The United Nations could be a great force for human rights in the world. But I find it hard to believe it will reach any meaningful goal if it continues to avoid actually appointing people who have miserable records on human rights to the UN’s high commission on human rights. Ban Ki-Moon has appointed Croatian justice minister Ivan Simonovic to the top human rights post at the UN headquarters in New York (the position is the UN Assistant Secretary-General for human rights, who will liaise with the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, Navi Pillay, in Geneva). Simonovic has served in the Croatian government for over fifteen years, including during the Balkan wars where the Croatians conducted ethnic cleansing of Serbs. Simonovic has been criticized for not adequately pursuing accountability and justice, both at home and at The Hague, for Croatian war crimes.

There were many qualified candidates for this job, but one can’t help but wonder the extent to which Ban made the hire to avoid pissing off known human rights violators like the Chinese government.

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