Press Releases

    26 February 2004

    General Assembly Approves Appointment of Louise Arbour of Canada as High Commissioner for Human Rights

    NEW YORK, 25 February (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this morning approved the appointment of Justice Louise Arbour of Canada as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, for a term of office of four years.

    A Canadian Supreme Court Justice and ex-prosecutor of United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Ms. Arbour succeeds Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Baghdad last August.

    At the outset of the meeting, Assembly President Julian R. Hunte (Saint Lucia) extended the condolences of the international community to the people and Government of Morocco for the loss of life and destruction caused by yesterday’s earthquake.  He hoped the international community would show solidarity and respond promptly and generously to any requests for help.  The representative of Morocco expressed his gratitude to all those who had responded and offered assistance and support. 

    Also this morning, the Assembly took noted of a letter dated 11 February from the Secretary-General informing it that Paraguay and Lebanon had made the payment necessary to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter.

    The representatives of Morocco, Malaysia, Bulgaria (on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)), Tunisia (on behalf of the African Group), Ireland (on behalf of the Western European and Other Group) and the Republic of Korea also expressed their condolences to the Government and people of Morocco, as well as congratulated Ms. Arbour on her appointment as the new High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    The Assembly established the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in December 1993, with a wide-ranging mandate to oversee the world body's complex and multifaceted activities in that field. The first person to hold the post was José Ayala Lasso, a former Foreign Minister from Ecuador, who was succeeded by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland.  Mr. Vieira de Mello assumed the job on 12 September 2002 before being asked to take what was supposed to be a temporary leave to serve as United Nations envoy to Iraq, where he was killed in a terrorist bombing that also took the lives of 21 others.

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