The U.N.’s top human rights advocate told his staff that he will not seek a second term, citing concern that his voice would be silenced in an age when the United States and other world powers are retreating from their historical commitment to human rights.

Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, a former Jordanian prince and ambassador who served as a U.N. political officer during the Bosnian war, announced his plan in an end-of-year e-mail to employees of the human rights agency. His term ends next summer.

“Next year will be the last of my mandate,” Hussein wrote Wednesday in the e-mail. “After reflection, I have decided not to seek a second four-year term. To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice — which is your voice.”

Foreign Policy