US & Canada

UN rights chief Navi Pillay rebukes Security Council

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Media captionNavi Pillay: "National interests have taken precedence over human suffering"

UN's human rights chief Navi Pillay has strongly criticised the UN Security Council for its failure to prevent conflicts around the world.

"Greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives," she told a meeting of the 15-member body.

She said that national interest had repeatedly taken precedence over human suffering and breaches of world peace.

Her briefing came just days before her six-year term comes to an end.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was milder in his criticism, but acknowledged that "it is the time for a new era of collaboration, co-operation and action from the Security Council".

Warning signs

"Conflict prevention is complex, but it can be achieved," Ms Pillay said.

"None of these crises erupted without warning. They built up over years - and sometimes decades - of human rights grievances."

Ms Pillay offered her own solutions, suggesting that the Security Council come up with new responses such as "rapid, flexible and resource-efficient human rights monitoring missions."

Her successor, Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, will start his four-year appointment in September.