Press Releases

    23 February 2004

    Secretary-General Appoints Louise Arbour of Canada High Commissioner for Human Rights

    NEW YORK, 20 February (UN Headquarters) -- The Secretary-General, following consultations with the Chairmen of the five regional groups of Member States, today informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Justice Louise Arbour of Canada as the new United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights.

    The General Assembly is expected to consider and approve the nomination in the near future.  Once her nomination is approved by the Assembly, Justice Arbour is expected to retire from the Supreme Court of Canada in late June 2004 to take up her new assignment in Geneva.

    Since 1999 Louise Arbour has served on the Supreme Court of Canada.  In 1996 she had been appointed by the Security Council as Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, based in The Hague.

    Admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1971 and the Bar of Ontario in 1977, she served for 13 years as Associate Professor of Law and later Associate Dean at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University (criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, droit civil) and became a member of the bench in December 1987, first as a trial judge on the Supreme Court of Ontario and, in 1990, at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

    In April 1995, she was chosen to lead an official investigation into the operation of the correctional service of Canada, based on allegations by female inmates at a women’s prison in Kingston, Ontario.

    Until her appointment to the Tribunals, she served as vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She is also is a life member of L’Association des Juristes d’Expression Francaise de l’Ontario.

    Throughout her career, Louise Arbour has published extensively, in both English and French, in the fields of human rights, civil liberties, gender issues and criminal procedure.  In addition, she has performed editorial work on behalf of the Criminal Reports, the Canadian Rights Reporter, the Osgoode Hall Law Journal and La Revue Générale de Droit, and has been a guest speaker at many conferences and presentations throughout the world.

    She was inducted into the International Hall of Fame -- International Women’s Forum in 2003; the same year in which she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the American College of Trial Lawyers, and won the Médaille de la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Montréal.

    Louise Arbour was born in Montreal on 10 February 1947.  She is fluent in French and English.

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