"We believe there is considerable scope to be given by the security council and the general assembly to a Muslim candidate who is familiar with the UN but not of the UN."
-Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Envoy and Permanent Representative to the UN
Zeid, highly-respected among diplomats, becomes the fifth declared candidate to succeed Ghana's Kofi Annan, who completes his second five-year term at the end of the year.
He has also consistently challenged the United Nations to live up to its founding ideals as a servant of all the world's peoples, and the instrument of its Member States in advancing development, peace and security.
In 1997, as Jordan's Deputy UN Representative, he was the first and only official in the General Assembly to demand publicly a complete UN report on the Srebrenica massacre, Europe's worst atrocity since 1945.
The following year, he led a campaign among member states to this effect, which culminated in a call by the General Assembly for a definitive account.
His chances at UN
Upside: Prince Zeid has emerged as one of the favourites, according to diplomats based at the UN and in western capitals. "Everyone likes him. He is young, appealing, knows the (UN) system but is not part of it.
He is reported to have the backing of John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, and the UK government, which has indicated it is likely to support him.
Flipside: The prince being the next UNSG would elevate Jordan and put the moderate Arab Muslim in the spotlight on the international stage. And for that very reason mandarins are inclined to believe that many nations might not want to see that happen and it might work to his disadvantage when voting time comes around.
The Secretary-General responded by producing a report widely considered to have been groundbreaking both in its honesty and in its thoroughness.
Zeid, an expert in international justice, played a central role in establishing the International Criminal Court.
A political affairs officer for UN peacekeepers in Bosnia, he wrote, at Annan's request, an explosive report in 2005 on sexual abuse in UN peacekeeping operations.
In September 2002, Prince Zeid was elected the first president of the governing body of the International Criminal Court, at a time when the Court was only a plan on paper, with no officials or even an address to its name and, in three years, oversaw the Court's growth into the institution it has now become.
He has also been active on other legal issues. He was the first of two UN ambassadors to chair the Ad Hoc Committee on the Scope of Legal Protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.
And in the spring of 2004, he was chosen to be chairman of the 'Panel of Experts for the UN Secretary-General's Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes through the International Court of Justice', in the matter relating to the boundary dispute between Benin and Niger.
Earlier that year, he was also appointed by his government as Jordan's representative, and head of delegation, before the International Court of Justice in the matter relating to the wall being built by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Having served as a political affairs officer in UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia from February 1994 to February 1996, and having worked intimately with peacekeeping issues for over the last decade, Prince Zeid's knowledge of UN peacekeeping is also extensive.
Prince Zeid holds a BA from The Johns Hopkins University, and an M Phil and PhD from Cambridge (Christ’s College).
In 1989, he also received his commission as an officer in the Jordanian desert police (the successor to the Arab Legion) and saw service with them until 1994.
His publications include: A Nightmare Avoided: Jordan and Suez 1956 in Israel
Affairs, and Religious Militancy in the Arab Middle East: Threats and
Zeid is also a member of the Advisory Committee to the Institute for Historical
Justice and Reconciliation.