The Honorable Louise Arbour
Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
"The glass pillar of the U.N. architecture is very much in the
process of trying to reassert itself as a truly indispensable
feature of the legitimate quest for human security."
- Louise Arbour
The Honorable Louise Arbour was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2004 until June 2008. Her predecessor in that position, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003. As High Commissioner, Arbour earned an international reputation for courage and tenacity and gained the respect of governments, human rights groups and human rights victims around the world.
Arbour began a distinguished academic career in 1974, culminating in the position of associate dean at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, Canada, in 1987. That year she was also appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario (High Court of Justice) and later served on the Court of Appeal for Ontario. In 1996, she was appointed by the U.N. Security Council as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. After three years as prosecutor, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999.
Arbour has received many awards and medals, including the Medal of Honour from the International Association of Prosecutors (1999), the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal (Freedom from Fear) from the Roosevelt Study Center in the Netherlands (2000), the Lord Reading Law Society's Human Rights Award (2000), the EID-UL-ADHA Award from the Association of Progressive Muslims of Ontario (2001) and the National Achievement Award from Jewish Women International of Canada (2001) and the Order of Canada (2007). She has served on the board of International Crisis Group since 2000. Throughout her career Arbour has sought to liberate both the oppressed and their oppressors by creating a safe climate for diversity and dissent.
Updated on 9/24/2008