Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad

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Prince Zeid
Spouse Sarah Butler
Dynasty Hashemite dynasty
Father Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid
Mother Margaretha Inga Elisabeth Lind
Born (1964-01-26) 26 January 1964 (age 50)
Amman, Jordan

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein (born 26 January 1964 in Amman, Jordan) is the current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He was born to Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria and pretender to the Iraqi throne and his Swedish-born wife Margaretha Inga Elisabeth Lind, henceforward known as Majda Raad. Previously, he was Jordan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. From 2007-2010 he served as Jordan's Ambassador to the United States and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico.

Education and career[edit]

Prince Zeid was educated at Reed's School, Surrey before gaining a B.A. in 1987 from Johns Hopkins University, where he was an important member of the University's rugby club. He received a Ph.D. from Christ's College, Cambridge University in 1993.

Prince Zeid is Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a post he held previously for six and a half years from 2000-2007. From 2007-2010 he was Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States of America. He also served as Jordan’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, with the rank of Ambassador, from 1996-2000.

In January 2014 he was president of the UN Security Council and is presently chairman of the Security Council’s 1533 and 1521 committees with regard to two sanctions regimes: the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Liberia.

He is also currently Jordan's "Sherpa" on Nuclear Security.

From 16 September 2010 to 7 March 2012, Prince Zeid was the Chairman of the Country-Specific Configuration (of the UN Peace Building Commission) for Liberia. He also chaired the search committee for the selection of the second prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in 2011.

With reference to the International Criminal Court and from 1996-2010 he was:

  • President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002–2005).
  • Chairman of the informal negotiations on the ‘elements’ of the individual offenses falling under the crimes of: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes(1999-200).
  • Chairman of the Working Group on the Crime of Aggression at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute in Kampala (June 2010).

While at the UN (1996–2006) he further chaired the Consultative Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) from 2004–2007 and, from 2004–2006, he was the ‘Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN peacekeeping.’

He served as a political affairs officer in UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia from February 1994 to February 1996.

In 1989 Prince Zeid received his commission as an officer in the Jordanian desert police (the successor to the Arab Legion), and saw service with them until 1994.

Prince Zeid delivered the Grotius Lecture at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (April 2008) entitled: ‘For Love of Country and International Criminal Law.’ Prince Zeid is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation. He was also a member of the World Bank's Advisory Council for the World Development Report 2011.

On June 6, 2014 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed that Prince Zeid replace Navi Pillay as the United Nations' human rights chief based in Geneva. The nomination was subsequently approved by the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly.

In early September 2014 Prince Zeid became the first Muslim UN human rights chief.[1] In that capacity he has stated, "There is no justification ever, for the degrading, the debasing or the exploitation of other human beings – on whatever basis: nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or caste.”[2]

Tenure as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[edit]

On 8 September 2014, in his maiden speech to the UN's 47-member council at the body's 27th session in Geneva, Prince Zeid strongly criticized the Islamic State, saying the militant group was trying to create a "house of blood". He called on the international community to combat the spread of the movement in Iraq and Syria, asking, "[Do] they believe they (ISIS) are acting courageously, barbarically slaughtering captives?" The massacres, beheadings, rape and torture "reveal only what a Takfiri state would look like, should this movement actually try to govern in the future", he said. "It would be a harsh, mean-spirited house of blood, where no shade would be offered, nor shelter given to any non-Takfiri in their midst". The newly appointed Commissioner also focused on other troubled areas of the world, including Ukraine and Gaza.

Personal life[edit]

Prince Zeid is the son of Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria. His paternal grandmother was the renowned Turkish painter Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid who was married to Prince Zeid bin Hussein.[3]

Prince Zeid was married on the 5 July 2000 in Amman to Sarah Butler, henceforth called Princess Sarah Zeid, who was born in Houston, Texas, on 1 August 1972. She was educated at Prior's Field, Hurtwood House in Surrey, and has a BA in International Relations from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas and an MSC in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London. She was then employed with the United Nations Organization in New York City, where she served in the development program, the peace-keeping department and UNICEF. She is the daughter of Dr Godfrey Butler, a British Geologist (PhD) and a Consultant to international oil companies, and Jean H. Butler.[4]

Together they have three children:

  • Prince Ra'ad - born 17 May 2001
  • Princess Hala - born 13 March 2003
  • Princess Azziza - born 13 July 2009


External links[edit]

Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad
Born: 26 January 1964
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Prince Ra'ad I bin Zeid
(actual head of the dynasty)
Line of succession to the Iraqi throne Succeeded by
Prince Ra'ad II bin Zeid