South Africa lawyer nominated as UN rights chief

Navanethem Pillay, president for the War Crimes tribunal in Rwanda, takes part in a news conference in the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in this March 17, 2003 file photo. The former South African judge who was the first black woman to serve on her country’s highest court will be the next U.N. human rights commissioner, diplomatic and U.N. officials said Friday, July 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Keystone, Sandro Campardo) (Sandro Campardo – AP)

By JOHN HEILPRIN

The Associated Press
Friday, July 25, 2008; 3:35 AM

UNITED NATIONS — One of South Africa’s leading female jurists who won acclaim defending apartheid opponents was nominated Thursday to serve as the next United Nations high commissioner for human rights.
Navanethem Pillay was formally put forward for the job by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who cited her “outstanding credentials in human rights and justice.” Pillay, who holds a Harvard Law School degree, serves as an appeals chamber judge with the Dutch-based International Criminal Court, where she has been since 2003. Pillay, who is in her mid-60s, is of Tamil descent.