Honoring Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

President Michelle Bachelet of Chile speaks to the UN General Assembly, May 2016. (Photo courtesy of Gobierno de Chile.)
President Michelle Bachelet of Chile speaks to the UN General Assembly, May 2016. (Photo courtesy of Gobierno de Chile.)

Michelle Bachelet, who rose from political prisoner and exile to be elected President of Chile twice, has been named the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ms. Bachelet is a historic figure who has a special relationship with UC Berkeley and CLAS. 

President Bachelet first visited campus in 2008, at the invitation of CLAS, and received the Berkeley Medal from Chancellor Birgeneau. Since then, President Bachelet has returned multiple times, including in 2010. During that visit, CLAS sponsored a major public talk on the Berkeley campus, facilitated meetings with Berkeley Seismological Lab, UC San Francisco, Chilean students attending UC Berkeley, and Oakland International High School, where she shared her story with students who were also refugees from violence. In 2011, President Bachelet returned to Berkeley, to teach a CLAS-organized “Special Seminar” on “Democracy, Development, and Women in Latin America” for students, and to give a public talk on her role as the the United Nations' first Under-Secretary-General for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. 

Ms. Bachelet was imprisoned and tortured during Chile’s right-wing dictatorship and years later became a pediatrician. She was appointed Minister of Health by President Lagos (2000-2006) and then Minister of Defense, the first woman to hold that position in the Americas. After leaving office in 2010 due to Chile's rule of no reelection of sitting presidents, Bachelet was appointed to be the first head of UN Women, the United Nations' directorate created to specifically focus on women's rights and issues. She was then reelected President of Chile in 2014, completing her term in 2018.

Everywhere Ms. Bachelet goes, she impresses with her warmth, humor, intelligence, and deep commitment to human rights and justice. CLAS is proud to congratulate President Bachelet on her new role.  

NY Times story on Bachelet being named High Commissioner

Michelle Bachelet speaks at Berkeley, May 2010. (Photo by Jim Block.)
Michelle Bachelet speaks at Berkeley, May 2010. (Photo by Jim Block.)

Michelle Bachelet with students from the class she taught at Berkeley in 2011.
Michelle Bachelet with students from the class she taught at Berkeley in 2011.

More about Michelle Bachelet and CLAS

From the Berkeley Review

Fall 2012: "UNiting Women Around the World" - Bachelet speaks at Berkeley about her role as the first head of UN Women

Spring 2010: Michele Bachelet writes for the Berkeley Review in "The Chilean Path to Progressive Change"
- Video and photos from her 2010 visit to Berkeley

Spring 2008: "Bachelet Energizes Berkeley," on President Bachelet's state visit to Berkeley and California in June 2008
- Video and photos from the 2008 visit

Michelle Bachelet receives the Berkeley Medal during her 2008 visit. (Photo by Peg Skorpinski.)
Michelle Bachelet receives the Berkeley Medal, the university's highest honor, during her 2008 visit. (Photo by Peg Skorpinski.)

President Bachelet speaks with Associate Laboratory Director James Siegriest (left), Harley Shaiken (center right) and Nobel Laureate George Smoot (right) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  (Photo by Peg Skorpinski.)
In 2008, President Bachelet speaks with Associate Laboratory Director James Siegriest (left), Harley Shaiken (center right) and Nobel Laureate George Smoot (right) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  (Photo by Peg Skorpinski.)

Michelle Bachelet with students from Oakland International High School. (Photo courtesy of Oakland International High School.)
Michelle Bachelet with students from Oakland International High School. (Photo courtesy of Oakland International High School.)

President Bachelet hosts CLAS Chair Harley Shaiken and Professor Beatriz Manz in Chile, January 2018.
President Bachelet hosts CLAS Chair Harley Shaiken and Professor Beatriz Manz in Chile, January 2018.