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid al-Hussein, in his first speech to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, described Syria as a bloodbath. He said the Islamic State group formed from the civil war's chaos was an unprecedented force of violence against ethnic and religious groups.

"This ancient civilization has devolved into a slaughterhouse, where children are tortured in front of their parents or executed in public, amid wanton killing and destruction," Zeid told the 47-nation council.

He said the Islamic State group, which has seized huge areas of land along the Syria-Iraq borders, has shown an "absolute and deliberate disregard for human rights. The scale of its use of brute violence against ethnic and religious groups is unprecedented

The veteran diplomat and campaigner for international justice also told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday that at least 3,000 people were killed since mid-April in Ukraine.

Zeid, who is the first U.N. human rights chief from the Muslim and Arab worlds, began his four-year post Sept. 1. He previously served as Jordan's U.N. ambassador and ran for secretary-general before Ban Ki-moon was chosen for the job.