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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 03:52 GMT 04:52 UK
New head for UN rights agency
Indonesian-backed militias on the rampage in East Timor
The new commissioner has served in East Timor

A senior United Nations official from Brazil has been named as the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Sergio Vieira de Mello was named as Mary Robinson's successor by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

Sergio Vieira de Mello
Vieira de Mello had been seen as a leading contender
Mr Vieira de Mello was recently the UN's chief representative in East Timor and has previously served in Kosovo.

Fifty-four-year-old Mr Vieira de Mello is likely to receive official approval as the world's top human rights advocate when the UN General Assembly meets on Tuesday in New York.

Ever since Mr Vieira de Mello successfully headed the UN operation that led to independence from Indonesia for East Timor, he has been the leading contender to be High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Washington and London have already voiced support for his appointment.

Predecessor criticised

But although the Brazilian official is likely to be a popular choice as Mary Robinson's replacement, Mr Vieira de Mello faces a tough and controversial posting in Geneva.

Mrs Robinson has been internationally criticised for being both too vociferous about some human rights abuses and for being too reticent to condemn publicly other worldwide atrocities.

It is understood she had indicated privately that she would be happy to stay in her post for a further term.

But the United States, angered by her recent comments about the US treatment of detainees brought from Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay naval base, said they would oppose an extension of her duty.

Mr Vieira de Mello will take up the role of high commissioner in September.


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23 Jul 02 | Americas
13 Jun 99 | Europe
28 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
03 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
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