NEW YORK - A South African judge of Tamil origin is expected to be named as the next United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, replacing outspoken Louis Arbor of Canada, according to news media reports. Judge Navanethem Pillay, who was the first woman of colour to become a high court judge in South Africa, is currently serving on the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Ms. Pillay's name appeared on a short list along with those of Hina Jilani of Pakistan and Juan Mndez of Argentina, diplomats said. Under United Nations rules, her appointment requires the approval of the General Assembly. Her appointment was opposed by the United States, which has been angered by South African diplomatic moves to thwart the imposition of sanctions on President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, according to The New York Times, citing human rights advocates. When Ms. Pillay was growing up in South Africa, people of Asian descent were subject to the same segregation laws as those that separated other racial and ethnic groups, with their own residential areas, schools and laws forbidding interracial marriage. She was born in 1941 in a poor area of Durban, the daughter of a bus driver. As a human rights lawyer in the apartheid era, she was reported to have secured legal rights for political prisoners including Nelson Mandela.