The Human Rights Council and Small Island Developing States (SIDS): Challenges and Opportunities – A Conversation with Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan

About the Speaker
Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan
Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva and President of the Human Rights Council

Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan was appointed to Fiji’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva, when it first opened in April 2014.

Ms. Khan was appointed Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions in 1994, the first woman in Fiji to hold that post. In 1999, she was appointed Fiji`s first woman High Court judge, a position she held until 2009. While holding judicial office, she delivered a number of human rights decisions. As a private practitioner from 2009 to 2014, she conducted legal and corporate training for lawyers, judges, and the business community on human rights, corporate and good governance, and law and procedure.

Since her appointment as Permanent Representative, Ms. Khan has supported the work of the Trust Fund for small island developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in working toward universal representation of all countries in the Human Rights Council.

Ms. Khan also co-chaired the technology stream of the Human Rights Council’s efficiency process in 2018. She is a strong advocate for more Pacific Islands and SIDS to become members of the Human Rights Council to making it more inclusive and representative.

During Fiji’s first year as a member of the Human Rights Council for the 2019-2021 term, Ms. Khan was nominated to be vice president of the Council by the Asia Pacific Group.

She chaired the Human Rights Council Task Force on Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities and during her tenure, created the Group of Friends of the Task Force dedicated to furthering the work of the Task Force.

In 2020, Ms. Khan was appointed co-focal point to address challenges faced by delegations from small and developing countries, in particular SIDS/LDCs, and follow up on the implementation of the measures on the use of modern technology at the Council. These responsibilities became especially important during the COVID19 pandemic.

Ms. Khan was born in 1960 in Fiji. She has a Bachelor of Arts in law from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, a Masters of Law from the University of Cambridge, and a Master of Philosophy in criminology from the University of Cambridge.